Monday, August 31, 2009

Road Trip: Sapphire Grill - Savannah, GA

110 West Congress St., Savannah, GA

On Saturday, August 22nd, Kyle and I ate dinner at Sapphire Grill in Savannah. Sapphire Grill is centrally located in downtown Savannah and can easily be recognized by its neon blue sign in front of the entrance. Foodie tourists can conveniently find it right next to Paula Deen's cooking store. We were fortunate enough to be seated at the absolute best table in the house, a plush round booth in the corner that offered us a little privacy and a great view of the restaurant's interior.

The most notable point about the restaurant is the great profusion of menus we were given upon being seated. Each of us had no fewer that FOUR separate menus - one wine list, one regular dinner menu (which Ernie called the "mother menu"), one four course fixed-price menu, and finally a menu featuring basic entrees with a variety of sauces that could be utilized in conjunction with the mother menu. Wow. A little overwhelming, but very exciting for a foodie. The entrees were mainly seafood with a few meat options, and there was a note about a three-course vegetable plate.

Ernie, it must be said, was an absolutely stellar server. He patiently walked us through all of the menus, giving us detailed and mouthwatering descriptions of nearly every dish, along with his personal recommendations. He was never without a smile on his face and took great care of us.

Appetizers: Kyle ordered the Sapphire ceasar salad, which I sampled and determined might be the best Ceasar salad I have ever eaten. Was it the anchovy confit or the pecorino butter drizzle that made it so great? Hmmm . . . probably the combination of the two. I ordered the seared foie gras with pineapple gelato, intrigued by the pairing of the sweet dessert with the foie gras. The fois gras was meaty and smooth, perfectly cooked, and the pineapple gelato was light and playful. I was left scraping the plate at the end of the course.

For our entrees, I ordered the cracked rice encrusted tuna and "forbidden black rice grits". Ernie promised that the tuna would be the best I had ever eaten and to order it as rare as I dared. I ordered it medium rare, and while it was very good it was not the best I had ever eaten. I felt that the cracked rice crust numbed the flavor a little. However, I can't fault the black grits, which were an absolutely scrumptious side. They were nearly indescribably good. I have noticed that this dish has begun showing up on Atlanta restaurant menus and I am looking forward to ordering it here as well.

Kyle ordered the grilled New York Strip, an item from the basic entrees menu. He chose two different sauces from the menu: a white truffle butter and a soy sauce based oil. Both were excellent, a definite step up from any type of steak sauce I have tasted in recent years. He also greatly enjoyed a side of teardrop tomatoes, which were roasted and oozing with summer ripeness.
For dessert we were torn between a chocolate cake and the vanilla bean creme brulee, and Ernie recommended the brulee. It was very good, in my opinion not quite as good as the same dish at Pano's & Paul's in Atlanta.

Despite the great quality of the food served there, I have to state that I think Sapphire Grill is a little overpriced. Our dinner there is the single most expensive dinner I have ever eaten in the U.S. as of today's date. The six course chef's tasting menu didn't have a price listed, and upon inquiry we discovered it was $100 per person. Chef Linton Hopkins of the James Beard Award-winning Restaurant Eugene here in Atlanta charges $85 for his seven course tasting menu, and the last time I checked Bacchanalia, commonly considered Atlanta's best restaurant, charges $75 for their standard fixed price dinner. Considering these comparisons I think Sapphire Grill is overcharging their customers.

As for the pictures: Forgive me, I was on vacation and got a little sloppy after tasting that wonderful foie gras. I forgot to take one of the entree until Kyle had eaten half of his, and my own entree was completely demolished by that time.

Verdict: A divine, if pricey, dinner. Ceasar salad, forbidden black rice grits, foie gras with pineapple gelato and teardrop tomatoes are all standouts.

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