Speak is easy

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Eating out

“This can’t be it? There’s no sign or nothing. It looks completely dead.”
“But the address is right. And look, there’s some people standing outside, let’s ask them.”
“No! It’s embarrassing. Let’s circle.”

Me and my American mom Annette were circling The Division, Nashville’s trendiest neighborhood, in search for the equally trendy and supposedly best cocktail bar in town. The Patterson House. I had found them after some research on Google, as is how I found most restaurants and bars. It had said Patterson was an upscale, speakeasy bar that served some of the best cocktails in town along with some great food as well. I didn’t feel very upscale and I did not understand the term speakeasy, but I do understand great cocktails and food. Plus I’m writing an article about food life in Nashville and the magazine had asked for a variation of places and I already had enough of them honky tonk joints. It didn’t take much convincing to get Annette on the same track, she’s a good sport when it comes to food. However, now that we were outside, I didn’t feel so sure anymore.

The building was a plain gray wooden one, it had a couple of signs of other businesses but none that said “Patterson House” on it. The people hanging around outside were about ten years younger than me and suddenly, I felt very self conscious. You can’t walk up to a bunch of almost teenagers and be all “Hey guys, is this the cool and trendy bar I’ve been hearing about?” No, no, you can’t do that. No. Young people are mean, they will laugh at you, or lie, or just ignore you. You’ve got to pretend to know your shit and act with confidence, as if you know what you’re doing and have every right in the world to be there.

After another circling, we parked the car and turned to Google again to see if we could find the website for the bar and hopefully some pictures telling us if we were on the right spot. Now I found out what speakeasy meant: all that was on there was the address and opening hours.
“This is silly” Annette, who’s the braver one of us, finally said “we’re going in”. I followed her sheepishly up the street and past the sketchy youngsters. They gave us sketchy looks. And there it was, a sign on the door. The Patterson House!
“It’s here!” I exclaimed, a little less cool than I wanted to be.
We entered and got into a small waiting room that looked a little like an old library. Thick velvet curtains covered the entrance to the bar and a beautiful, young, groomed woman stood behind a desk. We said we wanted to get in. She said there would be a 45-minute wait. I tried the article-card for the first time ever, but people probably say that all the time and she was unperturbed and suggested we go to one of the bars down the street while we waited. We looked at each other and decided we could do so, so we went down and had a gin and tonic in front of a band that played songs about leaving town and tanned girls and hot summer. After 45 minutes, we went back.

“I’m sorry, there’s still a couple of parties before you” the unperturbed girl said and let at least eight more people pass through the curtains as we watched. I was beginning to get a little annoyed, and tired, and was almost ready to call it a day when suddenly:
“Dixon? Party of two? Dixon?”
We jumped on our feet.
“We’re the Dixons! We are the Dixons!”
And we were let behind the velvet curtains.

We were greeted by another beautiful, groomed, unperturbed girl who showed us to our table. It was nice in there, but not as overwhelmingly luxurious as one could have expected after all of that mystery-mongering. It was a pleasant bar with chandeliers and dim lighting, but not the fanciest I’ve ever seen. (And I haven’t seen that many fancy bars in my days.) It was pretty casual, actually, but still, well, nice. I immediately started photographing for my article, up to the point where I was asked to stop because apparently another guest who was in my way got blinded from the flash.
“Please, no more pictures!” the waitress forwarded and I tried to explain I was writing a very important article here and needed pictures. Then the guy left. Some people just don’t get creative work, do they?

It was long after eleven when we got seated, and we were starving again so along with our cocktails (mine was a magical pink one with gin and something something and egg white) we ordered a couple of bites as well. If you ever happen to be in the neighborhood, and can stand the wait, I can highly recommend both the fried brie with blackberry preserve and the mini burgers. Ah-ma-zing. Top three food experiences in Nashville. And yes, the cocktails were amazing too, and it was a nice place, so I’d say it was well worth the wait. I don’t see what’s with all the hush-hush, though. With TripAdvisor and Google and blogs and all, if it’s a good place, people are gonna know and come no matter how cool and secretive you want to be. After all, talk is cheap and getting a proper website and a sign on the street won’t kill your cool.

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Malin Ågren is a copywriter living in Sweden. Food is her number one hobby.

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