I'll admit to being one of the last heavy drinkers on the planet to make my way to Patterson House. (But at least I still remember it.) Having been a regular at the bygone Patrick's New Orleans Cuisine that previously occupied this location, I was anxious to see what all the fuss was about.
To ensure that my cocktailing experience was maximized, I planned to meet my tippling sensei, David Paine. If you have never met David, you should. He runs Wallop Inc., a full-service advertising and marketing agency located in the shadow of the bridge that crosses I40 from behind Howard School to the J.C. Napier homes. Admit it, you've always wondered where that bridge came and went to.
But you might recognize David as the brains and the voice behind the groovy "Mr. Martini" radio spots for Grand Cru. David definitely appreciates a deftly made cocktail and personally knows his way around a Boston shaker. We settled down together at the beautiful bar and began to peruse the menu.
Normally, I'm not much of a gin drinker. Any alcohol where the main component (juniper) is widely recognized as a poison usually isn't my first choice for a foundation ingredient. However, confronted by the voluminous menu, we decided the only way to tackle it was alphabetically. Beer before liquor, never fear, I always say; so gin before vodka seemed like a good idea at the time.
After a Briar Patch and a Cooper's Bright, we figured we were well on our way through the alcoholphabet and were happy to have a objective nailed down for the summer. Then one of the owners, the charming and successful young Ben Goldberg walked up to us and totally scuttled our plans. Apparently, nothing is constant but change and the Patterson House is preparing to roll out their new summer menu.
Some old favorites will remain, but expect new seasonal concoctions and interesting new recipes reflecting the latest trends in mixology featuring Patterson's house-made ingredients. Our plans to drink our way to Zombiehood may have been temporarily interrupted, but when we hear that the new menu is officially in place we'll spread the word to the Bites universe and gladly start over with the "a's."
In the meantime, drop by David Paine's blog for his insights into marketing and branding and specifically to read his periodic newsletter, The Marketini. Each issue usually begins with an entertaining rant about some foible of modern culture and concludes with a personalized drink recipe from David, although most of them tend to be of the two ingredient-six fingers of liquor over ice and whisper "vermouth" over the rim of the glass variety.
Not that anyone's complaining.
We're the US of A Slice of Pizza, if the magazine GQ is right. The June issue, leaving newstands soon, features the 25 best pizzas in the country, a topic guaranteed to start a national argument. Some fine, well-known pizzas aren't on the list, some newcomers burst onto the scene.
The most famous pizza I ever ate was at Di Fara, in Brooklyn. My friend Kath, a Brooklynite, got the the recommendation from Chowhound, found on the Innertubez in about 1999. It was probably the best pizza I've ever eaten, or ever will. (Except that I had an incredible pizza two summers ago at Mafiaoza's that comes a close second.) Di Fara didn't make the list, so the winning pies must be exceptionally extraordinary.
Here's the list -- I like how seriously it takes itself by adding the "naught" to the single digits so no one could sneak in there and scribble a "1" to move Great Lake to number 11 and Lucali to number 12.
If you know these pizzas, report to Bites.
01. Great Lake (Chicago)
02. Lucali (Brooklyn, NYC)
03. Pizzeria Delfina (San Francisco)
04. Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix)
05. Bob & Timmy's (Providence, R.I.)
06. Sally's Apizza (New Haven, Conn.)
07. Tomato Pie (Los Angeles)
08. Co. Company (Manhattan, NYC)
09. Tacconelli's (Philadelphia)
10. Totonno's (Brooklyn, NYC)
11. Tarry Lodge (Port Chester, N.Y.)
12. Frank Pepe (New Haven, Conn.)
13. Luigi's "the Original" (Harrison Township, Mich.)
14. Gialina (San Francisco)
15. Buddy's (Detroit)
16. Antica Pizzeria (Marina Del Ray, Calif.)
17. A16 (San Francisco)
18. Al Forno (Providence, R.I.)
19. Galleria Umberto (Boston)
20. Famous Joe's (Manhattan, NYC)
21. Tomatoes Apizza (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
22. Osteria (Philadelphia)
23. Santarpio's (Boston)
24. Niki's (Detroit)
25. Una Pizza Napoletana (Manhattan, NYC)
While going through several quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore--i.e., bound books of Scene back issues--a familiar byline caught our eyes. There, among early Scene restaurant critics such as Bill Hobbs (now a GOP firebrand) and Mike Pigott (now at McNeely, Pigott & Fox), we found the name Nicki Pendleton...known to readers of Bites and her blog Tupperware Avalanche as Nicki P. Wood.
