By Mike Viso

I like to consider myself a man of the world. I find art fascinating; just say the word “expressionism” and you sound smart. I do enjoy the travel and history shows, but music is one area that I don’t delve deeply into as often as I would like.

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I like a little bit of everything, except country. If there’s one thing about me you should know about me, it’s how much I truly loathe country. It makes my blood boil but I digress. I like to dance so hip-hop/dance is great to listen to. We all have our guilty pleasures; don’t act you weren’t singing a Katy Perry song at some point last year. Of course there’s nothing like listening to rock when you are angry or sad. I love 80’s music and on my bucket list is to meet Prince. However, I can’t tell you band names, song titles or anything besides their biggest hits for the most part.

Please don’t confuse my lack of pursuit of new or underground music as a disinterest. It’s just not in the forefront of my brain. As you may have guessed, I’m a huge entertainment/sports guy so I need to be presented music. I actually have started to do this more; a good friend of mine runs a really awesome local music site called Check it out because there are some really talented bands in the area and they do great podcasts (Mike, the check is in the mail for the plug, right?).
Jazz is one of these areas where I’m trying to expand my taste but I find it difficult to listen to if it isn’t live. I don’t have patience and I like lyrically driven music.

It’s funny the way you’re led to various interests accidently. This all started because I’ve been DYING to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After lots of coaxing, I finally was able to trick this gorgeous girl (girls like when you hit on them in print) “Kitty” to go see the movie with me. As part of the deal, she wanted to grab dinner first and suggested “Warmdaddy’s”. I walked into this blindly, not knowing what kind of restaurant it was or even the name initially, my focus was purely on the movie.

I got worried that the night was going to go awry when we walked up to the restaurant and it looked closed. Naturally, it was just me going to the wrong entrance but feeling the hunger pains, excitement of seeing the movie and being out with a sandy-haired enchantress, I was expecting some “Viso luck”. This is the mosquito bite of the bad luck world. It’s not enough to hurt you, just enough to be annoying and come back to itch/annoy you later on.

Either way, as I wobbled towards the door, I saw several beautiful vibrant paintings on the wall and I got excited. As I walked in, I saw a gorgeous, mocha-skinned woman with top five best smiles I’ve ever seen. It was nearly blinding but she was no match for illuminated marble bar. I nearly collapsed as I stared in awe. After being led to the front of the East-West built room, we were placed near the stage. This is really where the excitement kicked in. I had no inkling that they had live music! Much to my dismay, the stage was empty, but I immediately started to plot when I could return for drinks and live music. Now my focus was dinner.

I opened the menu still not fully knowing what to expect. My eyes glazed over as I perused the menu. It was soul-food. Not since venturing to North Carolina have I had seriously delicious barbeque. My expectations went from zero to 100 in one retinal scan. Until, like a terminator, I found my target, BBQ short ribs. I LOVE pulled pork! I get it every single time I go to a new place and since that wasn’t on the menu, I figured I’d go with its cousin.

One solo faux pas of the night came when I ordered; I completely forgot to ask for an appetizer. Going on a date, especially within the first three to five, is like an interview. You must keep the conversation good, keep pace eating/drinking-wise, look your best and ALWAYS order an appetizer. This shows you aren’t afraid to spend a little extra cash. It’s a subtle hint that will benefit you greatly, fellas. Not doing it is like leaving your phone on vibrate during the interview, you’re drawing attention to your lack of detail.

With the food portion decided, it’s time to turn to drinks. Again, remember to keep pace drinking-wise. If she gets a soda, you do too. If she gets a mixed drink, you’ll have one as well. If she gets a beer, you better love it and have a fact about the kind you like. Small nuggets about random topics show intelligence. I happened to be out with someone that works with medicine and studies. I talk to you about drinking and eating. You can see how being knowledgeable about random stuff can hide my idiocy.

Warmdaddy’s drink menu is solid. They have an array of beers in bottles, which I prefer for some odd reason, and a select few on tap. They also have an assortment of specialty drinks. Beer and BBQ just make sense and I have a formula. Start with a beer you know you will like. Normally you’ll drink that one until dinner time. Do your best and try to pair it with the food. Then you’ll finish it during your meal and you can be brazen because your palate can be cleansed by the food you’re eating should you not like the flavor.

