I take you to a midtown bistro anywhere in America, provided the bistro has an alley behind it: “Why is my salad taking so long? What is so hard about a salad? You put lettuce and vegetables in a bowl and add dressing. It’s not like you have to cook anything. Waiter! Waiter! I know he heard me. He’s purposely avoiding our table. Look at those people. I know we ordered before them. How come they have food. Excuse me! He is completely ignoring us. I’m going to speak to a manager. Can we at least get bread? Waiter! I am so embarrassed that I brought you here. I swear it wasn’t like this last time. I can’t imagine what is going on back there. Waiter!”
Hinton watch, day three: Since 2007 he has been a daily read of mine, but as of Monday, Matt Hinton has signed off. I followed him from his early days at Sunday Morning Quarterback to his paying gig at Yahoo’s Dr. Saturday. Hinton blended statistical wonkery with a dry, at times jaundiced, wit. He took delight in being contrarian. Think your breakout sophomore quarterback will improve his junior and senior years? Not according to the numbers. Think that recruit’s star rankings are fruits of a media hype machine that won’t translate to college or professional success? Think again. He leaves the very capable Graham Watson in charge. In a way I suppose his leaving Dr. Saturday is a good thing. As he is surely going to resurface somewhere I will eventually get to read both Watson and Hinton. Unfortunately he left no forwarding address. I’ll be on the lookout.
In Birmingham restaurant news: The James Beard Award nominations are out and Birmingham has a few dogs in the hunt. The expected: Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill is up for most outstanding restaurant nationwide, Iron Chef winner Chris Hasting’s Hot and Hot Fish Club is up for best chef in the South, and Nick Pihakis from Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q is up for best restaurateur. The not unexpected: James Lewis of Bettola, fresh from being named one of Food & Wine magazine’s eleven best new chef’s in America, has been nominated for best chef in the South. I’m a little miffed at him for taking the anchovy pizza off his menu, but I’ve heard you can still get it if you ask so… yeah, he deserves to be up there. The Unexpected: Ollie Irene for best new restaurant. I say unexpected because they are really, really new. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet but the menu looks good and if Tom at Bacon is My Co-Pilot is to be considered a trusted source, and he is, the French onion soup is beyond belief……….. The date is set for Swine and Wine 2012……….Executive Chef Tom Robey of Veranda returns to his former home.