Sure, nowadays we like to eat responsibly, or say we do. We read labels. We count calories. We try to avoid anything too rich and too buttery and opt for lightly grilled instead of deep-fried.
And that’s great. Except when you need genuine comfort food. See, once in a while you have to ignore what’s best for your body and do what’s best for your soul. And when you’re vacationing in Savannah, there’s no better comfort food than Paula Deen’s The Lady & Sons restaurant.
Paula Deen’s Comfort Cooking
The Lady & Sons, the Southern Style eatery that catapulted Deen from struggling local caterer to TV super chef, remains one of Savannah’s biggest restaurant draws. Even in this age of dressing-on-the-side-please, lines are long each night at the corner of Congress and Whitaker streets.
One of the marquee menu items is the Sunday Buffet. Start with Fried Green Tomatoes or maybe a cup or bowl of cream-based Crab Stew. Ready for your (first) pass through the buffet line? Go for the Southern Fried Chicken or baked alternative. There’s Pork Stew there, too, and Chicken and Rice. Dive into the Creamed Potatoes, Creamed Corn, Broccoli Casserole, Okra and Tomatoes and Collard Greens. And what’s a buffet—especially a Southern buffet—without Yams and Mac and Cheese?
Leave room for dessert, if you dare. There’s Banana Puddin’ and Peach Cobbler and Gooey Butter Cakes. Rest assured, the nap will be well worth it..
But if you want to keep it lighter, if you’re a Paula Deen fan and want to make a pilgrimage to The Lady & Sons but still wish to count calories, there is a salad bar.
And indeed, Deen has fans of all appetites. Most know all about her sons Jamie and Bobby Deen. Most know that through cooking ability, smarts and a little luck, the Deens transformed their humble home-based bidness into a empire of TV shows, cookbooks, a magazine, now-multiple restaurants and and even a dessert line that includes the aforementioned Gooey Butter Cakes. Here’s the inspirational, truly all-American story, in brief:
Paula was divorced and almost destitute when, partly out of desperation and partly as relief from panic attacks, in June 1989 she started selling bag lunches out of her own kitchen. She called her business The Bag Lady. Her sons delivered the lunches, which were so well received that a growing customer base prompted Paula to lease space in a local Best Western and expand her business into a full restaurant.
The demand continued to grow and so did family business aspirations. In 1996 the Deens left the motel to open The Lady & Sons downtown. Within three years, USA Today bestowed on the restaurant the title of “International Meal of the Year.” That led to a cookbook and an introduction to a TV executive, which led to a TV appearance and then a pilot and ultimately to international superstardom.
The current site, larger and just down the street from the original, has been home to the restaurant since 2003 and has a history all its own. The restored weathered-brick structure is the former home of White Hardware Co. and dates to the early 19th century.
The building says Old South, and so does the food. When you’re in Savannah give the Lady & Sons a try. Take a break from counting calories. You might end up counting your blessings.