Once a stalwart on the Delmar Loop, Riddle’s Penultimate Café & Wine Bar was locavore before “locavore” was even a word. The laid-back spot reflected the food philosophy of its proprietor and chef, Andy Ayers. With his beard and ever-present newsboy cap, Ayers sought out local purveyors who offered fresh items such as shiitake mushrooms. (In fact, the menu was the first to emphasize local farms.)
The restaurant may have been the first place in town where the phrase “local tomatoes” appeared on a menu. Some of the produce ended up in the capable hands of Paula Ayers, also known as the Pie Queen. She turned out pastries that would have made Grandma proud. One of Andy’s uncles held the ice-cream machine together with baling wire and Band-Aids—but it was worth it for choices like strawberry-chocolate chip.
The wine list was strong, too, with plenty of local choices. What Ayers saved on ice cream–machine repairs, he spent on a WineKeeper, one of the first in town. The machine allowed several bottles to be open for by-the-glass use while keeping their freshness. Before it closed in November 2010, the restaurant lured wine novices and aficionados alike.