The Olde Pink House, Savannah

Our first reservation in Savannah: The Olde Pink House. It faces Reynolds Square and is housed in a mansion on a lot which was a land grant from the British Crown. Begun in 1771 and construction completed in 1789, it’s especially distinctive thanks to the pink stucco covering the brick. It’s also adjacent to the Planter’s Inn. After serving as a private home for James Habersham Jr and his family, the building served as Planter’s Bank and First Bank of Georgia.

We made reservations via OpenTable so didn’t even worry about timing or availability, while several others I noticed came in just to put their name on the list. We use OpenTable all the time and love to get to bypass the hoping they have a res that was called in or hoping for the best without one, and we’re almost always seated immediately.

This is the dining room we were in:

Shortly thereafter, we were treated — just as everyone is — to a jar of their fab cheese straws (the cheese straws I make are piped shorter and thicker, but they come in all shapes and are equally delish)

Rather than an entree, I chose an appetizer: the fried chicken livers over Geechie Boy grits with bordelaise and fried spinach. Completely delicious.

Av chose the fried chicken, which was also crazy good. The skin was crispy and flavorful without being too salty. Shugie (who opted for a bowl of she crab soup which was nice) came over and helped him with it.

I *knew* the interior was going to be beautiful, so I asked if it would be any trouble for me to visit some of the other rooms since we’d be considering a future visit for supper — they were happy to, and offered that I could go upstairs, too.

Upstairs is just one beautiful room after another. Here, by the landing

Even though the restaurant gets a huge share of tourists, we thought it was fab and would not hesitate to make supper reservations. Looking forward to it.

Top Of Atlanta, And The Chocolate Blue Dome

I shall never tire of a revolving restaurant.

We’ve been to the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Chart House at Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, and now both of the ones in Atlanta.

Earlier this year, we planned to celebrate our anniversary by going to the Sun Dial Restaurant for lunch and then later drive to Florence, Alabama for the 360 Grille at the Marriott Shoals (on our way over, after having our reservation for several days via OpenTable, the manager at 360 called a couple of hours before our res to let us know that the mechanism that makes the restaurant revolve hadn’t been working for a few days. I canceled our reservation, but couldn’t he have called earlier than that night so we could have made other plans? It worked out okay because we wound up at Odette which was fab).

The Sun Dial is on the 71st floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza.

Over the course of…maybe an hour, we got a 360* view of Atlanta, which the boys got a big kick out of

Besides getting to see everything from a window-side table, there’s also an area with an observation binocular


Av had blackened Georgia trout over tasso-crawfish grits, which he liked

Shug went with pasta and Shugie had pizza

And I wasn’t so hungry, so I just ordered a Caesar salad which was tiiiiny.

(looking up from the lobby at the Hyatt)

This past weekend, we were in Atlanta again and after supper elsewhere, we walked over to the Hyatt Regency and had dessert at Polaris, which is on the 22nd floor. This time, we had a nighttime view of the city as the restaurant revolved.

We rode right past the open kitchen

We shared the very pretty Polaris Blue Dome: fair trade chocolate mousse, rooftop honey caramel, flourless chocolate cake atop a meringue disc


Fried Chicken In Paper Bag, And Beef Fat Candle

I had a friend visiting Birmingham while I was away, and she asked me what I thought of Chris Hastings’ OvenBird — it’s all about small plates, and live-fire ovens for cooking. No gas lines. In fact, I was there late once when the power went out and they had to close the restaurant early because of the fire smoke (serious fans for ventilation are required, I guess). The entry is by Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery at Pepper Place, so the courtyard is beautiful, and the inside is cozy and comfortable.

While I’ve had a disappointing brunch at Chris Hastings’ The Side by Side, and some mixed nights at Hot and Hot Fish Club (it’s always better if he’s there), Av and I are impressed with how great everything at Ovenbird is, and I encouraged my friend to give it a try.

We’ve had their fried chicken which comes served in the bag — order it first if you’re planning on staying a while and ordering as you go, since they sometimes run out

*The* thing to get, though, is the beef fat candle with ember-roasted vegetables and chimichurri. To me, it tastes like all those bits at the bottom of an exceptional all-day roast, with all the little soft vegetable pieces and the jus from the meat, all this made even better as the candle burns down, offering up its own beefy flavors.