In the late '80s, Nicki was one of the founders of the Kinko's-published zine The Fireplace Whiskey Journal, many of whose contributors (including E. Thomas Wood, Clark Parsons and Collin Wade Monk) went on to write for the reinvented Scene. Before she went on to a distinguished career as food critic for the late, lamented Nashville Banner--at one point she was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal feature--Nicki too served time in the Scene's salt mines.
At the time, her skewerings of subpar food drew howls of outrage--and laughter. Here's a deftly wielded dagger from her 1992 review of the bygone restaurant Brother's, on the topic of smoking in the restaurant:
Smoking at Brother's is allowed, with discretion. When it comes to smoking in restaurants, only the middle class is interested in institutionalizing morality. The poor have nothing to lose, and the rich feel above the law. Therefore, you can smoke in pool halls and you can smoke in expensive restaurants. The latter with discretion, as with the many other vices of the rich.
That is why the best restaurants have low lighting. About Brother's, though, one friend said, "It wasn't dark enough."
It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance all over again, Mrs. Wood.
In the Scene's 20th Anniversary Issue currently on the stands, Carrington Fox lays out the culinary equivalent of a Rand McNally atlas to show the changes in the city's dining landscape over the past two decades. We're talking neighborhood by neighborhood from East Nashville to Cool Springs--a guide that encompasses more than 80 restaurants (and I'm betting there's someone here who's tried them all).
It's so exhaustive, in fact, that it encourages a little parlor game I like to call "Hoods for Foods." Using Carrington's article as a compass, let's pick out the five neighborhoods that stand out as the city's top dining destinations. And by destinations, I mean population areas that have a) a high caliber of dining selections; b) a strong likelihood of finding something exceptional; c) good quality in a wide price range; and d) that something extra that makes for a genuinely memorable evening, be it an attractive tree-lined street, lots of local color, or nice places to walk and explore after dinner.
Without further ado, our five contenders.
Martha Stamps' Lunch-and-Learn series at the Farmers' Market continues today at 11 a.m. with a lunchtime discussion about seed-saving and heirloom breeds. (Last week's group feasted on Swiss chard tarts, pole beans, beets, collards and the season's first tomatoes.) Proceeds from the $15 admission goes to benefit Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee.
Tonight, the free Good Food Film Series, sponsored in part by Martha Stamps Catering, continues at the Warner Park Nature Center with a 6 p.m. screening of A Sense of Wonder. The film explores the life of pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book Silent Spring was a catalyst for the U.S. ban of pesticide DDT.
Frothy Monkey owner Miranda Whitcomb Pontes will expand the 12South dining options this winter with the opening of Burger Up in the development at 12th & Paris. The 1,700-square-foot restaurant is a labor of love for the Louisiana native, who is committed to developing a menu rich in local foods, including beef from Hereford cattle on Triple L Ranch in Franklin.
With 75 seats indoors and 26 outside, Burger Up will feature produce from Bugtussle Farm, Barnes Produce and Delvin Farms. Chef Shane Hunnycut from Arizona is already on board, working with the Frothy Monkey team while the Burger Up space gets built out. Expect a menu of burgers, vegetarian offerings, fish, lamb, and all-natural hot dogs. Burgers will start at $7.
The restaurant will be lined with bench seating, with four large central tables. Tabletops will be made of walnut from Whitcomb Pontes' grandfather's farm, and the bar will be made of white marble. Burger Up will offer a full bar. Whitcomb Pontes expects to open in December.
Do you like golf? Do you love cooking with premium equipment? Do you like hobbing your nob with celebrity chefs?
Then Mississippi's Viking Classic Golf Tournament may be just the thing for you. Held from Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 at the Annandale Golf Club in Madison, MS, the Viking Classic is an official PGA Tour event featuring some of the top professional golfers from around the world. More than other tournament underwriters, who seek to spotlight their products by parking a Buick in the middle of a sand trap or erecting a giant Electrolux in the public parking lot, Viking Corp. has actually won awards from the PGA for its efforts to incorporate their brand into the tournament.
