Old Town Social, in a rare quiet moment
I have this rule: No hanging out at bars in the morning. I don’t care if the World Cup is on, I don’t care if you’re supposed to take shots at 8 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, and I don’t care if the bartender makes a mean Bloody Mary (actually, I kind of hate Bloody Marys). In fact, unless I’m on vacation, I can’t get into bar mindset until about four in the afternoon—you know, when the British take their tea.
But on Sunday, I relaxed the rule a smidge to try the new Dixieland-themed brunch at Old Town Social, a place that—since I once waited in line to get in—has always fallen firmly into the “bar” category for me, despite its tempting charcuterie display. But a sneak peek at the brunch menu revealed shrimp and grits, so I decided to indulge my inner Southern Belle (I’m a native Kentuckian, remember) and check it out.
If you go for Dixieland brunch this Sunday, its second outing, you’ll likely have a better experience than I did during the maiden voyage, when there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, everyone was ordering everything, and the kitchen just wasn’t prepared. We were seated in a corner that was a little too dark for early afternoon, and the cheerful Dixieland band—red vests, trumpets, clarinets, and all—drowned out my attempts at sparkling conversation. It was louder than Mardi Gras in there.
My initial cocktail choice (a white peach bellini, $6) was sold out, so I settled on a mimosa ($5), while TCD had a Southern Mary ($12) that could have been a meal in itself. He said it reminded him of the Bloodies at Twisted Spoke: “spicy, with lots of food,” meaning it came laden with a kebab of salumi, smoked gouda, pickled okra, provolone-stuffed pepper, and more. Good thing, because that was our only sustenance (other than more booze) for the next hour and a half. At 2:09—nine minutes past the time we swore we’d pack it in and head for the new Chipotle down the street—the food finally arrived: crispy, sugary beignets ($5); creamy shrimp and grits ($12); juicy house-cured sausage ($7), and a rich BLT Benedict ($8).
For future Dixieland visits, my strategy will be to arrive early (brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the band goes on at noon). I’ll take a truckbed full of friends—enough to warrant a booth—and I’ll request that said booth is at least halfway across the room from the band, which is better enjoyed from afar. I’ll get my peach bellini, gosh dern it, and I’ll get back to my fainting couch before it’s too late to feel guilty for taking an afternoon nap—because that’s how we ladies do it down South.
Another new bar brunch for Bloody fans: At Bangers & Lace (open at 11 a.m. on weekends; look for a brunch menu as sausage-centric as its nighttime counterpart), mixologist Matt Eggleston is pouring up just about everything except run-of-the-mill Bloody Marys. Hungry drinkers can try the Meat and Potato (Luksusova potato vodka, house bloody mix, and veal demi-glace, garnished with beef jerky) or the Hawaiian (Death’s Door vodka; house bloody mix; pineapple juice; Schlenkerla Rauchbier, a.k.a. “bacon beer”; and ground red pepper)—four options in all, each $8.
30 minutes ago