Paula Deen…..Make Room for Mrs. Wilkes!

If you haven’t been to Savannah, Ga – put it on your “bucket list”.  Savannah takes you back in time and gives you many reasons to love visiting.  The history of the City, the beauty of the trees with spanish moss, the beautiful squares, the fountains, River Street, cobble stone streets and the unique shops are just a few of the reasons I love this city.  And now I have a new reason to love Savannah  – Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room.  I heard about Mrs. Wilke’s – (sometimes referred to as Mrs. Wilke’s Boarding House) from many friends who highly recommended the entire experience.  Most of my trips to Savannah have been afternoon or night visits while vacationing on a nearby island.  Mrs. Wilke’s is only open for lunch so my family had been unable to find a time to give it a try. 

A work-related conference in Savanna allowed me to explore the City for 4 days recently.   Many of the meals were included in the conference, so I had to pick and choose carefully where to eat during our “free-time meals”.  The choices of restaurants are unbelievable.  A lot of people at the conference wanted to go to Paula Deen’s Lady and Son’s Restaurant.  I had eaten there a few years back – so I wanted to try something different.  After all, I am not as big a Paula fan as I once was.  I really liked her before they started air-brushing her portraits on the magazine covers and before she started being so “polished” on her show instead of down-to-earth.   Don’t get me wrong, I am still a fan.  I love her story of where she came from and the obstacles she overcame to be who she is today.  I also admit I have most of her cookbooks and I have had the opportunity to attend two of her personal appearances.  I just wish she would stick to food instead of trying to sell furniture! 

On my list of “to-do” on this trip to Savannah was to eat at Mrs. Wilkes.  Believe it or not – there are no promotional brochures in the tour racks for Mrs. Wilkes.  I had to get on the internet to find out the details.  Mrs. Wilkes is only open from 11 am until 2 pm Monday thru Friday and she doesn’t take reservations.  Her website indicates customers just start lining up in front of her restaurant a little before 11 am each weekday.  You are called in by the host to be seated according to how many seats are available at a table.  Unless you have enough people in your party to fill up a table, you sit with people you don’t know.  The food is already ready on your table when you sit down in bowls, served old fashioned family style.  You spend the first part of the meal passing bowls, and believe me that took a little while as there are plenty bowls to pass.  We were there on a Tuesday and they served fried chicken, barbeque shredded pork and beef stew.  I passed on the beef stew – but the other two meats were good enough to write home about.  The side dishes – well, in order to sample everything, I could only allow a little more than taste of each dish…. cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, creamed corn, lima beans, green beans, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, squash casserole, okra and tomatoes, cucumbers, and rice.  I am certain I missed a few…it was overwhelming.  I tried not to overload my plate – but as you can see, I wasn’t too successful.   Opps, I almost forgot to mention the cornbread and homemade biscuits.   Sweet tea was the token drink, after all we were in the south!      

I get hungry just looking at this picture.  Close your eyes and you can even smell the goodness!! 

After consuming the main meal, they had offerings of banana pudding and peach cobbler.  I was only able to take a bite of the banana cobbler.  I just couldn’t hold anything else!  

I will admit, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of sitting with complete strangers and breaking bread.  But….it was ok.  In fact, it was better than ok.  We ate with two couples from Florida, one couple from Ohio, and another lady from the northeast.  We exchanged stories of our favorite restaurants, foods, and moaned together as we started filling up!  You can bet my next trip back to Savannah will include Mrs. Wilkes!