I like to joke about the Mansion on Forsyth Park being like home for me. I live a handful of blocks away from there and whenever I am in Forsyth Park enjoying an afternoon with my family, it’s not uncommon for us to take a walk through there. Usually it’s to refill our refreshments, but the bonus is a walk around to take in how spectacularly beautiful the property is. I’ve been enamored with the Mansion since the first time I walked in there. Love the color, love the art, love the detail and love the vibe. All of it top notch across the board. So when I was invited to a special dinner at 700 Drayton based on the art they have on their walls? Who could say no to that? It was called “An Evening of Artistry.” 4 course dinner with each course inspired by a work of art from the Kessler Collection. The collection is massive, but the choices were carefully selected. Art was pulled off the walls, the inspiration for the work was described to Chef Geir Kilen and he whipped up a dish based on it. I don’t know if this concept has been done before, but it was a first for me and it was absolutely delightful.
We’ve all seen scenes like this across the marsh if you live in this area. This print was beautifully captured by the artist. Chef then delivered a perfect starter course of Crispy Oysters, Soy Butter, Sweet Pepper Jelly and a little arugula. Fried oysters can be a blessing and a curse. When they are not done well, basically they are tiny lead weights. When they are done perfectly like these were at 700 Drayton, they are light, fluffy, just enough crisp to compliment the softness of a fresh oyster. Soy butter and Sweet Pepper Jelly were perfect pairing.
Fish Market by Jean Claude Roy, Oil
The artist is a personal friend of Richard Kessler, owner of the Mansion and Bohemian Hotels in Savannah. His works are everywhere. Each bearing similarities, but unique and different unto themselves. To match this course, Chef offered us a wonderful Bronzed Red Grouper, smoked tomato coulis and tomato jam. The fish had a smokiness to it. Somewhat like a BBQ dry rub. Slight smoky crust to go along with the base sauce. My least favorite of the meal the 4 courses, but don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful. Someone who likes big bold flavors would be all over this dish.
Spring, K.A. Collins, Graphite
Our main course was a spin on a surf and turf. Petite Filet, wonderfully perfect crab fritters, a few asparagus spears and sweet potato fries. Funny thing about the crab fritters. Just kinda by accident, I’ve been enjoying a number of crab cakes lately, some great, some not so much. So when I took my first bite, I immediately smiled because these fell into the great side. Loved them.
The work of art is called Lago de Atitlan Volcanoes. The artist Brian MacGregor. The scene was an actual lake in Guatemala with two dormant volcanoes on the far side of it. We were told a few people have walked through the Mansion, seen the print and said “I know that view. I have been there” Which is pretty neat for such an isolated place. To compliment that, chef offered us a chocolate lava cake, tiny Grand Marnier milk shake and poached strawberries. As melt in your mouth as you could imagine.
So, yes, we ate, we drank, we talked about art. As you would expect, the evening was perfectly coordinated. Service was impeccable, attention to detail at every turn. The evening taken as a whole was an experience, drenched in charm, character, color and beauty. That’s the thing about The Mansion on Forsyth Park. The interiors in both the hotel and 700 Drayton restaurant are unmatched in this city. The art collection is a treasure for Richard Kessler, but being able to enjoy them casually with a cocktail or a lengthy dinner is one of Savannah’s more spectacular visual experiences.