Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm Going In

Slow September is the worst month for restaurants, at least according to a piece in Eater I read today.

Unless you're a new restaurant on a Friday night, which The Betty on Davis is, and the place is bursting at the seams with loud sippers, suppers and more than a couple children.

Admittedly, it's too soon to discern anything, but sometimes you just want a first bite.

That distinctive, low-ceilinged space has gotten a face lift although I'd have preferred zero screens to the three they had and music over the shrill din.

I don't want to shout unless I'm in a club.

The menu surprised me with sandwiches so I tried fried chicken schnitzel sandwich on top of chayote, cabbage slaw and pickled red onion. Tasty.

A special of pastrami hash with sweet potatoes, corn Brussels leaves, sassafras gastrique under a soft boiled egg less so, with far too many pure fatty to meaty pieces nestled in the overly-large chunks of sweet potato.

They haven't even been open a week but I recalled the Eater article and it seemed clear that for those people who do go out in September, a fair number of them were in the Betty

And the beat goes on...

Next I met a favorite couple for my first foray to St. Benedict's Oktoberfest, obviously not intending to eat after schnitzel and slaw, but playing willing conversational partner for the walk over there and while they chowed down.

Since I'd never been, I have no basis of comparison, but it seemed like a goodly number of people were there after 9:00.

My last Oktoberfest was at the state fair ground in 1990 so I recognized the oompha music immediately, but they felt no compulsion to eat under the plastic canopies on folding chairs.

Instead we walked back to his house, put on Donovan, poured Graham Beck Brut Rose and talked about current events while they had dinner.

After dinner there were "amusements," in the form of my host diving into his music collection to play songs that then remind him of something else he wants to play and musical tangents are followed with no thought for the original starting point.

After he plays John Lennon's "Jealous Guy," I posit that the Bryan Ferry version is better and he pulls out the Roxy Music compilation CD to compare and contrast.

It suddenly occurs to him that he has a rare single of this song in record form and wants to show it off.

Grabbing a flashlight, he holds up one finger and says animatedly, "Give me 30 seconds," determined to prove he knows where everything is in his collection, despite a dubious-looking and widespread filing system.

From the depths of the floor behind the bar, I finally hear, "How about Todd Rundgren?"

My guess is he can't find the single and he's trying to distract me with someone he knows I love.

He's right.

But we don't go there because Todd is in LP form and he has no working turntable. Alas.

He plans to stump me with something unlikely and he does with Joe "King" Carrasco and his Crown from a 1995 anthology of the previous 17 years.

My reaction was immediate. Early '80s?

1982, he tells me. New wave via a Tex-Mex singer. I've no doubt I danced to it somewhere when it came out. So distinctly of that era.

I got to hear some of the songs my friend had written and played guitar and viola on, surprised to hear that most had been written as gifts for Christmas and wedding presents and the like.

"This is the closest to Beethoven I ever wrote," he said of one particularly striking passage.

Looking at his soft pink finger pads, he made fun of his hands for being un-calloused, meaning he'd not been playing much music for a while.

He tried to use the "I lost the briefcase with my music in it" alibi but I only chided him for being fortunate enough to have musical talent (I have zip) and squander it.

And, yes, I used that word specifically to make my point.

He allowed as how he could just get additional copies of the music so he could start back up."I may look dense, but I'm really smart," he said, grinning manically and tapping his forehead.

Then practice your talent, my friend.

To round out the evening's musical diversions, he played what he called "Ryan Adams' most gorgeous ballad," the soul-stirring "When the Stars Go Blue" from the 2001 Gold album, which I don't have and a song I don't know.

It's so tender, so sweet and moving, sung in the voice of a guy who knows he hasn't always gotten it right.

When the song ended, he headed upstairs to say goodnight to his girlfriend who was packing it in after a long day fighting humanity in a service-oriented job.

Me, I grabbed the remote and played the song again. Sigh, such a lovely note on which to end.

Meanwhile, back in J-Ward, I arrive home to roving clutches of VCU party-seekers, talking loudly, laughing self-consciously and, in the case of the females, dressed Friday night cute.

It's after midnight but before 1, so people are shifting allegiances with so much of the night still ahead.

In the time it's taken me to write this, I've heard one bottle broken (a girl who shrieked), a guy ask a giggling girl group, "Do you live in the dorms?" and one car driver threaten a group who wouldn't move out of the street so traffic could pass.

Kids today.

Apparently the September rule doesn't apply to college parties.


  1. no working t-table ?? my man...get with it!


  2. a man's gotta keep his platter movin'


  3. Especially when he has so many platters!