Downtown Dirt by Manhole: Uncorking the Market Square Barhop

Uncorked

I Love the Nightlife… on Market Square

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Unless, of course, you are wasting it via the slow but inexorable ravages of strong drink. In which case you are killing it with kindness, really. And what’s a few dead brain cells between close friends?

What I’m getting at here is that most of you have chosen to forgo the cold and Spartan realms of abstinence and sobriety, in favor of a more… permissive credo. Moderation in everything, Jake, including moderation.

And thus it may be of some interest to the lot of you to know that the West family—that infamous clan behind Preservation Pub, Scruffy City Hall, Earth to Old City, and Oodles Uncorked—are rolling out a concept they like to call the Market Square Barhop. That’s right—just for your drinking-and-stumbling pleasure, seven diversely appointed bars (counting the multiple floors of the Pub and SCH) within a roughly half-block radius.

And don’t even ask how many bottled beers, draft selections, and wine choices that comprises in toto.  Most of you can’t count to 21 without pulling down your pants, and it’s a whole lot more than that.

The key to all of this is the fact that Oodles Uncorked is undergoing some serious revamping of late. Pretty soon, the bar and restaurant at 18 Market Square will be known simply as “Uncorked.” The name “Oodles” had a meaning, once, we think; but to be honest, none of us can rightly remember when, or what it was.

Uncorked, however, is a tasteful and appropriate appellation for the home of Knoxville’s most expansive vino selection.

In any case, the goal at Uncorked will be to stress the pairing of good wine with good food. And by “good food,” I’m talking about, for instance, the handmade pasta, bread, and salad dressing now available there, along with a larger selection of fine seafood and beef.

The Fisher-Price “My First Salad Bar” that a previous, now-departed managerial regime had installed has also been taken the #$% out. If any of you out there are missing it, please be advised there is a Shoney’s nearby, next to a used car lot on Chapman Highway.

And now to the “Market Square Barhop” part. Oodles has always had a fine, full-service bar, open to a reasonably late hour, most nights out of the week. But now Oodles will be open later on weekends, with a pared-down (i.e. mostly non-kitchen) menu and, sometimes, entertainment—DJs, singer-songwriters, etc. And if you’ve ever been to one of the occasional vinyl night record parties late-night in the Uncorked bar, you know that bodes Good Times.

Other changes are in the works at Uncorked, including new décor, and new menus that will suggest a suitable wine for each dish. What won’t change anytime soon is the more-or-less daily presence of sommelier (means: “Professional Wino”) Jim West, the beloved curmudgeon and West family patriarch who founded Oodles Uncorked more than a decade past; and the steady hand of General Manager Brandon Chancey.

Seven bars across seven floors and three buildings, plus a staggering diversity of beer, wine and music—that, my friends, is the Market Square Barhop. And if you can’t find something to do amongst all the options now in play, well, you just aren’t trying very hard.

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