The Vault

2112 Bull StSavannah, GA 31401 • (912) 201-1950 • vaultkitchen.com

 

The name doesn’t scream Asian fare, but once you discover that it’s a stunning renovation of a former bank, it all makes total and complete cents. Get it? No seriously, whoever did this renovation deserves a ferocious high five, because they didn’t miss a trick, from the safe deposit box art on the walls, to the bar made up of the same. To the private dining room inside the safe, to teller cut windows and nickeled bathroom floors it is a smile everywhere you look.

Speaking of smiles, the service is delivered with big ones. Regrettably, however, the servers are bit off with the recos and even worse with clearing the plates, leaving us with more of a grimace.

The food, on the other hand, will have those corners spreading ear to ear. In fact, considering my expectations walking in, I couldn’t have left too much happier. My greatest joy coming in the form of an Ultimate Tuna Tartar (pictured) served over a bed of seaweed with a layer of avocado for creaminess, masago for saltiness, spicy mayo for heat, sesame seeds for texture, all topped with crispy crab for fucking awesomeness!

Also worth its weight in gold is the lemon coconut soup with shrimp, mussels, ginger, lemongrass and red curry. It’s perfect on a “cold” day (I use quotes because cold is obviously relative in Savannah) and just perfect in general. Might even be an Ultimate soup, still ruminating on that one.

The embarrassment of riches continued as Vault even served up one of the best stir-fry noodle dishes I’ve ever laid chopsticks on. The Nickel Noodles are a clinic on proportions and balance as the wide rice noodles hold up handsomely to the overloaded goodies within, like beef and shrimp, scallions and onions, bell peppers, egg and basil. Yummity Yum!

And making it rain in the Asian-Mex category were the FICO Fish tacos (see, it’s not just me with the money puns). Jazzed up with mango, cabbage, daikon, chipotle sauce and kimchi dressing.

But then, just like the market, things leveled off. The roasted duck dumplings, while very good, were decidedly more of this earth. As was the grilled calamari. And then, just like the market, things started sliding in the other direction, with a doughy miss, the steamed BBQ tofu buns. Which is crazy when you read what’s in them (spinach, shitakes, Szechuan glaze, Sriracha) – and yet all you taste is bun, bun, bun. Hard to believe the same restaurant made this.

Another pair of misses, per the aforementioned poor recos, are the desserts, which came highly recommended by the waiter compared to the lure of a trip to Leopold’s Ice Cream. Well, learn from our mistake and go to Leo’s. The key lime cake tasted like something you’d get on a plane and the pecan pie was way off balance with a meager dusting of pecans across the top and the rest all goop, whipped cream and crust.

Transgressions aside, The Vault is still a gem, albeit one knife shy of a diamond.

Chocolat by Adam Turoni

323 W Broughton St. Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 335-2914 •  chocolatat.com

chocolat-by-adam-turoni

If only one could actually eat with their eyes, then perhaps Turoni would be worthy of its price tag, not to mention its colossally inflated rating on Yelp. But unfortunately the best part of the experience ends the moment you exit the shop. And it is an experience, I’ll given ’em that.

Tall, gorgeous glass cases filled with these delectable looking jewels (pictured) flank you as you enter. Each grouping of chocolates accompanied by a card that describes the complexity within. Then, armed with a steel tray and tongs, you are sent out to collect your own box of goodies throughout the shop. It really is terrific concept.

But here’s the rub… Only about two of the ten we purchased were worth the calories, as the overwhelming majority fell way short of their promise. The flavors just lacked the impact one hopes for when you bite into a morsel of chocolate. The habanero wasn’t spicy enough. The caramels weren’t gooey enough. And the chocolates weren’t rich enough. I don’t know about you, but subtlety has no place in the land of desserts as far as I’m concerned. Go big or go home. Now I’m not saying that all desserts have to be heavy or rich, but I AM saying that if I’m going to put my health at risk to try your dessert, the least you could do is send my endorphins on the ride of their life!

So personally I would say skip Adam Turoni and walk a few more blocks over to Leopold’s Ice Cream, a dessert that will easily be worth every last calorie. Plus, the exercise will help compensate for the added poundage.

If you do stay, go for the one with musical notes on it. It’s half white chocolate, half dark, with hazelnuts in the middle. And proceeds from its sale go to the local philharmonic. A distant second was the one made with Brazilian coffee. Beyond those, it’s amateur hour. So load up on those two, or be warned.

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