Saturday, June 14, 2014

Off the Beaten Path: Byrd Cookie Company's B. Tillman Restaurant and Bar

If you want a chic, sophisticated lunch, you usually don't venture too far from downtown, right? Who knew that there was a sleek restaurant and bar and tucked away on Waters Avenue and housed inside a cookie factory, to boot!

Turning right onto Waters Avenue from Stephenson Avenue, you might have noticed the massive grey-roofed industrial building peeking out from behind the Exchange restaurant. That's Byrd Cookie Company. A Savannah institution that's been baking up world-famous scotch oatmeal and key lime cooler cookies since 1942.  Inside that building, there's more than a cookie and gift shop. It's also home to B. Tillman Restaurant and Bar.

The most immediately striking thing about B. Tillman's is the decor. Cool white leather booths. A color palette of monochromatic grays and unfinished wood. It's all very Restoration Hardware. Not to mention, there's a big glass window where you can peek into the cookie factory. So I guess there's a splash of Krispy Creme playfulness there, too.

The menu matches the decor. Sophisticated, or what I like to call "Chef-y" type items dot the menu. Sandwiches are slathered with "aioli" and there's hummus made with cannelloni beans instead of chick peas. Something called a "pizzette" and a grilled romaine salad. But all that's balanced with a distinct nod to Byrd's southern heritage.  Pimento cheese served with toasted crostini and deviled eggs with chives.

With that in mind, I decided to have the best of both worlds.

For my appetizer I ordered the pimento cheese plate. It's a spicy, surprisingly un-mayonnaised twist on a southern staple. It's thick, flavorful, and much more dry than your typical store bought, church-potluck variety. It's perfect for loading onto the sturdy toasted crostini slices.

For my lunch, I ordered the grilled Caesar salad. A head of romaine, lightly seared and crisp on the outside, drizzled with creamy dressing and sprinkled with bacon and Parmesan cheese. The addition of the bacon with the seared romaine really gave the salad delicious smoky flavor.  If you've never had grilled salad before, B. Tillman's might be the place to try for it the first time.

Now you didn't think I'd dine at a place owned by a cookie company without eating some cookies, did you?

When I paid my check, the server brought my two powder sugar drenched key lime cooler cookies and instructed me to head to the gift shop.

 In the gift shop, you can show your lunch or dinner receipt for a discount and you can visit the cookie bar where you can, I kid you not, sample every single flavor of Byrd's delightful cookies for free. FOR FREE.

This cookie lover was in heaven.

So if you're looking for something different, a little bit sophisticated, a little bit southern, and very sweet, head to Byrd Cookie Company's B. Tillman Restaurant and Bar.

B. Tillman Restaurant & Bar6700 Waters Avenue(912)721-1564

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Food and Menu Hacks: La Parrilla Mexican Restaurant

I always consider Mexican food a summer staple, I have no idea why. Maybe it's the icy margaritas. Maybe the flavors conjure the exotic white beaches and palm trees of Cancun with every spicy bite (Truthfully, I could find a way to make Mexican food a staple for any season. I LOVE Mexican food).

 My family has close ties to the southwest. My Dad lived in Arizona for years and I was born in New Mexico. Because of this, my dad and I are kind of Mexican food snobs. A few years ago, we headed west to see The Alamo and visit some old friends. We ate Mexican food for every meal. I kid you not.  It's hard to find Mexican food that matches the quality and authenticity that you find in Texas or any southwestern state. Don't let its Oglethorpe Mall location throw you off, because La Parilla Mexican Restaurant comes pretty close.


I love their Carne Asada Tacos, their massive California style burritos.  You can order anything on this menu and you won't be disappointed.

But the best "menu hack" is the  Taquitos Traditionales. It's the best value on the menu. For under $9, you get three corn tortillas wrapped around shredded chicken or beef brisket (your choice, you can mix and match) and fried to crispy golden perfection. 

