Some non-gf friends and I took a weekend trip to Savannah, GA, a lovely 3.5 hour drive from our Gainesville homes. Curiosity and a strange sense of obligation led us to a 9:15 reservation at the flagship restaurant of Savannah’s reigning butter queen, Paula Deen.
First, let me say that there is no shortage of adorable cafes in Historic Savannah. In general, everywhere we ate, with the exception of the Lady herself, came as the result of aimless wander.
Second, Savannah is beautiful inside and out. After we were forced to vacate the city bus due to unforeseen motion sickness issues, a young woman dressed as a referee drove us about 40 blocks, even taking a detour to show us the landmark fountain pictured above. Having little else to offer her in return (other than my friend not puking on her seat), we gave her a $4.99 bottle of wine. Hope she likes Malbec.
But let’s rewind a bit. Upon arriving in Savannah around lunch time, we strolled past about 30 potentially GF-friendly eateries before settling on Soho South , a sandwich-happy cafe situated in an old warehouse and decorated with local artistry. The salads seemed like more Bibb than bacon for your buck so I picked up the special: a ginger-soy-lime marinated tuna steak sandwich, minus the sandwich. Add to that a spicy southwest potato salad and I was good to go until dinner. The house that Paula built awaited.
Half a football game and a few bottles of wine (between the 4 of us) later we bussed, hitchhiked and stumbled our way to the Lady and Sons. I was wary. The last and only meal I’d had here could very well have been the end of my glutenous existence, with its smorgasbord of fried everything, biscuits and hoe-cakes (like little dinner pancakes).
After browsing the menu for all of 30 seconds, all of us who felt like eating ordered the buffet. I did this knowing the immense amount of gluten it was comprised of, but made my decision off the fact that whatever I could eat off the buffet was still a better deal than the one or two entrées I could order. Within minutes I had in front of me a plate full of pot roast, buttery mashed potatoes, buttery rice, buttery green beans and buttery salad…wait.
Half of the buffet may have been off limits, but I was still able to get full. Really full. But when the waitress came back to announce that dessert was included in the buffet and that, in fact, there was a gluten-free chocolate torte on the menu, I somehow forgot this detail. I managed to eat half before I threw in the towel.
After dinner, we stumbled along the river in a food-drunk stupor, our hearts and minds wanting to explore the city (and its lenient open-container policy), our stomachs wanting to taxi it back to the Extended Stay and slip into a coma. All told, we lasted about an hour before doing just that.
The next morning we found a diner on Abercorn St., Clary’s, your typical neighborhood dive with a high-end twist: sourdough stuffed French toast, poached eggs, Scallop omelets. But none of us could really finish our greasy, buttery breakfasts.
I longed for a grapefruit.
So, Paula conquered, y’all. Sort of, anyway. But I did enter the Mecca of glutenful food and stuff myself to excess. And in my mind, that’s a win. My stomach agrees.