Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PM Restaurant

Nashville Restaurants and Food
PM Restaurant
2017 Belmont Blvd.

A big menu is also a big responsibility for a restaurant. Can you turn out salads, sushi, Thai food, Asian fusion and even a great burger all on the same night? We can’t answer for everything on the menu, but PM restaurant in the Belmont area was right on target with our items on a recent Friday night. Best of all the food is quite affordable and there’s a funky, laid back atmosphere to the place.

We started with the Peanut Sauce Fondue, which comes with pieces of focaccia and crispy tofu for dipping. The peanut sauce was savory and worked well with the light, fluffy bread and the perfectly fried tofu.

For main dishes the Meat Eater succumbed to hype and ordered the popular Char-Grilled Burger with wasabi mayo. It lived up the reputation for being a truly great burger, but did make the Meat Eater feel guilty for not being more adventurous.

Veggie Eater: I was pleasantly surprised by PM. We had ventured here about a year ago for cocktails, and had not returned for dinner. Something about that visit made me think it was fussy, and so we never got around to going back until this weekend. I’m glad we finally did. I had the Moo Shu vegetables and it was phenomenal: little julienned fresh veggies, including fresh shitakes; a homemade soy ginger sauce instead of gloppy, syrupy hoison; and most amazing, home made Moo Shu pancakes/crepes that were fluffy with little scallions immersed inside the crepes. There were many other items for the vegetarian to try, and I promise I will return to sample some more.

Meat Eater: We had two beers, an appetizer and two entrees for a total of $36 including tax and tip. For food this good, that’s a steal.
PM on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 23, 2007

Real Deal Bar-B-Q

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Real Deal Bar-B-Q
Clarksville Hwy/West Hamilton
Update 5/10-Real Deal has recently moved across the parking lot and inside the strip mall. They have counter service and a couple of tables.

The big, red metal Real Deal Barbecue shack has been a fixture on Clarksville Highway in Bordeaux for years. They've moved inside recently and now the cooker and the old truck sits next to the building at their new location, and you can tell by the prodigious smoke that this pork is going to have flavor. The shoulder sandwich is made up of big chunks of pulled pork, covered in a rich, tomato based barbecue sauce. The pork is a smoky, moist delight. Normally I don’t like having sauce already on the meat, but here it works. The chicken has decent smoke and if you order the sandwich expect a big 1/4 chicken piece with a couple of pieces of bread thrown in.

Real Deal also serves up ribs (only a couple days a week), hot wings, fish, brisket, and polish sausage. It’s the usual assortment of sides and drinks. They deliver with a $20 minimum.
Real Deal Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ed's Fish House

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Ed’s Fish House
1801 Dr. D.B. Todd, Jr. Blvd.

Ed’s has been around since 1972, and is the original Hot Fish joint in Nashville. That’s good if you like Hot Fish, but if you don’t beware…there isn’t much on the menu except for Hot Fish and a few sides. The term Hot Fish is the subject of a bit of debate. Sure, who wants to eat a cold fish sandwich? Well, it probably has more to do with the hot sauce on top, although a number of places are now serving fish with the hot sauce on the side. Hot Fish is not like Hot Chicken, which has the heat built into the fried breading. The unique flavor of a good Hot Fish sandwich comes with the melding of savory fried whiting or catfish, hot sauce, mustard and pickles. If it’s done right it makes for great flavor. Ed does the sandwich justice. They feature two big whiting fish filets with a peppery crust, all the aforementioned toppings and a strange option…a slice of American cheese. I’ve never been able to turn down cheese, and I have to say it works. It’s a huge sandwich with big flavor…savory, tart and spicy all in one bite.

Ed’s has a friendly atmosphere. It’s a small place, but you feel at home immediately. There are just a couple of seats at the tiny front counter. On the day I arrived those few seats were full, so the proprietors were actually carting out a small table for a man with a big mouthful of fish. Talk about customer service!

Aside from fish, the only items on the menu are a chicken sandwich, spaghetti, slaw, fries and pies. And don’t believe the big “Pizza” sign attached to the name out front. There’s a picture of a smiling chef on the window who is spinning a pizza and informing you that they don’t serve pizza anymore. It’s part of the charm of the place and I encourage Ed’s to keep it that way forever.
Ed's Fish & Pizza House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

3 Crow Bar

Nashville Restaurants and Food
3 Crow Bar
1020 Woodland Street

Bar food can be more than fried sticks o’ fat. Bar food can actually be quite good, but you have to go looking for it. 3 Crow Bar opened a few years ago in the space formerly occupied by the legendary Slow Bar. The prime Five Points location in East Nashville makes it an important part of the neighborhood. They’ve taken that location seriously, and the open windows and mellow vibe make it one of our favorite places for a late afternoon beer.

Appetizers include Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Queso, and Vodka Shrimp Cocktail. There are only a couple of salads offered, but happily they have fresh, high-quality ingredients. The salads that prove that this bar aspires to have more than just the usual fare; it’s rare that you get this quality of greens in a bar setting.

