My wife and I took a road trip at the end of September/beginning of October 2010 to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Here are some of the highlights.
Day 1 Wednesday: Left Chicago around 6:45AM with McDonald’s breakfast in the car to help us get a jump on traffic.
Our first stop was at Schimpff’s Confectionary in Jeffersonville, IN, right on the Ohio River. Opened in 1891, it is one of the oldest family owned businesses in the country. They have a 50’s style soda fountain, a little museum and demonstrate how they make some of their hard candies. Great selection of milk, dark and white chocolates and hard candies.
Stopped for lunch at Lynne’s Paradise Café across the Ohio in Louisville, KY. Weirdly and kitschy decorated, Lynne’s offered up an extremely tasty variation of a Kentucky Brown that my wife and I both ordered. The menu describes it as “Paradise Hot Brown - our home roasted turkey breast baked on sourdough bread, with mornay sauce, bacon, tomato, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. The cheesy mornay sauce was outstanding. Although we never had a Kentucky Brown before, we both really enjoyed the version served here which is not the original recipe. Accompanied by a fried green tomato appetizer, banana pudding for desert and unsweetened iced raspberry herb tea, this was an outstanding beginning to our vacation. A friendly and helpful group of staff made it even more enjoyable.
347 Spring St.
Jeffersonville, IN 47130
Lynne’s Paradise Café
984 Barret Ave
Louisville, KY 40204
Day 2 Thursday: Unfortunately we were a few hours early for the Annual World Chicken Festival in London, KY. We had hoped to have some fried chicken off the world’s largest frying pan, but it was not to be. We wound up having lunch at Waffle House in Corbin, KY, the home of Colonel Sanders’ first restaurant and motor lodge.
Day 3 Friday: We stopped off in Columbia, SC to check out the capitol and a few other sights. A very nice young lady at the downtown tourist center suggested we have lunch at the Lizard’s Thicket, a locally owned chain of country style restaurants in the Columbus area. It kind of reminded me of Lou Malnati’s operation here in Chicago. However, after a little more research, my wife found a “stand alone” place called Compton’s Kitchen in West Columbia, a short drive to the west. It turned out to be a relatively small place reminiscent of Patty’s in Skokie in terms of ambiance and décor – old tables and chairs, none of which matched. There was a group of older women doing the cooking and table waiting. And like Patty’s, the food was outstanding. Order your meat and two or three sides at the counter, have a seat and wait for them to bring it to you. We both had fried chicken, lightly battered and pan fried. Tender, juicy and not at all greasy. Outstanding buttermilk biscuits, still made by 80 year old Mr. Compton daily, and great sides such as mac n cheese, greens, black eyed peas, okra, etc. accompanied the meal along with home brewed iced tea – sweet or unsweetened.
After arriving and settling in at Charleston, SC we decided to drive north up Rt. 17 to See Wee’s in Awendaw. The restaurant, in an old general store, is easy to see on the side of the road, but was a little further out than we thought. The ride was worth it though. After getting a complimentary basket of very tasty hushpuppies, my wife and I both started with a bowl of She Crab Soup with sherry on the side to add as desired. The soup was rich and creamy with the nice fresh taste of the crab coming through nicely. We both ordered the Seafood Platter that featured fried oysters, fried grouper, grilled shrimp and grilled scallops. The fried items were battered well, but not overdone and fried just right. We both agreed though, that the grilled shrimps and scallops were the highlight. Both were cooked and seasoned perfectly giving them an outstanding texture and flavor. Two sides of choice accompanied the platter.
1118 B Avenue
West Columbia, SC
4808 N. Highway 17
Awendaw, SC 29429
Day 4 Saturday: Stopped for a quick lunch at T-Bonz, part of a local chain, at the City Market.
We shared an appetizer of a seafood dip with crab, shrimp and spinach and a T Bonz Signature Burger with caramelized onions, a balsamic reduction and cheddar cheese. Both were surprisingly good and better than we expected. If you’re at the City Market and get hungry check it out.
We had dinner at one of the more upscale Charleston restaurants, 82 Queen. Located in the historic district’s French quarter, it is in a building with an almost 300 year history. Dining was available outdoors in a beautiful area in the rear of the building or indoors in a variety of small rooms. We ate indoors and both enjoyed a bowl of She Crab Soup that was very rich and creamy with slightly different seasonings than we had at See Wee. My wife had seared scallops and jumbo shrimp on a bed of linguini with a light creamy Alfredo type sauce. The seafood and pasta were perfectly cooked. I had the barbecued shrimp and creamy grits – their signature dish and absolutely outstanding. The grits were exceptionally creamy and smooth with the shrimp cooked to the point of just being done, but having no chewiness. The barbecue sauce was light almost cream of tomato tasting with a hint of heat.
TBonz Gill & Grill
80 N. Market Street
Charleston, SC 29401
82 Queen Street
Charleston, South Carolina
Day 5 Sunday: Lunch at Jestine’s Kitchen featuring fried chicken and three sides. Everything was good and the coca cola cake was very sweet! Jestine’s does not take reservations so you have to go and wait in line outside. We got there about 12:30 and the wait was fairly short. Both of us thought Compton’s in West Columbia was a cut above though.
