As I've said in many previous posts regarding our trip to Savannah and Hilton Head, we ate in a number of great places. One place that kept coming up as a "must go" from people who gave us recommendations was The Olde Pink House located in the Savannah Historic District, about a 15 minute walk from our hotel (see map). We made reservations and took a short walk over to the restaurant for dinner one evening.
The Olde Pink House gets its name from the color of its white plaster walls that allows the original deep red brick color to bleed through. Construction on the house began in 1771 by James Habersham, Jr. and was used as a pre-Revolutionary War meeting house for a group called the Sons of Liberty, also known as The Liberty Boys, young men who were in favor of a free colonial America away from British rule. The house was occupied by British forces for a short time before Revolutionary troops forced the British out of Savannah. The house was finally finished in 1789. Habersham's younger brother, Joseph, became the first Postmaster General of the United States.
After Habersham moved out of the residence in the early 1800's, the building became the first registered bank in Georgia. A north wing was added, as were two vaults and the one story Greek-style entrance. During the War of 1812, the sons of James Habersham captured British gold and stored it in the vaults.
The Olde Pink House was also instrumental during the Civil War. When Savannah was captured by Union troops, it was used as a headquarters for Brigadier General Lewis York who oversaw the troops who held the city for the North.
The building was used for various businesses over the years, falling into a state of disrepair in the 60's. The building was bought by Herschell McCallan and Jeff Keith in 1970 and was transformed into The Old Pink House restaurant. They tried their best to restore the building to its original state including the plaster walls and hardwood floors. One of the second story rooms is based on the original parlor where some of the Liberty Boy meetings were held.
We had 8:30 p.m. reservations, but walked over to The Olde Pink House early. We were told by a local Savannahan that we needed to have a drink in The Olde Pink House's bar in the basement - Planters Tavern. I walked up to the hostess stand just inside the entry to The Olde Pink House and told the two ladies that we were actually there early, but we wanted to go have a drink downstairs. One of the ladies said, "Oh, well, of course! Everyone should go have a before dinner drink downstairs." She said that our table would be ready at any time, so for us to just come back to the stand when we wanted dinner.
The low-ceiling bar is one of the locals favorite places to go, get a drink, and listen to Gail Thurmond, a local jazz pianist. She plays every evening except for Monday nights. Tourists love the place because of the supposed ghost sightings in the place. I loved the place because of the coziness and old world style to the place. There were huge fireplaces on each end of the room and heavy tables and chairs throughout. But they didn't have lemonade in Planters Tavern. So I ended up getting a Sweetwater 420 pale ale.
We finished our drinks and went upstairs to get seated for dinner. They took us up an enclosed spiral staircase and took us to a large room toward the front of the house. We sat at a small table against the wall. There were two larger tables in the room, both full of people. The large table near us was celebrating a young lady's graduation the next day from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Our waiter greeted us and made sure we had our menus. He gave us a couple of specials for the evening and asked if we wanted anything to drink. I said we wanted to look through the wine list for the time being.
Cindy saw something on the menu for an appetizer that she wanted to try - The "BLT". It consisted of lightly breaded fried green tomatoes topped with sweet bacon and finishe d with a black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing. It did sound good, so when our waiter came back I ordered a plate of those.
In the meantime, I got to looking at some items on the menu. While Southern style cooking is prominent at The Olde Pink House, they also had a number of seafood dishes, as well. I wasn't quite burned out on seafood as of yet, but the Kentucky bourbon glazed pork loin certainly caught my eye. It came with collard greens and a sweet potato. I was leaning toward that.
The fried green tomatoes showed up at the table and since it was getting close to 9 p.m., we were both pretty hungry. And that was even after our big lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room earlier in the day. The fried green tomatoes were just excellent. The homemade black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing was just outstanding. Cindy commented that she could eat another plate of those just for her dinner!
Our waiter came back to take our dinner orders. Cindy ordered one of the specials that evening that consisted of shrimp and scallops sauteed in butter and garlic, then served on a bed of fettuccine noodles and topped with a Parmesan cream sauce. That sounded yummy, but a little too heavy for me.
I went with the aforementioned Kentucky bourbon glazed pork loin. Our waiter then asked, "And how would you like that prepared, sir?"
I looked at him with puzzlement? I said, "What do you mean?" I sort of chuckled and said, "I want it cooked, that's how I want it prepared."
He said, "No, do you want it medium, medium-rare, well?"
Now, I was completely befuddled. I'd never been asked how I want my pork cooked EVER before. There's this little thing called trichinosis that's been hammered into my head since I was a little kid. The waiter said, "The pork we use is organic and doesn't carry the trichinosis virus. We can cook it medium-rare with no worries."
