Admit it: you like pork rinds just as much as you like a glass of pinot noir. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to get these two exquisite treats at the same place. Enter Dept. 7 East in Savannah, the newest eatery to open its doors on the city's famed Broughton Street.
Business partners Meta Adler and Michele Jemison didn’t pick just any random spot to open their bistro. Dept. 7 East is located in the Altmayer building, former home of Adler’s Department Store. Founded in the late 19th century by Leopold Adler, Meta’s great-great grandfather, Adler’s was a mainstay on Broughton Street until the late 1950s. Today, the four-story building houses a number of popular businesses, including Starbucks and Fitness on Broughton.
For many years, the Altmayer building was home of the beloved Savannah Tea Room, an elegant restaurant and purveyor of fine tea. The Tea Room is still in business, selling loose tea, tea accessories and other wares, including jewelry and gifts. But the eatery has been taken over by Adler and Jemison, a popular local chef, who have brought a unique blend of Southern-influenced cuisine and gourmet goodness to the former home of the much-beloved department store.
Using fresh, local ingredients as inspiration, Adler and Jemison have created an eclectic menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and small bites. Southern influences abound in selections such as the Three Little Piggies platter, which features andouille sausage, house-made pate, pancetta and, yes, pork rinds.
There are several other Southern-inspired sandwiches, including the croque mademoiselle, which combines pimento cheese, ham and house-made pepper jelly, and the cracklin’ Cuban, a Southernized version of the traditional sandwich with pork tenderloin, ham, pickled okra, Red Dragon cheese, spicy Dijon mustard and your favorite accoutrement, pork rinds. Dept. 7 East's croque mademoiselle features pimento cheese, ham and house-made pepper jelly — Photo courtesy of Dept. 7 East
Less adventurous eaters will find safe choices such as chicken salad over mixed greens, egg salad on white or wheat and a club sandwich with turkey, ham, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. All sandwiches are accompanied by either chips or a salad and a pickled vegetable.
The eatery, which is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., also boasts a nice selection of craft beer and fine wine, along with sparkling and still water, soda in glass bottles, hot brewed French press coffee and iced peach tea.
If the menu itself isn’t enough to convince you that upscale and Southern cuisine can happily co-exist, then take a look at Dept. 7 East’s décor. At first glance, the eatery is an elegant bistro with wood tables and an inviting color scheme. Upon closer inspection, diners will discover numerous Low Country details, such as antler-shaped sculptures on the tables and a deer head over the fireplace.
For those who can’t stay and enjoy Dept. 7 East’s unique ambiance, the restaurant offers to-go service and even a picnic basket so that guests can enjoy food and wine anywhere.