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The Lady & Sons - Review - Ever Eaten So Much You Got Sick?

  • c

This weekend on our way back up from visiting relatives we spent the night in Savannah. We decided to eat at Paula Deen's restaurant, The Lady & Sons, for lunch.

We arrived at 1 and put our name on the list. There was a 1.5 hour wait and the line wrapped around the block. The host was a delightful fellow named John who handled everyone's pestering with incredible politeness and a smile.

We returned an hour after we made our reservations and continued the wait. By this time people were being turned away by John who explained that the wait time exceeded the restaurant's open hours (3PM is the end of lunch). But he still encouraged some of them to check back right near 3 just in case.

We got in at 2:30 and were taken to the 3rd floor by the bar. In my opinion it was the best room in the place. The main 3rd floor dining area is too big and noisy and while the 1st floor is cozy, the bar area is beautiful.

After sitting down a woman came by with some hoe cakes. I've never had a hoe cake before, but put syrup on it as she recommended. It was fantastic! She also brought by cheese biscuits.

Our waitress took our order for two sweet teas and we headed for the buffet. The $12.95 buffet is all you can eat and includes salad and dessert.

Our buffet items on Saturday included fried chicken, braised chicken, pork ribs, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, cream corn, green beans, lima beans and a few other items that I'm forgetting.

In retrospect, I think it was the sweet tea that did me in and filled me up so fast. Our waitress was very attentive and filled up my sweet tea repeatedly. I downed my plateful of chicken, ribs, and sides and went back for a second helping. This time I got a few of the items I had passed over the first time, including the green beans and mashed potatoes. I also got another hoe cake.

After a few bites of the second plate an unbelievable wave of fullnes hit me. I couldn't bear to not eat the hoe cake though, so I took a few bites of it. And suddenly I could barely look at food anymore. I had literally eaten (and drank) so much that I felt sick. That's a first for me.

The waitress came by with desserts. Another first in my life, I turned mine down. My husband got the banana pudding and raved over it. I just sat there feeling full up to my neck and unable to move. We left around 3:30 as the restaurant was beginning to clear out. A few stragglers were still being let in, though.

After walking a LOT I began to feel more normal and started kicking myself for filling up so much on the iced tea that I couldn't even eat dessert. Note: BE SURE TO PACE YOURSELF AT THIS PLACE!

It was fantastic. I can't wait to go back. The best southern food I've had in Savannah and if well planned (i.e. you're not in a hurry or absolutely starving when you go to put your name on the list) it's well worth the wait.

Link: http://www.theladyandsons.com

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  1. I, too, went to the Lady and Sons this past Monday, September 25, 2006. So 2 years after this post. All I can say is, I won't go back nor will I ever encourage anyone to go there.

    I worked in Jacksonville, Florida and rented a car just to drive to Savannah to go to Paula's restaurant that I'd been wanting to get to for years. In hindsight, I wished I have been able to get there in years past, as then maybe, it would have been worthwhile. As to me, the quality control [all around] was poor.

    The food on the buffet was minimal compared to what I've seen it looks like on television. I had thought I'd get the whole of Paula's cuisine on that buffet and clearly that the vacant. Maybe I was wrong in assuming that, again, from seeing it on television. I was seated in the bar also. I didn't fit sitting at the bar as there was a lip and I didn't fit so the food couldn't reach me.

    The staff lacked in personality and help. Bland people was my opinion.

    I have written Paula a letter. It's quite long and detailed as I wanted her to understand why I was feeling as I was after that experience. I am not sure she's there too much. With the other projects going on for her, maybe she's got other irons in the fire. Will I make the effort to ever try it again? Unfortunately, no. There are many restaurants around the country that I do often suggest or recommend.

    Sorry for this report, but it's true.

    1. Seems to be the consensus, lately. No one is there running the restaurent they are all off doing tv. & $13 for a lunch buffet is a sin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: beteez

        yea, especially for 'that' buffet

        1. re: beteez

          if the buffet was worthwhile it'd make a difference but this one is small, nothing special AT ALL, and well, enough is enough

        2. Well, when Paula's there, it makes a difference. When I was there last year, Bobby was there and the food was fine. I also ate at the third floor bar room and had my first hoe cake there!


