by Ian Froeb
A Good Man Is Hard to Find, the new pop-up restaurant from the catering firm-mobile kitchen-underground restaurant Entre (360 North Boyle Avenue; 314-632-6754), opens tomorrow, March 14, at 5:30 p.m. A Good Man is Hard to Find follows this winter's pop-up, Le Coq, which Entre chef John Perkins tells Gut Check this morning "surpassed my expectations."
See Also: - Entre's John Perkins Discusses Pop-Up Chicken Restaurant Le Coq and Future Plans - Chef's Choice: Chef John Perkins of Entre: Underground (Part 1) - Chef's Choice: Chef John Perkins of Entre: Underground (Part 2)
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"It's mainly Southern comfort food," Perkins says of the menu. He decided to settle on a style of cooking, rather than a specific ingredient, as he did with chicken-themed Le Coq, because "we're in that weird part of the growing season" when not much is available.
Also different from Le Coq is the menu structure, which is à la carte instead of prix-fixe.
(Those who enjoy restaurant economics should note that Perkins is running what he terms an "experiment" to test a theory that diners will actually spend more on an à la carte menu than a prix-fixe: "Say up front, 'You're going to spend that much,' it's a big commitment.")
Menu items include "Snacks": deviled eggs with redeye gravy and smoked ramps; fried green tomatoes; and a tasting of country hams from acclaimed purveyors Burger's and Benton's. Among the entrées are chicken and waffles, sorghum-glazed quail and fried catfish. (View the entire menu on the Entre website.)
"We're also going heavy on cocktails this time around," Perkins says. "We're doing seven. In keeping with the Southern theme, they're either rum or bourbon and whiskey -- crazy takes on things to a straight-up mint julep."
A Good Man Is Hard to Find will also open earlier than Le Coq did, with the first seating at 5:30 p.m. As with the shift in menu formats, Perkins has a business reason for this, hoping to add an extra turn of the tables to his very small restaurant (30 seats, plus limited seating at the bar).
As for the name, readers will recognize it as a classic (and classically dark) Flannery O'Connor short story.
"I wanted to do something that wasn't just a one-word restaurant name," Perkins explains. "There was a place up in Seattle I visited a couple times called How to Cook a Wolf," after one of the great M.F.K. Fisher's collections of food writing.
"The length and strangeness of it really stuck in my mind."
Perkins, a Flannery O'Connor fan, adds, "It's an odd choice, and it's a little unsettling, but I don't reallly mind that juxtaposition necessarily. It kind of fits."
A Good Man Is Hard to Find will be open from 5:30-10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday throug the day of the Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 4.