I FEEL like I picked up this food writing gig exactly at the right moment. Savannah has always had new restaurants opening up, but unfortunately we’ve also seen a lot of turnover.
There are a ton of factors that go into the success or failure of restaurants in any city. But generally speaking, the people will respond well to great product and great service.
So, when I start seeing extremely talented chefs passionate about bringing great food and culture to our city, I feel the shift in our food industry as we speak.
These new places we are seeing pop up during this wave will be here to stay as we help our city continue to evolve into a place that will bring the type of tourism we all want to see.
This time around, there is a new restaurant that opened this week that decided to continue to push the envelope in how we can engage with a menu, and taste things executed and prepared with intention.
Ironically enough, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the experiences created behind the walls of some of these local restaurants and bars.
The intention felt in places like The Grey or Circa 1875 is so authentic that we often don’t flinch at the price tag. But, there are locals interested in an experience in a restaurant that brings elevated cuisine at a price that would allow them to come more than once a week.
If that sounds like you, take a trip down Victory, hang a right at Drayton, and right on the corner is one of Savannah’s newest and highly anticipated restaurants, Atlantic.
They couldn’t be in a better location, right between downtown and midtown. Atlantic aims to be a cornerstone for the city, and they are going to that via passion, intention, and some bomb-ass food.
Wanting to try a new approach, this spot seems designed with locals in mind. Their menu is filled with some of the most artfully designed flavor profiles, and they have something for everyone.
Removing entrees from the canvas left room to create opportunities for us to try more than one thing, and have fun almost designing your own courses as they help navigate you through their concepts.
I sat down with the brain, heartbeat, and soul of the restaurant, Chef Lauren Teague, to talk about her inspiration in creating this space and menu, along with her love of food.
Most of the chefs I interview I haven’t met before. However, there are a select few who I’ve been fortunate enough to get the chance to work under. Chef Lauren happens to be one of them.
One of the most influential people to me in the kitchen, and in life, Chef Lauren is one of my favorite people on the planet. Her love for life is infectious, and everyone who knows her knows exactly the vibration I speak of.
“Originally I’m from Paterson, New Jersey, and grew up in happy family. My parents were always good to the people of their community,” Chef Lauren explained.
“Food became a part of my life through family, because our vacations were to restaurants when I was a kid. Additionally my parents loved to help raise money in our community, and we’d do that through auctioning off tickets to dinner parties at our house. We’d eat delicious Moroccan food with our hands on the floor and give people a true experience.”
And creating an experience is such a pivotal part of creating a restaurant, that people will want to continue to spend their hard earned money coming to.
“We’re blessed to be able to create an authentic experience of our vision, and I love to be able to say I can do that, without having anything over twenty bucks on my menu,” she said.
“Having a great team is another vital part of creating a successful restaurant, which is why I never hire through an ad. I want to cook next to people I know can handle our kitchen, and because we are aiming to be a neighborhood eatery, we’ve made a point to not spend money on advertisement, and allow our reputation to bring people to us,” she explained.
Which is exactly what you want to do, when you have the opportunity to be here for the long haul. Positioning yourself the right way and executing your vision with passion will allow people to find you, and that is exactly what is happening at Atlantic.
“I love the word ‘intentional’,” Chef said. “ We love why we are doing these things, which truly makes all the difference. We buy really great ingredients, and keep it simple, which allows us to show love to each plate.”
Her intention in the flavor combinations feel familiar, even if you’ve never tried them before. From the simplicity of their classic grilled cheese which serves as the side note to the star of the dish, which is truly the tomato jam.
To the creamy risotto, served with asparagus and sweet peas, every menu item is its own piece of expression. Pork belly and brussel sprouts, duck with sweet potatoes and curry. Simple yet deliciously creative sandwiches.
The whole thing is designed through love and delivered with passion, which is something you can taste.
The neighborhood spot we’ve all be waiting for has arrived. Next time you are thinking about grabbing a bite, don’t play yourself and go try some of the many delicious flavors and pairings they have created at Atlantic. Let’s keep stirring that pot, people.