Crown and Goose
I had been by The Crown and Goose and its new raw bar addition The Underground on several occasions, most recently doing comedy in the Old City.
When I come to the Old City, I typically park under the highway on Willow Street. As you come up the street you can see the sign for The Underground as it stands out centered with the street. The sign mimics a subway street sign in the UK with its round shape and duplicate color scheme.
I arrived unfashionably early as a group of musicians were lugging gear down the sidewalk. In through the front spoke of the Goose I went, camera bag hanging near my belt like a techie fanny pack. I spoke briefly to a lady, named Kara, leading seating sections. She gave my appropriate guidance and I found the entrance to The Underground, which was very much above ground. Now, make no mistake, that is a generic observation, not a criticism. I am not going to be displeased that a place calls itself "underground" when it clearly is not under the ground. My drinks and appetizers tend to taste the same one way or the other, I find.
I did my typical walk-through, including finding my way out to the securely fenced but charmingly decorated beer garden. The beer garden is an alley between Crown and Goose and Organized Play. The alley is blocked off with an iron gate, keeping it from becoming a urinal to the intoxicated pedestrians who remain in the Old City in the wee hours. Get it, wee hours?? Bam, I win at comedy.
I have to say, this patio/beer garden area is probably one of the nicest in downtown Knoxville. It is vast and simply decorated. It has tables with umbrellas to block rain or even the noonday sun.
Finally, I headed back inside and took a seat and in a few moments was greeted warmly by Kelly, one of the barkeeps on duty this brisk spring evening. I wasn't feeling the time had come to drink yet, so I ordered a coffee and walked up to meet the band members setting up near what appeared to be an entrance way. This was the same entrance way that I approached when I first arrived attempting to come in. The door held firm and the people on the other side of it just stared at me in a very unhelpful way, similar to the look I get when I go to Waffle House and order pancakes.
As I approached the musicians I made eye contact with one of them, a thin gentleman dressed in a classy sweater and tie circa 1950. "Eugene Johnson" he told me as we shook hands. The Johnson Swingtet, I quickly learned was the name of the group. He attempted to introduce me to other members of the band, but they were deeply engaged in conversations. I spoke with them briefly before returning to my coffee at my seat.
As I checked out the menu the music began. The raw part was oysters of course, mostly from the Northeast but some from the Pacific Northwest. None from the Carolinas, which to this day have the best tasting oysters I have had in my life. Johnson's outfit matched the era of music his Swingtet was playing. My brain took me back to a time where Dapper Dan would likely have been worn by most of the gents in attendance to let the ladies know their intentions on the dance floor.
Conversation bubbled about and I saw a few familiar faces including Brent Thompson from "11 O'Clock Rock." The Underground is a great addition to the already loyally attended Crown and Goose establishment. If you happen to be in the Old City and you crave a little jazzy music and raw oysters, hit up The Underground.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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