When I left out of Pearlz Oyster Bar, I was thinking of how nice it would be if Columbia had a dessert cafe that was open late at night. Looking across Gervais Street, I saw a small cafe with an outdoor sign that was flashing pictures of different kinds of desserts. It proved to be a place called Nonnah’s, which is actually a full-service restaurant in its own right, but the desserts are made in-house and truly amazing. Although they had coffee, with it being so hot, I chose a cold drink instead, and tried the Key Lime Pie, which was very unusual, but very good. Rather than the yellow-green custard type of pie that one usually sees with key Lime, this one was a light, airy whipped pie made from cool whip, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice in a homemade graham cracker crust. A number of other tempting desserts were visible in the glass case. Nonnah’s is open until 11 PM on weeknights, and until 12:30 AM on weekends.
Ironically, when I made it back to the Vista district in Columbia, I found the live jazz I had been looking for in the upstairs of Pearlz Oyster Bar at a place called Pearlz Upstairs Lounge, where the Robert Gardiner Quartet was playing mainstream jazz standards. Although the extremely young crowd didn’t seem to be paying a whole lot of attention to the music, the place was still packed with people, and the music was great.
After dinner, I wanted to enjoy some live music, and set off in search of jazz. On my phone, I had seen a place called Le Cafe Jazz, and it didn’t seem to be too far away, so I decided to walk to it, which proved to be a mistake. For one thing, the neighborhood it was in is called Assembly Hill, and I soon learned that it really is a hill. The entire walk from Gervais Street was uphill all the way, and by the time I finally arrived at the cafe, which was in a city park called Finley Park, I was thoroughly hot and sweaty. And although the cafe appeared to be open, I was told at the door that it was closed for a private event, and that I wasn’t dressed appropriately in any case. I was quite disappointed, since there was a piano inside, and the place looked interesting and attractive. Still, I didn’t see any musicians there, and I probably didn’t miss much. At least the walk back to the Vista area was all downhill.
On Friday June 27, I flew into Columbia, South Carolina to be a panelist at the Vocalis Music Industry Conference which was being held over the weekend. With no conference activities scheduled for the the Friday night, I headed downtown to the city’s entertainment district called the Vista. Unlike Memphis’ Beale Street, the Vista District is a large neighborhood, about three blocks wide and perhaps six blocks long along the Broad River, and differs from other entertainment districts in that it has an equal number of restaurants, shops, bars and clubs. While there are certainly plenty of live music venues, and liquor is available, there are also plenty of ordinary, family-friendly restaurants, frozen yogurt and dessert shops and boutiques. The place is also extremely attractive, and has little of the rowdy, drunken behavior that other cities often have in their entertainment districts. I decided to eat dinner at the Liberty Tap House, as I remember enjoying it in Myrtle Beach some years ago, and I have to say that I was quite pleased.