Monday, December 20, 2010

Savannah: A Mixed Bag at Vic's

After stopping by Molly MacPherson's for a beer

This pub is a cheerful, cozy place to hang out and drink beer.

and taking in the sights and a cocktail in the sleek lounge atop the Bohemian hotel,


In all of our photos, note that the Maven's camera is set to the wrong date.  :)

the Mississippi Maven and I strolled down an eerily deserted River Street.  Our late lunch at Mrs. Wilkes' still lingering in our bellies, we began to contemplate our dinner prospects. 

Usually, I like to avoid restaurants located in an obvious tourist trap like River Street, but a bit of preliminary research revealed that Vic's on the River had possibilities.  And, as if it were predetermined, we found a business card for the place on the floor in the hallway of our hotel.   

A few hours and a wine-and-cheese reception later, pleasing live piano music, soft lighting and full tables greeted us at Vic's as we blew in from the cold. Warmly welcomed, we were shown to a lovely table that viewed shimmering lights reflecting off the Savannah River.  Ahhh....  Our timing was uncanny this trip because Vic's, unlike its River Street competitors, was bustling on this frigid December evening and, like our fortuitous experience at Mrs. Wilkes',  no wait! 

The Maven ordered a martini and I studied a well-organized and varied wine list.  Not rushing us in the least, our informative server inquired about my wine preferences and suggested I try an unoaked Chardonnay by the glass.  Vic's has a surprising variety of wines by the glass, half-bottle and bottle.  This one - the only part of the name I remember is Naked (imagine that!) - was about $10 a glass and went well with my scallops, which she also recommended. 

My scallops.  Boy, were they good!

Perfectly cooked, the half-dollar-sized gems had a beautiful golden, mildly salty sear and a silky, succulent interior.  They were terrific with a capital T.  The Maven tasted them and said they reminded her of lobster. 

They were served over crab risotto and topped with a nest of arugula.  I like arugula but thought this was a weird application.  I assume the chef was going for more color, almost using it as a garnish.  It was more crispy than wilted.  While risotto and scallops would have been a bland-looking plate on their own, replacing the arugula with fresh asparagus or another colorful veg would have pumped up the presentation as well.

The risotto was fine, not as creamy as I would have liked, and I would have preferred it cheesy rather than crabby.  Those awesome scallops didn't need any competing seafood flavors.

Mississippi Maven had crabmeat-stuffed shrimp.  I found them uninspired.  They reminded me of a touristy dish you often see in Florida.  Unless I see giant shrimp and lump crabmeat, I am not impressed.  I saw neither, but they were okay.   They were accompanied by grilled asparagus and rice.

I know I am back-tracking but I must mention our unusual appetizer - crawfish beignets - listed on the menu as award-winning.  The best part about these was dipping them in the Tabasco-laced sauce drizzled on the plate.   The Maven knows her crawfish and we had a hard time detecting them in this dish.  These "beignets" were more like miniature spring rolls made of sweet, fried dough and sparingly stuffed with a mild seafood-tasting substance.  The sweet-hot flavors were good but not what I'd consider prize-winning.

Accompanying the meal was a basket of - what else - biscuits.  Although served with a punchy and chunky orange marmalade, these little guys were lacking flavor and texture.  They needed that marmalade! After tasting the incredible biscuits at Mrs. Wilkes', these paled in comparison.  I didn't even finish one, and that's not like me.

Also relegated to the tasteless department was the dressing on the creatively challenged dinner salad.  With only the flavor of oil coming through, the everyday spring mix screamed for salt and more vinegar.  I see no reason for a restaurant in this price range ($20-30 entrees) to underseason a vinaigrette.

Thinking we might indulge in dessert elsewhere that evening, we wrapped up our meal at Vic's.  It was enjoyable overall, with attentive and friendly service, a relaxing and welcoming ambiance, and a chef who knows his scallops.  I would return for those; I'd stick with the server's recommended dishes; and I'd seek out the historic Civil War map that I somehow missed during my visit. 

Dinner for two, including tax and tip, was $112.

Restaurant Info:
Vic's on the River
26 East Bay Street
Savannah, Georgia
912-721-1000
http://www.vicsontheriver.com/

Vic's On The River on Urbanspoon

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