Dr. Deborah Franklin at midnight at Rebel Kitchen.
New Year’s Eve 2018 in downtown Knoxville was unseasonably warm, in addition to being windy and rainy. It was the last night, in fact, of the rainiest year Knoxville has seen in decades. But no one’s spirits were dampened in the least.
There were traffic jams on Gay Street in the early evening as folks poured into downtown from who knows where. We dared not move our car for fear of losing our parking spot, so we summoned an Uber to take us and our friends, Bruce and Monique Anderson, the few blocks from our condo at the J.C. Penney Building to Rebel Kitchen in the Old City.
We could have run into friends at almost any of the fabulous downtown eateries, though. We got a text from Judith and Michael Foltz inviting us to join them at J.C. Holdway on Union Avenue. We heard Peter Acly and Ellen and Nora Robinson were at Emilia on Market Square. My buddy Diana Condon was holding down a table at Kefi, also in the Old City. And Lisa and Steve Skinner were at Lonesome Dove for the five-course New Year’s Eve special.
We would not have gone wrong with any of those choices, but we had signed up weeks earlier for the six-course dinner with wine pairings and a champagne toast at midnight at Rebel Kitchen. It was a fabulous evening.
All the glasses in front of Bruce when we sat down certainly indicated a festive evening was awaiting us!
The first course set the standard! An amazing nibble of caviar with crisp potatoes and onions served on top of creme fraiche. Nothing says “Happy New Year” like caviar.
And champagne, of course! “There is no better pairing than caviar and champagne,” agreed sommelier Matt Burk.
Chef Paul Sellas came into the dining room between every course to share information.
And he posed with this great pair. That’s my hubs, Alan Carmichael, on the right.
One of our favorite things about Rebel Kitchen is the variety of in-house made breads they serve with every meal. Here’s Monique passing the treasures my way.
I never knew sweet potatoes could taste so amazing! All four of us were blown away by the variety of spuds served with burrata, shaved white truffles and brown butter.
I may have liked this chenin blanc even better than my beloved pinot grigio. It was a 2016 Quinta Essentia from South Africa.
I paid a visit to a nearby table where some other friends of ours were celebrating. From left. Dr. Michelle Brewer, Dr. Deborah Franklin, Basil Human, Kim Henry and Kelly Absher.
Next course for some of us was blue fin tuna — oil poached, on right, and tartare.
I cannot eat raw fish (or meat), so I got the most beautiful beet salad I’ve ever seen! Don’t you agree?
Both came with a 2006 Louis Latour chardonnay. (Yep, I drank and enjoyed chardonnay!)
Next up: A/5 Wagyu ribeye.
Served with apples, celery and blue cheese. And some house-made steak sauce.
Along with 2013 Kosta Browne “Gap’s Crown” pinot noir from the Sonoma Coast in California. We all thought this was the best wine of the night.
Franchesca Sellas, front-of-house manager, stopped by our table to chat. She was so nice to accommodate our various menu requests.
Haha. This course was called “Your Goose is Cooked!” It was a stuffed, slow-braised goose breast served with black winter truffles, squash puree, black trumpet mushrooms and Madeira.
Its wine pairing was a 2008 Labastide Dauzac Bordeaux from Margaux, France. Delish.
Dessert was “Death by Chocolate,” an extremely rich morsel served with warm caramel.
It was served with the second best wine of the night, in our opinion: a 2013 Emmolo Merlot from Napa.
It was not a small bottle.
As midnight drew near, a bunch of new wine glasses were lined up on a nearby table. We took that as a good sign!
We noticed all the clean dishes being piled on the kitchen bar and were glad we did not have that dish-washing job.
We were happy to see our neighbors from the J.C. Penney Building, Tolly and Trisha Condra-Harris, getting ready for the stroke of 12.
Hats were passed out. Don’t these two look dapper?
And then it was midnight!
Kim looking festive.
Monique with one of the servers, Brad Poyner.
We all got to take home a cute little box.
Of course, we opened them on the spot and discovered what looked like Italian wedding cookies. Yum.
The rain stopped a little after midnight and we were having trouble getting an Uber, so we decided to walk home. Things were still lively on Gay Street.
We spotted our friends Pace and Karen Robinson in the lobby of the Hyatt Place when we passed.
And, from left, Susan and David Long and David and Sheila Popkin.
When we made it home, those wedding cookies didn’t stand a chance!
Happy New Year, everyone!