First of all, let me state my agreement with others who protested the idea that In Fine Spirits hadn’t been a serious place for cocktails since Ben Schiller left. If it weren’t for that erroneous assessment, I probably wouldn’t be adding my $0.02 here at all. I think that Anne, Cody, and all of the other bartenders at IFS crafted great classic cocktails and created many wonderful new ones. Perhaps more importantly, they and the entire staff created a great atmosphere where you could hang out alone, with a friend, or in a group. It was like going to a good friend’s house. I resent how Mr. Sula refers to the “warm, cheery IFS” and evidently unpolished service like it was a bad thing and the new place that “makes you sit up straight and mind your manners” is an improvement.
It may be just that I liked IFS so much, but I just don’t have that “at home” feeling at Premise in any of their spaces. The cocktails both downstairs and upstairs at Premise are good, but the service is a bit stuffier. “Bitter” drinks are pretty trendy right now so I’m not sure how daring the cocktail menu in the Salon is as Mr. Sula claims. (BTW, the barrel-aged negroni served in the Salon was made by the IFS head bartender before he left. Since IFS hadn’t been remarkable since 2009, it must be only the other drinks that Mr. Sula is talking about when praising the fine cocktails served at Premise now. )
The food at the new Premise is good. While I enjoy quality food that is well prepared, I’m not really a foodie. I’m also not wealthy. For these reasons alone I can’t really be a regular there as far as the menu is concerned. While $100 or $130 for dinner for two is doable occasionally, I don’t want to have to order a pizza afterwards. I don’t care how good the falafel is.
Mr. Sula begins his review of Premise by saying that Andersonville has never been a fine dining destination and then goes on to mention three “small but important . . . culinary traditionalists” in the neighborhood that are pretty much destination restaurants. That’s not too bad for three or four blocks on Clark Street. They aren’t as fancy as Premise but each fits in perfectly with the neighborhood and we plebeians can also enjoy them as well.