Beefed N Bottled

As soon the football powers that be announced the most Southern football game ever, we bought tickets

North Carolina v. South Carolina in the Dukes Mayonnaise Bowl. In Charlotte, NC, a city which anyone in the Carolinas could reach within half a day. I’m sure Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Electress of Hanover, Queen of Hanover, would have approved of the selection of her namesake city/stadt being the site of such an event

We immediately contacted our pals the Pooles and asked if they were going to be in town on December 29.

Immediate reply from Mrs. Poole, “Come on!”

A day later, another reply, “I’m making a reservation for us at Beef & Bottle…have y’all been?”

My response, “No, ma’am. Let’s [..] go!” I added an inappropriate word in the ellipsis

We checked the website

Beef ‘ n Bottle Steakhouse…since 1958

Sign of same vintage

Hell yes

“We have a reservation for 5:30. They are slammed. Does that work?”

“I love early birds”

So we were confirmed for December 29 at 5:30

On the 29th, we drove up to Charlotte and ran errands and went to an exhibit at the Mint Museum a block away from our hotel

Y’all should go see the John Leslie Breck Exhibit. He introduced Impressionism to we people.

Laura and Perry Poole introduced Beef ‘ n Bottle to we people

As we walked around Uptown, we saw lots of Tar Heels and Gamecocks

By 4:30, we were back in the hotel room to brush teeth, splash water on faces, put on supper suits and summon an Uber

5 p.m. traffic in the Queen’s City and all

So, I hit Uber and received message after message that I had invalid payment, no account, not able to process

Meanwhile, our elder daughter whose Uber account is linked to my payment methods summoned us a ride in a nanosecond

Rodrigo will be meeting you in 3 minutes

That was fast

So, we four piled into Rodrigo’s Navigator

WDAV classical musical station from Davidson, NC, played adagios, arpeggios, arias

Rodrigo played his brakes like an organist in a church with those slippery soled shoes. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Slide. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Slide

We all felt sick by the time we arrived at Beef ‘ n Bottle on South Boulevard

My phone rang right before we arrived

“Make sure they seat us in the front room”

No hello. No hey. No how are you.

Which, is what you do with ancient friends

We darkened the door into a one-story, darkened, red-hued room

A man in mask moved about asked us about the reservation

“Poole, party of 7”

“Gimme a second,” said the gentleman

“Front room, please”

His reply, “Of course”

We were ushered to an eight top set for seven in the middle of the front room. An island surrounded by booths with dark red everything. I was in heaven

“I’m DJ, and I’ll be taking care of you,” said our waiter who appeared seconds after we sat down as he deposited three pewter sorbet cups filled with a scoop of cheddar cheese spread and baskets of captain’s wafers, saltines, and Melba toasts to start the meal

“Drinks?” He asked

The Pooles had not yet arrived, but, hell, the second half of this place was called “bottle”

Mary Perrin ordered a signature cocktail from off their laminated menu. “A Paloma, please”

I ordered a Manhattan. Seemed appropriate

Drinks for the girls

A few minutes later, drinks arrived. MP’s in a tall literal high ball. Mine in a martini glass. Bright red maraschino cherry glowing in the bowl. Shards of ice across the top. The perfect balance to the room temp cheese spread

“Where are the Pooles?”

“They are coming”

“We have a two hour limit!” On the door was the admonition that parties of 4 or more had a two hour table limit. I said that I didn’t think they’d kicked us out

“It’s 5:40. I think we’re o.k.”

Two minutes later, in came Laura and Perry Poole

Hugs all around

“So glad to see y’all”

“Where we sitting?”

“Here, here, and here”

“Hey girls”

“Hey”

“I need a drink. Almost came to blows earlier with our child”
“Oh, don’t worry. We have been cussing at each other all afternoon”

There is such joy in being with friends with whom there can be utter honesty. Hope y’all have a few or a dozen or that every friend you have is such a pal

“So, what do y’all think?”

