THE BOHEMIAN Riverfront Hotel debuted its Spring menu last Thursday, and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to experience it first, along with some of the city’s finest journalists who were also invited to enjoy a beautiful evening.
We all met at their Rocks on the Roof bar at the top floor of this beautiful hotel, which has one of the best views of the city that you can enjoy while having a drink in your hand.
Speaking of which, we were welcomed with a delicious local cocktail dubbed “The Bohemian Mule” which helped the night get started.
I’m big on details, almost as much as I am witnessing that patience and emphasis on customer service, translate into the culture of a kitchen. I have to say that this staff was one of the most well-trained I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Focusing on who needed what and when, timing out the flow of the courses like a symphony, while not allowing my glass to stoop too low, to them seemed like a mastered art form. Had the food not been so incredible, the staff might’ve made the night.
Back to the food. The chef brought out a few quick spring time flatbreads to soak up the first round of cocktails, before escorting us to the VIP room for the main event.
Feeling saucy, and ready for something to hit my tastebuds, I was greeted with wine, jalapeno cornbread, and a Hunter’s Board to munch on as we sipped and laughed.
That prosciutto. That triple-cream bleu cheese. I could feel the craftsmanship and time taken in every bite. I would have lingered there for hours, but they didn’t let us fill up too much, as they swiftly exchanged the boards with the appetizers.
Let me not gloss over the wine. The Kessler House actually blends their own wine in house, of which they have five to select from, and on this night the chef specifically paired one with each course. The combinations were so harmonious that the transition from plate to glass was almost seamless. This was the real deal.
Moving on to the apps. I know scallops, and could see these were legit. U-10 scallops from Bedford, dry packed and pan seared to perfection. Served with a toasted pecan quinoa pilaf and carrot coulis.
My nut allergy unfortunately prevented me from tasting this mouthwatering plate, but I could tell by girlfriend, also photographer’s, reaction that I would have loved every minute of it.
Jealousy was not long lived, as I was able to enjoy the crab cakes next. Breaded, seared, and served on a bed of arugula and a classic remoulade. I was more than content.
Salads were next, as we had three to taste, family style, which I thought continued to bring the room together. Again, beautiful intentional plating and unique flavor combinations. Big chunks of watermelon and feta served as the perfect juxtapositions for each other, as they were served on a bed of basil and mint topped with pumpkin seeds. It felt like summer on a plate. A roasted beet and yellow squash salad was next, served on a bed of arugula and topped with pistachios.
We finished the course with a roasted pear salad on a bed of mixed greens and watercress topped with cornbread croutons and fresh raspberries. Colorful and seasonal ingredients carried the way for all of these plates.
The main event consisted of some heavy hitters. Starting with their spice crusted grilled lamb chop. Prepared bone in and executed to perfection, it was served with grilled asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes, then topped with a pomegranate coulis.The symmetry between sweet and savory was like magic on this plate.
I had an incredible experience trying chicken spaetzle for the first time. Light and flavorful as there was a perfect mix of grilled chicken breast, mushrooms, baby spinach, and spaetzle, served with a grilled lemon for you to squeeze on top. I could have eaten the entire bowl they gave us to share.
The star of the night was BY FAR the shrimp and grits. I am a huge proponent of this dish, and I’m aware of how important this plate is to the culture of Savannah. With that being said, I believe this is the best rendition of this dish that I have ever had.
Infused with a creole influence, the sauteed shrimp were tossed and coated in a spicy sauce that felt like it contained just the right amount of everything. The stone ground grits were cooked, cooled, and formed, just before being battered and deep fried.
As the night cooled down, we ended things on a sweet note. We broke away from the family style aspect, as each guest was served a portion of The Bohemian’s signature chocolate nutella cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, as well as a slice of their praline ice box cake drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. We washed that down with a glass of iced coffee du monde.
I’m all about culture, and I’m aware of how many shades that it can be created in. Although you might initially group this hotel in with the rest of the River Street tourist trap, think twice.
The owners are originally from Savannah, and they take great pride in making sure their establishment embodies the local influence. Next time you find yourself downtown contemplating where to go next, take a stroll down the river and enjoy appetizers and drinks at The Bohemian’s rooftop.
And if you are looking for a more intimate evening, visit their restaurant downstairs, where you can taste the full menu. You won’t be disappointed.
For more of Jared's thoughts on food and food culture, visit www.asliceofthyme.com