Harris Baking Co.
There was no one happier than me when Sam Harris opened his downtown bakery in 2007 — and it’s been a joy to watch the business and the products grow better and better. As I hustled by one cold day last week, I was gob–smacked to a stop by the menu board: Okra Gumbo. A queue of indecisive and eccentric diners teamed with a slow ordertaker to push my wait in line to nearly 15 minutes — too long considering that only three people were in front of me. This is not a quick lunch stop — it’s a place to languish and take in the great smells. The gumbo was beautifully made, thick, rich and piping hot. The okra had cooked down to bits and seeds; the onion and celery were succulent and tender. The big chunks of tomato were garden flavorful. Of course, a generous piece of sourdough bread that was heavenly soft inside and nicely crisp on the outside was perfect for pushing bites onto my spoon and mopping up every delicious morsel. Harris’ style is influenced by his European and San Francisco training — and a life–long heritage of being in the family’s restaurant business. I didn’t know the bakery also served a great cup of coffee, but celebrated that news with my dessert — a plump, brown cinnamon roll. It was textbook–perfect in construction and offered a great balance of sweet glaze and cinnamon filling.What a wonderful respite on a cold winter day.
102 E. Liberty Lane (northwest corner of Drayton Tower)/233–6400
Bits and Pieces...
Juan Manuel Rodriguez of Southside’s Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant is busily working on a new downtown restaurant that will be located in the former Metro Coffee House location at 402 MLK Blvd. Juan Manuel has some serious culinary chops — I love swapping cooking stories and recipes with him. He promised to keep me in the loop — I’ll let you know when opening day nears. In true Savannah fashion, everyone — and I mean everyone — crushed into little Leoci’s Trattoria beginning on opening day and haven’t let up. If you went and didn’t have the best experience, give Chef Roberto a few weeks and try back. Honestly, we’re all enthusiastic to have great Italian food, but we’ve nearly killed the guy. The buzz is that P.F. Chang’s — an early adopter of the stalled Savannah River Landing project — is still beating the bushes for a Savannah location. Apparently, they’ve trained their sights on Broughton Street. The curious part of me wonders why the folks who frequent Blowin’ Smoke BBQ’s outdoor area don’t seem to move inside to eat in the winter — they just stay home. Same good food, same cold beer — and I bet Brian will turn up the music — or not. cs