IF YOU GO
• What: Washington Supper Club
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Mount Vernon Restaurant, 3535 Broad St.
• Tickets: $35 for five-course meal
• For tickets or information: washingtonsupperclub.squarespace.com
The fourth generation has joined the family business at Mount Vernon Restaurant, and Hannah Messinger is making her presence known with a new event that launches Saturday.
The 27-year-old is hosting the inaugural Washington Supper Club, a five-course dinner featuring meat and produce from regional suppliers. The daughter of Mount Vernon owners Jeff and Cindy Messinger, she plans to hold a supper club on the last Saturday of each month.
"Some of my favorite dishes from our first menu are steak and frites with sorghum aioli and buttermilk layer cake with whiskey frosting," she describes. "Saturday we'll be using (products from) Cruz Farm Dairy in Knoxville, Porter Road Butcher in Nashville and Niedlov's Breadworks in Chattanooga.
"The point of the dinners is to be a place for locals to come and meet one another, learn about and support Tennessee products."
With roots deep in the restaurant business, Messinger has combined her love for cooking and food trends with a photojournalism degree from Boston University to become a food photographer in Nashville. She writes a food blog for The Tennessean newspaper in addition to doing freelance work for such publications as Darling magazine, Foodie Crush, Home & Hill magazine and Chalkboard magazine.
Here in Chattanooga, she is playing off the Broad Street restaurant's name with the title of Washington Supper Club. To prepare for the inaugural event, she and mom Cindy did an eight-day redecorating blitz of the restaurant's largest dining room while the establishment was closed between Christmas and New Year's. The update combines the pair's desire for sustainability with a cool, trendy vibe, says Cindy Messinger.
They stripped all wallpaper down to the drywall, then painted the walls winter white. Carpets were removed to expose the concrete floor. A new pine tongue-and-groove ceiling was installed with track lighting. What appear to be linen panels at the windows are actually painters' drop clothes, which Cindy Messinger notes can be machine washed and dried for easy maintenance. The tables will be covered in white tablecloths with butcher-paper overlays.
Hannah Messinger says her idea for the club was loosely inspired by Wednesday night church gatherings she attended -- "casual and you get to taste a little bit of everything."
Although supper clubs are a growing trend in the food industry, Jeff Messinger finds it ironic that, in this case, it's a family idea that has come full circle.
"Hannah's grandparents, Helen and Worry Evans, had dinner clubs and supper clubs at friends' homes and that helped develop the restaurant's business," he explains. "It's interesting watching Hannah say 'This is pretty cool that people want to get together and eat dinner with their friends.'"
Hannah Messinger says her goal is to keep tickets under $45 to encourage a greater diversity of supper club guests. The 32 tickets available for Saturday's launch are $35 and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis at washingtonsupperclub.squarespace.com.
At the Washington Supper Club, this pimento cheese spread will be served with fresh bread from Niedlov's Breadworks as an appetizer.
1/3 pound mild cheddar cheese
1/3 pound sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 pound Colby-Jack cheese
1/4 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 roasted red peppers, drained and diced
Handful of baking walnuts
Tobasco, Worcestershire sauce or Dijon mustard to taste
Grate cheese by hand and mix in all other ingredients. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce or Dijon mustard a little bit at a time.
• Note: Hannah Messinger advises not to use a mayonnaise with sugar. "Duke's is the traditional choice, but homemade is best."
Buttermilk Layer Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter at room temp
1 3/4 cups raw cane sugar
4 large eggs at room temp
1 cup full fat buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted with 3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour three 8-inch cake pans.
With a whisk attachment, beat butter until fluffy. Add in sugar and beat until creamed. Add eggs one at a time. At this point, you really can't over mix; after the eggs have been added, give it at least an extra three minutes.
With a spatula, alternately fold in flour and buttermilk (and vanilla, if using), beginning and ending with flour. Evenly divide batter between pans and tap them on the counter to level. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Whiskey Buttercream Icing
2 sticks butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-4 tablespoons whiskey
With a paddle attachment, beat butter until fluffy, about two minutes. Add in salt and three cups powdered sugar and whip until combined. Pour in vanilla and 2 tablespoons whiskey. Add more to taste.
If frosting is too thin, add remaining powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time. If the whiskey flavor is strong enough, but frosting still needs to be thinned, use a couple tablespoons of whole milk.
— Hannah Messinger
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...