I told you before, I’m not a huge dark beer guy, but I like the name of one beer “Turbodog”. Kitty, as you can deduce, is a big animal person so it would be a good conversation point to chat about it then move to animals (I’m smooth!). Let me tell you not only did that work, but that beer was a great surprise. I was intimidated by the color and the first couple sips are strong, especially after drinking a pale ale like I was. But, after a few sips I was in love.

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As I’m taking down a few drinks, our server swings by and places a dish on our table. Having family in Texas, I immediately am transfixed by the smell and a flood of memories of playing with goats comes back. It’s homemade cornbread! I nearly teared up. You’re not American if you don’t love cornbread, plain and simple. I could have hugged the server because that got me out of forgetting to order an appetizer. This cornbread was as delicious as it smelled, I can’t say enough. I like being surprised made it that much better.

As a few more Turbodogs went down the hatch, I noticed some fiddling around the stage area and a crowd of people shuffle in. A band was starting to set up! It was perfect time because our monstrous sandwiches were set down as the band was warming up. As we hear the guitar, bass, keyboard and drummer tune their instruments, I knew that it was going to be awhile before I moved from my seat. The Italian side of me knows the importance of roll on a sandwich. It’s a key ingredient that can make or break a meal. Warmdaddy’s doesn’t even mention the type of roll on their menu and maybe they should because it was a plump, evenly cut and incredibly soft Kaiser roll. The beef was soaked in a flavorful sauce that didn’t have the overbearing BBQ flavor. There was an abundance of meat packed onto the with two perfectly golden onion rings. The meat was deceptive because you can see how big the roll was but it was placed on the perfectly, until you took a bite. Then you realized how much product you were actually getting. This also came with a side of fries. The fries had old bay on them but not like another restaurant that is famous for the old bay fries. These weren’t overbearing; the only negative I would say is that I would have liked them a little crispier. Certainly, that’s nothing to complain about.

As I inhaled this delicious meal, Rick Tucker’s Universal Concept started grooving. I realize how corny I sound saying that but there’s not other word. Playful banter between a patron that was a Dallas Cowboys fan and Tucker happened. Then he asked for song suggestions. One guy, who looked like Malcolm Jamal-Warner in “Malcolm and Eddie”—loved that show—suggested a song. Tucker misheard him and thought he asked for Marvin Gaye, so the rest of the night “Marvin” was part of the show. I even got a shout out from a guest singer when Kitty went to the restroom. This full-figured woman with a blonde shaved head had a voice of angel. She sounded Aretha Franklin-esque so I was proud of this exchange as her song about “getting busy” ended:

Singer: Y’all gonna find that special someone tonight, hold tight, make love tonight. Tell’em young brotha what I’m talkin’ about.

Me: (turns red, nods, shouts) Oh yeah!

Singer: wooooo

Crowd: (applause)

Me: (turns to table) She likes me.

That’s the kind of night it was! Executive decisions needed to be made and me being the gentleman I am, I had to defer to the lady. Kitty won serious “bonus points” in my book when she said, “Why don’t we stay and drink more?”

At this point various singers are coming up and down the stage, music is blasting, football is on the bar TVs (I could catch the score from time-to-time) and drinks are flowing. Stuck with the Albita family, but this time went to the Jockama IPA. I love IPA’s and this did not disappoint. It sort of reminded me of Flying Fish Hopfish India Pale Ale, but with a bit more flavor. It has the dryness that I like and the bite, but added a sweet taste that allows it to crossover to those who don’t live IPAs.

The night started to wind down and the crowd started to shuffle out but not one person wasn’t there for an extended period of time. What I liked best was that they didn’t rush you out or to another drink. The server had excellent timing as far as checking on you but giving you your space. I’ve never seen a waiter wait for a break in the conversation to ask a question either. I was really impressed with that and the staff’s comradely. They seemed to be enjoying the music, each other and chatting with the customers in a comfortable way. Truly a fantastic night was ending and impressed doesn’t do justice to my opinion of Warmdaddy’s.

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I knew the night was going to end perfectly when I heard the smooth voice of Harvey Holiday introducing “The Temptations”. A kiss on the lips, a smile and text goodnight ended one of the most fantastic nights of my life.