Okay, this is a couple of days late. I was riddled with guilt on Saturday and Sunday as I neglected blogging….but I’m in the throes of car shopping right now, you guys. When your mechanic essentially says, “Don’t pay me to repair this car…cut your losses and get a new one,” you pay attention. I’ve been absorbed in Consumer Reports. It’s addictive. I may keep my subscription (originally just one month) forever.
An unplanned car purchase might be enough to make many people need a drink, but since I don’t drink beer (or much of anything….it’s a taste issue) I stuck to water when we visited The Bitter Alibi on Friday evening. We don’t normally go out on Fridays (or at night, for that matter) but Philip had been itching to check out his acquaintance Matt Skudlarek’s new basement bar on Houston Street (near UTC’s campus, in the former location of O’Heiney’s Pub). Matt (owner of Pasha Coffee & Tea) and his friend Jason Bowers opened The Bitter Alibi on July 3rd to a packed opening weekend. When we got there at about 6:15 Friday evening, the tiny space was not packed out but not empty…lots of people came and left while we were there and they were definitely starting to fill up when we left around eight.
The Bitter Alibi has eight rotating draughts in addition to cans. They only serve beer, but the selection is good and if you are an IPA lover like Philip you’ll be happy. Matt told us that they plan to eventually have a website devoted solely to displaying their rotating selection. Craft brews are heavily on display here, but they do have domestics from some larger breweries for the non-beer snobs. They are an over-21 establishment but do not allow smoking.
As I mentioned before, beer is not my thing, so I was happy to get absorbed in the sandwich menu. The kitchen is small, just some counter space in the corner with no fryer. They have decided to focus on a tiny but high quality menu of fresh sandwiches with as many local ingredients as they can possibly include. The sandwiches are pressed on Bluff View foccacia and each sandwich is served with a side-kettle chips, chickpea salad, Asian slaw, or the local vegetable (from Signal Mountain Farm) of the day (sides other than chips are $1 extra). The vegetable on Friday was sautéed zucchini.
I decided on the Cheese x 3 with bacon added for $1. The Cheese x 3 included smoked provolone, feta, and pepperjack and the bacon was peppered bacon. It was warm, gooey, and spicy and the salty feta was a great foil to the peppery pepperjack. I decided on the chickpea salad as my side. It was delicious-very fresh tasting with cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions and very lightly dressed.
Philip’s eyes quickly gravitated toward the Miss Piggy-peppered bacon, pepperoni, caramelized onions, sundried tomato pesto, and basil. He described this sandwich as a “pizza in a sandwich” and when I tasted it I thought that was a pretty accurate description. A great pizza in a sandwich. He got the chickpea salad as well.
Brian decided on the El Hambre-salsa verde chicken, pepper jack cheese, spinach, and pico de gallo. I didn’t taste his sandwich but like mine and Philip’s it looked very fresh with a little cup of chunky pico de gallo and he loved that the sandwich was not just a big hunk of chicken breast like you often find, but rather shredded pieces of both white and dark meat chicken. As you can see, we did not diversify on our side dish choices at all….
We were really happy with our experience at The Bitter Alibi. I’m sure that we won’t be going there on any late evenings…we’ll leave that for the college crowd and young folk (you guys, I’m ancient….at least at heart). However, we loved the tiny space and how Jason and Matt have decided to make an effort to revive it. They want to focus on quality and I love that…I also love the fact that they are a couple of young local guys who are not afraid to play the restaurant and bar game. Everyone was extremely friendly and so far I have read nothing but good things from other patrons. I wish them a ton of luck and I’ll definitely be back. You should go too-support local!
The Bitter Alibi is located at 825 Houston Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403 (walk all the way back and down, following the slightly faded orange footprints to the basement entrance in the back of the building). They are open Sunday-Thursday, 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and Friday-Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. You can call them at (423) 523-9353. Check out their website, http://www.thebitteralibi.com. You can like The Bitter Alibi on Facebook and follow @thebitteralibi on Twitter.