LET’S be honest: For most of us, Tybee only exists a few months out of the year, and most of the time we go straight from our cars to the beach and back to our cars.
We pass by all of the local establishments that leave us even more removed and detached from the island’s reality. I love the fact that we have a beach, and that with a 30-minute trip down Victory, we can feel the breeze on our faces and have our toes in the sand.
But aside from an ice cream shack, with my limited perspective I felt as if Tybee was an island full of corporate hotels and seasonal restaurants. Which isn’t necessarily false, just not the whole truth.
However, there is much more that Tybee has to offer. You just have to know where to look. Which is part of the excitement for someone like me who enjoys finding hidden gems in odd places.
Those who are local to Savannah, especially people who live downtown, often get boxed into the limitations of the famous squares we are surrounded by.
When we do that we let those who push the papers to decide what we consider to be our culture.
The politics of our city has created an environment that primarily caters to the tourist, which is where the old money happens to be. So for locals who are thirsty for something else, this creates a need for us to start looking outside of the box (squares) for the solution.
I’ve been finding so much inspiration and meeting so many dedicated people in the boroughs surrounding Savannah lately than I have within our own city limits.
Pooler has shown up in a big way recently, which gives me hope for what we could potentially see in the future of our food industry.
Tybee happened to be the first place that popped up in my head. Don’t get me wrong, Tybee has a few spots that are true and local to the area, and that deserve recognition. I do plan on getting to all of those places, don’t worry. But I did want to acknowledge the lack of attention and intention given to this island; an island that provides us locals so much life and freedom in the summertime.
Once I took the time to research the island and decide where I was going, I wanted to pick a spot that was different. A place that wasn’t like anything else I had written about in the past, and something that could represent Tybee.
Life is serendipitous, and when we found out the restaurant we originally selected was under renovations for January and February, we effortlessly squeezed into a bar of a restaurant, which ended up being the restaurant I covered: The Tybee Fish Camp.
Now, I had heard about this place for some time, but because it’s Tybee, the mental block I associated with Tybee’s food never allowed me to venture on the island for it.
We sat down at the bar as we took in the space. Very intimate and very well curated. It felt familiar, in a way that no other restaurant had made me feel. It smelled delicious and the lighting and ambiance were on point, which invited me to relax my shoulders and get comfortable.
Fine dining is in its own category of food because there are so many factors involved in creating a successful experience in that sort of environment. Out of all the fine dining experiences I’ve had in the city, I have yet to have one that really smacked of Savannah.
Chefs will make Southern dishes, or their interpretation of what Savannah should taste like on a plate, but I never really taste Savannah. The Tybee Fish Camp created a menu that is grounded in food that will honestly give a well-rounded impression of the city.
Yes, some of the dishes are prototypical Southern dishes like the crab cakes, or the oysters, but they are executed in a way that is very unique to them.
What really blew me away was their risotto. Risotto is a traditionally Italian dish, and to do it right sounds simple but is extremely difficult. Their lobster, mushroom, and shrimp risotto was something out of this world. So unique, so true to them, it was honestly the first time I felt like I tasted Savannah.
A sweet take on a traditional dish really allowed me to understand the dynamic in that kitchen, and why they are who they are.
I love eating food cooked by people who actually understand the complexity of food. Bravo to whoever put together my food; it truly was an experience.
Their take on fresh fish is something unique to them and to Tybee. Paired with their out of the box cocktails and charming environment, this should be a place you consider the next time you think about having an intimate evening with someone special.
Keep Tybee in your thoughts too, because they have some culture and food over there we sometimes forget. Let’s keep stirring that pot, people.