Friday, June 29, 2007

International Market


Nashville Restaurants and Food
International Market
2010 Belmont Blvd.
Nashville
615-297-4453

The International Market is a Nashville institution that has experienced a curious reputation change, due to Nashville’s rapidly developing restaurant scene. When they opened in 1975, Southeast Asian cuisine was a new thing for Nashville. The International Market introduced people to Thai food and helped blaze trails for dozens of ethnic restaurants to follow. Times change and now there are a number of Thai restaurants, some quite good, in Nashville. This has increased expectations of customers and some folks are now turned off with the International Market food quality. They occupy a unique niche, though, and it’s unfair to judge a low cost buffet style meal with a sit-down, white linen place.

The International Market cafeteria style food line is legendary. There are a couple dozen choices available at all times. The food runs the gamut from classic Thai to Chinese and sometimes a few other Southeast Asian points in between. The chicken in green curry, chicken curry sticks, spring rolls, egg rolls and various fried rice options are staples. There’s plenty to choose from for vegetarians and meat eaters. You can also order off the menu. We ordered the pad Thai the other day and were quickly presented with a hot plate of the noodle dish. You could taste the fresh ingredients, like the crisp peanuts, but the pad Thai was lacking kick and flavor. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. This is not a good sign for a Thai joint. The pad Thai should be a signature dish, not an after thought.

Still, we’ve never spent more than $15 for two and always had a satisfying meal. There are not many places in Nashville you can say that about anymore. The International Market may not be blazing any new trails, but it certainly still has a place in Nashville’s restaurant scene.

Meat Eater: I can’t help it…I love this place. I know the food isn’t high brow, and there is certainly better Thai to be found; however it is perfect after bar food.

Veggie Eater: OK, so the food may not be spectacular, but it is good. There’s plenty of vegetarian options, and it’s dirt cheap. I almost always choose far too many things and end up taking my leftover’s home for a much anticipated lunch. They have many condiments available to spice up dishes as you like. The people are always friendly. I once left my purse under a booth, and did not realize it for a half hour. I panicked when I saw it was no longer where I had left it. The woman at the register noticed my look and pointed at the purse hanging behind her.
International Market on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Piranha’s


Nashville Restaurants
Piranha’s
113 2nd Ave. North
Nashville
248-4375

There’s something to be said for taking the versatile sandwich to new levels of perfection. Primanti Brothers restaurant in Pittsburgh figured it out years ago. They had more potatoes than they could handle one day, so they decided to put the fries on the sandwiches. The result, when combined with cole slaw, is one heck of a sandwich.

Piranha’s brought the idea to Nashville several years ago, and thanks to innovations from the Steel City we now have one of the best sandwich joints in town. Start with the Titan’s Cheese steak, the number one seller. It’s classic steak and cheese topped by hand cut fries with the skins on them, and then piled higher with tart vinegar slaw. You get oozy steak and cheese, full flavored potato and that slaw zing in every bite. It really does make the entire sandwich sing. They have a bunch of varieties, including a great veggie version with Swiss, American, provolone, grilled onions and tomatoes. The double egg is interesting, and the brat quite good, but we always end up ordering the same thing. I guess you can’t mess with success.

If you’re trying to eat a bit healthier they also have a “create your own salad” with 24 toppings to choose from. They also turn out good wings, burgers, hot dogs and if you are brave enough, a fried Twinkie. But what makes this a great spot isn’t just the food, it’s the people. They’re always friendly, hustling to get you a fresh beer or get that order going on the grill. It’s the type of place where you want to sit at the bar and chat with the bar tender and the other customers. It provides a rarity on 2nd Avenue: a true hangout for locals.

All of that said, we did have some concerns about the Elliston location, which just closed after only one year in operation. For whatever reason the food quality and the service was nowhere near the level of the downtown location. It’s too bad, it was nice to have a choice of locations, but if the superb sandwiches suffer, it really isn’t worth branching out. We hope Piranha’s has many more successful years downtown and if they do branch out again we hope they keep the same high standards for food and service that we’ve become used to.

Meat Eater:
A truly great sandwich.

Veggie Eater: Simply my favorite sandwich in Nashville. Eric knows that if I being a bit of a recluse, all he has to do is promise me Piranha’s and he’ll have me downtown in a flash. Add to this big beers, a relaxed crowd, and good service and you have a completely satisfying experience.
Piranha's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Center Point Bar-B-Que

Nashville Restaurants
Center Point Bar-B-Que
1212 West Main Street
Hendersonville
Open 7 days
615-824-9330


There’s lots of folks in Sumner County who have been raised on Center Point Bar-B-Que. The 41 year-old Hendersonville Landmark is best known for the signature “Three Little Pigs”. The Krystal (White Castle) style mini-sandwiches feature moist, minced pork, with pickle and a bit of sauce. The pork juice melts into the bread making gooey little masterpieces of barbecue.

People belly up to the counter, and during the lunch rush that can be a real squeeze. The tiny place fills up fast. The friendly wait staff makes the close quarters quite enjoyable, as they hoist baskets of barbecue over your head to get to that little table in the corner.

The ribs are another attraction at Center Point. They’re tender and full of smoke. The sides are pretty traditional. You can get tasty, yellow, minced, vinegar slaw on top of your sandwich, but quite frankly the pork is so good it should be tasted on its own terms. Garlic mashed potatoes and barbecue beans are also good, but it’s the pig that rules here. Some folks skip the sides altogether, to make room for more barbecue. Center Point is also known for barbecue by the pound, which seems to go out the door by the ton. They also sell smoked turkeys, and they’ll even put a whole hog on for you with enough notice.

Center Point Bar-B-Que is only 15 minutes from Nashville on Main Street at Center Point Road. It’s definitely worth a road trip. The Three Little Pigs are waiting for you.

Center Point Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon