Posts Tagged ‘pub’

More Entertainment Than I Require

Last night, the missus and I drove up through self-obsessed after-work traffic to the Barnes & Noble in Buckhead to see and hear a reading by one of my favorite contemporary writers: John Hodgman. You may know him as the Resident Expert on The Daily Show or as the PC to Justin Long’s Mac in Apple’s ad campaign. He was on Conan the night prior, in fact: see the evidence! (It’s cued up and everything.)

Last night, at our reading, he was wearing the very same tuxedo, with many of the same jokes still in it from his visit on Late Night. Also, he was reading from his new book (“the new technology”), More Information Than You Require. Ostensibly. To be fair, he did get around to it, but who the hell cared? He was terribly hilarious before he even got to his fake-trivia tome, and I already had the book and could read it myself. I was happy just to see him riff on us in the audience. (If you were there, I was the guy dressed in the style of the 19th century, apparently.)

John Hodgman and The GTGs. (Photo by birdpony. All rights reserved.)

John Hodgman and The GTGs. (Photo by birdpony. All rights reserved.)

Earlier in the day, Hodgman shot an appearance for your local morning program, Good Day Atlanta. (It’s not my local morning program, because I get up at 11am.) On set he met the Internet-famous GA Tech rap duo, The GTGs, and they showed up at the reading, too. They rapped. We sang along (in our fashion). Hodgman laid down some beats. Good times.

You can see some more photos of the evening here.

Standing in line to get my book signed, I chatted with some other glasses-and/or-beard types about MMO games, like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online. It was nice to be reminded that talking to real folks about silly games in real life isn’t like reading Internet forums. Thanks, guys.

I sort of blacked out during my time at the signing table with Hodgman. I do that. Somehow, I came away with the nickname “Stardate.” Could be worse.

Afterward, we stopped off on Ponce to try out the Book House Pub, which I’d heard was mostly hardwoods and paperbacks. It was. Also: stained glass, glowing rocks, and a bathroom that smelled like strawberries. But that place deserves a post of its own. Short version: yes.

For whatever reason, I don’t get out to many local readings. I really should. So should you. Let’s try a little harder to make that happen. Any readings coming up that I absolutely must attend?

Opening The Grange

The bold, brushed-steel sign of The Grange public house.

The bold, brushed-steel sign of The Grange public house.

It probably isn’t fair to judge a new restaurant on its opening night.[1] I’m sure The Grange doesn’t want me to do that and, honestly, I don’t think I want to do that to them. So let’s call this a first impression, with the understanding that we’ll meet again soon.

I found out The Angel was closing the hard way: I showed up and no one was there. The place was lights-out and empty. Uh-oh, I thought. Good news is, the place didn’t lay fallow for long. Better news is, The Grange kept pretty much everything that was good about The Angel’s space—the dark woods, the brick patio, the tile floor, and the little pub-nooks—and added just a bit of light, just a bit of air, to open it up and make it feel fresh.

On to the bad news. Saturday night, the joint was hopping, but tangled. The space between patio and bar was wandered by folks trying to figure out the seating situation, with no host and no list to help. I like wandering into a self-serve pub space, sure, but that night was just too busy for that. A tall man with keys on the end of a long spoon rushed around, apologizing for late dinners and calming frustrated customers. Beer was being brought in by the six-pack. They were in the weeds.

So let’s go back to some good news. Service was happy, attentive, and up-front. As soon as our waitress knew there was going to be a delay on our food, she let us know. Our appetizer showed up quick and hot.

Which brings us back to some bad news. The food on Saturday night was a bust. In an Irish pub, chips shouldn’t be skinny, limp, soggy things. What comes with them shouldn’t be a plastic Solo cup of blue-cheese dressing. Fish and chips shouldn’t consist of a single ragged piece of fish burned within an inch of edibility and more of those skinny fries. The shepherd’s pie was ordinary.

Word since Saturday, though, is better. The report I got says “Grange impressed” and “Good food.” Also, “Great hangout vibe,” which I sure agree with.

Friendly advice, Grange? Commit to the Irish vibe on your menu, nail those pub-favorite dishes, and add some distinctive dish that gives your place its own voice. In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that The Grange stays busy enough to find its flow. The trick is giving a new place time to find its footing without, you know, just not going and accidentally running it out business, I guess.

Not to jinx it, but I’d be surprised if they can’t make it work there.

1. I’ve read that some restaurant critics give a new place three months to get their act together before they review the place. How long do you wait?

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.