It is easy to see why the Boar's Head Grill and Tavern is a perennial favorite here, not only with tourists but with locals as well. A warm welcome is guaranteed; whether it is Chef Phillip, his wife Charlene, Eric the manager or Rebecca the bartender who catches you first — you are made to feel welcome, at home, as soon as you walk in the door.
Just before you are greeted by one of those bright, shining faces though, it’s the restaurant’s setting that grabs your attention. The entrance stands sentinel over the remarkable ballastone-cobbled walkways of world-famous River Street. The restaurant inhabits what was once a huge cotton warehouse. Built mostly in 1780, it heralded a time that cotton would become ‘King’ in Savannah and make her one of the wealthiest cities in the country.
Inside, one is ensconced within a seductive veil of heavy timbers, high windows, wide plank flooring and rustic furnishings. It is in this setting that the Boar’s Head combines the ambiance of a fine dining establishment with historical and architectural details, like exposed brick walls and arched doorways.
The Boar’s Head’s chef Philip Branan also has a history with the city of Savannah as well. Philip actually began his culinary career as a youth here in Savannah, working in local restaurants since the age of 15. He went on to graduate from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and then relocated to South Florida where he helped open the renowned Ritz Carlton in Naples.
After working a decade in South Florida, Philip decided to return to his ‘roots’ and moved back to Savannah. The Boar’s Head had been a Savannah tradition since 1959, but Chef Philip breathed new life into it in 1998 when he bought the place, renovated it and re-opened a newer, fresher Boar’s Head.
So, there’s some history for y’all… Now let’s talk about the food, because that is really where it’s at!
The Baked Oysters Rockefeller is a menu favorite and that’s understandable. We got 8 fat, juicy oysters dripping with the concoction that adds the ‘Rockefeller’ moniker; that being fresh spinach, decadent Hollandaise sauce and grated Parmesan. Yum, yum, yum.
The Savannah Steak Salad is a man-sized, eye-popping stack of wild mixed greens tossed in a tangy mustard vinaigrette, piled high with Strip steak, and finished with a flurry of fried onions.
Cool, crisp, crunchy, savory, flavorful-all on one plate! Even if you are one of those people (dudes, this is pointedly aimed at you) who “don’t eat salads”, try this one! It will not disappoint.
Equally remarkable is the Shrimp and Scallop Primavera. I don’t know how Chef Philip piles the plates so high, but the pasta came out as a towering twirl of Angel Hair sprinkled with veges a la’ primavera, snow peas, yellow squash, red pepper and mushrooms, and then crowned with jumbo white shrimp and plump, buttery sea scallops. A simple extra virgin olive oil sauce skillfully carries all of this.
The wine list is thorough. The Red choices cover all of the required stratum from Sangiovese to Chateauneuf du Pape, and all other requisite Reds. The Whites selections is less expansive but still ample, with choices from Sauvignon Blanc to Gewurztraminer and Perrier Jouet,“Fleur de Champagne”. This is Savannah, of course, and you know how we like to drink in the 9-1-2, so there is a full bar to boot. My partner chose a glass of ‘Mojo’ sangiovese while I chose a single-malt Scotch.
The bounty of tasty, tempting dessert choices include a Savannah Trifle, a Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Pecan Pie and Chef Philip’s award-winning Chocolate Bread Pudding. We chose to share a Profiterole, and it serves as testament to Chef Philip’s artisan handiwork with such delicacies. He fills an impossibly light pastry shell with French Vanilla ice cream, then drizzles it with dark, hot fudge and finishes it with homemade whipped cream. I left that afternoon thinking that in the Land of Desserts, Heaven must be spelled, p-r-o-f-i-t-e-r-o-l-e.
The Boar’s Head continually pleases on all accounts; atmosphere, ambiance, service and food, and so its history endures. Treat yourself to a taste of that history and you’ll find yourself returning again and again. They're located at One North Lincoln St. (On Riverstreet)