Before we left for the Farm, we had a drink upstairs at City Grocery with the TSUN gang. Which reminds me… .
My new issue of Garden & Gun came at some point in my life after Missy came into my Big Life, four weeks ago today! Both Mr. Big Food and I were amused to see that City Grocery’s bar was named the #1 “Writers’ Retreat” in the 50 Best Southern Bars feature article. I have no physical or mental desire to fetch my hard copy of the magazine right now, so I’ll quote the on-line version of what G&G has to say about City Grocery:
City Grocery Bar in Oxford, Mississippi
Faulkner’s gone, but Oxford writers still need whiskey. Enter City Grocery Bar, a magnet for both visiting literati and a prodigious crop of local talent. At this dark second-story spot, bartenders pour grown-up drinks, says chef-owner John Currence. “And those soothe the demons in a writer’s soul.” citygroceryonline.com
Faulkner’s gone but you wouldn’t know it if you’d ever spent time in Oxford, Mississippi. He lingers everywhere. Even I have a stupid pamphlet in the guest room– right under the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting booklet– about Faulkner and that place he lived. Some people are interested in this sort of
crappy old stuff. I try to be a good hostess.
We don’t eat dinner at City Grocery as frequently as do our TSUN friends, but Mr. Big Food has been eating at City Grocery for as long as two of them have,
[Good Lord. Missy is having a bad late evening. She’s starting to squeek her squeeky toy. She does that to calm herself down. It’s probably some stress associated with my being gone, and C being the one who came home to do coming home stuff.]
and even I have been going for longer than a couple of them. It seems to me that City Grocery– the restaurant and the upstairs bar– has stayed pretty much the same, which is to say, “very good,” for quite some time. And I have some very fond memories set at or very near City Grocery. So I have no problem whatsoever naming it one of my 50 Best Southern Bars.
But to say
[a]t this dark second-story spot, bartenders pour grown-up drinks, says chef-owner John Currence. “And those soothe the demons in a writer’s soul.”
as if this distinguishes the bar at City Grocery from other bars in other towns, is poppycock. (And I won’t get into it, but to say other similar bars don’t pour “grown-up drinks” is also poppycock.)
First of all, any bar in the (interior) Deep South that isn’t on the second story and doesn’t have a balcony overlooking Main Street or The Square doesn’t have a chance at being anything other than the winner in the Best Bar Not on Main Street or The Square and Also Without a Balcony contest. These bars are dark– there are no windows other than the one that looks at the Balcony but that you can’t see through because it’s covered in flashing neon signs and colorful printouts of who’s playing where when.
That the bar is dark is a fine characteristic. That you have to take three steps up to get to the toilet is also a characteristic of second story bars in the (interior) Deep South. Neither characteristic is noteworthy.
a magnet for both visiting literati and a prodigious crop of local talent.
Well. Okay. Truth be told, some of my fond memories of City Grocery do include Visitors and Locals. The “literati” thing I was pretty sure about, but I went ahead and looked it up (on-line; I want the current df,):
persons of scholarly or literary attainments; intellectuals.
Well. Okay. Truth be told, some of them were pretty smart.
And I suppose, if I were a Local and I wanted to take a Visitor to a Southern Bar, and I lived in Oxford, Mississippi, I would take the Visitor to City Grocery. So in that sense, it is a magnet.
I guess I would have described City Grocery differently than G&G, but we both arrive at the same conclusion.
And here’s where I get to smile, because I don’t live in Oxford. But I live close enough to visit. And every now and again, I find myself on the Balcony at City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi. One of the 50 Best Places on Earth to Be. Or something like that.