That's where foodies can benefit. Last year's tournament featured cooking demonstrations by Celebrichefs Guy Fieri, Cat Cora and John Besh, plus an assortment of up-and-coming regional culinary artists. This year promises another exciting offering.
For the rest of today, Viking is offering a 10 percent discount on any tickets purchased on www.vikingclassic.com if you use the code "june09." Packages range from a $20 daily ticket to the tourney to a $250 Master Chef Package which includes two season badges (you'll need steenkin' badges), all sorts of Viking swag, your choice of a Viking Professional Blender or Hand Blender and two VIP seats at a Celebrity Chef cooking demonstration. Heck, the blender alone is worth 150 bucks.
So if you're just now realizing that you came up a little bit short on that Father's Day present, surprise the old guy with a trip to see the pros knock it a mile and the masters of the kitchen do their thing. It's not but a 5 to 6 hour drive via I-40 with a very easy possible Tunica detour for you and dear old Dad to drop some change in a penny slot. Or if Dad's not a gambler and you've got extra time to kill, the course is about five miles from the Natchez Trace Parkway. You can have breakfast at the Loveless Cafe and be in Madison, MS in time for the Early Bird dinner special.
The best news is that if you ever get lost driving anywhere in Mississippi, you can just stop your car, stand on the bumper and see the next town from there.
The Belcourt Theatre's Food on Film Series continues this week with The Garden, which begins July 1. For a full schedule of food-related films, visit The Belcourt's website.
THE GARDEN (July 1-2) After the 1992 L.A. riots resulting from the Rodney King verdict, one salve offered to the community was a 14-acre plot of land in South Central. The city bought the barren property from Ralph Horowitz under imminent domain and eventually created the largest community garden in the U.S.--a true urban farm. But 10 years later, Horowitz decided he wanted the land back, and a closed-door deal was made to return it at the same price the city originally paid. Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Oscar-nominated documentary follows the fight that sprouts when the 372 farmers arrive one day to find an eviction notice.
Their outrage results in a battle that grows to involve community activists, politicians, musicians and actors. As the organized South Central Farmers dig deeper, they chop away at the corruption taking root in their own community, including members of the city government who claim to have their best interests in mind. A project that blossomed out of chaos eventually relapses as conflicts burst forth between classes, races and neighbors, bringing Kennedy's documentary to a devastating conclusion. Exposing issues of community rights, poverty and human respect, The Garden proves that every Eden has its snake. BRENT ROLEN
I wish I were making this stuff up folks: First, Carl's Jr. wanted you to conflate a milkshake with a little handjob action. Then Burger King wanted you to deep throat a seven-inch burger. Now Hardee's is dangling a sweet pair of biscuit balls right onto your face, and would like very much if you would munch on them. Hey, they're drizzled in a money shot of white icing!
The ad above asks would-be customers to "name their holes." I, for one, think it's great when commercials bring us all together. Just as everyone can have a Coke and a smile, now we can all embrace our stunted 22-year-old inner douche together, as a community, in service of the one thing we all agree on: Only fratty, 20-something brohammers eat fast food, but everybody wants to be in on the hazing party. So thanks, Hardee's, for allowing the rest of us to lick your balls, too.
If you were one of the 300-plus folks who crammed into the Belcourt on Friday night for a panel discussion and screening of Food, Inc., or braved Saturday's heat in the theater parking lot for the local food fair, spill it. What did you think?
Have you given up fast food? Are you ready to toilet-paper the corporate offices of Monsanto? Have you friended Joel Salatin on Facebook yet? Are you ready for a roadtrip to Polyface Farms? Do you wish you could bottle that sultry Georgia accent of hat-wearing panelist Will Harris from White Oak Pastures (pictured above)? Have you already downloaded Springsteen's version of "This Land is Your Land"?
What images and issues stood out in your mind? Are you encouraged or discouraged? What are you going to do about it?
The Belcourt's Food on Film series, as well as the ongoing Good Food Film Festival at Warner Parks, offers a lot of food for thought this summer and the perfect fodder for a conversation among Bites readers.
What's on your mind?
Great article. I absolutely believe to the statement, "You never know until you try" especially…
Congrats! I'll have to check out the restaurant.
I've been to the one in Lenox Village a few times and the burgers were…
Really excited about his restaurant. I have got to get myself to Memphis in May…
im really excited about this addition. for those of you who have not eaten at…