Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ta-Da! Now Serving Dinner in Jackson Ward!

Jackson Ward upped its awesome quotient by adding yet another destination for dinner in the neighborhood: Ettamae's Cafe.

As many times as I've had their delightful lunches and brunches, up until last week they were not an option for an evening meal.

Somebody smart over there realized that omission, dropped weekday breakfast (fingers crossed that it comes back someday), added Sunday brunch to Saturday's (two days to drink their creative mimosas) and made dinner a reality.

My plan had been to check it out this past Saturday...until I saw the Facebook status that afternoon saying they had to close for electrical reasons after a stellar First Friday opening night. Isn't that just like Murphy's law to start up and immediately have to stop?

Walking in tonight with a friend, co-owner Laura greeted me with, "Now the party can get started!" and led us upstairs, but not without a pause at the dessert chalkboard on the landing, just in case (two chocolate choices noted). The music fit the upbeat mood of the evening.

We got the best table, the one that overlooks the kitchen and is adjacent to the balcony. Friend wanted to sit outside, but I knew I wasn't tough enough for it yet. Give me a few more degrees and I'm there.

Nearby was a lively table of three guys who greeted us and raved about the seafood chowdah (as my Boston friend says) which was the soup of the day. A couple of girls followed us in and took a table on the balcony, decked out in twinkle lights and with a view of the Hippodrome.

Now that drinking and dinner at  Ettamae's are options, I exercised them, ordering the Bodega Septima Malbec while Friend bypassed the gem-in-a-can, Dales' Pale Ale, for the Hop Devil Ale. Drinks in hand, views in place, we were feeling pretty good about life.

We'd come with the intent of eating like vegetarians and we did so with all kinds of savory things. The pesto, mushroom, feta, and Provolone pizza announced itself long before it arrived at our table with a delectable aroma wafting up from the oven directly below us.

The roasted zucchini and grilled tomato entree was made decadent with garlic custard, a mound of tiny fried onions and a balsamic reduction that made everything sing.

It was perfect paired with Chef Matt's homemade crusty rolls, but it got even better with his house-made butter, jazzed up with herbs and Worcestershire sauce. I'd have mainlined that butter if I could have figured out a way.

Matt's talent with rolls translated to the pizza crust, which was thick and chewy in the most satisfying way. For a while there, I thought Friend was going to eat it all, but he handed some over so I'd know what he was raving about.

Add in sides of Ettamae's classic potato salad (another friend swears that it's better than his own mother's, although I told him not to tell her that) and my favorite, the cucumber/red onion salad, and we had more than enough plant food to satisfy us both. In fact, we'd foolishly left no room for dessert.

The trio at the nearby table told us what an error in judgment we'd made; they'd had the chocolate chess pie and the most enormous slice of the chocolate pound cake ("I'd like to send this back for a larger piece," the corny jokester said to the server) and  teased us with forkfuls of both (with whipped cream, I might add). Next time, for sure.

Eventually the room cleared out and it was just us sipping away in the dining room and the couple on the balcony finishing their beers. All of a sudden, one of the vintage decorative plates on the wall decided to jump to the floor.

Our server came rushing in and we, hands raised, claimed no responsibility. She picked it up, amazed that it hadn't broken on the wood floor. "That's never happened before," she said, no doubt wondering what we'd been up to.

Plenty, but nothing that would make a plate try to dance off the wall, I swear.

Maybe it's just always a party at Ettamae's; that must be why they're perfect for me Jackson Ward.


  1. great blog -
    I swear - you have raised this to an art!

  2. Nah, just sharing my stories with anyone who'll read them.

    It's been worthwhile in a a lot of ways.