Well, that was certainly a new one for me - although I've been told that some finer restaurants have been offering pork cooked that way for quite some time. I actually like my pork undercooked a little bit to make it more juicy and tender. I told the waiter that I'd like to have mine cooked medium. I thought that would be a safe choice. I also got a wedge salad to go along with Cindy's dinner salad she was getting.
I also ordered up a bottle of the Grgich Hills Chardonnay, a nice, light, yet crisp, white wine. I knew it would go good with Cindy's seafood pasta dish, as well as with my pork.
While Cindy said her salad was good, I have to say that my wedge salad was just so-so. The blue cheese dressing didn't have much pizazz to it. It was pretty uninspired for a wedge salad.
We waited patiently for our dinner. And waited. And waited. While all this was going on, our waiter was having a tough night. At the large table across the room from us, one lady was not happy with her meal. I don't exactly know what she was having, but she described the dish as "eating wall-paper paste." And she wasn't very discrete about it, either. The waiter offered to get her another meal, but she refused. "My dining experience for this evening has been ruined," she bellowed. Great, just what we need - drama with our meal.
The manager came over to the table to inquire to the trouble and the lady, very loud and boisterous, once again described her meal as eating wall-paper paste. I mean, she was letting the whole second floor know that she didn't like her meal. Cindy was trying to figure out if the lady had the seafood pasta dish she had ordered. Cindy sort of chuckled and said, "God, I hope that isn't what she was having."
I believe the manager ended up "comping" her meal. But everyone else at the table seemed to like what they were having. I don't know if she was just trying to get out of the bill or what. But it seemed a little odd with the dramatic display she was putting on just because she didn't like her meal.
Our waiter came over while the manager was at the other table and poured some wine in our glasses. I said, "Having a good night?"
He said, "I was up until that moment."
He apologized for the delay in our meals. He said there were a couple big parties in the restaurant that evening. "It's SCAD's graduation tomorrow, and we've got a couple big groups here for dinner."
Cindy said, "Hey, don't worry. We're fine. This is very relaxing."
And it was. Even though The Olde Pink House was pretty fancy, I didn't get the snooty, pretentious vibe that could have easily pervaded the restaurant. Everyone was friendly and very down-home.
Our meals finally showed up just before 10 p.m. And the wait was absolutely worth it. Cindy declared her seafood fettuccine as being "out of this world." She offered me a bite with a scallop and it was excellent. The Parmesan sauce had plenty of garlic, but it didn't overpower the taste sensation.
My "medium" Kentucky bourbon glazed pork loin was also excellent. It was cooked the exact way I cook my pork loins at home - a little pink in the middle, but not overcooked. It was tender and juicy with every bite. The collard greens were OK, but the mashed sweet potato was... It was... Hmmm.... I can't describe it any better than saying that I was in heaven. It may have been the best mashed sweet potato I'd ever had in my life. As good as the pork loin was, the highlight of my meal was the sweet potato.
After we'd finished, our waiter came by and asked if we wanted any dessert or coffee. Cindy asked what they had. He immediately said, "I grew up in Miami and my grandmother had a restaurant on the Keys. She had the best Key Lime Pie in the world. I have to say the Key Lime pie here is the closest I've ever had to my grandmother's." He was even so sure about it that he said he'd buy us a piece of Key Lime pie if we didn't think it was excellent. So, we ordered up a piece with two forks. Cindy got a cup of coffee, and I got an espresso.
The Olde Pink House's Key Lime pie was everything the waiter said it would be. After having some excellent Key Lime pie earlier in our trip, this one topped 'em all. The citrus taste was just outstanding, but not overwhelming. It was light and creamy. The crust was buttery and crisp. It was the best piece of Key Lime pie we may have ever had.
The waiter came back and said, "So, am I buying you the pie?"
I said, "I've had a lot of Key Lime pies in my day, but that may have been the absolute best. So, no, you don't have to buy us a piece of pie."
He said, "Well, I'm gonna do it, anyway. You guys waited and were so patient. It's the least I could do."
I told him, "Well, you did a great job in the face of adversity. I'm thoroughly satisfied with my meal and with the service."
Before we left, we took a quick look around the other rooms on the second floor. The one large party toward the back was breaking up and we were able to get into the large room to look at some of the ornate woodwork and artwork in the room. The Olde Pink House was a pretty cool place.
Our meal wasn't cheap - it came to just under $200 bucks with a hefty tip for the waiter. But it was definitely worth it. As I said, the food was excellent. The service was top-notch. The setting was wonderful. It may have been the best meal we had while we were in Savannah. The Olde Pink House gets four thumbs up (two thumbs each) from Cindy and me.