 They smother it in tangy salsa verde (I'm very picky about my salsa verde and this is a little bit savory with a punch of citrus. An excellent combo). It's then topped off with shredded lettuce, fresh pico de gallo, and drizzled with sour cream. Most places tend to scorch the filling and it gets dry and crunchy like the tortilla. But not at La Parrilla.

Taquito with brisket filling

 Here the taquitos are perfect; crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside  What makes this the best menu hack is that traditionally, the dish also comes garnished with a generous serving of queso dip. Ask for it on the side. They'll bring you a cup the size of their small cheese dip appetizer. If you ordered the queso off the appetizer menu, you'd pay about $5.  It's delicious, sneaky, and cheap. 

So what are you waiting for? Grab your sunglasses. Ask them to seat you on La Parrilla's substantial outdoor patio. Forget you're outside the Oglethorpe Mall. Order some taquitos and a cold glass of sangria. Sail away to a spicy, summer, happy place. 

7804 Abercorn Extension
Savannah, Georgia 31406
(912) 354-3757
Sun-Wed 11am-10pm
Thurs-Sat 11am-10:30pm

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dreaming in Cookies: Modern General’s Dreamy Iced Coffee and Cookie Bar

The entrance of Modern General beckons pedestrians inside from Broughton Street with a chalkboard reading, "Treat Yourself to a Dreamy Coffee.” Once inside, Modern General invites patrons to write down their dreams on orange slips of paper and drop them inside the “dream box” on a table near the door. Modern General, or Modern General: Sylvester & Co, as the shop’s sign reads, is more than a coffee bar.They also sell a multitude of sleek “modern” gifts and housewares.

 I picked up a “USB Mixtape”  (a flash drive cleverly disguised as an audio cassette tape. The nineties child in me swooned, and I had to buy it).  
But the main event at Modern General is their coffee and cookie bar located in the back of the shop. Today I’m talking about their cookies, specifically. ( I didn't order coffee, as I’d just come from The Coffee Fox when I visited). They sell for $2.75 each, but let me assure you, they’re worth their weight in gold. The “dreamy” cookies are unlike any you can buy in Savannah.  

Double Dare Ya Cookie
First up, I tried the Double Dare Ya Cookie. This cookie was chock full of huge chunks of toffee, white chocolate, milk chocolate,  and dark chocolate.  The chunks were about the size of broken candy bar pieces, making it truly a chocolate chunk cookie. 

What is most remarkable about these cookies, and all the cookies at the cookie bar is how thick they are.  With a moist, just-chewy-enough-without-being-doughy  consistency, you’ll be scratching your head.  How is it possible to bake a cookie that thick without burning the outside? Magic?

Peanut Butter Chocolate
At the barista’s recommendation, I decided to try the peanut butter cookie on my second round (don’t judge). This cookie, equally as thick at the Double Dare Ya, differs from most traditional peanut butter cookies. 

The cookie is more of a traditional brown sugar chocolate chip cookie base with big blobs of peanut butter folded in.  This cookie definitely breaks the mold, if just by sheer magnitude and decadence.  I enjoyed every peanut buttery bite. Pure bliss.

As I left, happily buzzed on chocolate and peanut butter, I stopped to look inside the Dream Box. I contemplated the folded strips of orange paper where others had scrawled their dreams with black ink. 

What interesting dreams had I had lately? I didn’t know.  But I knew I’d be dreaming in cookies that night.

205 W Broughton Street
Savannah, GA 31401
Phone: 912-236-1150

Open 7 Days a Week  10am-6pm

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eating Local, Literally: Raised Vegetable Garden Installations at Savannah Restaurants

If you frequent Foxy Loxy Cafe and Print Gallery like I do, you might have noticed there's something different about their courtyard lately...

