Yikes! I was wrong that this weekend is fall’s last stand, because winter has taken over already. It’s cold and windy here in northwest Alabama and the perfect Sunday for staying inside, wondering why LSU had to stage a comeback to beat Troy (Troy!) and contemplating the news that our president-elect believes in college-football playoffs. Or, you could start stressing about the upcoming holidays and desperately try to remember the place where you put the Christmas CDs this past January so it’d be easy to find them this year. (The box of outdoor decorations? Wrapped up in the Christmas stockings? And speaking of the stockings, I wonder where…. ) Or, you could bundle up and go to the Scene Lounge at Monaco Pictures at Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville. This bar/restaurant adjacent to the movie theater is the spot to go if you believe that nothing new ever happens around here — the warm and sophisticated space is unlike anywhere else. With its plush banquette seating and sleek pedestal tables, Scene evokes the feeling of old-school glamour back when going to the movies was an event. This is where James Bond would stop in for a drink before saving the world. Conversely, it’s also where my daughter and I can take a baby and a stroller in and enjoy some of the best sushi this side of the Pacific. Go figure. The fun part is that you can order anything to go and then take into the theater. Or, claim a table on the patio where you’ve got a front-row view of Bridge Street shoppers. Everything I’ve had here is good, and I especially like the hummus, which comes with roasted vegetables and pita chips. The Scene rightfully has become a Huntsville gathering spot and offers wine tastings and theme parties coordinated with movie premieres along with other special events. Check out the Web site at http://www.sceneatmonaco.com/home.asp
One of my new favorite restaurants is Ketchup, in Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville, Alabama. Ketchup’s cheerful red-and-white decor is an updated take on the classic American diner, and so is the menu, which features a fun selection of casual starters and burgers. The star, of course, is the French fry appetizer: Three flavors of fries and five of catsup, with nice mixtures of sweet and savory. Genius! I’ll take two, please. Ketchup is part of the Dolce Group of restaurants based in Los Angeles that boasts celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher as investors. And it’s certainly different than any other north Alabama restaurant — in a good way. It’s chic and stylish enough for a date night or business lunch and casual and low key enough for family or friends to gather. Grandson Nolan Thomas Behel, 7 months old, loves it! Ketchup is a huge space, and while the staff does recommend making reservations, I’ve never seen the restaurant full. My daughter has taken a large group there and says service is just as attentive as when it’s just two or three at a table.