SAVANNAH is a city full of landmarks. One of those icons is The DeSoto, treasured for its reputation as being the Dowager Empress of the South.
In both architectural incarnations—the first was demolished in the 1960s—the DeSoto was not only the center of Savannah’s Historic District, but also the center of our city’s social scene. In an effort to get back to its roots, as of August 1, this hotel no longer bears the Hilton brand name, but identifies as an independent luxury boutique called The DeSoto by Sotherly.
With multi-million dollar renovations and upgrades, The DeSoto’s ambition is to provide true Southern hospitality with modernized sophistication. To address this quality of service, Edgar’s Proof & Provision moved in on the main floor of The DeSoto with its own entrance on East Liberty Street.
Opened since June 2017, Edgar’s Proof & Provision has been evolving under the direction of Executive Chef Dusty Grove. “As a Savannah native, I’m happy to be a part of this change. We want the Desoto to be a stomping ground for locals again.”
Managing Director Jeff Kmiec elaborates, “Our goal is to be the local’s favorite. If we are the local’s favorite, then everything else falls into place.”
As a chef-driven restaurant that is independent of The DeSoto, Chef Grove identifies Proof & Provision as a modern gastro pub that concentrates on southern influences. In addition to serving daily “provisions” for breakfast, lunch and dinner, libations on the “proof” side include over 120 whiskeys and local brews made into handcrafted cocktails.
This restaurant is the sibling eatery and drinkery of two other Sotherly Hotels. The first is Edgar’s Proof & Provision in the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta. The second is Edgar’s Hermano in the Whitehall Hotel in Houston. Both restaurants identify as local bars, serving a limited snack offering rather than a full menu.
When entering Edgar’s P & P from the sidewalks of East Liberty Street, patrons will sashay through the outside porch that was once an unbecoming smoking deck. Now, the front porch has simple patio tables and chairs, intimately lit by strung Edison bulbs. Soon, retractable screens and air conditioning will make this space more approachable in summertime heat.
Inside, the completely remodeled space boasts modern influences with a swanky vibe. The three-tiered space offers variability when dining and drinking.
The top floor room is reminiscent of the previous library, but now serves as a man cave with upscale furniture, a big screen television and shuffleboard table. The middle floor is where patrons can belly up to the original Lion’s Den bar that maintains its horseshoe-esque design. The bottom floor has a wall of copper hued whiskey bottles that cast a golden glow across the dimly lit restaurant.
A communal table with stools, as well as a handful of small tables resides, in this area for in-door dining. Just outside of Edgar’s P & P, SCAD artwork is presented on many feature walls of The DeSoto lobby.
Edgar’s P & P is the perfect place for an after work sip or weekend rendezvous, especially for those that want a small-batch brew or luscious cocktail. Edgar’s P & P serves an assortment of local craft beers including Service (Savannah), Southbound (Savannah), Wild Heaven (Decatur), Sweetwater (Atlanta), and Treehorn Cider (Marietta).
There are a variety of mules and cocktails that grace the menu for the traditionalists and adventurous alike. If craft cocktails are what you are after, try the Smokin’ Gunz, which incorporates Edgar’s Truth Bourbon, the Sotherly company’s own batch named after the owner’s father.
If bourbon isn’t to your taste, you might want to ask for the staff created Savannah Specter, which features Savannah’s own Ghost Coast orange vodka.
While guzzling your libations, turn your attention to the full dinner menu that ranges from tapas and sandwiches to salads and desserts. As the former Executive Chef of Pacci Italian Kitchen, Chef Grove specialized in Italian cuisine. However, as a Savannah native, his heart was always in southern cookery; it’s in his blood.
While the menu of Edgar’s P & P changes seasonally, Chef Grove develops dishes that have deep, smoky, briny and caramelized notes, pairing them with the flavors found in Edgar’s P & P cocktails.
Furthermore, Chef Grove integrates Spanish influences into his southern fare as a nod to Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer who led the first European expedition into the North-American interior, including Georgia.
The Prohibition Ceviche, served in a short glass tumbler, was reminiscent of an old fashioned cocktail. Fresh local fish with finely diced pepper were delicately tossed in a spritz of citrus, soy sauce, cherry bitters and Edgar’s Truth bourbon. The mixture was served with bourbon soaked cherries and buttered toast crisps to make for a light-refreshing snack.
A notable tapas with Spanish flair was the Tybee Rings, which are lightly sautéed squid with reserved lemon, roasted garlic, white wine stock, capers, olives, and tomatoes. The tender squid paired effortlessly with the briny olives and capers as well as the acidic tomatoes. All the flavors melded into a rich sauce that was easily scooped up by buttery toast crisps.
A large plate that remains unforgettable is The Belly Rub. A rosemary, citrus and honey braised Savannah River Farms pork belly is served on a bed of herbed goat’s mac ‘n cheese and garnished with candied fennel.
The tangy local goat’s cheese béchamel sauce was so decadently creamy, complimenting the rich and fatty melt-in-your-mouth meat. But the pièce de résistance was the sugary and mildly licorice tasting candied fennel that tied the whole dish together. This was our favorite Chef Dusty accompaniment from Pacci and we are elated that he brought it to Edgar’s P & P.
For something even sweeter, try the Mint Julep Crème Brûlée that is infused with bourbon and boasts notes of velvety spearmint. Also, do not miss out on Edgar’s P & P signature Leopold’s ice cream flavor called Edgar’s Truffle Truth. This, of course, is made with Edgar’s Truth bourbon, chocolate truffle, pecans and salted caramel swirl with a butter pecan base.
Edgar’s Proof & Provision has proven to be an up-and-coming local hotspot. Its posh lounge-like atmosphere has a mellow vibe that allures all types of people from sophisticated diners and casual drinkers to young families and mature socialites. This will certainly aid in bolstering The DeSoto’s ambition to be the center of Savannah’s social life.
Even more, in about two weeks, The DeSoto will welcome another independent restaurant that will share the same bar as Edgar’s P & P. 1540 will have an open-air show kitchen that serves dinner and Sunday brunch to locals and guests. Stay tuned…