Here, anchovy, curtido, romesco deviled eggs. Nice and creamy, but they needed more…something. Also: the egg at 6:00 is jealous of the egg with all the sprinkles at 9:00.


Here’s the NYT’s take on OvenBird. Oh! And my friend loved it. xoxo!

The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Lockhart Barbecue, Franklin, and Round Rock

When a friend and I were talking about uber-Texas venues to have a wedding in Austin, I instantly thought of the Driskill. Our family has stayed there a couple of times before and it’s beautiful. I shared this room with a sweet friend of mine who lives in San Antonio now.

…but even prettier are the common areas at the hotel.

The pic below can be clicked through for an album of images from this and previous stays at the Driskill:

Driskill Hotel, Austin TX

The last time we made our annual Texas trip, Av did the big three in Lockhart, as usual.

BTW, Aaron Franklin was interviewed by Eater for where he’d go for a barbecue roadtrip (and what he’d get there) and the first stop on the list was Kreuz.

Kreuz Market:

We happened to get the same things Aaron suggested from his list — pork chop, prime rib, sausage — but we weren’t fans of the prime rib at all. Stick with the pork chop here.

My fave, Black’s (because they have those huge bronto-size beef ribs)

beef ribs at Black’s all day, every day.

and Smitty’s

hot ring yesssss

The boys and I watched a movie another day while Av survived the line at Franklin in Austin, and he felt as though his hours-long wait was worth it (plus it sounds like he made some friends). The brisket. The brissssketttttt yesssssss.

Notice no sides on any of the barbecue stops. That was enough meat to put anybody in everlasting ketosis, I think. Anyway, on our way out the next day, we did decide it was time to sneak some carbs so we made it to Round Rock Donuts which were a-maz-ing.

I guess we could have thought about splitting a Texas-sized one with six other families, but…

We tried some doughnut holes (yummm)

…and we each got a flavored one for later. Chocolate sprinkles for Shugie.

Elliston Place Greatness + Parthenon + 100 Layer Doughnut

We’ve been meaning to get back to the Parthenon (and Athena, inside) — both full-scale replicas — in Nashville’s Centennial Park for a while now, knowing the boys would get a kick out of it.
The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

From the city’s website:
Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures, which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London.

The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum. The focus of the Parthenon’s permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Athena project began in 1982, was unveiled in 1990, and was completely gilded and painted by the summer of 2002.
The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The gold leaf is 23.75 karat gold and three times thinner than cigarette paper. There’s nothing sealing the gold leaf as it would just dull the surface.
The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

The Parthenon and Athena, Nashville TN//

To keep things easy, we decided before visiting the Parthenon to have lunch at Rotier’s — a Nashville institution, since 1945
Rotier's Restaurant, Nashville TN//

where they’re famous for their cheeseburger on french bread
French Bread Hamburger, Rotier's Restaurant, Nashville TN//
this hamburger has some serious adherents. I’m not one, but love that this place is still going. And where else can you go that has a Spuds McKenzie lamp and a poster from the 80s with ET telling you to ‘call home’ if you’ve had too much to drink? I don’t need to come back but feel good that they have their own crowd that will hopefully keep the place going even longer.

After we left the Parthenon, it was time to run back down the street, this time to the Elliston Place Soda Shop for a quickie milkshake. Which was great. Like…not like the greatest milkshake you’ve ever had in your life, but this is the kind of retro place that makes it all seem fabulous anyway.
Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

They’ve been in business since 1939 and are Nashville’s oldest continually operating restaurant in the original location.
Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

// Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

It looks pretty good, but we passed.
Pie, Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville TN//

A couple of days later when we were leaving, we decided to stop at the East Nashville Five Daughters for a snack for our trip. Four people, four things. Two got demolished, one barely touched (that choc vegan one), another just meh (the twist, kinda one note). Av’s doughnut with the chocolate icing got four thumbs up.
Five Daughters Bakery, East Nashville TN//

…but I was the genius who got the 100 layer doughnut and everybody declared it fab. It has a light cream on top and completely unnecessary sugar on the outside
100 Layer Doughnut, Five Daughters Bakery, East Nashville TN//

but the filling is on the inside too, which is pretty awesome, and all four of us liked that one too, so yeahhhhh
100 Layer Doughnut, Five Daughters Bakery, East Nashville TN

P.S. Dominique Ansel shops are celebrating the Cronut® four-year anniversary this week. Every month, they feature a different flavor: May’s is blush peach and elderflower ganache.

