I had a succession of food jobs through high school and college. I washed dishes, waited tables, manned the grill, made sandwiches, worked cash registers, tended bar. It was great, deeply satisfying work. Compared to consulting, the problems solved while waiting tables are both more pressing in the moment and easier to let go of at closing time. There's immediate gratification, constant feedback, and a continual sense of providing (literally) substantial value to the people who have put their trust in you. Give me that on a project, and I'll be there in a heartbeat.
So tonight, we all went out to Cypress, just west of Monroe on Tennessee St in Tally. Cypress is a small, upscale, place in the same class as Mozaik in price, ambition and focus, and I think even better than Mozaik in execution and spelling. The ambiance of the place embodies the practicality of Tallahassee elegance: the walls are painted an artful array of rich, earthy colors; these walls are also made of cinder blocks.
The unifying idea here is Nouveau American meets Southern comfort food. I've seen a lot of places try this, but I think Cypress has an innovative angle - quirky uses of familiar, iconic ingredients - that was well thought out and nicely executed. Case in point: I had an excellent salad with local field greens and featuring (trust me, this works) peanut brittle. The main dishes were similarly designed, if a little less daring: my salmon arrived aside fingerling potatoes and a delicate sauce that evoked mango lassi. It was unassuming and delicious.
We were a large group - maybe 20 - and we were a little demanding. When we sat down, we placed orders for wine, hoped for bread, and selected some appetizers. Slowly, these things came to us. They were very, very good, but they were slow. And we were pretty hard on the waitress regarding the pacing of delivery. Her even, sincere, unfazed graciousness in excepting criticism was what got me thinking about how much I miss this business. There was something about the calm confidence in her response that neatly summarized how much this place does exactly right.