THE ANDAZ Hotel and its featured restaurant, 22 Square, are not newbies to the local culinary scene. In fact, when I moved to Savannah a few years ago, 22 Square played a part in making my transition a bit easier.
It was one of the first restaurants I visited as a newly dubbed local, and it reminded me of some of the restaurants I adored and missed from home.
Savannah’s Andaz Hotel is not the only branch of the company’s hotel chain, and as part of the boutique hotels’ local flair, they host a Salon event to feature and partner with local members of the community.
- The scallop.
The aim of each Salon, usually held quarterly, is to showcase local artists, chefs, photographers, and the like to the public. The Salon is free, open to everyone and anyone, and features interactive stations with each featured local.
For the latest Salon held at our local Andaz on June 28, the hotel showcased people from within the store. Sarah Menard, the director of sales, events, and marketing, told me that “instead of looking outside of Andaz Savannah [they] decided to partner with [their] colleagues that each have a very special talent.”
The Salon was dubbed the Art Of, and would feature demonstrations and talks from each artist.
The featured cocktail was inspired by a classic Pimm’s Cup, a Pimm’s liqueur-based cocktail made with ginger beer, cucumber, and citrus. For their version, the 1970 Cup, 22 Square featured locally made vodka from Savannah distillery 1970.
- 'Slapping the mint.'
Ikeda Feingold is the creator of Savannah’s 1970 vodka which includes nineteen different fruits, herbs, and botanicals. Jane Fishel, beverage supervisor at 22 Square, worked with Feingold “developing cocktails that highlight all nineteen of the botanicals and fruit that  is infused with.”
For the cocktail at 22 Square, she said that they use “1970, fresh cucumber juice, and our house-made ginger beer, along with mint and lemon.” The idea behind the Salon’s signature cocktail was to feature a slightly reimagined classic.
The overall flavor of the cocktail was light and refreshing, one that would be easy to slurp down quickly while sitting on a porch on a hot southern summer day (or cruising the squares downtown on foot). Each ingredient worked together, the last not overpowering the next.
Two main dishes were featured by Executive Chef Chris Cummer: smoked scallops and a quinoa salad. The inspiration for his menu was to be “refreshing, piquant, flavorful, and light — perfect for the dog days of summer,” Chef told me. After tasting the dishes I understood exactly what Chef Cummer was referring to.
The smoked scallop was the perfect bite of light yet briny seafood. To smoke the scallops, the chef uses alder wood, characterized by a light and sweet flavor that pairs well with seafood, and cold smokes them for approximately ten minutes.
At the Salon, Chef Cummer demonstrated the smoking technique as his feature. To finish the scallops Chef seared to give them crispy golden brown crust before being topped with avocado, Thai basil, candied bacon, and a sliver of Serrano pepper.
Naturally scallops are a seafood that have a buttery sweetness, the addition of avocado amplified the buttery notes of the scallop. Similarly, the candied bacon, both sweet and smoky, boost the same flavor profiles of the smoked scallop. The Thai basil brightened the dish, while the pepper cut through the fat so your palate was not overwhelmed by the full flavors of the beautifully composed dish.
For normal dinner service, the scallop is served under a smoked glass. Recommended pairing is a French 75, poured tableside into the glass used for smoking. Drinking the cocktail from the glass used to smoke and serve the scallop allows the connoisseur to take in the effervescence of the wood as the drink is enjoyed.
- Jordan Smith.
Chef Cummer has his own garden on the roof of the Andaz, and I was lucky enough to receive a tour. As to be expected, some ingredients featured in the dish were grown in that very rooftop garden; specifically, the Thai basil and Serrano peppers.
A complete juxtaposition to the seafood symphony was the featured quinoa salad, and in no way was this salad something you would imagine being forced to eat to comply with your summer diet. The quinoa, which was prepared perfectly tender yet firm, was encased with a rose vinaigrette and tossed together almonds, blackberries, wilted greens, and pickled green strawberries.
Overall, the flavor was nutty, sweet, and tangy, all while being light yet hearty —a perfectly balanced dish to be expected considering Chef Cummer’s feature included a talk on balancing cuisine. The 1970 Cup, due to its refreshing profile, paired perfectly with both dishes.
Local artist Jordan Smith, who also works at 22 Square, painted a unique piece of art as his portion of the Salon, the Art of Painting. The art included the three wise monkeys, a common theme that can be found throughout the rooms of the Andaz Savannah.
Smith also had small canvas and supplies for attendees to participate. If you are ever in the hotel you can see many of Jordan Smith’s original works hanging in the lobby and near the restaurant.
Tracy Scarlatti, a host at the front desk, presented the Art of Photography, not only taking photos of the event but giving guests tips on photography.
The Art of Florals was hosted by Ana Duggar, who assists in the banquet department, which not only discussed techniques for making a floral bouquets, but allowed guests to participate. Many attendees made their own flower crowns to wear throughout the event and take home.
Through the year you can expect new and exciting Salons at the Andaz Savannah because there is no better way to bring a community together than through good food and drinks.