The Collins Quarter
151 Bull St (corner of Bull & Oglethorpe)
Winter hours: Daily 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Live music Thu-Sun
EACH TIME I go to The Collins Quarter I feel suffused with its serene, laid-back vibes, able to take a breath, relax.
Something about the clear light washing over the textured old bricks, the soft red of the couches, the pleasant smiles of the servers, sets you at ease.
Anthony Debreceny came to our corner of the world from Melbourne, Australia in 2011. Like many heart-sore travelers, he sought out a familiar kind of place similar to the coffee bars he loved in his hometown: a friendly hang-out with fresh, locally grown food, an array of artisan coffees, and a sense of community, whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or a beer and ale aficionado or just stopping off for a quick meal. I think he’s achieved that at The Collins Quarter.
Named for a famous street in Melbourne bustling with cafés and trendy lunch counters, he pairs specialty coffees with innovative cuisine to bring you a distinctive experience.
The food here is beautifully presented, exquisitely prepared and yes, superbly flavorful.
“Everything here is made fresh and seasonal, locally grown, never frozen or pre-packaged. We pride ourselves on our selection of coffee, tea, fine wines and specialty beer—we’re too near the church around the corner to offer cocktails—I like to think of this as a coffee shop that serves food, rather than a restaurant that serves coffee!” Anthony tells me with a twinkle in his blue eyes.
“I may get in trouble here, but when I came to Savannah I just couldn’t find a decent cuppa coffee. I also missed that sense of community and friendliness you find in the café district on Collins Street. The baristas there are artists—there’s a separate server who actually takes the order, which frees up the barista to concentrate on giving you the perfect cup with an artistic flair to the foam.”
Currently you can find breakfast and lunch served, along with brunch on the weekends; Anthony says he is working with Chef Ben Woods, a native of Portland’s gourmet cuisine scene, to create an enticing dinner service around the first of the new year.
If you’re a guacamole fan, try the wonderful Smashed Avocado breakfast made with Beaufort Artisan Bakery Toast, delightfully chewy and full of fresh flavors—as one happy customer puts it: “Each bite is an adventure for the taste buds!”
Veggie lovers will be amazed by the colorful tower of beautifully roasted fresh brussel sprouts, beets and caramelized onions resting on a turnip puree, topped with delicate shallot crisps and glazed in a lemon and olive oil. Cooked to a perfect edge of tenderness and bursting with flavor, it’s a dish you’ll ask for again and again.
Chef Ben has a special way with veggies: even a traditional American “bacon n’ eggs with toast” is made more exciting by a lace of artisan greens, radish slices and red pepper bites.
It’s not often I am floored by the taste of a burger. It’s such an ordinary, quotidian comfort food that it takes something really special to get a reaction from me—but I gotta say, I found hamburger heaven at Collins Quarter.
A half-pound beauty made from in-house ground beef brisket, loaded with incredible flavor, and—even when served well-done—a soul-satisfying juiciness. The brioche bun, caramelized onion aioli, generous slathering of aged cheddar and the massive, perfectly golden, hand-cut steak fries makes this one special treat you won’t forget. If you catch me looking off into the distance with a sigh, now you’ll know why.
An old-fashioned wooden case sits at the end of the white marble bar—look through the shining glass to find some truly lovely baked goodies made in-house. If you don’t have time to run in, order and pay at the side window facing Bull Street.
When you can take your time, though, come in and try the excellent chai latte with its exquisite orange-spice flavor, and a warm apricot-ginger scone made with Southern Swiss Dairy buttermilk.
Anthony points out, “The largest ginger crop in the U.S. is grown in Savannah at the Old Plantation farms—we use that fresh ginger in our scones—and you should try the Ogeechee Gold Ginger Ale from Verdant Kitchens—really wonderful!”
I have to agree with him there—nothing quite like the taste of fresh ginger to spice up your breakfast or lunch entrée!
The Collins Quarter is also the home of a foodie phenomenon called The Flat White, Australia’s answer to cappuccino. Down-under, cappies tended towards a rather fluffy, tasteless foam, not particularly helped along by the sprinkling of dry cocoa, all of which drowned out the flavor of your favorite cuppa.
Some enterprising barista there decided to give it a dense, velvety topping with an artistic swirl and a current trend was born.
Your Flat White here is made with a rich, hearty blend of Toby’s Estate coffee from Brooklyn—also available for sale in bags by the bakery case. If you consider yourself a coffee gourmand this beautiful cuppa is not to be missed. Combined with a buttery croissant or the scrumptious Crispy Rolled Pork Belly sandwich with its pickled mustard seed and herb aioli, the blend of flavors is heady, memorable and already creating fans from all over the county.