SAVANNAH IS TRULY the biggest small town. Sure, for tourists visiting may seem like there is so much ground to cover, it may even seem overwhelming to some, but for those of us who live here, this town is full of familiar faces and spaces.
This is especially true in the restaurant business. Over time, I have come to recognize and make connections with chefs and owners who play a role in multiple restaurants in our city.
Restaurateurs seem to systematically open a new joint every few years, building their brand and making an investment in Savannah’s food market. If a new eatery is opening, there is a high probability that it is from a well-known (Savannahian) restaurant group.
So when my husband told me about Totally Baked, a deli that shares the same quaint neighborhood as Crystal Beer Parlor and Noble Fare, I wasn’t too surprised to find out that owners Patrick and Jenny McNamara of Noble Fare owned the shop.
The McNamaras have successfully owned and operated Noble Fare for just over 10 years. The locally inspired fine dining restaurant is just off the beaten path, sealing it as one of the best-kept secrets in the neighborhood.
The couple, which are originally from Cleveland Ohio, landed in Savannah after Jenny’s parents retired here. Patrick went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston and two fell in love with the Lowcountry. Trust me, we all share the same sentiment.
Noble meaning Patrick and Fare, Jenny, they put their heart and soul into their first restaurant. Then, 10 years later, in October 2017, the McNamaras opened Totally Baked, a modern to-go deli concept they have dreamt about for years.
“Totally Baked was something Pat and I talked about even before Noble Fare. We have a slew of concepts in a notebook that I’ve had for 20 years. All of things that we want to do in our life. Noble Fare was on that list, as Noble Fare. Totally Baked was on that list too,” Jenny shares.
For the last 10 years, Jenny told me that they have been battling the stigma of being too fancy. While that is not a truth for the McNamaras, they brought Totally Baked to the neighborhood as an upbeat and laidback soup, salad, and sandwich shop.
Given that Patrick helms the kitchen as the only chef at Noble Fare, Jenny has taken the reigns over at Totally Baked. Being only 469 feet away from one another, the two businesses keep the couple busy.
“I always say, ‘I’m a wife first, mother second and I’m a business owner third.’ I can’t say which is more important at a certain time. Those three things are very important to me,” Jenny explains.
The vision for Totally Baked is for on-the-go patrons to have down to earth, good quality sandwiches. In my opinion there is nothing more satisfying than a hearty toasted sandwich, piled high with layers of cured meats, melted cheese, crunchy veg and smears of sauces.
At Totally Baked playful names like Meathead, Italian Stallion and Little Easy emulate the fun and unique ingredients that make up each ‘wich.
Take the Great Dane, named after it’s large size and Danish ingredients. This is the type of sandwich that takes two hands and a wide mouth. Medium rare roast beef, Havarti cheese, blue cheese crumbles, sliced red onion, crisp lettuce and house-made horseradish cream are mounted on thick slabs of toasted marbled rye bread. It’s every bit as creamy and fresh as it is meaty and substantial.
The One Love sandwich though, captured my heart and caught me off guard (as love sometimes does). Ciabatta bread, fluffy in the center and crusty on the outside, swaddled warm spinach, gooey brie, crisp apple, zippy red onion and scratch-made honey Dijon dressing.
This sandwich had me so enraptured that I did not even realize it was meatless (for all you vegetarians out there). As the sweet yet punchy dressing dripped down my wrists, it was love at first bite.
Want soup with your sandwich? Deep pots of homemade soups like Creamy Tomato or Chilled Cantaloupe and Mango with cayenne pepper are prepared daily, changing based on the season, weather and Jenny’s mood (think gazpacho).
“We were in here sweating the other day, I decided ‘it’s chilled soup time,’” laughs Jenny.
Since Totally Baked has become Jenny’s second full time gig, she chose to imbue it with elements of her past. Born and raised in Africa, Jenny adorned the walls with a teal design that is reminiscent of African patterns. From the natural cork dining bar to the weaved hanging baskets a sense of Africa and memories of her grandfather a held between its four walls.
Totally Baked is open until 6 on Tuesdays and 4 on other weeknights, so the McNamaras offer TV dinners for those patrons who want dinner to go. This concept started before they were married and has been written in their notebook of concepts for years.
TV meals have gone over well at Noble Fare, so the couple brought them to the deli. Paleo meals like stir-fry chicken or Italian dinners of rigatoni pasta with goat cheese and sweet sausage are offered to take home.
“We are living our dream. Everything we do is all out of love. It was always about love,” Jenny gushes about her and Patrick’s restaurants.
In reference to opening a new eatery, the McNamaras will not be waiting 10 more years. Jenny tells me, “Another one will be coming…we are going to go all out and do another one quick.”