We had our first low country boil (Shucks Steampot for One ) for dinner at A.W. Shucks which we thought was a chain but wasn’t. We started with She Crab Soup, which my wife and I both agreed was off the mark compared to See Wee’s and 82 Queen. However, the low country boil made up for it. The boil included shrimp, snow crab legs, oysters, clams, mussels, sausage, corn and new red potatoes. It was nicely seasoned with a little bit of heat. Everything tasted fresh and was not overcooked, but the oysters were relatively small.
251 Meeting St.
70 State Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-1151 http://www.a-w-shucks.com/
Day 6 Monday: Drove from Charleston to Savannah via Edisto Beach and Beaufort. The places we looked for were closed, so nothing special to report.
Day 7 Tuesday: Our first meal in Savannah was a real treat. We had lunch at Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room which was a boarding house when Mrs. Wilkes bought it in 1943. The boarding house is long closed, but the family still runs the dining room located in the lower level of the original building. Open 11am until 2pm Monday through Friday, the menu features fried chicken and other entrees which change daily. There are no reservations, so the line starts forming outside around 10am to get in. There are two dining rooms inside, each with 3-4 tables seating 8-10 people. So, you are seated as you enter and eat with whoever is in front or behind you in line. The day we were there they had fried chicken (outstanding), sausage and beef stew along with, at least, 10 sides and the best biscuits my wife and Ai have had since Ma Hale’s in Grand Tower, IL. The fried chicken was lightly battered and perfectly seasoned. Each side was better than the other. The banana pudding for desert was awesome. It’s family style and the staff keeps the platters and bowls refilled. Of the “meat and three” type places we visited, this definitely was my choice of the best all around. By the way, it’s cash only and, do not look for a restaurant when you go there. It is located on a residential street in a home. The signage is small and a little difficult to see. Look for the people waiting to get in.
We drove out to Tybee Island for dinner at The Crab Shack, a very informal place on the shore of the island with a great view of the water. Although it was a tad tacky (they have a big gift shop and pond filled with alligators) the outdoor dining area was really enjoyable. The tables have holes in the middle making it easy to dispose of crab and shrimp shells which are the featured menu items. The menu is not big and is mainly limited to shrimp and crab. My wife had the low country boil and I had crab cakes – a first for me. The boil was very good and featured the usual sausage, new red potatoes and corn. While the crab was fresh, I did not like the crab cakes and since I had never had them before, I can’t compare or critique. It just wasn’t for me.
One important thing about the Crab Shack. If you do not like cats, do not go there. There are lots of cats there wandering around and they will sit and watch you eat…waiting for their treat. The cats that visited us were very polite and, since we are cat people, we found them enjoyable.
Mrs. Wilkes dining Room
107 W. Jones St.
Savannah, GA 31401
The Crab Shack
40 Estill Hammer Rd.
Tybee Island, GA 31328
Day 8 Wednesday: After much discussion, we decided to have dinner at The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s place. Based on what we read and heard from people in Savannah, the reviews were mixed but everyone said to do the buffet. We ordered the buffet that featured fried chicken, pot roast, fried catfish and various southern style sides and a choice of desert. The chicken had a slightly thick and crispy batter that was perfectly fried. The sides were all excellent. One nice touch was a complimentary jalapeno biscuit and piece of Johnny cake served when we were seated. The Johnny cake was very good and we ordered seconds.
One thing to know about The Lady and Sons is that you have to get your name on the list early in the day. It is nearly impossible to just walk up and get a table for lunch or dinner. The line to get your name on the list for lunch starts around 9am and we put our name on the list for dinner about 11am. They also have a small gift shop featuring all things Paula.
The Lady & Sons
102 W Congress St
Savannah, GA 31401
Day 9 Thursday: We hit the road for home and had lunch at a Waffle House. The All Star breakfast special hit the spot. It includes 2 eggs, toast, grits, meat, a waffle and coffee plus that great Waffle House ambiance. What more could ya want?
We had dinner at Williamson Brothers BBQ in Marietta, GA. This place features authentic southern style pit BBQ and was worth the visit. My wife had a slab of baby back ribs that were lean, meaty and had some pull to them. I had pulled pork that was very moist. Both had a nice smoky flavor that complimented the meat and the sauce was on the vinegary side with a nice tang to it. Each came with two sides. The baked beans and Brunswick stew were particularly noteworthy. They also have locations in Canton and Douglasville.
Williamson Bros. BBQ
1425 Roswell Rd.
Marietta, GA 30062
We stopped at a Waffle House in northern Tennessee for breakfast the last day on the road and had our last vacation dinner at Villa Nova Pizzeria in Stickney, IL- a recommendation from my wife’s friend. A basic neighborhood place, Villa Nova has very good tavern style pizza with a nice thin crust and very good sausage. My wife and I agreed that we would go back if we were in the area. Villa Nova has been mentioned on LTH before so you can do a search on it.
Villa Nova Pizzeria
6821 Pershing Rd
Stickney, IL 60402
"Call any vegetable...and the chances are good the vegetable will respond to you."