Driftaway Cafe: South Magazine

Kirk Blaine has an advantage over most chefs. Every evening, he walks through Driftaway Cafe’s dining room and knows what customers will order even before they open a menu. “Our customer base comes in here five to seven times a week,” Blaine says enthusiastically. “We pack the house every night—not many restaurants can say that.” But there’s another reason Blaine knows all of the hungry faces lining Driftaway’s mural-painted walls: he’s been working there since he was 16 years old. He left for a short time to attend the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, but before long he was back in Savannah—mostly because he hated the cold, but also because of his loyalty to Driftaway owners Robin and Michelle Quartlebaum. “They are amazing owners who have given me the opportunity to explore with food.”

Read more of article post on in South Magazine.


T-Rex Mex: South Magazine

If you aren’t looking for T-Rex Mex Restaurant, you just might miss it as the restaurant is tucked deep beneath the pavement of Broughton Street, off the well-worn tourist track. However, the one thing that does stand out is its glass door painted with a ferocious, lime-green Tyrannosaurus in a sombrero, and it’s just a taste of what lurks inside.

Owners Anton and Tammy Withington brought their burrito-brimming menu to life about a year and a half ago, after eight years working in a burrito restaurant in Atlanta. Their inspiration for the theme of the restaurant was twofold: first, their son, Thurston Rex (the initials behind the T-Rex moniker) and second, their friends who happen to be artists.

“When we started, this place was just four walls,” Tammy Withington says, gesturing to the warm, ragged brick walls that envelop the restaurant.

Read more of article post on in South Magazine.

Masterpiece Meals: South Magazine

Two artists at the Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center work under a particularly challenging set of circumstances: Their paintbrushes are sharp and made of metal, their paints are perishable and from the earth, and they create their artwork every day, in a tiny, hot studio for a set of buyers with a seemingly insatiable hunger for their work. Their names are John Deaderick and Michael Pritchard, and together they’re the chefs behind Café Zeum.

Last year, when the Jepson Center decided to open up their in-museum cafe to outside restaurateurs, Pritchard and Deaderick were high on their culinary wish list and approached the pair with the idea. Evidenced by a cult like following at their other restaurant, the Starland Cafe, the chefs were comfortable with the lunchtime setting, but had their doubts about how they would fit into the museum environment. “We walked into the meeting just to see what they had to say,” Deaderick says. “For about an hour and a half, they described our business and our philosophy. It was a perfect fit.”

Read more of article post on in South Magazine.

Can’t Stand the Heat: South Magazine

Leave it to Roberto Leoci, the sizzlin’ Sicilian who specializes in homemade pastas, fresh fish and all other ingredients necessary to bring a traditional trattoria to Savannah.

Walk into Leoci’s Trattoria on a Saturday or Sunday night, or Monday or Tuesday or any day for that matter, and you’ll find the same scene: the dark, slickly appointed dining room humming from the duos and trios of diners, and the lamplit patio, lined with long tables stretching under massive umbrellas, smelling of bubbling cheese and crisping crust as the smoke from the pizza oven wafts overhead.

Everywhere discrete waiters circle patrons, blending into the dark-walled restaurant until they emerge from the tiny, open kitchen with a white plate heavy with dewy pasta or fragrant mussels. Watch the food disappear, and sooner or later you’ll see a man in chef’s whites circling the restaurant, shaking hands, and clapping people on the back. It’s Chef Roberto Leoci, and this restaurant is his baby.

Read more of article post on in South Magazine.