La Provence: Supper And A Show, And Petanque — And The Possibility Of Leaving Nashville With Bespoke Jeans

John Besh sold his La Provence in Lacombe, Louisiana yesterday (as I’m writing this, I see that they haven’t yet updated the website to note the new owners, Eric Hunter and Jennifer Pittman, who are already living on the property)

“Our plans for La Provence is to preserve what La Provence is,” Hunter said. “For us, that’s an institution with memories of people for the last 40 years.”

La Provence, Lacombe LA

We were there last summer, and well, it wasn’t particularly busy. Granted we were there for an early supper because we had something later that evening, but still.

La Provence, Lacombe LA//

Carbs photobombing carbs.
Bread Service at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

Thiiiiiiis. Chicken liver pate.

Quail gumbo. And you know this is going to be right because John Besh and Chef Loos and whoever is in the kitchen would/could not get this wrong.
Quail Gumbo at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

So previously, the best gnocchi in my life came from John Besh’s August in the CBD but this came really close. It was a special this evening and they were considering adding it to be a regular item.
Gnocci at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

Mangalitsa blade steak
Mangalitsa Blade Steak at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

We enjoyed supper and were invited to visit the gardens behind the restaurant where much of the food they use is grown. One of the employees was back there (on his day off — he said he just wanted to check on it) and telling us all about it.
La Provence, Lacombe LA//

…and these little piggies were really friendly — there are a bunch of chickens in the back and we were having this whole conversation with the garden guy about chickens and raising them and broody hens and superior eggs and cleaning pens and varieties and their chickens and our chickens…
Mangalitsa Pigs at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

The manager came out and he was crazy friendly too and wanted to tell us all about the court they put in and had everything for us to play petanque and gosh even though we had something else to be at we must have stood out there for almost an hour because the guy was so great and nothing in the world mattered because our tummies were full of fabulous gnocchi and we’re playing petanque and this guy has these fabulous stories.

Petanque at La Provence, Lacombe LA//

And just like when we go to Chez FonFon in B’ham and Av beats me every single time at boule, he had no mercy and won at this too.

We’ll visit again this summer after the new owners have had a couple of months to settle in. The setting is fantastic, the food was fab, and I’m ready to revenge-win at petanque. And I hope they’ve kept everybody, because what a great experience.

Even minus La Provence (and the Luke in San Antonio that was shuttered a few months ago), John Besh still has a stable-full of restaurants:
Besh Steak
Pizza Domenica
Johnny Sanchez New Orleans and Baltimore
Willa Jean

We’ve been to all the above minus the Johnny Sanchez outpost in Baltimore, but we now need to get to his:
Caribbean Room — yes yes yes. And look at how gorgeous that is.
Bayou Bar — they’re also serving mile high pie here a la the Caribbean Room
Silver Whistle Cafe — breakfasty
Hot Tin — rooftop bar (this and the other three above are all at the Pontchartrain)
Pigeon and Price — this is the private events venue

John’s website mentions the ones above, but I didn’t see note of the new places in Nashville at the Thompson:
Marsh House, L.A. Jackson, and Killebrew

BTW, the Nashville Thompson has an imogene + willie jean package that includes a phone consultation (pre-visit) and in-room tailoring and styling session so you leave town with a new pair of custom jeans.

Intertwangleism Meets Beautiful Eggs, And Seeing A Heart Through That Tough Exterior Over At The Auction

Peppered with Butch Anthony‘s intertwangleism paintings and filled downstairs with somber paint shades and deep shades for floors and furniture, Justin Devallier’s Balise in New Orleans has a certain dark (though smart) vibe.

