So it looks like self-proclaimed constitutional scholars are putting reviews of the aforementioned anti-gun burger joint in Clemson, SC about as fast as Yelp can scrub them. Not sure what impact these specious reviews will have on Backstreets, but it does reveal some disturbing truths about Yelp. If the folks flooding Yelp w/ baroque scat freak line cook fantasies were joining Yelp specifically to slander an establishment that would prefer they consume their wings and Bud Lites unarmed, that would be one thing. But! The folks posting the negative reviews of Backstreets seem to be regular Yelpers for the most part. For instance, if one were, say, wondering about brunch spots in Vail, you'd be getting advice on that from "Whaledriving W.," who also shares this tidbit from Backstreets:
Per yesterday's post, Yelp has scrubbed most of the reviews from gun nuts of Backstreets, a nondescript college bar in Clemson, SC, with a proprietor w/ the temerity to call gun owners "douchebags." As it happens, the Cod nurtured a Yelp person at his day job, but not sure if that connection led to the scrub.
1) Stand by for the predictable gnashing of teeth about "freedom of speech."
2) "Concealed Weapons," by a late and non-Wolf iteration of J. Geils, is a terrible song. And sexist. Come to think of it, "Centerfold" is iffy that way, too. It would be better if it were "My blood runs cold, because my angel is a centerfold, and I am proud of her, and support her decisions."
It's rare that there is a national food-related story coming out of the very town where The Cod's corporeal host does his day job. But! South Carolina passed a law permitting patrons to bring guns into bars and restaurants, (provided they do not drink) but allowed individual establishments to opt out. So the proprietor of one of the many college bars in Clemson, SC posted the sign at left.
1) The food at Backstreets is fine. It is pretty much like any other flatscreens and pool tables college bar establishment you've been to. Now and again, they get a little bit ambitious w/ their lunch special.
2) Can a restaurant be cyber-bullied? If so, this one sure is.
3) Related: Many of the Yelpers seem to feel that the worst thing they can say about Backstreets is that it caters to gays.* There are probably some folks in town who would welcome a local alternative to The Woodshed, but if they do have a glory hole, they've added it since the last time I ate there.
4) This is a terrible law. I mean, for the obvious reasons that nobody has ever been in a bar in SC and thought, "geez, some guns would make this a better environment." But also, it puts bar and restaurant owners in a terrible position. This law does not just cover wing spots in college towns, but also serious restaurants, including those in Greenville, (John Mariani's favorite restaurant town), and Charleston (which has reached the point where the local paper gets huffy when no CHS chef gets shortlisted for Best Chef). It's not hard to imagine that some folks -- The Cod included -- would be more comfortable eating in an establishment with unarmed patrons. It would not be hard for patrons to ask if a place allowed weapons when making a reservation, and then book a table at a place with a no guns rule. But if the person calling your restaurant happens to be a gun nut, then you lose their business for banning guns, and invite a Yelp-driven shitstorm. Indeed if I were a talented restaurateur considering a new venture, I might look somewhere besides a state where I have to tussle with a gun shibboleth. Gov. Haley talks a lot about promoting business in the state. It's a shame that she didn't consider that kowtowing to gun nuts would make opening a restaurant in South Carolina an untenable proposition.
*Nick's is probably a better bet for your gay-friendly Clemson college bar experience.
On occasion, we've noted in this space that Durham, NC has become the Brooklyn of the South (in a good way even, once, if memory serves). However, the less appealing aspects of this affinity are now spreading West, to the hitherto unassailed hippie stronghold of Asheville, NC. Via @phillygirl, (via @Mr. Brion), alarming reports of a "gravy flight." The perpetrator is Biscuitheads,* a new spot specializing in biscuits. (At $3 per each with nothing, they better be good.)
If the artisanal food movement of recent years has offered one lesson, it is that taking familiar receipts and making them from scratch out of real ingredients can produce remarkable results. Sadly, the food world often suggest that the problem is too much creativity, not too little. If there is a second rule of artisanal food, it's that there are plenty of good ideas already, and you can do well executing these ideas. You can do less well with new ideas. Not surprising, folks who run restaurants get restless, and thus otherwise solid-looking breakfast spots in North Carolina put seven different gravies on their menu. And then, the temptation to put a "gravy flight" on the menu is overwhelming. Worse, at this rate, soon there will be a young man who says "gravy sommelier" when you ask him what he does for a living.
Coco Chanel's advice about removing one accessory once you think you are ready to go out was in fact an extrapolation from her advice about opening a biscuit focused restaurant: write the menu, and then get rid of all of the gravies that are not the kind of gravy you serve with biscuits. That said, there is every reason to suppose that this place will move in the direction of being the Baskin-Robbins of gravies, because, people, and further proof that it is just another Guiteau Monday.
Given that downtown restaurants tend toward pro-Romney baroque trainwrecks like Soby's, or earnest but dreary farm-to-table bandwagoneers like American Grocery, it's no wonder there's a move to keep interesting food purveyors like Neue Southern far away.
Granted, it's a newspaper article about a scientific study, not an article in a medical journal, but the science seems kind of wack, in that "Southern food," for the purposes of the study, appear to be "food we already knew is bad for you. But, you know, just to be on the safe side, lay off the okra, collards and benne wafers.
It's worth noting that the lead author of this study is at the University of Alabama, which suggests that the clumsy deployment of the notion of "Southern food" may be a function of a reluctance to consult the experts on traditional food, who are of course at Ole Miss.
Was initially surprised to hear of plans for a Husk outpost in Nashville. The Cod is on the record as a fan of H. Sean Brock's work, but given that his thing is an intense focus on the local, it's odd to see him open a place that is 550 miles from his two Charleston places that are within a stone's throw of one another. I could imagine a similarly-conceived restaurant engaging w/ the foodshed of western TN as opposed to coastal SC, but it seems bad for the brand to slap the same name on it.
On the other hand, it might not be Brock's call. Husk and McReady's are owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which also owns two non-Brock properties, and the owners may well have a different vision of Husk than the chef does. More than one chef-owner has reminded me that Brock is not a chef-owner, and the existence of Husk Nashville may be evidence of that heirloom chicken coming home to roost.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that some of the grits news coming out of the 02139 is not terrible.* Right catty corner from the grits pizza nightmare is Christina's Spices & SpecialtyFoods, an offshoot of Christina's Ice Cream, (aka the East Cambridge ice cream store owned by a taxpayer). When the Cod is lucky enough to shop here, he feels like Pee Wee in the magic shop. Hand to God, I had an inkling this would happen before I saw the sign, but Cantabridgians can now purchase Anson Mills grits over the counter. Prep instructions are a little finnicky, but Anson Mills is the Real Deal. One of the mantras at the day job is "retention," for much the same reason that casinos promote retention of their patrons by injecting oxygen into gaming areas and by removing clocks. As such, one cannot but wonder if access to non Quaker Instant grits might have been enough to keep Quentin Compson out of the Charles River, thus improving Harvard's retention numbers for the Class of 1910.