Right next to the Acoustic Altar  (the stage area of the courtyard), there's a large rectangular wooden box housing a vegetable garden!
Photo Courtesy of Foxy's Facebook Page

Thanks to local landscaping and garden installation company, Savannah Victory Gardens, Savannah restaurants looking to amp up their "eat local" options can opt to have a raised bed vegetable garden  installed right in their backyard! For local restaurant patrons like me, that means I can eat salsa made from cilantro that grew up just a few feet away from where I'm sitting. It means I can enjoy a collard green quesadilla or other delightful mixed greens picked only minutes before arriving at my table.

And Foxy's not the only restaurant here in town hosting their own vegetable garden. Savannah Victory Gardens is also responsible for the boxed garden lush with collards and other leafy vegetables situated behind popular burger joint, The Green Truck Pub

Photo Courtesy of Savannah Victory Garden's Facebook Page

Even if you're not into the "eating local" or "eating organic" trend you have to admit, it's nice eating fresh vegetables. When you're eating at a restaurant that houses it's own vegetable garden, you can enjoy the food with confidence. You know that it hasn't been sitting around in a vegetable truck or supermarket for days, growing bruised and increasingly brown by the minute. Instead, your salad will be bright, cool, and crisp. The herbs garnishing your meal will be pungent, ripe with flavor in every bite.

Foxy Loxy and Green Truck have their own gardens. I wonder which restaurants will follow suite and have gardens installed. After all, local restaurants growing their own food? It definitely brings a whole new meaning to word “housemade salsa.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d fork that, Savannah.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Restaurant Love: I've Got a Crush on Back in the Day Bakery

Confession: I've got the biggest crush on Back in the Day Bakery. As I was scrolling through my photo albums through years (phone photos, Facebook albums, and scrapbooks) I started to notice, 1. I have a lot of pictures of food. 2. Most of them are food photos from Back in the Day Bakery.

Today on Fork This, Savannah I explore a brief history of my restaurant crush and some of my favorite items on their menu.


Love at First Sight

I stumbled upon the bakery in early 2007 when I was looking for cupcakes for my vintage inspired 17th Birthday Party. The nice folks at Paris Market and Brocante referred me there when I asked where they got their delicious pastel butter cream cupcakes.

When I walked into the bakery for the first time, I fell in love. The decor was retro. Pops of pink, blue, yellow, and green pastels. There was a big crystal chandelier wrapped in white Christmas lights hanging over a vintage farm table. Elementary school style storage cubbies served as a bar counter. The walls and floors were unfinished. Pages from cookbooks were pasted on the wall in patches.  Bright pink roses in milk bottles adorned each table. It might of been the cupcakes, it might have been the decor. It might of been a mixture of both. As I purchased the cupcakes I needed for the party, I was already planning my next visit.

17th Birthday with my first Back in the Day Bakery Cupcakes

And visit again I did. When I was an undergrad at SCAD, Back in the Day Bakery became my token lunch place. I went before or after classes. Sometimes I'd order their flaky ham and cheese croissant. Or the best chicken sandwich on earth, the aptly named Super Chicken (thick slices of roast chicken and white cheddar between slabs of airy ciabatta, topped with lettuce and onions, and smeared with a rosemary infused miracle of a mayonnaise). I've probably celebrated three or four birthdays there since finding them.

My 18th Birthday at Back in the Day Bakery

But when I graduated from college in 2011, I wasn't in the area anymore. So I didn't visit as often. I'd stop by on a Saturday here or there. But I thought I'd finally gotten over my crush. I was in my early twenties. Too old for crushes!

Now back at SCAD for graduate school, I started stopping into Back in the Day Bakery during the twenty minute time slot I have between work in midtown and classes in the downtown area. During those twenty minutes, I'm usually stressed about balancing work and school. Worried about an assignment. Worried about finding a parking place close to Arnold Hall.

