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The Foodie Column

'Just like always'

A friend who has had great success with weight loss clued me in to one of his tricks — one that we all grew up hearing but mostly ignoring.

“I have breakfast, a good breakfast, every morning.”

He’s not referring to Frosted Flakes and orange juice, but a breakfast balanced across protein, carbs and fruit. I can’t argue the point. When I have a breakfast protein, I find myself better energized, less hungry come lunch and generally better balanced for the morning’s tasks.

So, I asked him, are you cooking or do you go out? He’s single, a chef and spends plenty of time on the line. He goes out — mostly to Clary’s CafÉ.

This stalwart breakfast and lunch destination is a landmark for tourists who might still remember Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it was the location of some key scenes. Last year, I pointed Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern there, where he dined with The Lady Chablis.

Last week, I dined alone on a cold morning that found most seats empty. On weekends, you’ll face a waiting list — but not most weekday mornings.

I passed on the scrambled hodge–podge known as Hoppel Poppel (too big), my favorite of corned beef hash (too big) or the malted waffle (too heavy). See a theme emerging? Yeah, Clary’s is home to ample portions and warm, Southern hospitality —the two go hand–in–hand.

I instead, I opted for grilled smoked sausage with a couple of eggs and potatoes. The 6–8 ounce portion is still plenty big, but cuts nicely into bite–sized pieces that allow me to linger over the meal and take in the surroundings. The cluttered and nostalgic atmosphere is part of the Clary’s experience.

Being alone and in a mostly quiet restaurant, I could easily eavesdrop on a pair of tourists who were mesmerized by the menu. I suspected they don’t get out much or live in a really small town. Another nearby table was locals, who spent the meal oohing and aahing to one another about how tasty their choices proved to be.

“Just like always,” one said.

In many ways, Clary’s is a throwback to a simpler dining experience. I overheard employees chatting about buying ground beef on sale for their “sketty” dinner, had my coffee generously topped off about a half dozen times and generally enjoyed a quiet, filling breakfast overlooking a sunny Savannah intersection. Here, regulars are called by name, every guest is “hon” and the eggs are always prepared to order.

Mine were, and my grilled sausage was spicy and hot and filling. I won’t make it every day, but I’ll find my way back from time to time.

404 Abercorn St., (912) 233–0402

Scream out, hop in

Screamin’ Mimi’s new Whitaker Street location has apparently closed. I can’t get a call back but employees tell me it’s a goner. I would not have called this one — the remodel was great, the food the same as the original location and some following had developed for late night music.

At the same time, a new tenant is setting up shop in the former Lime Grill location on Broughton Street. More on this as it develops.

Live on the southside near Windsor and White Bluff? I’m getting great reports about Pad Thai, a Thai restaurant that opened in late summer. As the Truman Parkway finally opens onto White Bluff Road, this area is gonna start hopping, methinks. Thai one on here at 12409 White Bluff Road.

Jimmy Johnson at Vincenzo’s Pizzeria, across the intersection from Pad Thai at 12417 White Bluff Rd., will bet that the Truman will be good for business, too. His tiny and popular pizza joint is already always packed and the carryout line is steady. Jimmy is open on Sundays and offers some goodies from his smoker in addition to great New York–style pies.