YOU can thank White Castle (aka Krystal's down South) for starting up that tee-ninetsy temptation called Sliders. But when it comes to invention and imagination, shake the hand of Chef Matt Baldwin of Savannah's new foodie sensation, Sly's Sliders & Fries, for taking that phenomenon to a whole new level.
With nine eclectic versions of the classic mini-burger, including a couple of veggie styles that’ll blow you away, he’s brought the quotidian mini-burger to ecstatic levels of goodness.
What is the meaty companion to the American burger?—hotdogs!—and at this newly hatched eatery you’ll find a mirror of luscious delights with nine finger-lickin’ versions set to have you hot-footin’ it to his door. Throw in a big basket of hand-cut fries for just $2 and you’ve got a Savannah classic in the making.
Slaving away in the big restaurant biz for years and years can wear out even the most avid foodie. There came a time when even an experienced chef like Matt Baldwin was ready to throw in the towel.
“I was just feelin’ burnt out, and decided to take a few months off and decide what it was I really wanted to do,” Matt says.
“My work ethic has always been high, and I loved to cook, yet there had to be another way to do this right. I sat back and really thought about it, thought about the pressures of managing a big restaurant, and decided, in the end, it’s really much easier to work for yourself.”
When the Telfair was ready to open a new café Matt and his buddies David Hammer and Michael Clee stepped in with loads of local goodies, fresh ingredients and a go-global style that covers everything from Japanese chilled soba noodle salad to Italian prosciutto, fig and brie paninis.
And yet, and yet, in the most secret depths of his foodie-informed soul, Matt dreamed of something more simple, refreshingly as different, yet definitely approachable to the masses.
Take an American classic up a notch, present your patrons with amazingly tasty options that run the gamut from roadhouse ‘Q, moving across the globe to Frenchified caramelized shallot with bleu cheese and Dijon, and throw in a bit of Asian spice with his own version of Vietnam’s Banh—the ‘Banh U, Banh Mi’, a sambal tempura shrimp with pickled daikon, cucumber and cilantro mayo...well, ya can’t get much simpler, more alluring a combination. Well, maybe you can...
Another branch of beloved Americana grew into a smorgasbord of meaty delights: Gimme that ‘Perro Cubano’ with pulled pork & Swiss, topped off with house-made dill pickles and cilantro mayo—smaller than the usual Cuban sandwich, but just as tasty, and throw in a couple of “Tobacco Road” specials: a white trash treasure of a mini-slaw-dawg with cheddar, onion and mustard—oh, my, YES!
Just as the Jepson Café is now well-known for introducing local specialties like fresh herbs from Kachina Farms in Rincon, Matt continues with the “buy local” tradition by offering, for example, the Lil Angel made with Angel BBQ’s succulent pulled pork and BBQ sauce.
It’s a pretty unpretentious set-up, a small space claimed from a previous soul food eatery, made over completely into a bright, clean little joint with framed ‘50s style fast food graphics in bright colors, and drawin’ in the teenyboppers with a free X-Men VS Streetfighter arcade game.
The menu has three short sections with Sliders, Slider Dogs, and Hand-Cut Old School Fries, available with numerous tasty toppings—I recommend the garlic sauce and bacon—and a few Coke products.
That’s it. But that’s all ya need here. Keepin’ it real—real GOOD—is Matt’s specialty.
My foodie buddy Falko was delighted with this new lunch/early dinner place and more than happy to dig into a sampler of goodies. The one basket of fries is so generous that two people can easily share it, especially when it’s doused with cheese or black beans.
The offerings here won’t bruise your wallet at only three bucks a piece, and small beauties that they are, two or three will do the job. We indulged ourselves with four varieties a piece—I mean, hey, after all, as a foodie writer I am obliged, right?—and were so well satisfied we didn’t even think of supper til’ after 10 that evening.
Grab a menu and order at the counter, then sit back and watch as Savannah’s myriad population unfolds itself before you. SCAD students aplenty love this cozy eatery, but doctors, construction workers, truckers and downtown business types find their way here each day on their pilgrimage to find fast, cheap, tasty lunches.
Sly’s Sliders & Fries
1710 Abercorn Street
912 -239 -4219
Daily 11 a.m-6 p.m.