Sunday, October 25, 2009

Highlight #248: Hotel worth eating at - Restaurant: 700 Drayton (Savannah)

Usually I don't recommend hotel eating in America, but there are exceptions. On our recent weekend trip to Savannah, we found wonderfully satisfying eats at the century-plus Mansion at Forsyth.
It's hard to believe that such an enormous mansion was once the living quarters of a single family. Fronting the beautifully green Forsyth park, the red brick mansion looks as grand as ever in the warm autumn sun. Inside, the high ceilinged halls have been updated with a modern artsy twist. The corridors leading up to the large ballroom as well as hallways extending to all the rooms are now galleries of varying sizes. The collection of art is eclectic and cheerful. Combined with the warm lighting, the place is very cozy despite the availability of space.

The equally warm diningroom welcomed us with over sized leather chairs that I could have slept in. Our server started us with two glasses of bubbly, which he kept refilled all night. Wanting something light, I started with a fall maple apple slaw salad. Normally, I am not a fan of eating salads in restaurants. But this one sounded truly intriguing. A base of thinly sliced granny smith apples were mixed with thinly sliced cabbage, dried cranberries, and toasted pecan bits. The mix was then dressed with a maple syrup vinaigrette. On top it all sit a few intense slices of sharp cheddar. It's hard to image how the array of flavors would taste in the mouth, but it all worked! So crispy and refreshing. The restaurant kindly split the salad for the two of us, a plus in my book.

We were recommended both the mixed grill of fresh seafood and the updated duck with brussels sprouts. Between the two, the duck was the hands down favorite. While the seafood was indeed fresh in the mixed grill, they were covered with way too much butter to exhibit any true seafood flavor. The duck, on the other hand, was cooked just right to retain a nicely pink center and was balanced in sweetness and acidity. The sprouts were also a little crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, the way I really like. Then there were the matchstick sweet potato fries. Now, how could anyone not like those.

Jason picked the dessert because he wanted something tart and fresh. These were super plump berries. A little sweet and quite a bit of tart. Nice with coffee, but not quite like chocolate or ice cream if you know what I mean. :)

700 Drayton
700 Drayton St.
Savannah, GA 31401
Tel: 912.238.5158


jwm said...

Hi Cathy,

I enjoy following your blog each week - you work your way through the ATL restaurant scene much faster than I manage to! Not to mention your travels as well!

I'm wondering if you can help me out. I am traveling to Beijing and Shanghai in a month as part of my EMBA program at Ga Tech. As you have traveled both places recently, can you recommend some places we should try?

We will have one Mandarin speaking member in our party - otherwise we are pretty much left to our own devices to explore and dine. Any other advice is also welcome.

Thanks in advance!


Cathy said...

Hi jwm,

Thanks for keeping up with this blog. I enjoy writing it every week. You trip to China sounds like it will be fun. I'd be more than glad to provide some food tips. My husband is there almost every month and I go quite a few times a year.

In Beijing, duck is king. Whatever you do, try to squeeze one such meal in and it's best if you have enough people to ask for a private room in the back. Even though Chuan Ju De was the original Peking duck place, fame has gotten to it somewhat. Da Dong is now considered the best even though Bourdain opted for Li quan probably for the hole in the wall atmosphere. Many people say that Chinese cuisine does not support fine dining. I disagree. Unfortunately, Chinese restaurants in the States tend to go for value, but in China, you can definitely find fabulous dining at the top level. If you are interested, you can try Tian di Yi jia just outside of the forbidden walls. It's imperial food in an elegant with an impressive wine list. For more casual eats, Noodle loft is very fun for trying out lots of different handmade noodles and sauces.

Shanghai is definitely my favorite and we go there the most. Like duck for beijing, xiao long bao (soup bun) is the defining dish to eat in Shanghai. The most famous local place is Nanxiang in the Yu garden, but to be honest, I don't particularly love the local doughier style. My favorite, after eating at pretty much all the recommended places in town, is Ding Tai Feng (a chain from Taiwan, but even the locals love it). Another great dish is red roasted pork and no one does it better than ji shi. The original ji shi is in xu jia hui, but you can find the new branches around town if you can't make it to the original. The branch in xing tian di is very good. If you want to try some street eating, check out wu jiang lu near the nan jing pedestrian street. The most famous shop there is the fried dumpling shop called xiao yang sheng jian. You order by weight up front and then take your fried buns upstairs (much quieter there) to enjoy. Watch out for the lot juice inside. For more whilte table cloth dining, jiang zhe hui and tang chao are pretty good for Shanghainese food. South Beauty (many branches) is good for Sichuan food. Di Shui Dong is pretty good for Hunan food.

Let me know if there are anything you are interested in in particular and I'll try to help.