Ya’ll know Southern food ain’t my thang, but when I was invited to have lunch at Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons in Savannah, I couldn’t say no.
The restaurant is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the heart of the city, surrounded by historic squares with live oaks draped in Spanish moss. A gift shop provides a clever gateway to the restaurant, where guests can wait several hours to be seated. But not us, no ma’am, we were whisked up the stairs and seated like royalty! (Turns out our host works for the lady.)
The decor is old-timey Southern charm in shades of vintage pink with white paper doilies for placemats. Our server delivered garlicky biscuits and greasy hoe cakes to our table as we ordered drinks. Meanwhile, guests enjoyed their sweet tea and took turns at the buffet. Now, you know I hate the very thought of a buffet. I considered ordering off the menu, perhaps a bowl of seafood gumbo? But all five of my tablemates, including LC, were already returning from the buffet carrying plates piled high with scattered, smothered, and fried Southern favorites.
Since we were short on time, I joined the crowd at the buffet. Although there was a baked option that LC tried, I felt like it just wasn’t right if I didn’t get fried chicken. I chose collard greens, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese for my sides. I skipped the black-eyed peas, cole slaw, baked beans, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and a few other indistinguishable items.
Beneath the chicken’s thick, crunchy crust, the meat was juicy and tender. My favorite side was the vinegary collards flavored with delicious chunks of ham hock, followed by the sugary yams, although I wish they both had been hotter. The lack of heat caused the macaroni and cheese to coagulate, making the texture clumpy rather than creamy. While others returned for second helpings, I finished my plate, pleased with my restraint.
Our server replenished our teas, then came by with a tray of desserts to choose from…banana pudding, peach cobbler, and Deen’s signature toffee gooey butter cake. LC and I took one of each to taste. I loathe banana pudding (I mean puddin’), and merely dislike cobblers and cakes, so I took a bite of the cobbler first and found it appropriately doughy. The simple slice of cake, thankfully without frosting, was the best of the three.
The Lady and Sons is exactly what a Southern buffet is supposed to be…fried with lard, drenched in butter, covered with gravy, and prepared with love, ya’ll.
102 W. Congress Street 912-233-2600