While the rest of Savannah begins to slowly turn green for St Patrick’s Day, the tri–colored flag of France waves hello from East Liberty Street.
That’s the home of Brasserie 529, a barely month–old restaurant that is the city’s newest entry into the French Bistro concept.
First off, the build out of this former storage space for Liberty Plumbing Co. is amazing. From the distinctive tray ceilings to the custom made and inviting bar, there’s plenty of attention to detail in the finish and decor. The floor plan creates intimate, cozy dining areas that can also be modified to accommodate larger parties.
Private, off street parking is a plus, but quickly fills on busy days.
The menu draws directly from its French inspiration, with a wonderful selection of cheeses, cured meats and fresh seafood. Obviously, there is a charcuterie plate offered — and I’m looking forward to a return trip when I can share it around the table.
During my visit, the lunch crowd had wiped many of the menu’s most favorite dishes — the Lyndy Burger, a 12–ounce ground sirloin with lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, cheddar, bacon and a pickle. Also 86’d for the day was White Bean Cassoulet.
You may recall I’m a cassoulet junkie, but had already decided against this rich, peasant dish. The cassoulet will go off the menu when a seasonal change is made in April, so hurry to get yours.
Instead, I chose Shrimp Gumbo, a dish that plays to primary elements of French cooking — but also calls out Cajun influences that I know Chef John Roelle has experienced. I was not disappointed.
A classic dark roux laid the foundation and then brought together a savory melange of vegetables. Adding flavors and texture: al dente, diagonal cuts of fresh okra, big, pink shrimp and hearty chunks of Andouille sausage. Rice is a given in this dish, and to chef’s credit, it does not overwhelm. It was a satisfying and pleasing meal — and an example of the authenticity the chef delivers.
Two thoughts, however.
First, a small bread offering would have been a good idea, especially when confronted with the remaining, seductively flavored broth. Second, kick up the Andouille. It wasn’t wholly flavorless — but should present with more power in this complex range of flavors.
There was attentive service from some of my favorite Savannah servers who came over to Brasserie from other gigs. The inviting bar is well stocked, and offers a small, dynamic wine list that will also vary with seasonal menus. There are plenty of beer choices — know that premium imports are served room temperature.
A tip of the beret to Chef John and his wife, Amber. They worked long and hard to get Brasserie open, and the response has been overwhelming. This is one to watch folks — and experiment with as Chef John grows into his own place.
529 E. Liberty St./238–0045
Mon– Sat lunch 11 a.m.–4 p.m.; Thur–Sat dinner 5–10 p.m. (Adding Wed night after St. Pat’s Day)