For Abram Desrosier, January 20th means more than the inauguration of a new president.
Three years ago to the day, he opened the Flyer Saucer in Cordova, where he worked as the restaurant's manager. Last Tuesday, while the Obamas were celebrating in Washington, D.C., Desrosier threw open the doors of The Silly Goose, the new downtown lounge he owns and operates with Daniel Masters.
"I didn't realize the coincidence at first," Desrosier said. "The day was so crazy. We got our liquor license at 3:30 in the afternoon, and we were open by 8."
Compliant vendors, an enthusiastic staff, and a weekend run to Nashville to push along licensing helped launch the Manhattan-style lounge without a hitch. "We were hoping for a quiet first night, but within 45 minutes, we were packed," Desrosier said.
Downtowners have been keeping an eye on the Silly Goose, named after a childhood story created by Masters' grandfather. Previously occupied by the martini bar Swig, the location on the ground floor of the Peabody Place office tower has been hidden behind covered windows for weeks.
"Blogger Paul Ryburn described it best," Masters said, laughing. "We've de-Swigified the place. We've gone in an entirely different direction."
Working since late September, the partners transformed the space with rich red walls, brocade sofas, and original artwork.
"Our bartenders are still working on our signature cocktails, but we have some favorites already," Masters said, citing Jack Daniel's shaken with muddled rosemary and a dash of lemon, along with specialty aperitifs, bottled beers, and PBR on tap.
For now, the Silly Goose will be open from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., serving a menu of appetizers (baked ravioli, hummus, spinach dip), soups (chili, potato with bacon), salads (Caesar, house, chef), flatbreads (pesto chicken, pepperoni, build your own), and paninis (pastrami melt, Black Forest ham, Italiano).
"In a few weeks, we'll be open for lunch," Masters said. "And eventually, we would like to do delivery."
The Silly Goose, 100 Peabody Place (435-6915)
In a hurry for lunch but still hungry for a meal that is delicious and affordable? Then head to Automatic Slim's for chef Michael Patrick's new midday menu.
"The food is out within 15 minutes," said Jay Uiberall, one of the operators who purchased the restaurant from Karen Carrier last fall. "We wanted customers to be able to get back to work within an hour."
A handful of the restaurant's signature items are still on the menu, but the majority of selections are new, including ahi tuna salad and open-faced sandwiches (roast beef or turkey) on grilled sourdough.
All lunch selections cost $10 or less, a price point also reflected in the restaurant's new brunch menu served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. "Everyone loves the chocolate chip pancakes and the Creole eggs Benedict," Uiberall said.
No wonder. The pancakes (three on a plate) are topped with orange honey butter. And the poached eggs? They are served over fried green tomatoes and drizzled with Creole hollandaise sauce.
Look for more developments at the downtown restaurant, including a tweaked dinner menu in February, a Valentine's Day special for two, and live music on Friday nights beginning in March.
Automatic Slim's, 83 S. Second,
Now that your mouth is watering, learn how to finesse your own kitchen with the "Cooking at the Garden" series from continuing education at the University of Memphis. The classes are offered on Sunday afternoons, beginning with "Knife Skills: Slicing and Dicing" on February 1st.
On March 1st is a class on vegetarian cooking taught by Flyer photographer Justin Fox Burks. His class will feature cooking fundamentals for vegetarians as well as recipes from his popular blog, thechubbyyvegetarian.com. "We'll also be doing a lot of eating," Burks said. "For a class that costs $49, people need to leave with knowledge and a full belly."
Rounding out the series will be a class on sushi conducted by Umai's Ken Lumpkin on April 5th and a May 3rd class on cheese making (fresh mozzarella and ricotta!) taught by local-foods advocate Melissa Petersen.
Professional and Continuing Education at The University of Memphis, umce.Memphis.edu (678-6000)