For more than 70 years, jewels used to fill the African mahogany cases lining Sapphire's walls. The dark wooden cabinets remain, although they now brim with more than 40 kinds of vodka, Tennessee and Kentucky whiskeys, and rums from Central and South America. Sapphire may no longer drape its customers in precious gemstones, but it does aim to preserve the sense of elegant refinement that characterized the historic building for decades.
This commitment is readily apparent in the menu of upscale southern cuisine, which includes Tennessee cheeses from Sweetwater Farms, bacon and ham from nearby Benton's, and seasonal produce from local farms. These ingredients appear throughout the selection of regionally inspired dishes. Some dishes, such as the Louisiana-crawfish-stuffed hushpuppies with cajun remoulade, assertively announce their southern roots, whereas others show a bit more restraint, such as beef-tenderloin medallions, which arrive with a simple southern succotash.
On Thursday through Saturday evenings, the elegant environment in the long, narrow room becomes livelier as the night progresses and DJs begin their sets. Upbeat rhythms echo off the high ceilings and the vintage mahogany woodwork while patrons enjoy one of the martinis that earned Sapphire a spot on Metro Pulse's Best of Knoxville 2012 list.
Crave treats diners to the fine art of food shrinkage with their internationally influenced menu of tapas. Tapas are smaller plates intended for snacking, sharing, combining, and carting home in microscopic doggy bags to create unique full-course meals. Crab-cake sliders layered with roma tomato and remoulade ($4.15) slip past dental defenses to tickle exposed taste buds, and fried goat cheese ($3.95) fills tonsil caverns with the echoing flavors of its pecan crust and granny-smith apple garnish. Chefs reflect their global modus operandi with battered plates of vegetable tempura ($5.95), bowls of spicy tomato-tortilla soup ($3.95), and miniature cowboy hats filled with 4-ounce portions of filet mignon ($9.95). Those saddled with heftier hunger pangs can satiate themselves with a large plate, such as duck confit with mushroom risotto, french beans, and mushrooms ($16), before stifling cacophonous sweet chompers with a delectable dessert of poached anjou pear with Grand Marnier sauce ($4.55).
Escape Oxygen Bar breathes energy into Greenville with a bar that bestows all the luxuriant necessities of life: crisp air, mirthful meals, adult nectar, a dimly lit dance floor, and aromatic inhalables. An oxygen bar treatment ($5) enhances atmospheric ambience by blushing lungs with fragrant air, stimulating the mind until it can solve crossword puzzles written in Pig Latin. Tip back a top-shelf cocktail ($5) and dip low on the laser-lit dance floor, or win back your detachable third hand on one of two vast pool tables. The hookah bar ($5 per person) soothes smokers with an exotic inhalant that preps parched palates for socially agreeable dishes such as chicken wings ($5.50) or cheese fries ($4). The value of this Groupon cannot be used toward cover charges.
A visit to Habiba Mediterranean Restaurant begins with a puff of smoke. Seated on the patio, groups of friends share conversation and hookahs bubbling with a variety of flavors. Inside, these aromatic fumes give way to the appetizing aromas of traditional Moroccan, Lebanese, and Indian cuisine. Here, chefs slide ground lamb onto skewers and blend chickpeas into hummus using nothing but a stern gaze. Lamb shanks are slow roasted in a spice mix, and their refreshing tabouli salad combines bulghur wheat, parsley, tomato, mint, lemon, & olive oil. Bartenders pour wine and beer at a full bar paneled in glossy wood, which reflects walls awash with rich reds and greens.
Cracker brings their signature brand of irony and irreverence to a performance of their 1993 platinum album release, Kerosene Hat, which produced three radio hits including ‘90s alt-rock jam “Low.” The band’s power-pop-punk tunes have been bopping heads for more than 15 years and over the course of eight albums—making the musicians veterans of the rock scene. The indie-rock showcase includes a performance from Camper van Beethoven, a band that shares a lead singer and a backstage bathroom with Cracker.
One of the largest standup-comedy festivals in the Southeast, the fifth-annual Laugh Your Asheville Off tickles funny bones with a lineup of more than 60 up-and-coming comics and established legends. Joke receptors absorb five performances, running four nights, from Wednesday, July 13 to Saturday, July 16. A Wednesday launch party at Highland Brewing Company showcases Kyle Kinane, named one of the top comics to watch by Variety magazine. The remainder of the shows light up the Diana Wortham Theatre with jokesmiths such as Sam Morril, Rory Scovel and Carl LaBove, who will perform two unique sets. A founding member of the Outlaws of Comedy, LaBove has garnered guffaws for more than 30 years, making appearances on The Tonight Show, HBO, and Showtime.