The manager noticed me admiring the artwork and explained that Justin and Butch are big friends. He invited to take me upstairs so we could talk more about the art, which was such a generous thing to do. Like me, he wasn’t sure what these other works are downstairs, and at first I couldn’t decide if these were x-ray prints of botanicals and such, or tintypes.

Balise, New Orleans//

Back to the food, Shug wanted a cheeseburger with everything on the side, so voila
Cheeseburger, Balise, New Orleans//

Shugie and I each had the blue crab omelette ‘with fines herbes, english peas, pickled shallots, rye bread, and bernaise and ohmygosh that was the best omelette of my liiiiiiiife. Every omelette from now on will be judged against this one.
Blue Crab Omelette, Balise, New Orleans//

The only thing that wasn’t just terrific was the sticky toffee pudding — the boys wanted the three of us to share a dessert, so we settled on this. I haven’t had sticky toffee pudding since Leslie and I went to Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse in Las Vegas last year, but this one was disappointing and the only miss.
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Balise, New Orleans//

Butch Anthony has been featured all over, but this slideshow from the NYT shows how gorgeous his aesthetic truly is. I’ve seen this trailer he brings to Kentuck.
Butch Anthony Trailer, Kentuck//

Besides Kentuck (these next two pics are from there), he sells his works on Etsy, and this is beyond fabulous.

His pirate ship, though, is kinda the best thing ever.

I’ve been out to Seale just a few times, on one trip there was this large painting on the porch at the Possum Trot Auction:
Alabama’s Possum Trot Auction sells anything that’s legal, but it’s not about the stuff from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

We visited it again this week
Possum Trot Auction, Seale AL//

…bordered in…unconventional planters in retro colors. There’s avocado green, sunflower, Mamie pink. What’s missing: harvest gold and poppy.
Possum Trot Auction, Seale AL//

and tire planters

Tough on the outside, tender on the inside

And yes ten million times to Alabama’s Secret Sisters who filmed their ‘Tennessee River Runs Low’ music vid with BA (and at the end, there’s your Alabama Dia de los Muertos facepaint for this year)

PoBoys And Dr Bob Be-Nice-Or-Leave Gallery, Plus The PoBoy Creation Legend Has A Problem

Dr Bob Art, Crabby Jack's, New Orleans//

Crabby Jack’s on Jefferson Highway is part Dr Bob gallery, part crazy-fab poboy emporium.
Dr. Bob Art at Crabby Jack's, New Orleans//

Dr Bob Art, Crabby Jack's, New Orleans//

If you’re thinking of having a day of Jacques Leonardi places feeding you (which, let’s face it, would be a completely wonderful day), it’s going to be lunch here at Crabby Jack’s, and supper over at Jacques-Imo’s.
Crabby Jack's, New Orleans//

This is maybe the best poboy in town. It’s between this and Bevi. Yes. Here, the fried shrimp, roast beef, fried green tomato with shrimp remoulade. Crazy-messy and luscious and hot, it’s all just right.
Poboys at Crabby Jack's, New Orleans//

Last month, ran If po-boys were invented in 1929, how was Louis Armstrong eating them a decade earlier? putting into question the poboy creation legend that they were given the name from the 1929 streetcar strike.

LA Magazine — that’s Los Angeles, not Louisiana — writes that they’ve found the best poboy there, and it’s the ‘gumbo mumbo’:
Shrimp, chicken, ground sirloin, sliced beef hot links, onions, and bell peppers are tossed in a vinegary sauce and—through some miracle of physics or perhaps sheer force of will—held together by two firm hunks of house-baked bread. It’s less a sandwich and more a soulful stew precariously bound in starch, seeping harmonious notes of acid and heat.

Herby K’s, Miss Eudora Loves The Jitney Jungle, And Joan Didion In The South

We finally made it to the Shreveport institution Herby K’s last summer —
Herby K's, Shreveport LA//

When we were walking up, I knew it was family-friendly, but had momentary doubts as it sure looks like package store / bar on the outside
Herby K's, Shreveport LA//

It was good — they had coloring sheets and crayons in cups to keep kids busy. And of course Av had their famous dish, the shrimp buster, which was pretty great

After leaving, we ran across a Shreveport Jitney Jungle which still has its signage. Every time I see one, I think of Eudora Welty and her almost daily trips to the Jitney #14 in the Belhaven neighborhood of Jackson, where mid-century, she was tipping the bagboys a dime, sometimes a quarter.

