Best Southern ladies who lunch café might be SCAD’s Gryphon in Savannah, Ga [classic article]

I think the term “ladies who lunch” gets a bad rap. After all, I’m a lady and I’m often fond of lunch. The get-together ritual is our version of the much-bemoaned “three martini lunch,” so why can’t we ladies cherish it? So much better than eating a bunch of carrot sticks in a bag brought from home then cramming in a visit to the gym, leaving stinky and perspiring (See? I didn’t write “sweating”).

These days, it seems like it’s passé to be called a lady, but I certainly prefer it to being called a “female”! When I was in law school, our university president was a member of the Honorable Order of Jamestown Society, Richmond-born. He was a cross between sly politician and Foghorn Leghorn. I knew that in his world, “female” was what people said when referring to slaves and livestock. So, when we had a “open town hall” — pretty much an uprising — as the economy tanked and nobody could get a legal job, I resented that he said the following: “You know, there weren’t any problems for people getting jobs before all these females started going to law school . . . now, we’re awfully glad to have you,” to which I jumped up and shouted, “And we’re awfully glad to be here.” Boom!

That’s the delightful episode I recalled when my (now) husband first started greeting me with, “Hey, lady,” and I retorted, “If it’s so great to be a lady, you can be one too!” So now, whenever he says, “Hey, lady,” I nonchalantly reply, “Hey, lady.”

Gryphon is the Savannah College of Art and Design’s — “SCAD” — official café. It’s in an Art Deco Scottish Rite building, next to SCAD’s shop of student creations . . . kind of like the old department stores. The interior looks like a private men’s club from days gone by, but I think it was a pharmacy at one time. They have high ceilings, dark wood ornamentation, stained glass light fixtures, a vintage piano and scads (ban pun, okay) of books on shelves.

The menu is a combination of some Southern faves with classic bistro fare from all over, including Moroccan spiced couscous and Vermont cheese (!). The crowd is well-heeled, as SCAD is in a beautiful, historic neighborhood. Prices are decent, especially considering the very generous portions. Yeah, ladies get hungry!

Spicy noodles with wild-caught gulf shrimp, red pepper, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, water chestnuts and toasted cashews on baby greens with a hot and sweet vinaigrette was very fresh, light and refreshing on what was a hot, sunny afternoon. The shrimp were tender and the veggies crisp: everything you want in a salad.

Applewood smoked bacon, avocado, roasted corn, tomato, deviled eggs, black eyed peas, spicy pecans and jalapeño cornbread croûtons on lettuce, topped with buttermilk dressing came with a choice of grilled chicken breast or BBQ pulled pork, so of course I had to try the BBQ! All these classic flavors with a twist went well together.

Both salads were beautifully presented and the service was excellent; I would highly suggest this little splurge while in town.

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