But Back in the Day Bakery is always a little respite from those worrisome thoughts. You get the sense that the folks working at Back in the Day Bakery actually like working there. The gals behind the counter always have a smile on their faces. Never mind that the place is slammed at lunchtime. Or that the person who just ordered was short with them. They greet every customer with genuine smiles and they seem just as excited about the food as I am. They gush over the flaky, buttery buttermilk biscuits Back in the Day serves on certain days. Or something new they've got in the baked cases that day. With that kind of enthusiasm, you can't help but let your worries slip away a little. Besides, how can you worry when you're tearing into a Tomato Caprese sandwich that's bigger than your face?

Caprese Sandwich (Tomato, balsamic, fresh basil and mozzarella)

I post Instagram and Facebook photos from the bakery regularly. Without fail,  Back and the Day serves up their sandwiches and sweets looking cookbook photo-shoot ready. So it's no wonder I can't help taking a picture of every blessed thing I eat there (Sorry for making you hungry, Facebook friends).
Jam and Biscuits with Iced Tea and Newborn Cupcake

The Happy Day Salad (You can read about that on my first post ever)

Vanilla Buttercream Cupcake

 I often bring one of Back in the Day Bakery's white to-go bags to class. As I pull out my buttermilk biscuit and jam or Mexican Hot Chocolate shortbread, my classmates gaze at me jealously, "Where did you get that delightful thing?"

And I just smile, "This place called Back in the Day Bakery. You have to go there."

Sounds like I've totally gotten over my crush, right?


If I'm in a bad mood, I can always count on something like the Strawberry Pie Bar (If a fruit cobbler and a strawberry pie got married, then Back in the Day's  Strawberry Pie Bar would be their child. A winner of the culinary genetic lottery, trust me) to brighten my mood.

You cannot eat something like this without smiling. The man sitting next to me kept staring at me as I devoured it. Finally, he shyly asked as I brushed crumbs from my face, "What was that delightful thing?

Back in the Day Bakery's Cinnamon Bun Saturday is probably my favorite way to kick-start the weekend.

On Saturdays only, you can sit down to one of Back in the Day's house specialties. Their massive sticky buns slathered in rich, creamy white icing. If you're used to Pillsbury or Cinnabon, you'll never go back after having one of these. It's like tasting butter for the first time after being raised on margarine

You know how the best part of most sticky buns are the middle? Not so with Back in the Day's buns. The whole bun is like the center. It's sticky, bready, twisted heaven.

I may not be doodling "Back in the Day Bakery" on my binder but let me assure you, I'm crushing on them. And if they keep feeding me things like their sublime Strawberry Pie Bar, and sinful Saturday sticky buns, something tells me I'm not getting over this crush anytime soon.

2403 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 495-9292
Hours Open: Tuesday-Saturday 8am - 5pm
Closed Sunday & Monday

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Where Everybody Knows Your Name": Three Reasons I'm a "Regular"

What is it about those restaurants we return to over and over again? Is there that one menu item, that special sauce you just can’t live without? That quirky barista who serves up your soy latte with a smile. That fry cook who can spout a one-liner like he’s the star of his own sitcom?

What is it that keeps us sliding into those same booths week after week, picking up the menus we’ve read so many times we know it by heart, “I’ll have the B-1 please, ginger on the side.”  Announcing to our friends outside the packed restaurant, “It’s cool. They know me here.”  You know the places. The places where ordering is really just a formality.

In Savannah there are three, maybe four restaurants where I have that kind of relationship. Folks at these places know me by name. And they know what I’m going to order. And I know right where I’m going to sit. That’s right. I’m what they like to call a “regular” in the dining industry.  But why?

1. I Feel Comfortable Eating There Alone

I’m full time grad student and I also work full time.  So I don’t have a lot of time to make plans, so I find myself going out to eat more than a sensible person would. And my lack of planning usually means I’m dining alone.   And I want to go somewhere I feel comfortable doing so. For me that means the servers are friendly, but not too chatty to the point that I feel like they should be pulling up a chair. The worst are ones that actually do. Slide in beside you and whip open a notepad, gum smacking in their teeth, “What’ll be, sweetheart?”  

