Since it opened in April of 2007, Local 11ten has repeatedly drawn rave reviews for style, service, ambiance and most importantly FOOD. My recent visit and dining experience, on a remarkably busy Thursday night, reflected the very reasons for that trend.
Entering the restaurant, the front door is the first in a number of notable details. It is a huge stainless steel frame with inset blistered glass encasing wild reeds—perhaps as a cheeky nod to owners, Reed Dulany and his wife, Meredith.
Throughout the interior, plentiful glass, polished concrete, exposed bricks and stainless steel flourishes are a tasteful and welcomed break from the Colonial and Victorian doo-dads that tend to abound in Savannah.
The location at 1110 Bull Street is the former home of the Savannah Bank. With acknowledgement toward its past life, interesting design elements such as the drive-thru window and Mosler safe remain in place and are stylistically ‘celebrated’. The safe, for example, serves as centerpiece to a semi-private dining alcove with cork-lined walls and a hand-hewn steel chandelier. I understand that this special little nook, which seems to seat about eight, is ‘always booked’ and it is easy to see why.
The chic, stainless-faced bar was abuzz on my visit, full of bright, sun-kissed faces chatting over cosmos and ‘tinis. The crowd of oldsters and hipsters, with a few twentythirtyforty-somethings (who can tell these days?) mixed in for good measure, mingled well.
The bartender, Yvette, was on point and friendly, even pitching in to run one of my dishes out to me. As a waiter for many years, I love to see a team that works well together. This is the case largely because manager Jamie Durrence, a fixture in Savannah’s restaurant scene, keeps the house tight while encouraging a warm, welcoming environment.
My waiter, Jeff, was friendly and informative but not intrusive. My drinks were brought swiftly, specials mentioned and orders taken without an involved string of ‘blah, blah, blahs’ as I call them. Long, tedious lists of specials, recited in elegiac form, cause my AADHD to kick-in at full force.
That is not to say that the menu is simple, but that the presentation of specials is kept simple. The menu, in fact, reflects the influence of a knowledgeable and sophisticated palate; that of Executive Chef Brandy Williamson.
Ingredients focus on use of ‘local’ produce, herbs and even meats. The menu changes with the season, and nightly specials feature the freshest-of-the-fresh, often native seafood and fish.
The wine list leans heavily toward French, with Italian, Spanish and Californian tossed in for good measure. There are a wide range of by-the-glass choices, and the bar menu is extensive. For my pre-dinner cocktail, I decided on the Pimm’s Cup, a British staple long associated with the Wimbledon Tournament. I figured if it was good enough to cool hundreds of courtside spectators, it was just the thing to quench my parched palette on a sultry Savannah evening. The drink did not disappoint…
I began with the Soup of the Day, carrot and cauliflower in a cream base. It was sublime—gently pureed, tiny bits of vegetable intact—and finished with an herb infused XVOO drizzle.
Next, I had a salad of baby greens, pickled onion, dried cranberries, spiced pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sweet grass asher blue, with a cardamon vinegarette. The bitter greens, slightly tangy cranberries and robust asher blue cheese, made by the Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, Georgia, were perfectly complementary with the lemony dressing.
My entrée choice was described as such; “pan-roasted tanglewood farms breast of chicken, truffled sweet potatoes, broccolini, herb infused oil.” I mention the specifics for two reasons; first, to reiterate the simplistic, exact menu descriptions. Secondly, to highlight one of the predominant aspects of the food served at Local— the use of fresh, high quality, mostly local ingredients.
The Tanglewood Farms chicken was perfectly pan-roasted, served with a crisp, golden brown skin. Though it is raised in North Carolina, not exactly local, I did a little research on the farm and it is hard to imagine a poultry product of higher quality available anywhere.
The truffled sweet potatoes were creamy and decadent, a gourmet’s version of an old Southern staple. The broccolini and herb infused oil added complexity and texture to the dish, acting in supporting roles to the stars—the chicken and sweet potatoes. Overall, it was an excellent dish.
Dessert seemed an impossible task, but I was told I MUST try the French Toast (what?) for a finale. Indeed remarkable; a trio of toast triangles, golden brown and slightly crisp, topped with roasted rhubarb and local strawberries, drizzled with Chambord and butter, finished with powdered sugar, whipped cream and fresh mint. What else need I say?
Except that I was finished as well, and only a cup of strong coffee could power me out of my seat and into the heat of a balmy Savannah night. Local 11ten proved it clearly deserves each and every accolade it receives. In fact, I’ve been singing their praises for weeks now. Thanks for giving me the chance to tell you all about it!