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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Lady & Sons in Savannah, Georgia

We left our home in beautiful Ontario, Canada on the morning of October 9, 2013 with a final destination of our vacation home in Florida.  Our plans were a sightseeing trip on the way down, staying there three week, flying home for three week, then returning to Florida for five weeks.  Once we crossed the border, we made our way to I-75 to I-33, crossing on an angle to I-77 then to I-26, then to I-95 and finally I-4.  This route was a little longer than the direct route of I-75.  Originally, we planned on staying a an adorable sounding bread & breakfast (Nostalgia Inn) in Pipe Stem, West Virginia.  Those plans were suddenly change an hour away when we called and the hostess told us she was expecting a large group on the weekend so didn't want to clean up again even though she had told us a room was available the day before.  Apparently she hasn't heard of Karma!  So we continued traveling, finally stopping in Orangeburg, South Carolina for the night.  That meant we would be in Savannah, Georgia (our primary sightseeing stop) before lunch rather than the planned dinner.  We had planned on staying in Savannah overnight but we would be at our vacation home before dinner with good traveling so decided to shorten our stop in Savannah.  Aside of seeing historical Savannah, the huge draw for us was eating at The Lady & Sons.

The Lady & Sons facade
The Lady & Sons, established in 1989, is owned and operated by celebrity chef, Paula Deen and her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen.  The restaurant is located at 102 West Congress Street in historical Savannah, Georgia.  Reservations are required.  They can be made by calling the restaurant or through their website.   If you get there early you can reserve a spot from the hostess located at the side entrance (to the right of the car) before the restaurant opens. 

We arrived a little before 10:30 AM so that handsome gent (aka my husband) carrying our purse went ahead to get our name on the reservation list for the 11 AM opening.  Not pictured is the crowd that gathered outside the side door prior to opening in the hopes of getting reservations.  It was indeed an impressive sight!  While we waited, we passed the time walking about Savannah enjoying the gardens and quaint shops.  

The Lady & Sons interior first floor
The Lady & Sons restaurant has seating on three floors.  The first floor is L-shaped.  The long arm of the L was the dining room; the short arm housed the buffet stations.  At the end of the buffet stations room was the entrance to the restaurant waiting area.  We were seated on the first floor at the table in the lower right corner with the chair on the angle.  We were close to the window beside the double doors in the picture above so had a wonderful view of passers-by while dining.  The dining area is spacious yet cozy.  The original wood floors added that extra ambiance. 

What impressed us was the lack of pretentiousness, something we did not expect given that Paula Deen is a celebrity chef!  Our entire experience was nothing but top notch.  The waitstaff were some of the best we have ever had, extremely friendly and sociable, attentive to our needs.   This restaurant is certainly brimming with old fashioned southern hospitality!

southern cheddar biscuit and hoe-cake
The menu was enticing but we decided on the all you care to eat southern buffet lunch ($15.99).  The waiter brought us southern cheese biscuits and hoecakes.  A hoecake is a unleavened johnnycake (cornbread cooked pancake style) made of cornmeal.  This bread was originally baked on the blade of a hoe over and open fire, hence its name.  Oh my!  It was had to decide between the two.  They were both as delicious as they looked, cooked to a beautiful golden brown with a tantalizing aroma.  The biscuits were rich, fluffy, tender and flakey.  The hoecake was tender and flavourful.  
salad bar at The Lady & Sons
The room holding the food bars was surprisingly small with just enough room for a few people at a time.  It was filled with the aroma of delicious food!  The small salad bar was tucked in by the stairs leading to the second floor dining area.  It was small and unpretentious yet well stocked with the basics for a salad.  All of the offerings were very fresh looking.  One of the trays (middle right) held packets of butter for the biscuits or mashed potatoes.  The only ingredient not often seen at this style of salad bar was artichokes.  The dressings were also are kept to a minimum.  Something about the simplicity of the salad bar struck me.  The focus was on simple food, nicely prepared and ready to enjoy, an excellent visualization that food does not have to be fancy to be good.

meat and veggie station at The Lady & Sons
The entire main course buffet station was only about ten feet long at best, with serving from both sides.  Once again, the simplicity echoed in the unpretentious main course offerings, especially the southern fried chicken done to perfection and piled high in the tray.  There was no doubt that chicken looking this good would be a sure-fire culinary delight!  Less selection means that the focus was on a few dishes cooked perfectly rather than a large selection of mediocre dishes.   To me, that is always key.  The main course buffet station certain did not disappoint!  Each tray was filled with delicious looking dishes cooked home-style.

hubby's lunch at The Lady & Sons
My husband chose the southern fried chicken, baked chicken, meatloaf with gravy, mac & cheese, creamy mashed potatoes and a mixed vegetable casserole.  Both styles of chicken were cooked to perfection!  The meatloaf was a basic ground beef based meatloaf, lightly seasoned, moist and tender topped with a rich, creamy brown gravy full of flavour.  The mixed vegetable casserole was a mixture of peas, carrots, lima beans and corn in a creamy sauce topped with cheese.  The mac & cheese was just like homemade, rich and creamy with lots of cheese then topped with cheese!  My husband enjoyed his meal then went back for seconds. 

my lunch at The Lady & Sons
I chose the southern fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, green beans, black-eyed peas and collard greens.  Now this was some of the best southern fried chicken I've ever tasted!  It was nicely fried to a golden brown, seasoned perfectly, crispy on the outside yet moist and tender meat.  I normally do not eat the coating or skin but tasted a little. Delicious!  The mashed potatoes were a dream, light and fluffy with a rich creaminess undoubtedly from milk and butter.  This is the second time I've had collards and while they were nicely cooked, they really aren't something I will be making at home.  The black-eyed peas were delicious.  The green beans were my only complaint.  They were cooked in bacon grease in traditional southern style.  They looked like green beans, perfectly cooked to al dente but despite their appearance, they were mushy.  I know this is the way southerners cook their green beans as opposed to the northern al dente, still it was a bit of a surprise. 

banana pudding at The Lady & Sons
Dessert (peach cobbler, banana pudding or ooey, gooey butter cake) came with the buffet so we each got one to share.  More specifically, me to have a taste and my husband to enjoy most of it.  This has been a standing tradition with use ever since our newlywed days.  I very seldom eat dessert and we rarely order dessert when out but when we do, he ends up eating both.  I ordered the banana pudding.  This rich, creamy dessert was scrumptious!  The flavour was amazing, not too sweet.  a lovely dollop of whipped cream just accented the flavour.   Paula Deen's Classic Banana Pudding can be duplicated at home as well as and Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding, a fancier version of the classic recipe.  I plan to make the classic version for our next family gathering.

Paula Deen's signature dessert - ooey, gooey butter cake
Paula Deen is well know for her use of butter and the catch phrase butter y'all.  It isn't surprising that she came up with a specialty cake aptly named, the ooey gooey butter cake.  This dessert is incredibly rich and way to sweet for my liking.  My husband who does have a sweet tooth even declared it too sweet.  I'm certain it is a popular choice for many though given the reviews on the restaurant.  I found it interesting that when I searched for a recipe to duplicate at home, I found several versions of her butter cakes, just not this particular one.  At any rate, if you like rich, chocolatey sweetness then you would like this dessert!

Overall, we were impressed with The Lady & Sons!  As mentioned our experience was wonderful, well worth the side trip, and we had a chance to see a bit of historical Savannah.  I kept hoping we'd spot one of the Deens but that didn't happen.  Perhaps we will get to meet one of them during our next visit to Savannah...

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