SAVANNAH NATIVE Aurash Kheradmandi ("A.K.") knows what he likes: spare, uncluttered space with no visual distractions, elegant but comfortable, a well-stocked bar you can hit for beer, wine or special cocktails, and an interesting, eclectic menu.
Looking around the city he found very few of the kind of establishments he wanted. So he decided to put one together on his own terms.
“There’s plenty of fine dining in Savannah, and a lot of great bars, but I wanted one place that covered both bases well. I didn’t want typical ‘bar food,’” he says.
“I’ve had this menu worked out for a while, and Chef Amie Linton—formerly of Cha Bella—has been phenomenal in the realization and structuring of the food: it’s skillfully prepared, beautifully presented, clean and easy to share, and of course it tastes wonderful.”
Indeed, Granite’s menu covers Persian lamb kabobs, and Asian-inspired choices as well as Amie’s funky take on a well-loved German dish, Pork Schnitzel kabobs rolled in a delightfully crunchy panko crumb coating and a delicious mustard dipping sauce.
“All of our sauces are house-made, except for the Vidalia Onion. I like the kabobs because they are recognizable, neat and clean to share. The Peruvian Pork Lollipops are especially popular,” he says.
I can attest to that! Succulent shanks with a tangy glaze accompanied by delicately fried shredded sweet potato—excellent!
The grey interior is accented only by glowing blue or red lights behind the two bars, granite-look table tops and black chairs, with a single, pure white orchid greeting visitors upon their arrival. The black clad servers move efficiently through the wide spaces with artfully presented plates, and the whole look is cool, laid-back and open.
“So many places here have just too much going on. I want to keep things simple so that diners can concentrate on their drinks, food and companions without being distracted.” Aurash says.
Having an active Facebook presence helps. I came across their page in my late-night wanderings and decided to check them out when I saw photos of the food being offered.
The visual appeal of colorful, grilled vegetable skewers is undeniable, as well as the Brazilian Churrasco marinated in lime and cilantro—the beauty of the fare draws the eye and whets the appetite. You can have the vegetable plate simple with one or two vegies, or, I recommend going all out to order all of them together—this tasty dish certainly beats out a salad on a cold autumn evening.
Build your meal just the way you want it, with separate Starters, Grains, Pastas, Salads, Vegetable and Protein dishes. The Ginger-Cilantro rice balances well with the Japanese Matsuri: seared Tuna, coated in black and white sesame seeds, and grilled Shrimp, in a ginger-honey dressing. The Peruvian Pork Pops can tastefully accompany the Granite Bolognese, or have the Russian Chicken Shashlick with Persian rice.
Can’t decide on your sides? Choose four and get the Vegetable and Grain Platter. The lunch menu carries kabobs on fresh pita bread.
Though only opened about six weeks ago, foodies are a-buzz as word begins to spread about the delicious offerings at Granite. Fans of Chef Amie Linton have found their way here, and love to see what she has in store for desserts.
Check out the richly decadent Triple Chocolate Cake-- three chocolate layers, filled with chocolate ganache and frosted with chocolate—not for the faint of heart, or the current favorite: Jameson-laced cheesecake.
Aurash says, “We’ll have a different flavor each month for the cheesecakes, or, if you prefer something lighter, try Amie’s beautiful grilled pineapple & pound cake with caramel sauce.”
Each time I’ve dined there I hear exclamations over the Funnel Cake Fries, a fun take of a favorite treat at festivals and fairs, and someone always seems to order multiples on the Low Country Boil Fritters--the mix of international flavors and familiar tastes is the order of the day here.
Precision in cooking is important: “We take great care with the marinades and bring out our food at just the right temperature—nobody else in Savannah—that I’ve seen—keeps the food at such a perfect temp. It’s that little attention to details that makes our cuisine special,” Aurash says.
The liquor license arrived just last week, so the long list of specialty cocktails is still in preparation. In the meantime, try the much-requested Grey Goose Vodka Martini with bleu-cheese-stuffed olives.
“We use the proper glasses for each drink—you want brandy warmed and swirling in a snifter, we have that. Stemless martini glasses. Elegant beer pints imprinted with colorful company logos,” says Aurash.
“Presentation is so important. Who wants a martini in a glass meant for rum & coke?”