It doesn't get more touristy in Savannah than City Market. So we were surprised to discover the elegant, sophisticated Sapphire Grill right on the outskirts of Touristville.
Chef and owner Christopher Nason offers an incredible dining experience; the substance lies behind the restaurant's pizzazz.
We enjoyed such entrées as cracked coriander Muscovy duck breast, foie gras, and mango with golden potato-shallot pancakes. The steak lover will rave about the Sapphire Towering Caesar Salad accompanied by a 10-ounce Prime tenderloin barrel.
For us, Christopher's crowning achievement was the Sapphire Chocolate Terrine. Try to visualize layers of white chocolate- sun-dried cherry brownie, white and milk chocolate mousses, cocoa meringue, and milk chocolate buttercream.
If your Savannah budget allows just one night to splurge, this is the place. 110 West Congress Street; (912) 443-9962. Dinner entrées: $23-$32.95.
Elizabeth on 37th
A culinary landmark in Savannah since 1981, Elizabeth on 37th still occupies a Victorian mansion in the center of town, and its reputation is very much intact.
Founded by executive chef Elizabeth Terry but operated today by chef de cuisine Kelly Yambor, Elizabeth has always incorporated into its creative offerings such Lowcountry favorites as black-eyed peas, greens, grits, ham, okra, and shrimp. Fortunately for their current clientele, that tradition continues unchanged.
We savored a black-eyed pea patty with greens and curry cream, a roasted local shiitake and oyster mushroom entrée, and a perfect pan-fried flounder with a crab cake made just right. The winner among the dessert selections was a triple chocolate cake with fudge icing and chocolate sauce.
We visited on a busy Saturday night, but the staff and kitchen seemed to handle the crush with grace and efficiency. Be advised that Elizabeth does not have much parking, so you may need to arrive a few minutes before your reservation in order to find a spot on the street. 105 East 37th Street; (912) 236-5547. Entrées: $24.95-$31.95.