It’s brunch time in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Savannah’s Southern belles are all getting married in beautiful shaded squares under the gaze of ancient Confederate soldier statues.
I was on a trolley tour of the city—I met my mum there for a girls’ weekend away—and the bus was winding its way through Savannah’s beautiful cobblestone streets and squares. We witnessed no fewer than 12 weddings that Saturday.
What a beautiful introduction to Savannah: The charming and gorgeous Southern town is now forever embedded in my mind as the perfect destination wedding location. A place of romance and charm.
It’s also the perfect destination for a weekend away, complete with many lounges in parks, nips through boutiques and galleries, and leisurely brunches, of course. The first brunch was not even planned or reserved; in fact, we stumbled upon it.
We were standing on a street corner admiring the stunning architecture of the 1926 Scottish Rite building, when a tiny lady walked up next to us and drawled in her Southern accent, “It’s a beautiful building, huh? You gals aren’t from around here, are you?”
It must have been because we were looking straight up and gaping at the building’s beautiful golden arcs and carvings. We admitted we aren’t from Savannah, and she smiled at us and stepped across the street, heading across Madison Square to the steepled church on the square.
She inspired us to see the inside of the building, and so we nipped inside the Gryphon Tea Room, which is on the ground floor, to see if there was a table available for two. The restaurant’s awning gives off an air of modern sophistication, but as soon as you step in the doors, you are taken right back to the 1920s.
The tea room now takes the space of what was an old pharmacy—complete with a milkshake bar and apothecary wooden drawers. You feel like you’re dining in a museum; it is stunning.
The walls are lined with carved mahogany bookshelves filled with old hard-bound books. The original stained-glass panels and tiled entryway lend an old charm. And the plush, well-kept velvet sofas and armchairs make you think you’re dining in an old country club.
The entire establishment is run by SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and our server was a student at the school (as are all the servers). It was a pleasant surprise to realize that not only was this such a hidden historical gem, its business was also benefitting the good of the community.
The brunch menu is short and sweet, but hits all the bases. Also, the food is all locally sourced. We ordered the day’s specialty cold drink: a pomegranate and apricot spritzer in a pint glass. It was refreshing and sweet. The drinks came with two tiny warm pumpkin muffins to nibble on as an appetizer.
My mum ordered the Eggs Benedict option, which that day was poached eggs with a slice of tomato and two strips of bacon criss-crossed on top of a toasted English muffin. It came with a side of greens and potatoes. While the dish was simple, she loved it.
I ordered the chicken crêpes, which arrived looking more like Mexican enchiladas. They were filled with artichokes, gruyere, and sun-dried tomatoes, making it an interesting flavor combination. It also had sprinkled shredded cheese on top and a bit of fresh salad verte on the side.
We admired the tea cakes and pastries that a nearby table had—it was beautifully set on a cake stand, and the macaroons and chocolate bites looked to die for. Alas, it was just the two of us, and we thought, with brunch, that might be a bit much; so we gave it a miss.
Instead we ordered the French toast, as dessert, to share. It had crème brûlée as a filling—if you can believe it—and was soaked in sweet syrup. On the side, a berry compote and more syrup for drizzling. It was perhaps the sweetest and most delicious French toast I’ve ever had.
Of course, you do not go to The Gryphon Tea Room without actually having the tea. It is steeped in big pots and then poured through a pretty strainer that is made to fit your cup. It was lovely, and my British mum always appreciates a good cup of tea.
While our server was pouring our tea, she told us stories about the history of the building and Savannah. For being a visiting art student, she was mighty knowledgeable about the city—and she was an exceptional hostess.
But that’s what Savannah is known for: being a great host, and perhaps now, also, being a great place to brunch.
The Bitches say: A+ A truly charming Savannah brunch experience that you won’t want to miss—as much for the history and ambiance and as for the food and service.
The Gryphon Tea Room
337 Bull St.