The little fat boy inside my hungry heart was giddy with glee as I strolled through the front doors of Paula Deen’s iconic soul food restaurant in the heart of Savannah’s historic old town. I spent considerable hours of my youth glued to the television, watching the Food Network’s most popular programs while working away on my math and science homework. I was instantly lulled into a quiet calm as eggs cracked and meringues frothed on Martha’s Kitchen, The Barefoot Contessa and Paula’s Home Cooking.
For food-loving Canadian’s like me, Paula Deen’s warm southern twang on TV offered a warm and motherly moment each day to tap into the heart of America’s finger-licking-good Southern cooking tradition. Paula’s recipe ramblings were always hilariously peppered with exclamations for her love of butter, sugar, and deep fried delicacies…which she spooned into her mouth at the end of each episode with, “mmm that’s delicious ya’ll!”
Before Paula landed on television she was famous with foodies in Savannah. In 1989 she started The Bag Lady, a lunchtime catering service which she ran out of her home. Fast forward to 1996 and Paula’s dream of opening a soul food restaurant in her home town became a reality. After extensive renovations, The Lady & Sons opened its doors in the old Sears & Roebuck building on Congress Street.
The restaurant quickly gained a passionate following and soon took home a handful of awards from the likes of USA Today and Southern Living Magazine. The sweet-pea Savannah native’s career took off, with the launch of her Food Network Show as well as a handful of must-have Southern-inspired cookbooks. With the Paula Deen brand in full bloom, the restaurant became known for having hours long wait times, as eager foodies waited patiently in a line that snaked all the way down the street. In 2001 Paula moved her landmark restaurant to its final home, in the Old White Hardware Building. After 14 months of renovations The Lady & Sons burst open its doors, welcoming guests to a massive 3-storey space located in a stunning 200 year old heritage building.
After stepping inside The Lady & Sons I immediately skipped over to the gift shop on the main floor. The lowcountry-chic space offers a kitchen lovers Paula Deen branded everything; from cheery yellow, white and blue adorned aprons and mugs, to her complete cookbook collection, and shelves teaming with take home treats like Paula’s own biscuit mix and sweet peach jam.
Once I heard my name chirped by the hostess I took an elevator to the third floor and plopped myself down for a fine feast. The majority of people who visit The Lady & Sons opt for the All-You-Can-Eat buffet, although there is an a la carte menu you can order off of (which includes desserts such as Key Lime Pie and Pecan Pie). Be sure to order a glass of sweet iced tea (a Georgia signature slurp) but ask for it to arrive half sweet as it’s seriously pucker inducing.
Then hop up from your seat, loosen your belt, grab a plate, and stroll over to the buffet. You’ll find all your fave soul food favourites including buttery biscuits, fried chicken, cornbread, pulled pork, mac & cheese, dirty rice, mashed potatoes, black eyed peas, sticky sweet potatoes, and classic collared greens.