Hi friends! I took a little break from DFK, but will be back mid-April. I’ve missed you, and your notes wondering when I’ll be back have been just super sweet! Everything is great and I can’t wait to share with you again soon, soon, soon. See you again around the 18th of April. xoxo!
Lots of love and sweet wishes and yummy dishes to those of you who celebrate Christmas. Hope you have a really terrific holiday. xoxo!
Rewind to a few holiday-ish pics:
Christmas tree at Winder Binder Gallery in Chattanooga
Christmas car in Greenwood, MS
River Road bonfires on the levee for Papa Noel to find his way
Gingerbread at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans
Window display at the Mallory and Leech General Store in Charlotte TN
Oak tree with lights in Monroe, LA
Imagining I could link to a couple dozen articles here about places being designed specifically around what’s particularly Insta-hot right now, but you’ve probably read them too. When we walked into The Graduate hotel in Oxford, Mississippi earlier this month, that’s exactly what I was thinking: built for IG.
The location is perfect — just a block off the Square, so in the morning after breakfast at the hotel, we got to walk around before setting off to Memphis. Here’s what’s going on inside:
…globe lamps above a small library at check-in, only to behold that the books are sawed (?) in half and adhered to the cabinetry. Seriously, I found ‘You: The Owner’s Manual’ smashed between ‘The Heat of Ramadan’ and Garrison Keillor’s ‘Wobegon Boy’ which was either crackpot genius or just, you know, somebody grabbing yardsale books and finishing a shelf.
Some of the brand’s philosophy on why they choose university settings, from the founder via Skift:
We morphed into really focusing on university anchored secondary and tertiary markets and what we found was that most of those markets had a very limited — or very lackluster is probably a better word — hotel product in what were some very dynamic and unique markets. We saw there was opportunity there because there was very little competition for doing any kind of lifestyle, boutique or independent hotel in those markets. Then, we also saw after doing some research that there was very low volatility in these markets safety well; they didn’t suffer nearly as badly in terms of the last two recessions and they bounced back much quicker.
art by William Goodman in the lobby
I always associate him first with that big mural at the Mississippi Museum of Art
More lobby fab:
The televisions here are in big frames so they look less like big dopey televisions.
Lest we forget college town, there’s a few reminders strewn about
Back to the yearbooks for a sec, the ones on display were late ’60s and ’70s and w o w y e s s s s s
El Burrito! Yassss.
and the, um, Benzo Burger
Students are welcome to sit in the lobby at the hotel to study, etc and who exactly gets to study in Eames chairs at school?
There’s a restaurant upstairs at the hotel as well as this quick-serve little cafe:
and just outside:
Then there was this one moment when it got just waaaay too Pinterest-y:But but hey, we all overdo it at college I guess.
at the elevator alcove:
and down the hall (though you’d think they’d want to reconsider houndstooth in Oxford, but ‘kay…):
The room was fine — it’s wasn’t super plush or too minimalist. It was comfortable and alright. They’re making a killing on football weekends but overall it’s not luxurious or particularly service oriented. It seemed as though students were running the hotel, and even when we went to breakfast, instead of someone welcoming guests, they were just sitting around chatting and we mistook them for fellow visitors. There was a whole back-and-forth-how-do-we-even-do-this between the front desk and restaurant when we explained we had purchased a package with breakfast included (so it was as though it was a completely new concept to everyone, and they still wanted to charge us tax). Would we stay here again? Nah. But it was okay.
For nicer, there’s Chancellor’s House in Oxford (and that’s a lot of greige).
Our stay at the sister Graduate Hotel in Athens, Georgia here.
My husband the UVA grad is prob going to want to stay at the Graduate in Charlottesville to give that one a go, and if you like card catalogs in your hotel, well there’s this.
The ‘Michael Jackson house’ in Demopolis, Alabama no longer has any installations or signage in the yard. Now:
A few years ago:
Yesterday, Vogue posted Is This Old Southern Town the Next Brooklyn? and they’re talking about Savannah. In reality, it’s more of a travel guide on where/what to eat, stay, and see, but they definitely tried to make a connection between north and south due to the number of makers they found in the city. And there’s a romance.
Noted humor writer Harrison Key adds, “It’s like the mind of Flannery O’Connor made a baby with San Francisco.” Whatever the outlook, the general consensus is one of sheer and utter love.
As to where to stay, they call the Kimpton Brice the ‘best choice among the higher-end boutique hotels’. We stayed there — actually, because I’m such a hotel lover, we stayed at two different hotels in the city, the Kimpton Brice and the Mansion on Forsyth Park (I’ll post them both this week).
The article also notes that West Elm (West Elm?!) will soon open a hotel there, and two SPG hotels including the ‘Perry Lane Hotel’ in the brand’s Luxury Collection will open.
Among those the article also gave attention to: Savannah Cordwainers (custom cordovan Budapesters: $1850), Christian Dunbar furniture, J. Pearson Designs, Katy Skelton, ShopSCAD, Alex Raskin Antiques, and Mimi Cay Antiques
For dining and drinking, the list mentions that Sean Brock is opening Savannah’s Husk later this year, and to also consider The Wyld, Atlantic (thank you to whoever designed their beautiful script logo!), The Grey, Back in the Day Bakery, Sandfly Bar-B-Q, The Collins Quarter, and the gorg Artillery Bar.
above, a pretty door I found in Savannah. They, Charleston, and New Orleans need to go on some war-of-the-beautiful-front-doors or something.
This is going to be Savannah Week at DFK so two fab hotels, a few amaze restaurants, and lots of pretty-pretty is coming this way. xoxo!
We found this in York, Alabama
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
Earlier this year, we went to services in Anniston with plans to go on the next day to Atlanta, so we made reservations to stay at the Hotel Finial. It was recently renovated and had previously been known as The Victoria.
Only suites are inside the main home, and all the other Expedia et al-bookable rooms are in a motel-like arrangement with exterior corridors. That’s what we wound up with.
Parking was in a gated lot. The room was okay — not luxurious (e.g. two pillows on each bed whereas most hotels offer at least three or four) but not uncomfortably minimalist, either. It was fine.
We stayed out until almost bedtime anyway, and when we got up, it was time to walk over to the Victorian home for breakfast, which is included in the cost of a stay. The food was a step up from, say, a Hampton/economy hotel breakfast, and the best part was definitely the setting.
That first night, though, for something different, we decided to drive up to Jacksonville, Alabama where a there’s a family pizza place on the square with a fab neon sign — so we figured we’d have supper and walk around…
The boys liked their pizza
We drove back to Anniston for services. The congregation there is so, so kind and they have a great building. The rabbi here drives in from Atlanta and he’s in his mid-80s…he and his wife are just super sweet.
Before we left Anniston, we stopped to take a picture of this great mural at a pawn shop there.
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!