It Will Be My Honor To Serve You!
Chef Kirk Blaine, a Savannah native, was born with cooking and leadership in his blood. Son to local business owners, he was raised with a hard work ethic and determination to succeed against adversity and obstacles. Graduating from Benedictine Military School gave Chef Kirk the determination to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where he completed his Bachelors in Hotel Restaurant Administration, with Culinary Management. In New York he gained worldly knowledge and influences from around the globe that shine brightly in his dishes. As Executive Chef of Driftaway Café, he honed his skills. After years of training he took on an adventurous project and conceived the Restaurant at Cohen’s Retreat. After passing Cohen’s Retreat on, he went to open The Howlin Hound, which is an All-American Casual Gourmet lunch and dinner restaurant featuring the greatest sandwiches, wraps, steaks and seafood. Soon thereafter he opened the Castaway in Sandfly, which is a sport fishing themed restaurant boasting a wide variety of the freshest catches of the Low Country. Chef Blaine has also recently opened the upscale Savannah River Room, which is a private reservable catering venue for events, and celebrations of all occasions. Chef Kirk also features full service catering for any size events from 20 to 2000, and has cooked in every venue in the Low Country.
Chef Blaine is still a family man, and always welcomes his wife Ashley, son William, daughter Lillian and dogs Buddy & Nelson into the kitchen to spend countless hours together as a family. A very loyal staff supports Chef Kirk and is inspired by his passion for food, flavor, and fun! When not in the restaurant you may find Chef Kirk contributing to one of his favorite charitable organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, Ronald McDonald House, Second Harvest Food Bank, The Humane Society, Alzheimer’s Association, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, Bethesda Academy, JEA, Forest City Gun Club, or his church, First Presbyterian on Washington Avenue. Chef Kirk continues to be a frontrunner in the Southern food scene in every category, and will continue to delight every guest that he encounters!
Chef Kirk In The News!
For one chef, wild game is more than a meal - it's an art.
“I’m fed up with fine dining,” says Castaways’ head chef Kirk Blaine. “It’s so stuffy and critical.”
Seated in the corner of the restaurant he owns with business partners Heather Olmr and Jim Cole, Blaine wears a crisp apron and an age-worn visor, an apt intersection of classic and backcountry that’s just as unexpected as the food he serves.
Castaways is tucked away, almost out of sight, in a Skidaway Island shopping center between Fiore and Loc’s Chicken and Waffles. Everything about the restaurant is remarkably unassuming, from nautical wall murals and simple one-page menus to the lack of web presence.
The relaxed atmosphere is intentional, Blaine says.
With a specials menu that commonly boasts items like camel, rattlesnake and alligator, that couldn’t be closer to the truth.
One of his favorite dishes to make is General Tso’s Dove, a meat that Blaine says tastes similar to duck. A red meat dish, it’s served medium-rare and is often accompanied by soba noodles, carrots and broccoli. “It’s really fun to play with it and match those authentic flavors,” he muses.
Most of his wild game comes from the farm at the Bethesda Academy, roughly a mile away, whose agricultural program is top-notch. Between farms, fields and wild game preserves at the historic orphanage-turned-boys’-school, the supply of quality, humanely raised ingredients is enough to keep Blaine creating inspired cuisine to his heart’s content.
“There’s absolutely nothing I can’t get my hands on,” says Blaine. “We’re packed full of ideas and we’re only limited by the amount of space we have to cook them in.”
Growing Options in Savannah’s Sandfly Neighborhood
Moving to Savannah once upon a time, it took me a while to realize that St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t the center of the universe here. I will never forget the first time I felt like I was standing in the middle of a whirlpool. We had been here two or three years at that point. We lived on the 8th floor, on the corner of Liberty and Drayton Streets. The parade was going on as I looked out from my balcony. To the left, I saw the parade moving North on Abercorn at Liberty. To the right, the parade was winding down at Liberty and Bull Streets. There were festive comings and goings. People everywhere in a very traditional see of green. The schools were closed, practically everyone I knew made plans to be downtown that morning. How could anything else be going on anywhere in Savannah? It wasn’t until a few years later that I came to learn that pretty much anywhere south of Victory Drive, St. Patrick’s Day is just another day that ends in ‘Y’, but it still is a nice boost in weekday revenue.
Restaurants outside of Savannah’s historic district typically take advantage of the ‘unofficial’ holiday and see larger than normal crowds once the parade is over. “We are blessed with brisk crowds pretty much every day.” says Robyn Quattlebaum, owner of Sandfly’s Driftaway Cafe. “On St. Patrick’s Day we generally see larger crowds at dinner than lunch because of the parade.” Last year, Driftaway had live music in the parking lot all afternoon and into the evening. They’ll do it again this year. It almost becomes a parade ‘after party’ once the Isle of Hope/Landings crowd leaves downtown and is looking for somewhere to continue the celebration perhaps a little closer to home.
The Sandfly neighborhood has a couple more spots to enjoy your evening after a morning and early afternoon awash in corned beef and cabbage. Castaways Sandfly is the relatively-speaking new spot in the area led by Chef Kirk Blaine, but the most anticipated opening is a few doors down at the brand new Tequila’s Town Mexican Restaurant. Which is now open.
When does nine months feel like forever? When you are waiting, trying to open a restaurant, of course. That’s how long the journey has been for everyone at Tequila’s Town, one of Savannah’s most popular Mexican restaurants, now with a 2nd location in Sandfly. “It felt like it took forever, but we are glad it’s over.” says Melody Rodriguez, who is part of the ownership group at the restaurant. Tequila’s Town original location is downtown on Whitaker Street. Shortly after they opened in 2013, they were drawing crowds. During busy times of the year, it’s not uncommon to expect a 45 minute wait for dinner. The food speaks for itself, but now they are accessible to more people in Savannah outside of downtown. “We are very excited to be part of the community here in Sandfly.” says Rodriguez.
The space (previously Sandfly Bar and Grill) was gutted. If you see the new space and the new kitchen you would never know what was there before. The new kitchen is huge “our kitchen staff is just loving that.” she says “and the dining room is equally as spacious. “We listened to our guests and customers.” Rodriguez tells me “We wanted to do whatever we could to make this new space as comfortable for everyone. As a result, our bar area is spacious and separated from our dining room by a wall.” she adds. “We wanted the bar to be simplistic and clean in its style.” They’ve succeeded in that regard.
The entire space is very nice, if not a bit boxy. It is, after all, a space in a strip mall. That’s hardly a deterrent, though. The most important thing is what is coming out of the kitchen. Which this area has embraced. “We are going to do a few different things on our menu now that we have the space to do it here.” Rodriguez says. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Tequila’s Town downtown, it would be a good idea to pay them a visit in Sandfly if that is closer to your neighborhood. Very very good Mexican food. Great variety and great cocktails. In fact, Tequila’s Town won our 2014 Foodie Award for Best Mexican.
Obviously, Sandfly isn’t the only neighborhood in Savannah that will begin to buzz within a couple of hours of the end of the parade downtown. I suspect 5 Spot in Habersham Village, Lili’s on Wilmington Island or Tubby’s in Thunderbolt or The Wyld Dock Bar will all get busier and busier as the afternoon and evening roll on. It is, after all, a holiday for a good number of us. Yes, even those that choose to stay home and watch on television, with a fresh iced tea in their hand. If, however, you choose to head out and ride the wave of green? There are too many good options not to find a place to eat it and like it.
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