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An Evening With an Icon: A review of The Olde Pink House, Savannah, Georgia

December 21, 2010

Situated just off Reynolds Square, The Olde Pink House is a virtual icon of Savannah history, architecture, and cuisine. Construction on the Georgian colonial-style building began in 1771 and was completed in 1789. Since then, it’s been many things: a family home, a bank, a Union army headquarters during the Civil War, and now one of the most unique dining establishments in Savannah.

The architectural gem is also a ghost hunter’s paradise: rumor has it the ghost of James Habersham, Jr., the original owner of the house, appears to visitors and staff from time to time. And yes—the building itself is most definitely pink. When I decided to spend Thanksgiving in Savannah, I knew I wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner someplace special. The Olde Pink House definitely fit the bill.

The Olde Pink House

The Olde Pink House at night

As an ardent admirer of historic structures with distinctive architecture, I knew I’d find it utterly charming. I wasn’t disappointed. Deceptively small from the outside but cozy and intimate on the inside, I knew a memorable evening was in store for me when I arrived in the early evening on Thanksgiving day. It was already dark out but a few dimly lit street lanterns cast a warm glow on the building. Several groups of people lingered on the steps, no doubt waiting for a table to open up, but thanks to the reservation I’d made almost two months prior, I walked past them and was seated immediately at a small table for two against an interior wall.

Ordering a glass of merlot from the wine list, I sipped it slowly as I absorbed my surroundings. The wine was bright with fruity notes and a clean finish. Mmmm. Relaxing into my chair I studied the sparking chandelier that hung from the center of the ceiling; the pale blue walls that had taken on a yellowish hue beneath the warm lights; the painted portraits of that adorned the room; the simply structured but ornately decorated Japanese screens that stood in a far corner.

The dining room was bustling with activity: around six or seven other tables were surrounded by patrons of the restaurant. The soft clinking of drinking glasses and dinnerware commingled with intermittent quiet conversations to create a pleasantly intimate setting. Before long, my waitress brought me a basket of the most delicious biscuits and cornbread with a sweet, fresh note I still can’t quite put my finger on.

Starters at The Olde Pink House

Caramelized Vidalia onion and sweet potato ravioli

Tackling The Olde Pink House’s special holiday menu, I eschewed the traditional turkey dinner in favor of a little something different. For starters, I had the caramelized Vidalia onion and sweet potato ravioli with oyster mushrooms and a savory pecan cream sauce. Was that a hint of earthy sage I tasted? And a little marsala wine? The crushed pecans offered a nice crunchy counterpoint to the smoothness of the whipped sweet potato. Yum. I was in love.

Next, for my entrée, I had the roasted venison with black cherry cabernet sauce served with Carolina Gold rice and radish celery sprouts. The venison was prepared rare, gently seared on both sides and incredibly tender. The cabernet sauce was sweet and dusky at the same time, enveloping the meat with a mild tartness that enhanced its flavoring.

Dessert at The Olde Pink House

Molten chocolate cake with cinnamon ice cream and blackberry compote

For dessert, I selected the molten chocolate cake with cinnamon ice cream and blackberry compote. While I’m never quite certain about cinnamon and chocolate together, I found the warmth of the cake and the coolness of the ice cream very refreshing. The blackberry compote and the chocolate cake also made a very pleasing pairing, with the bitter undertones of the chocolate providing a nice contrast to the sweetness of the fruit compote. Delish.

The wait staff was incredibly friendly and attentive without being intrusive and all told, I had a wonderful time. The highlight of my meal was definitely the ravioli, but the venison and chocolate cake were very enjoyable as well. I highly recommend you put dinner at The Olde Pink House on your list of things to do if you ever decide to visit Savannah.

My tips for enjoying a dinner at The Olde Pink House:
1. Make reservations in advance – Particularly if you’re traveling during the holidays, it can be difficult to secure a table if you haven’t made arrangements beforehand.
2. Wear something nice–Although the restaurant has no dress code and you technically don’t have to dress up, it’s  a little too special for a t-shirt and jeans. A little extra polish will go a long way.
3. Visit the Planter’s Tavern – Located in the cellar of The Olde Pink House, the Planters Tavern consistently gets reviewed as offering good live music and a great time. I could just kick myself for not going.

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