[B]abylon Revisited

Point B | Nathan Sparks

Point B is a little bit of Paris in Knoxville

Owner Daniel Goss likes to tell both the long and the short versions of the founding story of Point B. The condensed version starts in the dark days of the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, when Goss had to furlough the employees of the Downtown Grill & Brewery, including himself. Some employees asked, “What should we do?” Goss replied, “We’re all at Point A. We’re like ducks. We keep moving forward, and at the end of this, there’s going to be a Point B.”

Much as Charlie, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s protagonist in the novel Babylon Revisited, cannot escape his past, Goss uses his past to inform the present. “Our neighbors said, ‘You should start a restaurant and plan for all the ducks to go to work there.’ And that made perfect sense to me.”

Goss and his wife Cyndie, an interior designer, used Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age as inspiration for the restaurant’s interiors, a warm and inviting mix of muted gold, gray, and Mediterranean blue. Cyndie envisioned the Gatsby-like bar with soaring shelves, a brass bar rail, and lighting that could have come straight from French architects Perret and Sauvage.

Speaking of the bar, much of the allure for the after-work crowd is an extensive, 2022 Best of Knoxville wine list, a prodigious array of bourbons, ryes, and whiskeys, and an ever-evolving menu of craft cocktails. Some are signature concoctions, headlined by the Charleston Fizz (Tito’s vodka, raspberry and peach liqueur with muddled orange, local honey, topped with Prosecco). Others are seasonal offerings, and we could not resist the Genepy Suisse Miss of post-modern cacao, Genepy Alpine and coffee liqueurs, cream, and absinthe, garnished with fresh-grated nutmeg. 

Point B | Nathan Sparks

With an eye to families, Point B offers Mocktails for kids, who feel trés sophistiqué sipping a Kickstand (golden chai tea with fresh lemon juice and honey simple syrup) or a Rosemary Citrus Smash (house-made rosemary simple syrup, orange simple syrup, and lemon simple syrup with muddled orange and  soda water).

A low, deep-blue banquette separates the bar area from the dining room, allowing diners to enjoy the energy and activity at the bar while providing a quieter dining space. The banquette was clearly the place to be for the after-work crowd and was full of happily chatting patrons during the evening. 

Perfect as starters or to share with your group, Point B offers six sampling boards, served on surfaces crafted locally by the father-son woodworking team of Tom and Dustin Day. You’ll find the traditional charcuterie array of meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, and preserves here, but we went for the Tongan-influenced Uncle Koli’s Nacho board of wontons, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, mushrooms, mozzarella, cotija cheese, ham, avocado, cilantro, crema, and sweet Thai chili. It was amazing.

The menu—orchestrated by Chefs de Cuisine Chris Cummins and Noah Goodfriend, and Sous Chefs Brandon Ebeling and Spence Bender—features a remarkable and eclectic selection. Owner Goss is proud to source locally from Simpson’s Meat. Our winner was the Harissa steak, marinated in harissa sauce with street corn and crushed potatoes. Goss gets his wild-caught salmon from an eco-sensitive Norwegian team that makes the salmon dishes among Point B’s most popular, both the main dish and served atop a salad of organic greens, avocado, cucumber and cherry tomatoes, pistachios, pomegranate seeds, croutons, and caper dill vinaigrette. Ask him how the Norwegians use underwater laser-equipped drones to keep the salmon healthy.

In the winter months, heated clear-plastic bubbles in the patio area provide privacy and an outdoor experience. These bubbles are quite cozy, and if you ask, Goss will turn on the snow machine, surrounding your bubble with white flurries, like a movie set.

Point B evenings can end with a trip back to camp—a S’mores board with a tabletop mini-campfire (Sterno inside a tiny cast-iron fire pit) for roasting marshmallows to go with Graham crackers and chocolate. We couldn’t resist the bourbon banana pudding of house-made bourbon cream banana pudding topped with house-made whipped cream and wafers.

Whether you are looking for a cocktail and a nibble, or a nice meal with family and friends, you’ll feel right at home at Point B.   

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