When we walked into Chive Sea Bar & Lounge, we had high expectations. We had heard the buzz about the relatively new seafood restaurant on Broughton and that it had been touted as “something different” prior to opening by none other than Jesse Blanco. Once in the door, we were greeted immediately by a friendly hostess who told us that it would be a few minutes before a table would be ready. She offered us seats at the bar while we waited.
Chive’s atmosphere is chic and sophisticated with warm color tones of blue and pewter. We felt as if we had stepped into the 1920s, a kind of modern version of The Great Gatsby. Seating is cozy in sofa-like booths with throw pillows separated by blue curtains, or there are less intimate options at several high-top tables or the bar. The lighting, Deco chandeliers and backlighting make Chive attractive and inviting. Once settled at the bar, we noticed Ella playing in the background. So far, we really liked the music and ambiance.
Chive Sea Bar & Lounge is located next to the corner of Broughton and Bull in the space formerly occupied by Saigon. The owners are Sean and Ele Tran who also own The King and I, Tangerine, Ele Fine Fusion and Fire Street Food.
We continued to enjoy our surroundings and the music; this time it was Louis. By the time the hostess sat us, Chive was crowded both at the bar and dining area. Our sever Lauren greeted us at our table. After giving us time to peruse the drink and food menus, she returned and described the evening’s specials. Lauren knew the menu well and provided friendly, attentive service throughout the meal.
Chive’s menu, while predominately seafood, offers a diverse selection of items not from the sea such as venison, buffalo, duck, quail and wild boar. The seafood options are more than one might expect even from a seafood restaurant. Raw bar and cold plate items include oysters, tuna ceviche and sashimi. The variety of seafood appetizers and entrées include shrimp, calamari, mussels, salmon, flounder, crab, Dungeness crab, king crab, scallops, lobster, and more. Prices are moderately expensive to expensive. One thing that I really liked about Chive’s menu was the small plate entrée option. Most main plates are offered in a small plate and large plate option.
We ordered three small plate entrées for two of us – Flounder & Crab, Chilean Sea Bass and Crab Cake. We also ordered a bottle of Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) to accompany our forthcoming seafood. Chive offers roughly a dozen beers on tap. It has a small but diverse wine selection as well as a selection of specialty cocktails.
The Chilean sea bass was served over herbed orzo. It was perfectly seared yet tender and moist inside and served with a mixed green salad with soy vinaigrette garnished with an orange slice. The plate was painted with lines of Sriracha and Origami sauces and droplets of Miso sauce. The entire dish was excellent, as was the big band instrumental version of “Beyond the Sea” playing in the background. Ambiance – check, music – check, and now food – check.
The Parmesan encrusted flounder was stuffed with fresh crab and served over sautéed spinach. It too was garnished with the mixed green salad with soy vinaigrette and orange slice, and the plate was painted with the same Sriracha, Origami and Miso sauces. The flounder, crab, and spinach were very good, and the portion size was generous for a small plate.
The crab cake was served over a fried green tomato with the same mixed green salad. In addition to the three painted sauces, the crab also came with a lemon caper remoulade. Like the other two, this dish was well prepared. The crab cake was browned, moist and perfectly spiced. The tang of the fried green tomato added a pleasant contrast or zing (technical culinary term) to the richness of the crabmeat. The remoulade added yet another layer of complexity to the flavors. All three seafood dishes did not disappoint, as the preparation, presentation and flavors are worthy of praise.
The music continued as Frank crooned in the background as we were served our final course. For dessert we split the chocolate layer cake, which consisted a single layer of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and white chocolate mousse. The cake was garnished with strawberry slices, whipped cream and fresh mint, and the plate was painted with chocolate syrup and strawberry syrup. Although beautifully presented, dessert was good but not great. Given the quality of the entrées, I had higher expectations for dessert.
Overall, I recommend Chive Sea Bar & Lounge for an upscale dining and bar experience. The menu selection and food preparation as well as service are excellent. The chic sophisticated décor and big band standards create a vibe reminiscent of a bygone era. Chive truly is something quite different in Savannah. I look forward to returning for dinner and to experience its rumored late night transformation.
Chive Sea Bar & Lounge
4 West Broughton St.
Written by Todd Williams