          1 Reply
          1. re: TexasToast

            Has anyone seen Paula there in the past few years? I hear most of the staff hasn't even seen her. I think the sons are there all the time, but not Paula - too disruptive.

          2. as a local, i can say Savanniahians do not go to TL&S - we used to until it became "too" succesful

            for years, touristas visited Mrs Wilkes Boarding House. however, Mrs Wilkes still catered to her local clientele (we entered thru a side door to avoid the line)

            then along came TL&S and locals began going there rather than Mrs Wilkes - as she became more famous and the lines grew longer - locals stopped going there

            now, locals are going back to Mrs Wilkes

            2 Replies
            1. re: osprey

              I will say If I waited in line to eat somewhere and local were rushed in via another entrance I would be livid.

              1. re: osprey

                Well, as a Savannah resident for many years, I can tell you that THIS local -- and many others I know -- definitely DOES go to The Lady and Sons. And, WOW, is it fantastic! The food has been absolutely fabulous every time I have gone (countless times), the service is always wonderful, and the price is well-worth it. My husband and I always bring our out-of-town guests to The Lady and Sons, and every person who has tried the food has raved about it. Also, shame on anyone who disses the restaurant or Paula Deen. Paula Deen has done so much for the city of Savannah. She does a lot to fuel the tourism around here and she and her family are some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. (Yes, I've met her. She's a doll.) She worked very hard and built her "empire" from the bottom up. She deserves every bit of the success she now enjoys.
                Bottom line: The Lady and Sons is fabulous and delicious. The prices are reasonable and Paula Deen is a great person who certainly hasn't lost touch with her Savannah roots. She's still a local!

              2. I'm still going there if/when I get to Savanah. I'm a believer in the food/tourist places. Not solely but sometimes you have to see for yourself. I may hate the place I may not. But I can at least say I've been there.
                Then I'll ask locals where to go.


                1 Reply
                1. re: Davwud

                  You would serve yourself well to just go to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.

                  1. re: osprey

                    we have a student at scad, so savannh is very special to us. ditto on mrs wilkes, she's the real deal- not some hyped up trumped up 'food tv success' it really steams me that the lady and sons would be held in reverance - its not supposed to be about fame- its supposed to be about good food. and may be it once was, but IMHO Clary's too, in Savannah, is a much more authentic taste experience than the lady....i think Paula may be challenged to live the very values that brought her fans in droves. i also had the ahem, priveldge, to eat at uncle bubba's oyster house out on tybee and on easter. well, a buffet should be just as tasy at the end of the day as at the first fork. sorry to say it was not. but i have been there for fried oysters and grilled oysters and that is worth going for.

                    1. re: osprey

                      I see from Mrs. Wilkes' Web site that the price of lunch is $16. If the food is as good as when I went there a few years ago (while Mrs. Wilkes was still alive), that's a great deal, because you won't be eating for the rest of the day.

                    2. Where do you people live that 13 dollars is an outrageous amount to pay for an all-you-can-eat lunch?? That is TOTALLY reasonable anywhere else on Planet Earth, I can assure you. It's you own sorry fault if you can't your money's worth at a good Southern buffet, I think.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: IHateKiddo

                        Wow, IHK, you may want to tone it down just a titch. I, too, find $13 to be high for a lunch buffet, especially one that several have described as substandard. Although given the high tourist profile of the place, I'm surprised that they don't charge more than that.

                        1. re: IHateKiddo

                          we live in the South, where you can find all-you-can-eat lunch buffets using high-quality fresh ingredients from local farms and preparations that convey paradigmatic "familial love and care" for $7-9...that's what. so considering that's the price point where the competitive market equilibrium clears, we have the right to complain about a place that charges much more for lower quality - and the only reason they can charge that much is because of unsuspecting tourists who don't make the effort to conduct due diligence in advance or don't realize that lady & sons is substandard...

                          further, it is an economic fallacy to compare market prices in one geographical region to another. if you're paying $13 for a meal that should cost $7 in one region, you're being duped regardless of whether it would have to cost you $20 in another region. if this doesn't make sense, perhaps I should open up a gas station here in NC and charge $5/gallon like the stations in Big Sur in CA can charge, even though the going rate is $3.29???