Then there are ones that ignore you completely. Or fail to acknowledge the fact that you’ve eaten at the place seven days in a row and ordered the exact same thing. When you arrive on the eighth day, you walk up to the counter, and nothing. Not even a hint of recognition.  Just a, “What can I get you?”  like you’ve never eaten there before in your life.

Bottom line, if I feel comfortable dining alone at a restaurant, it means I'll keep coming back.

2. Location, Location, Location 

I form habits out of convenience. Anyone who’s been following this blog so far might have noticed I’ve covered a lot of restaurants in the Sandfly area of Savannah.  So it should come as no surprise that I live in that area. I go to restaurants that are near where I live. Or on the way to the places I frequent. Places I know I can drop in and out of quickly when I’m in a hurry. 

3. The Food is Delicious 
I frequent places where I know pretty much anything on the menu is amazing. You know that place, the one where you’re often stumped when ordering because, well, everything on the menu it just so darn delicious.  Consistency matters too. I need to know that I can order my favorite sandwich with the sauce on the side, and it’ll be equally tasty the first and five hundredth time I order it. 

So what about you, what makes you a “regular”? 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Top Three Easter Basket Treats

Headed to an Easter brunch or an afternoon Easter egg hunt? Don't bring the same ol' same ol' jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. Trade in those Peeps and  Cadbury Eggs for some equally sweet and exponentially more inventive Easter treats from some of my favorite local bakeries around town. So what are you waiting for? Grab your Easter basket and get ready to fill it with Fork This, Savannah's Top Three Easter Basket Treats.

1. Maison de Macaron's Macaron Assortment

At $1.89 a pop these french inspired cookies come in all the the Eastery pastel colors and flavors you could ask for. I picked the blue vanilla bean, pink raspberry, and yellow Meyer lemon flavors. A crisp, slightly chewy shell gives way to a smooth, delicate, cream filling.

The vanilla bean had real flecks of vanilla bean for a rich flavor that's anything but "vanilla."

The raspberry wasn't too tart, lightly sweet. A flavor I can only describe as "pink."

The lemon was nice and sour; a cross between lemon curd and your mom's lemon bars.

Bring a dozen of these french cookies to the Easter brunch and the adults will thank you.

Maison de Macaron
 1100 Eisenhower Dr #28, Savannah, GA 31406
(912) 665-9894

2. Two Smart Cookies' Iced Bunny Cookies

Perfect for the kids. At $1.25 a piece, these blue-iced bunny-shaped cookies are better than anything you can get at the grocery store. Especially for the price. Trust me. They're thickly cut and dense. More like a shortbread because of  their smooth, sweet consistency. Not gritty like a lot of store bought sugar cookies. Think shortbread without the overt butter flavor with a splash of almond extract. Like a wedding cake in cookie form. The icing provides a nice glaze of sweetness and pop of festive color. Not chalky at all (I'm looking at you, Target sugar cookies...) Bring these cute blue bunnies to the Easter egg hunt and you'll probably get nominated for "World's Coolest Mom."

Two Smart Cookies
6512 White Bluff Road
Savannah, GA 31405

3.  Smallcakes: A Cupcakery's  Vanilla Easter Cupcake

The over-achiever of Easter cupcakes. These moist vanilla (real vanilla bean right in the batter!) cupcakes are expertly frosted with a fluffy swirl of purple vanilla icing and cleverly decorated with Peeps and Robin's Eggs. I got one right out of the oven and seriously. The cake was oh-so-delightfully falling apart under the weight of all the indulgent Easter candy toppings.

These cupcakes are delicious and impressive. Bring these to the school Easter party and say you baked them yourself. People will call you the next Martha Stewart. Everyone will love you. Your dentist will hate you.

Smallcakes: A Cupcakery
7360 Skidaway Road, Unit L-1
Savannah, Georgia 31406