Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
The Lady & Sons
Savannah, GA
Review by SuSu, MaceVindaloo, Wraith6, dieFledermaus

This place has already become a legend among foodies. The owner, Paula Deen, is a matronly older southern lady, whom you'd be comfortable calling "ma'am" and maybe "momma." She has two sons, Jamie and Bobby, who are becoming famous for not only being cute, but for hosting a food show based on family businesses, "just like our own." They own the restaurant together and are a local — and now national — destination.

Foodies that we are, and being in Savannah, we had been bullied into promising we'd go to "Paula's place." The Deens have adopted themselves into the Savannah community from a smaller place in Georgia. For them, this is probably the Big Smoke, and they're doing well. Recently, the Deen family opened Bubba's Oyster House, their second restaurant.

And as much as they claim to owe Savannah, Savannah surely owes them. Every place there were tourists in town, they all wanted to know, "Where is the restaurant? How do I get a table? Is the unmarried son in town today?" It seemed Paula Deen is responsible for bringing in a huge number of tourists into town. Every souvenir shop had aprons, cookbooks, seasoning powders, postcards, etc. by or about the Deens.

The restaurant is an old cotton warehouse on the banks of the Savannah River. The bought that building, which seats 1000, and has three floors. There is a hostess stand on Congress Street well away from the entrance. You have to line up to get a ticket which is like a themepark fastpass. People line up at 9am for a lunch ticket, and at 2pm for dinner. They appear to be packed daily, and there are probably multiple seatings and good turnover.

Who comes here? Locals, since its in the business district ... people from town and beyond celebrating one thing or another, and lots and lots of tourists. The staff is comprised of locals, and a huge number of college students from around the country and the world. So even though this is a "local" place, it's actually more worldly and eclectic than you'd first think.

There is an extensive à la carte menu filled with all manner of southerania. The prices are not cheap, but you wouldn't expect a great restaurant with perfect food and stellar service and a fun atmosphere to be cheap. But because of Deen's personality and her use of a buffet, people could be excused for supposing the place could be inexpensive in a high-value sort of way.

The buffet is not completely cheap either — it's just under $20, but it's extremely high value! The food is wonderful and incites acts of stupidity. It contains everything from grits, mixed vegetable, salad bar, chicken fried steak, sausage gravy, biscuits, collards, cornbread, etc. etc. etc. Too bad it's always packed, and if you didn't make adequate preparations, you'd be standing on the plate glass windows, drooling ...

but we did manage to get in, even though it was Friday night and rather late — after 9:30 in the evening. Many places would have been closed in some other cities. But we saw the hostess stand was still manned, and they intercommed into the restaurant and confirmed they had space at the bar. Yes, we'd be happy to eat at the bar, we said. So we were given a ticket to give to the hostess and instructions to ride the elevator up to the third floor.

We discovered the servers scurrying about, but all were friendly. When we got lost, one asked if he could help, another led us to the elevators (which were tucked away a bit). The barman who received our ticket was very nice, and revealed that many of the workers were students at Savannah College of Art and Design. He was originally from Philadelphia.

The barman was our server, and did everything you'd expect a server to do, including making recommendations. But he pointed us to the buffet, noting that the Lady & Sons is famous for it, and it was the real signature of "Miss Paula." So we did as we were recommended, and wondered if we'd have to to go the first floor? No, there was a buffet set up on every floor; the third floor was was through a little doorway, just off the main dining room.

It resembles many other southern buffet offerings, but don't let that fool you. And it was replenished often by young men and women wearing headsets, to call down to the kitchen in the basement to send up more of one thing or another before it ran out. Which was good, because it was all delicious!

The things that made us commit ridiculous abuses to our digestive systems were: low country boil, old #7 sweet potatoes (made with jack daniels #7), fried chicken (which beats Popeye's, sorry Little Nicky), mashed potatoes, hoe cakes, biscuits ... and a lot more, but we can't remember. We were suffering. And because the buffet was "all you can eat," we did, and then some ...

In fact, one of us went back and extra time to the buffet while everyone else was otherwise occupied. It does answer why he was moaning, groaning, and all swollen. We all were actually, but it didn't stop us from saying, "yes" when the nice barman came by with a tray full of desserts. One dessert is included in the price, and included country-style desserts like cobbler or peach pie, and the Paula Deen invention called gooey butter cake.

The food and the nice service were all divine and we did a lot of damage to ourselves to taste it all. Being that this is a buffet, you cannot have anything "wrapped to go." We'd even begged the very nice barman to let us! He smiled and told us, "Just come back again! We'll always be delighted to lay out the buffet for you again."

On the way out, we noticed a little kiosk shop selling all manner of things Deen — books, aprons, mixes, skillets, coffee mugs, etc. There are so many people in the restaurant who'd obviously come just to eat here, and they want souvenirs. We have to admit, we had to restrain ourselves, especially since we have her books and stuff already!

Not being from Savannah, most of us hadn't planned on coming back ... but we are already saving up and casting around for an excuse to do just that! How could we not? But then again, we did overeat and were in a lot of pain ...

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