Buffet out, themed plates in at Crown Uptown

The newly reopened Crown Uptown Dinner Theater now has a new way of serving dinner to its patrons. The buffet concept is kaput, and theater-goers are being served meals that correspond with the show’s theme at their tables.

So far, the change is working well, said Shannon Parsons, the theater’s bar manager. “People are getting their food a lot faster,” she said. “It seems to be much better.”

The buffet concept wasn’t working, she said, because the line to get through it was always so long. Often, lines would stretch all the way around the building, and by the time people made it through and back to their seats, their food was cold. The change was instituted along with the theater’s current production of “Steel Magnolias.”

New chef Brian Mangers, whose resume includes The Candle Club and Uptown Bistro, is serving a “Steel Magnolias”-esque meal that includes blackened catfish, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, red beans and rice, collard greens, gumbo and salad. Servers still plate the food at the buffet then deliver it hot to the tables.

The theater’s next show is “The Wizard of Oz,” and Mangers is busy dreaming up a No Place Like Home menu right now.

A chef’s secret, shared

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Crystal and Brian Mangers

I’ve never had a non-interesting experience at the Candle Club, and last night was no exception.

I was invited by my foodie friend Bill Pearce, who’s a member of the dimly-lit, throwback supper club at 6135 E 13th St N., to come try some of the  items new Chef Adam Courtney has added to the menu.

He’d also invited Uptown Bistro’s executive chef Brian Mangers, who brought his very fun wife Crystal. Crystal has an affinity for unusual foods, and at her request, our dinner included frog legs and a big, huge plate of chicken livers, which she enthusiastically drowned with Tabasco before gobbling down.

Then, Brian and Crystal shared an (I’m assuming) little-known food fact: The best chicken innards  in town, they say, are the fried chicken gizzards served at Jezebel’s, an “ahem” gentelman’s club at 4520 E. 47th St. south.

“I would shut my eyes and go to Jezebels just for the gizzards,” Brian said.

See? Never not interesting at the Candle Club.