My cassoulet and Ms. T.J.'s Monkfish arrived placed precisely and beautifully on large, saucer-shaped plates.
The attention to detail was superb - and is a mere hint to the detail that has gone into the Sandfly location of Wright Square Cafe.
The little downtown chocolatier and grab-n-go gourmet convenience foods shop has built a loyal and demanding following. It has grown from one storefront on York Street to two. Its success is an homage to the devil-in-the-details ethic of its founders, Anthony Attardi and Gary Hall.
The two have honed their skills and their vision - and opened a second location in Sandfly, in a space that is part of a massive facelift for this once worn-looking shopping center anchored by Piggly Wiggly.
It's hardly the scene you would suspect for a fine dining restaurant - but the transformation and the execution are truly amazing. From the paint colors to the wood molding, from the floor plan, to the plans for outside seating and special events space, seemingly no detail was overlooked. Even an embossed sheaf of wheat on a large pane of glass near the bar carries significance - and stands in homage to Atttardi's heritage.
Visiting any week-old eatery is risky - but the thoroughness of this opening extended to the kitchen and wait staff - who performed as if they have been in place for more like seven months, not seven days.
My calamari appetizer was solid in preparation and proved a generous portion. The breading may have been a touch salty, but a nice, creamy tomato and lemon aioli added balance. Properly prepared breaded calamari requires attention to the oil temperature - and the chef was right on the mark.
Ms. T.J. barely left a morsel of her Roasted Pear and Hazelnut Salad. It was a mouth-watering combination of flavors - sweet pear, tangy Gorgonzola cheese and peppery arugula, all highlighted by crunchy hazelnuts.
The delicate little lobster claw meat that arrived on top of her Monkfish almost looked like a tiny fish itself - but was the standard bearer for a wonderfully decadent lobster sauce that bathed the tender, mildly flavored and flaky fish portion. A side of creamed celery root brought contrasting savory notes to a dish made sweet with lobster and spicy with a hint of chile pepper.
My cassoulet was as warming and hearty as I anticipated. A thick, rich, bean stew proved a solid foundation to big bits of sausage and a wonderfully flavored confit duck leg.
The house-made desserts sounded delicious - but we were too full. Instead, we chose a trio of chocolates - including a sublimely extravagant dark chocolate truffle infused with Savannah Bee Sourwood honey. It was so tiny, yet so over the top with decadence.
On my next trip, I've promised myself to try the lobster mac-n-cheese - and the bricked chicken.
Come January, the restaurant will have its liquor license - and will no doubt become a must-visit destination with its cozy 12-seat bar. Outdoor seating is also being completed - as is a special events room off the bar entrance.
It is also heartening to see the business partners draw talent from the city - including its chef, Chris Cohen, formerly of The Olde Pink House. It's sous chef, baker and other staff are all students nearing graduation from Savannah Tech's culinary arts program.
Regulars to the downtown location will recognize the chocolate counter and be versed in the gourmet sandwich and salad lunch program. That will continue in Sandfly; a seated, luncheon menu will be offered in January.
Hall and Attardi bring family history into the business - and it's clear they've made the best of their experiences. This addition to the Savannah culinary scene - especially in strategically situated Sandfly, is a welcome newcomer. It was a full house on our visit - a Wednesday night - I suggest reservations for your visit.
7360 Skidaway Road, Suite E1/912-349-2452