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Savannah and the Georgia Coast offer a full menu of flavors

July 20, 2017

Savannah, flush with grand architecture, great meetings accommodations and a lineup of attractions that keeps attendees entertained, adds a bit of spice for visiting groups with its wonderful culinary experiences.

Similarly, along the Georgia Coast, including St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, the salty ocean air mingles with the flavors of a happening cuisine scene.

This is an area that insists planners incorporate, among other ideas, a meal at a local group-friendly restaurant, an informative foodie tour, a cooking class to learn how to create some popular Georgia dishes, and a visit to an area brewery for a cold one.

Savannah

Groups with a free afternoon can find an eclectic mix of old architecture and new industry at Chef Darin’s Kitchen Table, located in the Starland District.

Here, groups can sign up for a hands-on cooking class, a culinary teambuilding event or a cooking demonstration. All options promote camaraderie among attendees.

“Foodies, home cooks and kitchen novices alike can get their hands dirty with the chef,” said Erica Backus, director of public relations for Visit Savannah. “Everyone knows the best social setting is the kitchen table.”

Situated on-site at Mansion on Forsyth Park, a 125-room hotel with more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space, 700 Kitchen Cooking School by Kessler offers another option for groups that would like to learn some tricks of the trade.

Private classes are available and include lessons in making tapas, classic Italian fare and Southern, Savannah-style dishes, including fried chicken, collards with bacon and smoked Gouda grit cakes.  

The Kessler Collection is also behind the transformation of a former power plant into a four-star hotel and entertainment area. The plant, built in 1912 and dormant for the past 50 years, will also feature more than a dozen restaurants. Kessler broke ground on the project and began the building’s rehabilitation in December 2016.

For groups that would like to roam about the city, Savannah Taste Experience (STE) is a walking food tour that according to Backus is always evolving to showcase the city’s growing and diverse culinary scene.

STE’s most recent addition is partnering with a new restaurant, The Ordinary Pub, as part of its First Squares food tour. At the pub, attendees can sample pork belly sliders, which are seared and then braised in Dr. Pepper and Kentucky bourbon, according to Backus.

And speaking of booze-inspired delights, Savannah is also home to several craft breweries and distilleries, including Moon River Brewing Co., which has banquet space for group events;

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Savannah Distillery Ale House, which offers two private event spaces; and Ghost Coast Distillery, which just opened earlier this year.

Attendees can take a tour here, taste samples of Ghost Coast’s award-winning orange-flavored vodka and schmooze over refreshing signature cocktails.   

Slow drinkers in the group are free to leave the distillery with their Ghost Coast Basil Sours and Fuzzy Savannahs in to-go cups, a popular liberty in the destination.

“Savannah’s Historic District is one of only a handful of places in the U.S. where drinking in public is permitted, and this fun-loving element has been a favorite Savannah pastime for a long time and is a visible symbol of how seriously we take our cocktails,” Backus said.

Savannah is also home to some great group-friendly restaurants for groups that would like to take a break for lunch or end a day of meetings with a scrumptious meal.

The Olde Pink House Restaurant, located adjacent to the Planters Inn in an 18th century mansion, is an iconic eatery where Lowcountry comfort cuisine and refined service meet.

And at Elizabeth on 37th, another repurposed historic mansion, the menu features locally sourced seafood, including shrimp served with spicy red rice, as well as other entrees of chicken, pork, beef tenderloin and more. Private dining space is available upstairs for groups.

Golden Isles

Among the restaurants that host group events in the Golden Isles are the St. Simons Island-based Bennie’s Red Barn and Village Creek Landing.

“Bennie’s is the oldest restaurant on the island,” said Marcie Hunter, marketing and communications manager for the Golden Isles CVB. “They feature steaks and local seafood.”

Village Creek Landing is a stand-alone event venue, which uses a catering company that will customize menus for groups. Here, attendees can enjoy marsh, river and wildlife views.

Another group option is the Brunswick-based The Farmer & The Larder, a restaurant with a menu featuring international and coastal dishes, including clams, duck and a catch of the day.

“The Farmer & The Larder offers unique and fun cooking classes for groups, including biscuit-making, seafood and pickling,” Hunter added. “Featuring locally sourced produce and proteins, it’s the ideal experience for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the local culinary culture found only in the Golden Isles.”

New to St. Simons Island is Food Tours Golden Isles, which facilitates private tours during which attendees can indulge and eat like a Golden Isles local.

Attendees can work up an appetite as they meander through the famed St. Simons Pier Village while taking in the sights, sounds and storied history, according to Hunter.

“Stops along the way feature many local favorites,” she said.  

Among the tastes attendees can look forward to on the tour are shrimp and grits at Palmer’s Village Cafe and spicy Bloody Marys at the Half Shell.

And back in Brunswick, Richland Rum owner Erik Vonk soon will be opening the Richland Rum Distillery. 

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About the author
Carolyn Blackburn