Nite Owl

I have passed this place a hundred billion times. I just totally love the look of it. It’s an old and classic custard stand drive-in. But I have never eaten there, in fact the only time I ever stopped there was to take a picture of it covered in snow. An ironic photograph. It’s a seasonal place, open in the summer, closed in the winter. I don’t usually eat that kind of food even if I really really want to, it’s not on my Lifetime Diet PlanĀ®. As a teenager, in the summertime, I worked as a soda jerk in a custard stand. I am intimately familiar with the food. Usually I pass The Night Owl on the way to and from the airport (it’s on Layton across from the airport) and stopping at a drive-in to slam dunk burgers and malts isn’t on the agenda right at that moment.

This time though, I was picking my friend Annette up at the airport on her way to the Wisconsin Book Festival (It’s a fabulous event if you love books, my nephew runs it). Annette is a children’s book writer (The Magic Rabbit and Look Up) here to read at the festival. She left Massachusetts, where she lives, at 3 in the morning and hadn’t eaten. She was famished, it was early, like 11:20, but late enough that lunch wasn’t inconceivable. We stopped.

Oh my god…it was so perfect. The place has posters from the 50s on the walls, real ones. The Braves, the Packers. They make real malts. Everyone knew each other. We had fish sandwiches and fries.

I can’t wait to go back in the spring. It closed for the season 2 days after we were there. I’m happy about that. I’d be wanting to go all the damn time but not going causing the usual battle of self denial vs desire I live with on a day to day basis. Yes, of course, I can make a hamburger and crinkle cut fries into an existential drama.

Etch, Nashville

On Wednesday evening in Nashville Erin and I ate at Etch. I can’t say I like the name as it calls to mind the acid etching of plates for engraving. But perhaps most people don’t have that frame of reference.

The testicles were really good. Actually they’re not testicles, they’re buns. Rosemary buns. They were nice, if small. But larger than most testicles I’ve seen.

We started with grilled cauliflower. There was a dollop of smoked pea puree on one side (my sister Patty and my friend Annette would have avoided the area but I had no choice) and the feta, pepper puree with olives were on the other side closer to Erin, unfortunately for me. The pea stuff was nice but it seriously tasted like hot dogs. After that we had an arugula salad and while I like arugula, for me, the relentless taste of arugula alone is just too much, like eating a salad of basil leaves. Plus it was overdressed.

Erin had the north african spiced cobia, a kind of whitefish, dusted with honey and drizzled with something. It was excellent but there was a little too much of dusting, drizzling and various butters going on. They had duck butter, whatever in the world that might be. I didn’t have it. I had the actual duck. It was great. Although it came with truffled potato puree. I’m not so keen on the taste of truffles.