It was food writer pile-on at Zola on Wednesday when Chris Chamberlain gathered a table for a last meal from Deb and Ernie Paquette's kitchen, seated at a table next to Jennifer Justus, food writer at the Tennessean.
After 13 years, the Paquettes (she's the chef, he manages) have decided to close Zola, and they're planning to run a fishing lodge on some sun-drenched island. Partner Rick Bolsom has the business up for sale, and Zola's last night is Jan. 16.
No wonder so many food lovers are rushing to enjoy one last Zola meal. We had so many good things to eat: sous vide sliced scallops to beef short ribs with smoked mashed potatoes, grouper dusted with porcini, and shrimp with beer butter popcorn piled into a martini glass. Riches upon on riches.
It was innovative, complicated, whimsical and brilliant, and pure Paquette. There was so much going on that you could never hope to remember it, much less replicate it at home. The kitchen was too busy to provide a written list of the ingredients. Like so many specials over the years, it was magical and utterly delicious, and destined to be fleeting. We can only hope that Bolsom follows through on his intention to let Deb "guest chef" at his restaurant Tin Angel when she's in town in the future.
I felt lucky to be in a cozy corner on a cold night with good friends and great food. As Chris so succinctly put it, "We're happysad."