Everybody, everywhere, seems to be talking about Mashama Bailey lately (she was on CBS Saturday morning last weekend, for example). When we were heading to the beach, and going to be in Savannah for lunch, I had an idea where we’d be stopping: The Grey, where Ms Bailey is executive chef. In what was a former Greyhound station, which had been vacant since 1964, John Morisano, a part-time Savannahan, purchased the property with the intention of making a spectacular restaurant of it. He then convinced Chef Bailey to leave NYC and come to Savannah to helm the kitchen. Open a little more than three years, it is a beautiful restaurant and was named Eater.com’s best restaurant in 2017.
The picture above is exiting the diner / bar up front and looking into the main dining room (the former terminal). From the other end (below) you can see the fantastic lines of the space, with the departure doors still numbered on the courtyard wall.
With the dining room being open only for dinner I was able to grab these photos of it empty going to / coming from the men’s room. The street side (labeled as West Broad Street, now Martin Luther King Jr Dr) housed a diner, when the station was open, mid-century. That diner is now the bar / diner where you can drink before dinner or walk-up (to one of five booths and a dozen or so counter stools) for lunch. We arrived around 11:45 and took two seats at the counter. Looking through the menu, I wasn’t sure what I was going to have, until our server mentioned (and I saw sitting next to me) the blue plate special. My beloved decided on one of the salads – the Lil’ Gem:
Lil’ Gem lettuce, smoked carrots (think of a flavor like carrot pastrami), pickled red onions, tomatoes and buttermilk ranch. Other than croutons that were extra crunchy, this was an excellent salad. My beloved said she felt like she had meat on the salad, which was from the carrot – she shared a taste with me and it was insane. Our server said, “I’ve had vegetarians make me swear to them there’s no meat on the grilled pimento cheese sandwich that’s served with those carrots on it…”
The lunch side was a Vermont white cheddar mac-n-cheese, baked and served in a cast iron skillet. It came to the table with the cheese still bubbling.
We shared this dish and it was very cheesy, but it could have used a more flavorful cheese to add more “oomph”. On to the blue plate special – a thick-cut fried balogna sandwich, on house-made bread, with cheese and a fried egg with a choice of side. I went with the slaw as a side, for my beloved, as I intended to eat more than my half of the mac-n-cheese.
This was the best balogna sandwich I’ve ever had – and it’s not that I don’t eat balogna sandwiches. During the summers between 5th and 8th grade, I had a bologna and cheese sandwich at least four times a week. And I’m always on the hunt for smoked balogna at a barbecue place (Oklahoma Tube Steak). The fried egg may have been the scale tipper – I’ve never had a fried egg with my bologna and it was fantastic. Dipping the sandwich into the running yolk added a texture and taste to the sandwich that was over the top. I can’t wait to go back for dinner.