THE Gaslight Group welcomed their newest brainchild, East End Provisions Neighborhood Kitchen & Bar, to the Savannah food scene earlier this month.
Owners Brian and Jennifer Huskey opened their fifth restaurant, this one on the east end of Broughton Street in the historic reclaimed building of the former Juarez Mexican Restaurant.
The 5 Spot, B Matthew’s, Blowin’ Smoke and Abe’s on Lincoln all have intentional branding, according to Adrienne Ritchey, General Manager of East End Provisions.
East End Provisions now has its own place in the restaurant collection, offering a more sophisticated appeal.
“East End is not aiming to be pretentious or unapproachable, but seeking to give a little more thoughtful and elevated cuisine as well as dining experience to our guests,” says Ritchey.
Given its residential location downtown, this is truly a “place for locals to come and feel comfortable. The price points are focused on repeat customers,” assures Ritchey.
The Gaslight Group was even able to procure the former Southern Motors’ parking lot across the street. This way, locals who are not in walking distance can pop in and out without hunting for parking.
The space boasts a full transformation, with neutral textures and tones that contribute to the upscale yet laidback atmosphere. The horseshoe bar in the front entryway hails patrons off the streets, seen from oversized windows scaling the facade.
An intimate dining room with camel leather seating, tufted high-back velvet banquettes and exposed brick walls make for an elegant dining ambience.
Downstairs, Lot 33 is a Prohibition-esque bar that awaits those who seek a brisk cocktail and lounging experience.
Its brick laden floors and walls along with bourbon barrels, wooden high-tops and sleek sectional generate a speakeasy vibe.
While classic cocktails set the tone, East End Provisions provides a farm-to-table experience with their newly established lunch and dinner menus.
Executive Chef Dan Milner and his loyal counterpart, Sous Chef German Ruiz, helm East End’s kitchen.
The focus of East End’s cuisine is fresh, quality and seasonal fare. Milner describes the menu as “eclectic.”
“The food is farm-to-table and as regionally sourced as possible,” Milner says.
Milner and Ruiz are inspired by their heritage and experiences, developing dishes that range from Italian, Peruvian, Asian, and French origins.
Milner, an Ohio native, grew up seeking a passion that “captured him.”
“I have always loved to cook since 3 or 4, so I went to culinary school. It captured me. I realized I made a good choice.”
After graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, Milner came to Savannah for an externship at The Westin.
Ruiz, on the other hand, developed a passion for food given his artistic abilities. He spent a few years in Savannah, helping open Naan Appetit in Pooler and serving as a sous chef at Cohen’s Retreat.
About a year ago, the two met while working at Vic’s on the River and bonded.
“It was our passion for food and respect for food. We have a similar skillset. We knew that someday we would run a place together,” says Milner.
With that, the partners in crime recruited their most devoted former colleagues and formed the East End kitchen family.
Milner beams, “It’s a lot of fun in my kitchen. But when it’s time to work, you gotta work. [The kitchen staff] are inspired, fresh, bright-eyed and want to learn.”
The newfangled menu is allocated into sections for sharing, salads, flatbreads, sides and entrees.
For a communal snack, nosh on East End Chicken Wings, sourced from Springer Mountain Farms. The wings are brined, dry rubbed and charred over a wood-burning fire. Don’t forget to dunk them into homemade roasted garlic ranch.
Chef Milner also offers Oysters of the Day, alternating varieties from the east and west coasts. The crisp shucked oysters are served with pickled watermelon rind that lends a subtly sweet yet tart accompaniment to the sumptuous bivalve.
For a light delight, choose the Jicama and Watermelon Salad. As a chef who practices a no-waste policy, Milner utilizes the flesh of the watermelon in this dish.
Mixed greens are lightly dressed in citrusy sherry vinaigrette. Toasted almonds add a nutty flavor while feta cheese from Bootleg Farms adds tangy and savory notes.
Another salad featuring this creamy, decadent cheese is the Grilled Portobello and Artichoke Salad. The meaty mushrooms are roasted with shallots and balsamic vinegar. The mushroom liquid is extracted and reduced with the balsamic, forming mushroom vinaigrette. Peppery arugula, roasted tomato, Bootleg Farms feta, local honey and a grilled baguette assist in balancing the rich acidity.
Flatbreads like Caprese, with fresh mozzarella and DeRosa tomato gravy, Greek, with kalamata olives and tzatziki, and the Banh Mi, with pickled carrots and wasabi aioli, embody the eclecticism of the menu.
For those who do not want to share, an entrée that highlights the season’s bounty is the Hunter Cattle Pork. Tender medallions with a warm pink center are served with sweet potato hash, crispy roasted Brussels sprouts, thick studs of Savannah River Farms pork belly and fried sage, all encircled by a maple syrup demi-glace.
With all that said, the dish that is worth ordering time and time again is the Duck Trio. Duck breast brined in cherry, star anise and cinnamon as well as pulled confit duck leg and thigh are served alongside foie gras bread pudding. With a warm custard-like center and golden exterior, the bread pudding is reminiscent of comforting holiday stuffing.
Duck eggs, duck fat and duck liver were utilized to elevate the savory side, making it a truly crave-worthy star. The dish is accompanied by fresh succotash, pork belly and a tart cherry demi-glaze to seal the deal.
With a rich decadent meal, dessert should be light and refreshing. Chef Milner concocted a Frozen Cranberry Nugget for this reason. This scoop of frozen cream is filled with candied pistachios, almonds and honey, topped with macerated cranberries and cranberry jus. The seasonal treat hits all elements of sweet, salty, tart and creamy.
With plans to change the menu every season, Milner and Ruiz are elated to have the opportunity to impact the Savannah food scene at East End Provisions. As the Gaslight Group continues to expand, they remain focused and deliberate with each of the restaurants they produce.