                          1. re: mikeh

                            Mike, I'm sorry, having traveled extensively all over the Southeast and eaten at many meat-and-three's, cafeteria's, buffet's and other various foodbags, I just have NEVER, ANYWHERE, seen the price-points to which you refer. If you could please carefully document a few places where this money gets you what you have described, I would be quite glad to rescind my previous comment and offer a sincere apology.
                            The point I was making was not, in fact, a comparison of the prices of food in one socio-economic region to the prices in another, but an assertion that a 13 dollar all-you-can-eat lunch is a damned deal ANYWHERE, which is a claim to which I STILL think there is a great deal of credence. Prove me wrong . . .
                            The question of whether or not the quality of the food merits the price seems a somewhat separate issue . . .Assuming general excellence, I am THRILLED to be charged 13 dollars for a large lunch. As soon as cracks begin to show, corners begin to be cut, etc., then the value of the lunch drops off precipitously. I by no means meant to suggest that Paula's restaurant is reasonable (for the quality), just that her price-point seems to be in a good spot, assuming that she pulls it off . . .

                            1. re: IHateKiddo

                              Sorry, I'm with CR on this one. Even near your beloved Dillard House, there's the far better Henry's in Clayton, which comes in at $9 for country style lunch buffet.

                              1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                                Duly noted, CandC. I'll be there in two weeks, you can expect a detailed post on it . . .

                              2. re: IHateKiddo

                                Market Diner in Thomasville, Georgia. All of their veggies are fresh from the state farmers market right next door. Buffet spread larger than Lady&Sons. Better quality by a mile. $6 for lunch on weekdays.

                                Ye Olde Country Kitchen in Snow Camp, NC. Quality of the buffet is probably 10% better than Lady&Sons. More selection too. $6 for weekday lunch. $9.89 for their full Sunday spread. $11 for the nights they also have a full seafood spread on the buffet.

                                Gullah Cuisine, Charleston, SC (Mt. Pleasant) - fresh everything, classic Gullah recipes. Veggies to die for. Spread about the same size as Lady&Sons, but MUCH better quality. Many of the reviews say it's the best Southern food they've had anywhere. $8.75. http://www.gullahcuisine.com/

                                In fact, it's more like...at least in the Carolinas, it's hard NOT to find a price point within the range I mention. Example: there's one buffet around here that I really like called "Old Place." It's very good, but a lot of locals complain that at $11.73/person, it's a "ripoff." and yes, it does indeed price much higher than other buffets around here of similar quality - but sometimes I'm dying for their homemade apple crisp and cracklin' cornbread, so I pay the price anyway. http://www.old-place.com/ That said, they have things on their menu that make them a distinctive product that at least compels me to pay that price. Others will probably say "atmosphere" too, since it's in a converted farmhouse surrounded by cows and corn fields. Lady&Sons, with its three-hour wait and generic storefront, can't exactly place a premium on the positive externalities of experience that other places might.

                                1. re: mikeh

                                  I stand well corrected. These places sound truly amazing, Mikeh. I apologize for my abrasive and vitriolic response and am currently altering the route we will be taking through the South to include these new spots, which, unfortunately, are not very well documented on these boards! However, I think that the Market Restaurant's prices are higher now . . .The woman on the phone told me 12 dollars for lunch.
                                  Have you tried the Market Restaurant at The Raleigh Farmer's Market? It was certainly more expensive (al a carte, no buffet), but not more than 15 per person for a TON of good, fresh, Southern fare. I was also quite impressed with Joyce and Family in Fuquay Varina, NC. Also a little more expensive, I think their buffet runs 11 dollars, but again, stunningly good, fresh food all around. Yams worth shoutin' about.

                                  1. re: IHateKiddo

                                    Joyce & Family is exactly as you describe - stunningly good. It's my favorite in this area of NC. I always do takeout of a bunch of yams and collards anytime I go. Didn't really like the Market Restaurant at the Raleigh's Farmers Market last time I was there (July 2006), but perhaps it's changed since then? I noticed a new sign out front not too long ago with more cars.

