97 Chapel Ave.
How does an East Nashville Bistro qualify as a Hole in the Wall? I know the Eastland has had a number of rave reviews, but the café is a neighborhood spot in the best sense of the word. Parents are comfortable bringing kids; the kids enjoying running around. Some people are there for cocktails and appetizers; and others are having a multi-course dinner. There’s a personal, family vibe to the Eastland and that’s an important part of a Hole in the Wall restaurant. You see it in the faces of the wait staff as they explain the wine list, or in the actions of the chef, who can be spotted picking fresh lavender out of the herb garden out back.
We hit the bar first, and sampled from the rather eccentric beer selection, which includes Lion Stout from Sri Lanka and Bogieman beer from Lithuania. The owners obviously pick beer according to taste, not popularity. Everything we tried was surprising, and quite good.
Food choices this night included a brined pork porterhouse, which was a thick, juicy cut in a wine reduction with mashed sweet potatoes. We shared a side of cheddar grits. They featured a great stone ground texture and were done just a little al dente, which is perfect. The Veggie Eater can take it from here:
Veggie Eater: Long before the rave review came out in the paper, our best friends (East Nashvillians), were raving about the Eastland Café. As their love of food is equal to our own, I knew to take this recommendation seriously. True to form, I was not disappointed. We indulged in $3 micro-brews and $5 apps during happy hour. The pizza margherita did not have the true thin Italian crust, but oozed with cheese and fresh basil. The black bean pepper jack quesadilla had a wonderful roasted chili flavor. For dinner, I opted for lighter fare, since we had already splurged for happy hour. I had the mesculin green side salad with fried goat cheese balls, the cheddar grits, and the garlic broccoli. I helped myself to Eric’s mac and cheese as well. Upon tasting the various side items, I remarked to Eric that this is one of the few times where I felt like they were as good I make them myself. The only food related drawback was that the salad was a little underwhelming; the goat cheese balls were great, but had these not been added on, the salad would have been boring and underdressed. The waitresses and bartenders were a little tardy at times in tending to us; it appears boyfriend talk and sampling the evening’s featured wines was more important to them at times. However, once they did tend to us, they were helpful and appeared to really enjoy the food they were serving. The Eastland is absolutely a do over and has many things for the vegetarian to eat.
Meat Eater: Nashville needs a bunch of restaurants just like this: great food just around the corner for the entire family to enjoy.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007