“Well, the communal sink for the bathroom is amazing. And, this feels like I’m still in the 1950s”

“Just wait”

So we ordered more drinks and laughed and talked and caught up and pondered the menu

The Pooles’ daughter arrived under her own steam

D J returned, “So, any thoughts?”

“We want the shrimp cocktail. Let’s get the 20 piece”

“May we split the escargot?” The college sophomore and the high school junior inquired

“Of course,” all four parents replied

“I’m sorry. We don’t have escargot,” said DJ. Thanks, Bestie. Or, no thanks, Bestie

“Get the frog legs!” I exclaimed. I had frog legs once. In 1979. So that makes me an expert

“Oh, gosh, no”

“Hold on,” said DJ

A minute later he was back at the table announcing that the snails could be placed in their garlic butter sauce and brought piping hot to the table

“So, escargot and shrimp cocktail. Any other drinks?”

Hands raised all round

Bracing martinis

Warming manhattans

Perfect Palomas

“Do we order?”

“Not yet”

So we laughed more and thought about wines to pair with the steaks

DJ appeared with an enormous plateau with a bowl encircled by twenty beautiful shrimp and a bowl of sinus clearing horseradish filled cocktail sauce

Being a kid from Beaufort, SC, I know good shrimp. These were good shrimp. No slime or film. Not rubbery. Perfectly boiled and chilled. Not farm raised. So great

The cocktail sauce, everything. I learned at a young age to put cocktail sauce on a cracker. The crackers and Melba toasts left over from the cheese spread proved a great vehicle to get more ketchup and horseradish down my gullet

It was time to order form the menu of steaks of perfect cut. Each accompanied by a salad and a side. Each of which were perfected in 1958. Salads were individual plates of iceberg lettuce with a passed relish tray with cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, black and green olives, and slices of green pepper. Dressings passed in pewter bowls. Blue cheese, please and thanks

Orders placed for filets, New York strips, trio of medallions of filet with different seasonings. Baked potatoes all round, excepting one mashed, served with their own relish tray of sour cream, chives, cheddar cheese, and butter. Lots of butter.

By the time the steaks came conversations which I cannot repeat were in full hilarity. Were I to repeat said conversations, names would have to be changed to protect the guilty

I can tell you the following:

1. Ted Manson was not the name of that dude who was imprisoned for Sharon Tate’s murder

2. Chattanooga is not in Kentucky, and it is not close to Illinois

3. The only phrases an American needs in Italy are “Basta!” and “Do you EVEN speak English?”

As we downed the first bottle of wine, the steaks arrived on those wonderful, old steak house serving pieces. Haven’t seen them in years. Those hard rubber dishes with pewter inserts. Like the Sizzlers of old. But so much better

By the time the steaks arrived, all crowned with a perfectly fried onion ring, it was time for the second bottle of wine

We didn’t need it

But it was worth it

By the time the steaks and potatoes were finished, all of the worlds problems had been solved. Really. You know those meals. The best!

Mindful of our time limit, I asked if we had to go

DJ said we were fine

Whew

Didn’t want to get tossed on my first visit

According to one Charlotte local, more deals have been done in the front room of Beef ‘ n Bottle than have even been contemplated in the high rises Uptown

Makes sense

As we were approaching an almost three hour table sit, we all decided to pull the plug

No room for dessert

Next trip

Our elder daughter pressed the Uber app and Lucretia was only two minutes away

Only time for a quick walk outside and a group pic. Only three posed for the pic

Lucretia said she would take a pic of the whole group, but, well, it’s hard herding well sated cats

Hugs and kisses all round and everyone was off

Lucretia told us that she had never been to Beef ‘ n Bottle. We told her she should go! As we passed Hooters near our hotel Uptown, Lucretia did tell us that it had bad wings but really good oysters. Next trip, I guess

But, really, if you’re ever in the Queen’s City, make a reservation at the Beef ‘ n Bottle

Seriously.

Where the hell have I been?

Chattanooga, Kentucky?

5 thoughts on “Beefed N Bottled

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