LOCALS love to enjoy the salty air with a cocktail in hand. So for a Savannah restaurant worth its salt to be successful here, a proper happy hour menu is a must. What better to go with a well-crafted adult beverage than a well-crafted adult snack?
Keeping only the interest of the locals in mind, two restaurants have recently introduced a new buzzworthy happy hour menu full of crafty cocktails and tasty snacks: Cotton & Rye and The Fat Radish.
I took the time last week (because I will truly do anything for our readers) to take each menu for a spin.
I left each establishment far from disappointed, and I ordered extra food to take home for another day.
- Cotton & Rye’s Chicken Skins.
The idea behind each menu is to give guests the opportunity to try a new menu item without having to fork out money for the entire dish. But the catch is that after tasting these delicious dishes, you then have a reason to shy away from the same entree you order every single time.
Executive Chef Andrew Oliva took the time to explain why Cotton & Rye implemented their new menu.
“The idea was, obviously, what can we get to the customer for a reasonable price and also for it to make sense. So, what made a lot of sense is to take a couple of ideas that were very well received and classic staples from the opening menu, in particular the chicken thighs and the shrimp and grits,” Oliva says.
The Smoked Trout Toast is a lightly smoked trout dip that is packed with dill and pickled shallot.
“The pickled cucumbers have that little bit of spice from the garlic and habanero in there. They are a little bit more approachable, and a little bit more briney, a little bit sweeter. And we add the pickle shallot which is just a nice sharp bite to go along with it to cut through the creaminess and the smokiness on the trout itself,” says Chef Oliva.
“The empanada came about because we did a special happy hour with Ghost Coast Distillery one evening. They came in for a couple of hours and put together some special cocktails with their liquors and liqueurs, and we paired food with it. We had a mojo pork belly, which made it onto the happy hour menu. We kept the empanada on because of the reception of it. It is a real easy-to-eat hand food, very appreciable. We change out the filling and sauce every so often just to give people a different idea,” Chef Oliva says.
During my happy hour excursion, a mushroom duxelles filling was featured and wrapped in a handmade crust, by Chef Oliva, with at least a thousand layers of flaky buttery shell.
When you sink your teeth into the Shrimp And Grits Arancini, ooey, gooey Canewater grits fill your cheeks then your tongue will find just a hint of plump sweet Georgia shrimp. The hint of bacon adds a touch of smokiness and the panko shell adds an ideal amount to texture.
The Fried Chicken Skins are a true classic. They are made using the same techniques as Cotton & Rye’s famous fried chicken thighs and served with a side of house-made hot honey.
Crunchy, salty, savory, spicy, and sweet, southern food has never been more balanced. I challenge you to refrain from eating them like a bag of freshly opened potato chips.
As for washing it all down, go for their featured happy hour cocktail. When I was there the Watermelon Mint Refresher was the special, a light and refreshing summer drink to balance out the meal.
Other drink specials include $3 beers, $4 well liquors, $5 wines, a $6 martini, and $5 Fernet or Slane Whiskey.
- Chicken drums at Fat Radish.
FOR MY second stop, I hung out at the Lowcountry inspired bar of the brand-new The Fat Radish. Like Cotton & Rye, their happy hour snack menu also featured four perfectly portioned and well thought-out snacks.
Again, taking one of their classic menu items and making it more accessible for first time tasters, one of the bar snacks is a twist on their popular Chicken Schnitzel.
The Pastrami Brined Drums are soaked in the same salty and pepper brine as its sister main dish and then flash-fried until crisp.
They are served lacquered with a punchy yet sweet glaze, fresh rainbow carrots, and a creamy sauce to cool everything down.
Ever so generous, Executive Chef Nicholas Wilber only puts drums on the plate.
Cilantro, green chilies, garlic, and many other green spices are used to created the shabazi spice that coats The Fat Radish’s Shabazi Popcorn. This bar snack takes plain old popcorn to the next level with a punch of fresh yet spicy ingredients.
To cool down your palate, the Garden Avocado Dip is a stellar option. Fatty yet creamy fresh avocados are smashed together with vivacious vegetables and bright fresh herbs. The herbs are the perfect accompaniment to cut through the richness of the buttery avocado.
The Market Ceviche featured fresh tender and flaky grouper marinated in fresh citrus juice. Chef Wilber is able to maintain the delicate flavor of the fish while balancing each addition to complete his light and refreshing market fresh ceviche. To sop it all up, warm freshly fried tortilla chips are served on the side.
For the happy hour cocktails, you’ll find several $7 house mixed drinks like the Mini Vodka Martini and the Gin Smash. There are two featured wines for only $6 per glass, and local $4 beers like Service’s Rally Point Pilsner.