                                    My other favorite Southern place in NC is a restaurant called Bum's in Ayden, NC. It's not a buffet...more a cafeteria line, but their collards and rutabagas are unbelievable. I've heard of people taking back pints of the stuff with them to NYC or the Virgin Islands, it's so good. Here's my old review of it with photos: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/456920

                                    In terms of Market Diner in Thomasville...if it's really $12 now...WOW, what a huge increase! I know it might've been around that on Sunday, but on weekdays it used to be $6. Maybe their extensive top-to-bottom remodeling this past winter has something to do with that...

                                    Also, if you happen to be back in Savannah, besides Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House, try Sweet Potatoes Kitchen. I don't think I've had better Southern veggies anywhere. http://www.toucancafe.com/sweetPAbout...

                                    As for Ye Olde Country Kitchen in Snow Camp, here's an old review I did of it way back when I first moved to NC. I've since become less impressed with it as I've encountered more options (like Joyce's), but it's worth a peek at least for the photos: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/312896

                                  2. re: mikeh

                                    Unfortunately, I've been paying $20 and more for Sunday brunch buffet in upstate SC/WNC.

                                    1. re: danna

                                      That's what I'M sayin, Danna! 13 sounded like a great deal! But now we have a some new spots to hit . . .

                                      1. re: danna

                                        Sounds good, Danna. What are some of your favorites?

                                      2. re: mikeh

                                        picture me bowing down to you and your effort in doing this. you're better than I am in doing someone elses homework. good job, I need to rent a car, go to these places, and in advance I'll say thank you for your report........

                                      3. re: IHateKiddo

                                        Pittsburgh, PA here, there are quite a few ethnic buffets for $8, not sure how $13 is such a great deal . . .

                                    2. re: IHateKiddo

                                      I didn't think $13 for an all you can eat lunch was all that expensive either. I have dined in really large cities and out in the middle of nowhere towns where i've paid similar prices. Unfortunately, my parents are really old and love buffets...i've never seen the appeal of buffet dining myself. But $13, yeah, not that expensive...

                                      1. re: iluvtennis

                                        Rents are much higher in the tourist district of Savannah than the other areas you are talking about.

                                      2. re: IHateKiddo

                                        maybe if you'd been to the L&S, you'd understand what is deamed their buffet.
                                        again, and please read above where I've already said this, but if it was good food, it would be worth it, even well worth it. money to me isn't the problem,everything else about the place and the atmosphere is

                                      3. I may get booed and hissed at for this but I LOVED my dinner at The Lady and Sons. I live in LA and travel to Europe often, (In the wine biz) and have eaten in some fantastic places...we had good, (not perfect) food and a wicked fun people watching time when we had dinner there last year. I think it was the, "whole thing" standing in line for hours, watching people stroll up at 1:15 trying to get a table for lunch and getting all huffy when they could not get in, (hmmm what ya think the line wrapped around the block is all about) and the cool way the door girls handled everyone.
                                        The service was sweet as hell, (Southern charm all over the place). We had the buffet and for what it was we thought is was so tasty....admitting fully that we are no experts in Southern food, the low country boil made me crazy and I ate WAY too much as did my son with the fried chicken. If I had to seperate the food from the whole thing I might be a bit more critical but it was all just so much fun....I would do it again in a second.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: bubbles4me

                                          boooooooooooooo/hissssssssssssssssss, couldn't resist, glad you enjoyed it, that's what's supposed to happen there

                                        2. There are just too many other good places to eat in Savannah without resorting to buring up in the hot sun praying that you'll get in. I was a regular at Paula's pre-fame restaurant and I gave the new one several attempts. The final staw was a party of four being placed on a little round cocktail table at the end of the bar and having to listen to the bussers and wait staff chattering into their cell phones for our entire meal. I should have asked for a different table, but I just hung on in quiet desperation until we left.

                                          Where the heck is the manager in this place? Probably has his nose stuck in a TV camera somewhere. Dude, that's a totally awsome PB&J. Yeah dude, it's smokin'. Party on Bobby, Party on Jaime.

                                          Like, dude.

                                          Sorry Deaniacs, but TLS is but a caricature of what it once was. Don't get me started on Paula's new and improved boorish TV persona.