FROM THE ground floor to the rooftop of the newly constructed Perry Lane Hotel, the Sage Restaurant Group has infused this luxury boutique with its own brand of charm and refinement.
A four-year long project in the making, on June 1, this restaurant group opened three independently defined spaces within the Perry Lane Hotel on East Perry Street for both hotel guests and locals to indulge: Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market, Wayward Bar and Peregrin Lounge.
Sage Restaurant Group co-founder Peter Karpinski expounds on the space’s unique offerings:
“Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market is a local retreat where guests can linger and sample, meet a friend for a quick lunch, pick up dinner for the family, or grab a snack and go,” he says.
“Peregrin is the ultimate open-air rooftop lounge — whether you’re kicking back or playing lawn games, it’s the perfect setting to enjoy craft cocktails and elevated bites paired with exquisite views of the city. The Wayward brings an element of roughness with a refined aesthetic. It’s a bit more renegade, featuring arcade games, a movie screening room, and a motorcycle suspended above the bar.”
The Denver-based group was founded in 2005 and now clocks in 16 restaurants.
Karpinski and his team identified that hotel restaurants often accompany a stigma of poor quality fare and cheap libations. I mean, come on, we have all had a below-basic continental breakfast that gives hotels a bad rep.
“(We were) confident we could shift this industry paradigm and reputation with consumers... We focus on, first and foremost, striking a chord with people who live, work, and play in the neighborhoods we are in,” Karpinski says.
“We do this through restaurants and bars that complement the fabric of their locale that cities can embrace as their own, and residents can feel proud of. Our mission and vision hasn’t changed since day one, which is to create and run the best restaurants in the world.”
The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market in Savannah is the second of its kind. The original stands in Fort Collins, Colorado, exuding a more free-spirited vibe, reminiscent of the Rocky Mountain life.
Karpinski explains that the Savannah location is “a bit more polished and polite” while “the communities themselves are very similar — eclectic, easygoing towns with a younger demographic and colleges in and around downtown.”
As with anyone who visits our city, the Sage Restaurant Group fell in love with Savannah’s “laid-back vibe during the day and the vibrant dining and nightlife scene in the evening.”
The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market boasts an open concept layout with all sight lines leading to the open kitchen, where executive Chef Andrew Wilson fires up French classics with a modern flair.
Chef Wilson showcases authenticity in preparations while delighting diners with nuanced flavor profiles. After studying in Paris and spending many years helming kitchens in California and Charleston, Chef Wilson was ready to get on board with Savannah’s up and coming food revolution.
“Savannah is bubbling and ready to burst — I give it two years,” Wilson estimates. Chef Wilson’s ever growing passion for French cuisine has taken roots in an appreciation for Southern fare.
Chef Wilson and team have already established thriving and long-term commitments and relationships with several local farms, ranchers, fishermen, and purveyors — such as Hunter Cattle and Cane Water Farms.
The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market identifies as an American brasserie, a spin-off on a French style restaurant with a relaxed setting. Its laid-back vibe yet traditional formalities (think selecting a steak knife from a wooden box) are a reflection of the menu offerings.
The evening began with a crafted cocktail named Andalusia. It was a tincture imbued with cynar, lemon, orange, pomegranate grenadine and chinotto soda.
This lively sip was pleasantly bitter, thanks to the cynar, with a smooth sweet finish. Its refreshing citrus aroma and deep orange hue nailed this aperitif as brag worthy.
As a Wine Market, there is a retail wine store that runs through the restaurant. Diners can order wines by the glass or pick a bottle or two from the shop, bring it over to the table, and the server will pop the cork. In my humble opinion, now that summer is upon us, it’s time to crush some rosé (which is exactly what I did).
The menu was divided into several parts: soups and salads, starters, market plates, fruits de mer, entrees and signature daily suppers. Stunning starters were both the steak tartare and duck liver mousse. Both were served with baguette crisps and lightly dressed frisee salad.
The duck liver was sumptuous, served with pickled grapes and whole grain mustard, a true balance of sweet and savory. The tartare was bold with briny capers, cornichon, cured egg yolk and pungent truffle.
Chef Wilson’s signature Roast Barbeque Oysters are equally striking as they are mouth watering. The most succulent New Brunswick oysters in the half shell are crowned with bourbon smoked jalapeno butter, lending a smoky and spicy decadence. The Emporium Kitchen expects these to be a local favorite, as they are unique to the area.
As an entrée, the Bourbon Brined Pork Chop is a must try. A bourbon apple jus was swirled around the plate tableside, accompanied by charred Brussels sprouts and Cane Water grits.
The bone-in chop was grilled over the flames of a wood fire, sealing in juices that flowed wildly when cut into. Thin slices of green apple sang with the apple soy glaze on the crispy sprouts. The grits sealed the deal, tasting like savory whipped cream.
A lighter entrée for those sweltering summer nights was the local fish du jour. This was one of those classic French dishes that Chef Wilson modernized.
Traditionally named petits pois à la Française, which is a dish that is made out of peas, lettuce and bacon in rich butter and ham stock gravy. Chef Wilson lightens it up with a golden fish fillet, delicate broth with steeped mint, al dente peas, braised lettuce and salty bacon.
Dinner’s indulgence was matched by dessert’s decadence. The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market’s pastry chef worked in South Korea with the U.S. Olympic Team and created tantalizing desserts for all palates.
The Dark Chocolate Mascarpone dish was a piece of art. Praline cocoa nib mousse was swiped in dollops of sweet mango gelée. However, the piece de résistance was the quenelle of caramel ice cream in the plate’s center. Its bitter, on the verge of burnt, caramel sugar essence was genius and should be an Emporium staple.
A fun and hands-on dessert was the Doughnut Flight for Two (I wish I did not have to share). Warm miniature French crullers, beignets, and sugared pets de nonne (translated: Nun’s farts) were dunked into butterscotch caramel and gooey chocolate fudge.
As if drinks, dinner and dessert were not enough, I recommend a nightcap on the rooftop of The Peregrin Lounge. This luxe open-air bar boasts almost 360° degree views of steeples, First Friday fireworks, the bridge and rooftops of Savannah.
Its vivacious vibe, hammocks, yard games and frosé slushies make The Peregrin Lounge the “it” spot in Savannah.