A WHILE back I'd been suitably impressed by a little spot on Abercorn downtown, Sly's Sliders 'n' Fries, and was happy to learn that owner/chef Matt Baldwin and his pal Dave Hammer where soon to be opening a new 'meat 'n' three joint out in Garden City.
After sampling Matt’s succulent sliders and hot dogs, not to mention the hand-cut fries, you know I had to make my way out to Main Street to see what new delights he is cookin’ up!
First thing you notice is the parking lot slap full of big rigs, and dudes, both slim and burly, making their way across the pavement with big smiles of anticipation. They already know what they’ll be getting: home-cookin’ style meals, fresh veggies, plentiful meats and good prices, served with a smile by the lovely Erika, and prepared by Chef Marty Newsome and his pal Felix Grendel.
The venue is bright and full of sunshine reflecting from big front windows, clean as a freshly whitewashed picket fence, and there’s plenty of space if you decide to eat in.
Mosey on over to where Felix stands behind the long bar of vividly colored vegetables, fried chicken, huge chunky cuts of meatloaf and a bin of REAL mashed potatoes—that’s an important point here, because every item fresh as a dewy daisy, and you won’t find a single stalk of overcooked broccoli or soggy peas in the place.
I’m a cornbread lover, for sure, and fastidious about a good chunka, yet even I was impressed by, not a stack of dried out muffins in paper cups, but an actual bin, a full pan of luscious, slightly sweet, moist and tender cornbread that had me dreaming of taking a hunk home for breakfast the next morning!
My friend Elizabeth and I were happy to indulge in a plethora of fresh vegetables that warmed my heart: tender, yet firm slices of squash and zucchini; bright, sweet, sliced carrots; gently steamed broccoli and corn-on-the-cob cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of tenderness and crispiness.
Oh yes, and here, sweet potato lovers actually get to taste the favored tuber, not become comatose from a crust of sugar and marshmallows!
For those craving desserts, choose as peach or apple cobbler as a side, and if you have a desire for further decadence in the form of cake or cookies, grab Chef Marty Newsome and let him know. He’s one enthusiastic food connoisseur! He’s a jolly dude with a headful of curly brown hair, beard, and tortoise-shell framed glasses, and once you get him started, he’ll entertain you with stories of food, guts and glory.
“Hey, I’m an emotional guy and a big eater, and that kinda led me down the right career path!” Marty grins confidently.
“Just outta cop school, I had friends who wanted me to take off to Vegas, but I knew where my tastes truly lay, so I decided to go to Savannah Tech. Chef John taught me a lot—he was incredible! The only thing I didn’t get into deeply was baking—but I was dating a girl in the class who was happy to set me up with sugar rosettes and such on the sly, so I got through it,” he confesses.
The concept of freshness is really important to Marty. “I grew up around Ferguson Avenue, always with great, really fresh seafood—throw your nets in the river and bring’em up full.”
That idea shows up well at Gears & Grub—you can watch the potatoes being peeled behind the clear glass counter, each item done right, every single day, Monday through Friday.
Sly’s Sliders n’ Fries led here to Gears & Grub and the tradition continues onward with Marty’s dream of owning his own food truck; he’s also a member of the Savannah Food Truck Association.
A brigade of food trucks is a common sight in cities like L.A. or Austin, but Savannah has yet to get itself in gear. Marty’s eyes shine at the thought of his own truck at ever-changing venues and parks around the city.
If the eats on his rig are as fresh and tasty as that cornbread, I’m there, baby!