Like many bars the food at 3 Crow Bar centers on the sandwich. Luckily, they’ve decided to take it up a notch or two. They offer cold sandwiches and steamed sandwiches. The East Side Muffaletta is a wedge of thick bread with Genoa salami, proscuitto, mortadella and mozzarella and provolone cheeses. The tapenade is good and doesn’t overwhelm the meat. It’s served toasted, which is a bit odd for a Muffaletta. The result is a good sandwich, though not a Muffaletta of New Orleans pedigree. The steamed sandwiches work better, especially the roast beef and cheddar, which is served on a dark hoagie roll. The ham and hot pepper jack is also a favorite.

One item we haven’t sampled yet are the pizzas, which include a Five Pepper Veggie, Garlic Cheese and a BBQ Chicken version.

Veggie Eater: The queso is good (not great) but makes for fine comfort bar food when the munchies strike. My main quibble with the queso is the tortilla chips seem a bit run of the mill. As I was fairly full from the queso, I opted for a garden salad. This is the best deal on a garden salad in town; for about 3.99, you get a giant platter full of mesculin greens. They are fresh, nary a slimy bit in the bunch. And it was heavy on the arugula, which is my most favorite green on earth. A sprinkling of grated cheddar and freshly toasted crouton rounds topped it off. Now, the only thing that could make it better would have been homemade blue cheese dressing. But since the focus at Three Crow is probably not scratch salad dressings, I give them credit for using a packet of Paul Newman's Blue. Again, not homemade, but a whole lot better than that oily, congealed shit that comes in a 5 gallon tub that a lot of restaurants serve. I left a fully contented person.

Meat Eater:
They also serve one of the best Bloody Marys in town.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Whites Creek Farmers Market

Nashville restaurants and food
Farmers Market
4409 Whites Creek Pike
Whites Creek at Old Hickory Blvd.
Whites Creek

Just a quick break from our usual restaurant reviews to talk about a happy development for people on the northside of Nashville. Folks in Whites Creek now have a pretty neat Farmers Market. It's located just south of the intersection of Whites Creek Pike and Old Hickorly Blvd, just down the street from Richards (a fun cajun restaurant). The nice thing about this Farmers Market is that all the growers come from a 15 mile radius, with most actually in the Joelton/Whites Creek area. The farms include Eatons Creek organics, Bramble Hill Farm, and the Hungry Gnome. Tomatos are just coming into season and they have a wide variety available, including heirlooms. You can also get fresh, baby potatoes, which makes for a great potato salad. One farm also sells Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese, which is made in southern Kentucky, but often hard to get here.

This Farmers Market is still growing so don't expect a ton of vendors, just a few really good ones. You can also find an assortment of people doing garage sales, and others selling organic t-shirts and collectibles.

One bit of advice for those going....get there early! It runs from 8am until Noon each Saturday, however when we showed up at 11:45am much of the best stuff was gone. We still managed to get some incredibly ripe and tasty tomatos and some other odds and ends.

While you are there pop inside the Earthman's General Store...they're the folks who helped to start all of this and they have some goods for sale, including breads and a tiny little restaurant. Kudos to everyone involved for a completely grass roots effort. If you want to get on the email list just give Nancy VanWinkle a holler

Friday, July 6, 2007

400 Degrees

Nashville Restaurants
400 Degrees
319 Peabody StreetNashville

Update 1/11: They have moved near downtown to 4th and Peabody street. We'll have an updated review soon.

400 Degrees jumped into the Hot Chicken fryer last year. They’ve got some serious competition in town, but it seems like they’re up to the challenge. It’s a small store front at the intersection of Clarksville Highway and D.B. Todd. The tiny interior holds two tables and a take out counter. They’re plenty busy behind that counter, and despite being told that I had a 20 minute wait during a lunch hour visit, my chicken came out in less than five.

The named is derived from the levels of heat available, with zero degrees being plain, 100 degrees mild, 200 medium and 400 hot. You should respect this system and order carefully, because just like Prince’s, these folks mean it when they say hot. I usually order the medium at Prince’s, although it seems like mild really has more flavor. I wimped out and went mild at 400 Degrees and I’m glad I did. It has plenty of heat at 100 degrees and it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor. For those not familiar with the Hot Chicken concept, it’s basically fried chicken with the spice built into the breading. 400 Degrees flavor and heat is a bit sharper than Prince’s. It’s akin to hot buffalo sauce, with the Tabasco taking center stage. It’s a nice change of pace and packs plenty of flavor covering the moist chicken breast.

They also serve up wings, pork chops and even burgers at 400 Degrees. The list of sides is quite small, with just the usual slaw, potato salad and beans.

The location and good food make 400 Degrees a real contender in the hot chicken arena and judging from the busy lunch business they’ve staked out their turf well. Prince’s and Bolton’s each have they’re own section of town, and there should be enough Hot Chicken customers out there for everyone.

The first, and hopefully annual, Hot Chicken Festival was held just this last July 4th and hundreds of people turned out to sample from the three aforementioned restaurants. 400 Degrees received quite a bit of praise from folks standing in line for free samples. I think the size of the crowd at the festival should also convince a few more cooks to jump into the Hot Chicken fryer. It truly is a Nashville original.
Four Hundred Degrees on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Eastland Cafe

Nashville Restaurants
Eastland Café
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.

Eastland Cafe on Urbanspoon