Chef JJ's new downtown stage 

click to enlarge Rooftop view from Chef JJ's Downtown
  • Rooftop view from Chef JJ's Downtown

Confession time: I had never been to chef JJ Boston's famous dinners until he invited me out last Friday night to his new downtown location. Here's what I did know about him and his business model: His ticketed dinners almost always sold out, and his big green smoker/grills were on my eccentric billionaire bucket list.

click to enlarge Tulip Tree cheese course
  • Tulip Tree cheese course

What's amazing about his business model is he does nothing but private, ticketed events. You can't walk into either location for a drop-in dinner or lunch, and it's unlikely you'll be able to score a dinner ticket unless you're on the chef's email list. You can, however, learn to grill and smoke at either location's cooking and grilling classes. Between those two offerings Boston has built quite a local empire without ever opening for regular service.

click to enlarge Nashville Hot Chicken-style trout
  • Nashville Hot Chicken-style trout

Dinners are multi-course, and this one included a local beer pairing. Boston invited out all of the brewers to talk about their beer and how they came to put the flavor profile together. Meanwhile, the JJ's chefs came out and chatted about their dishes and the inspirations behind them. It's reminiscent of all the things I like about Chefs' Night Off dinners, but with the identity of a set group of chefs. Boston is proving that he continues to have his finger on the pulse of what diners want today: to be closer to their food and chefs than ever before.

click to enlarge Veggie tostada
  • Veggie tostada

And it was an outstanding set of dishes that came out of the kitchen, spanning a variety of ethnic influences. There were interesting nods to technique, like authentic lye-bathed pretzels, most of it served family style.

click to enlarge Gunthorp Farms belly
  • Gunthorp Farms belly

But the food itself is only one part of the draw of the restaurant. (Event space? Dining concept? We're not sure what to call it, really.) Up on the roof, Boston has a handful of the famous Green Eggs, a small garden, and what might be the best view of Lucas Oil Stadium anywhere in the city. Up there, you can enjoy a grilling demonstration or just take in the view.

click to enlarge Pastrami burnt ends and whipped turnips
  • Pastrami burnt ends and whipped turnips

But not for the rest of the month of July. And probably not during August, by the time this hits newsstands. Act fast, though, and you might be able to snag a seat for September. You didn't read this page to hear any more about the structure or the view, so we'll finish with a food show on the adjoining page.

Profile: Chef JJ's Downtown

Where: 42 W. South St.

Hours: Private events only

Info: chefjjs.com

Food: 4.5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Atmosphere: 5 stars


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Sarah Murrell

Sarah Murrell

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Sarah Murrell covers all things food, beverages and sometimes gives decent sex and relationship advice. You can stream her consciousness on Twitter, if that's where life has brought you.

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