JHole Chill…

‘Slim’s Pickin’s’ – September 8th, 2010: Pontificating the Copy

JH Weekly

Slim’s Pickins

Where I can just be

a view down the bar at Burke's

Pontificating the Copy:

‘Just let me swim in it.’

Part of me always knew that I have a natural draw to darkly-lit bars, like a damn moth to the flame; a chance to sit quietly and order a few rounds in peace with friends.

Jackson Hole, Wyo.-In Raleigh, N.C., my friends and I could be found drinking single-malt scotch and throwing darts in the corner of an underground Cuban cigar club until odd hours of the morning.

Havana’s, down on Glenwood. Single malts, warmed Gran Marnier and Paul Auner hefeweizen on tap. I was living only a few blocks away and working between the Mellow Mushroom and Nelson’s slinging drinks on the patio bar. If we weren’t at Hanava’s we were asleep, or chasing the young sorority girls across town to some shady club or shitty dive bar with Bud Light specials.

There’s not a single dartboard in Jackson, and for good reason: can you imagine that loud-mouthed, 90-day frat boy wonder with a sharp object in his hand?

I do miss playing darts. Building a backboard for our house right now. It would be fucking scary to give some of the people in this town a sharp object to throw. Even if you blocked a section off and put up floor to ceiling blinders, you’d end up with an injury each night.

I have, though, found the low-lighting, tall-pouring sanctuary that every good self-loathing socialite and over-imbiber needs: Burke’s.
Located on the Corners of Glenwood and Pearl, this stepbrother to the Bistro Grill fraternity of restaurant success has darkened windows and an almost unnoticeable presence except for a sign and a prime real estate location.

Two very good friends joined me on my most recent visit. We had discussed other restaurants, but with tourist season still in full swing, decided against fighting both the crowds. We were quickly seated at the bar adjacent to the service well and with a good view of the television – Sportscenter, what else?

Matty and the Ferg., STEFFEN!!! joined us later. Spent about 30 mins on his iPhone 4 FaceTiming with some emo-chick in ATL.

the new Ipod has FaceTime- so you rich little midwestern white girls can have friends in Africa...

So, we made him drink a martini glass full of Jack. It was at least three shots and looked like apple juice on the bar. He took it down in about 5 gulps. Props for playin’, knocks for being an idiot. I mean, a fucking idiot. He was calling the move ‘Clashy; a combination of Trashy and Classy…’ fucking idiot.

I ordered a martini and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived in a fishbowl of a glass. James Bond would be toasted off of two of these things. Our bartender later explained that this was, “the best bang for your buck,” with a confident and seductive smile.

I was just stoked to hear her say ‘bang.’ Had a Wilson girl look to her; a little more natural and tomboyish than necessary. Spent a lot of time at the bar leaning over and talking to a buxom brunette a few seats down from us eating by herself. None of us had the balls to say anything to the lone bird, and I was pretty sure that I had struck out on her and her tall blonde friend at Koshu one night. Summer: not conducive to short-term memory.

Burke’s has always had a lone attractive woman pouring drinks for the restaurant, and arguably had the most gorgeous bartender in town. My predecessor Ben Cannon was known to stop for a glass of scotch just because she was working, and I was privy to this vision more than a few times during the cold and desolate days of the winter offseason.

the Hedges. drunk at Burke's bar. January? nice flannel...

Eventually, we ordered food and were served exactly what we were after: burgers and fries. I had started with an order of the ‘Chop House Rolls,’ one of my favorite simple and flavorful appetizers in town.

Served with a powerful roasted peanut sauce over a bed of mixed greens, these deep-fried and spicy seasoned ground prime beef rolls are addictive. They have enough flavor and spice to send a wake-up jolt to the palate, but is a small enough serving to not ruin a meal.

These really are great rolls. Better than the fried avocado rolls we would bribe the expo- at the Cheesecake Factory with a Kahlua milkshake for. Fucking spicy, though. take a Tums.

I ended up eating half of my burger, because I switched to a glass of cabernet to pair with all of the optional sides including grilled onions, roasted mushrooms and smoked bacon.

These sides raise the price, but also add to the power of the gut-bomb. It served as a perfect hangover cure a couple of days later, when I pulled it back out of the box to be warmed and smothered with steak sauce and paired with a glass of milk at two o’clock in the afternoon.


I imagine that with the clean lines and high ceilings, Burke’s could have been an average blues or jazz club with local celebrities like Aaron Wallis sitting in the corner telling graphic, but entertaining stories under the low-lighting and soft serenade of an upright bass.

I can’t remember the last time that I heard good music in a small space. Probably George Street Grocery in Jackson, MS when I was in school at Millsaps. Taylor and Drew would have been nearby trying to get some group of girls to hate me more. Now, I do it myself.

The space though, isn’t designed for it, and fitting any more bodies into the restaurant would add to the ‘turn and burn’ mentality that drives this hospitality industry to near over-capacity insanity. Instead, a seasoned and focused service staff works its way around a well-spaced and calm room serving red meats and gargantuan martinis. They had turned up the lights since the last time I went in, but I know they’ll come back down; a town of vampires needs its dark bars.

Final line that I sent in was, ‘They had turned up the lights since the last time that I went in, but I know they’ll come back down: a town of self-feeding vampires needs its dark bars.’ This town is self-feeding…

…but, damn I love it.


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