Last Sunday is a day I remember quite well because the sun was out with a vengeance. The temperature appeared to be steadily climbing with no hope of slowing down. On a normal day, this would be a typical Southern afternoon, but last Sunday was different; it was the second edition of the Scenic City Supper Club at Tennessee Stillhouse, and I was overjoyed to attend and eat some delicious food. Since the first installment of SCSC, it’s been on my radar. I almost felt like I was a part of some secret society attending this multicourse dinner with some of Chattanooga’s food enthusiasts, community leaders, writers and business owners. If you missed out on this opportunity to taste and drink some of the tastiest foods and cocktails, allow me to take you down a delicious memory lane.
Like most dinner parties, we started with mingling, welcome cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Who doesn’t like walking into a party and being greeted with cocktails? Sarah Johnson, lead bartender at The Flying Squirrel, created a very refreshing cocktail, which came in handy once I realized the party was outside. Yes, outside, in the sweltering heat. But it’s OK because I was about to sip on a cool cocktail. The welcome cocktail was a pineapple and cilantro agua fresca. Sounds good, right? The cocktail featured Chattanooga white whiskey, cane syrup, lime and mezcal. The welcome cocktail was paired with hors d’oeuvres that featured local ingredients such as Main Street Meats casalingo, Dancing Fern cheese from Sequatchie Cove and chanterelles foraged locally. After sampling all these yummy hors d’oeuvres, I almost forgot that it was unbearably hot outside-almost.
After the welcome cocktails, we all took our seats and anxiously awaited a welcome message from chef Erik Niel of Easy Bistro & Bar. After roaring applause, we sat with our tongues wagging, waiting for the first course, which was a grilled cornbread salad prepared by Charlie Loomis of The Feed Co. Table & Tavern, opening soon on Main Street. I’d never had cornbread salad before, but it was delicious. Based on the silence of everyone at my table, I think we all enjoyed it.
The second course was prepared by Josh Habiger of Pinewood Social, which I’ve had the chance to visit and I loved, but I digress. Course No. 2 consisted of beeswax poached little potatoes served with a crème fraiche and herbs. This course was quite flavorful, visually appealing and simple.
By the third course, I was feeling a little stuffed, but I bravely sipped my rosé (and water) and geared up for what was coming. This course resulted in salt-roasted ham served with tiny squash, pickled cucumber, yogurt and dill, prepared by Niel. I find the process of salt roasting so interesting. I’ve tried it myself with fish and had a not-so-successful first try at it. I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m not a connoisseur of ham; I actually don’t eat it, ever. However, when something is presented to you so beautifully and by one of the best chefs, you have to eat it and I’m glad I did; it was delicious. Salty but not too salty and just a bit tangy from the pickled cucumber-this was good stuff. At the time that the third course was served, we were also sipping on our second cocktail of the night, which was my favorite: a plum smash with Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Reserve, juniper syrup, plum, Creole bitters and thyme.
Last but certainly not least was the dessert course. Charity Everett, pastry chef and founder of Revel Pastry Co., created the most delicious dessert: buttermilk sweet corn panna cotta with peaches, bourbon caramel and sage shortbread; this was the most perfect way to end the night. To accompany Everett’s dessert, we had a Market Street Manhattan, a local take on a classic Manhattan. I loved every course of SCSC, but I have to say, dessert was probably my most favorite. When served, everyone at my table suddenly let out harmonious “oohs” and “ahhs” at the mere sight of the panna cotta. Once we began to taste it, there was pure silence; we were in heaven.
Despite the heat, the SCSC was certainly an enjoyable experience. I’ve discovered that we all pick and choose the things we spend our money on. Some folks choose to save money by not subscribing to cable services; others prefer to spend money on traveling or shopping. I love all these things, but I particularly love spending money on remarkable foods-more importantly, memorable dining experiences. If dining experiences are your thing, Scenic City Supper Club will be well worth the ticket price, and not just because of the tasty foods being passed around. The social aspect of this experience alone was well worth it. It allowed me to reconnect with old friends, meet new friends and introduce folks who should be friends. I’m definitely patiently waiting for the supper club.
Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at [email protected] or by following her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.