Jitney Jungle, Shreveport LA

Willie Morris first met Miss Eudora at the Jitney as a child when he went there with his great-aunt Maggie Harper, who lived across the street and treated the store as her own private pantry.

Jitney Jungle Sign

(I found this sign in 2005 in south Alabama)

That Belhaven Jitney is now a McDade’s, still with the tudor styling just like the Welty home, and is proudly local: when there last month, they had a nice display of Crechale’s comeback sauce by the registers.

Jitney Jungle Wrapping Paper, Woodville MS//
(found this Jitney butcher paper at an antique store in Woodville, Mississippi)

We were in town for Beth Israel’s 50th anniversary celebration, and had a nice supper at Lou’s Full-Serv, next door to the McDade’s.
Lou's Full-Serv, Jackson MS//
Bonus: Shug made friends with one of the #catsofbelhaven outside the restaurant.

The new Joan Didion book, South and West, is reviewed at Vogue, and mentions the passing of her opportunity to meet Eudora Welty:
But in the summer of 1970, Didion was in limbo, between books, following an idea she could not yet fully articulate, that for some years the South had been America’s true “psychic center.” She acts on the impulses of a traveler (searching for the grave of William Faulkner in Oxford, Mississippi); she has some of the curious dialogues with strangers that are a signature of her stories; she has some of the rarified experience that come with being Joan Didion (gin and tonics on a bayou during a thunderstorm with Walker Percy). She elects, though, not to go to meet Eudora Welty because that would mean going to Jackson, Mississippi, where there was an airport from which she could easily fly home to California…

Nashville Arnold’s – And To Meringue, Or Not To Meringue? Plus: Put Half A Maraschino Cherry On That.

Thinking Nashville meat-and-three, Arnold’s is right on, tippy-top, must-do.

Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN//

You know what to do. Read up on that menu because you don’t want to waste time when your tray makes that first stop!

Beginnings and endings: pie and salad.

I’m not even big on roast beef, but that’s what I got — and it was good.
Roast Beef, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN//

Deep, dark, crusty, yummy fried green tomatoes.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN//

Av did chicken and dumplings, though we both believe more in biscuit-y dumplings.
Chicken & Dumplins, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN//

In my world, this is a hoecake, but I asked someone who worked at Arnold’s, and they just call this cornbread.
Hoecake, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN//

Ever had chess pie with meringue? Don’t think it really needs it.
Chess Pie with Meringue, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Nashville TN//

Arnold’s was really good and a fun experience, but Niki’s West in Birmingham is still the top of my meat-and-three list. BTW, did a survey of best M+3 in Alabama, and here are the winners.

Garden and Gun did a piece by Jed Portman on the classic pear salad:

Like many Southern mid-century cooks, she garnished run-of-the-mill canned pears with mayonnaise and mild cheddar. “Those were the pears on the table growing up,” Burdett says. “You got pears out of a deviled egg tray with cheese and mayo or you didn’t get pears at all.”

My grandparents liked to go to the Morrison’s Cafeteria in the Gadsden Mall (I remember when apartment hunting for University of South Alabama, I noticed they had a Morrison’s and thought to myself: well, at least I can still get my greens and not starve to death — which is crazy because I was super-college-poor and lived on a mix of ramen, the Wendy’s dollar menu, and whatever I could scrounge at Taco Bell). I think the last Morrison’s on planet Earth is in Mobile, where the chain originated, even today. It’s actually owned by Picadilly, which bought the Morrison’s chain, but they let the name live on in there.

Anyway, though the Garden and Gun article makes no mention of it, I remember the cafeteria pear salads always sported a half a maraschino cherry on top. Sure enough, I went onto Flickr and found a pic I took a couple of years ago at Matthew’s Cafeteria in Tucker, Georgia. Voila:
Pear Salad at Matthews Cafeteria, Tucker GA//