Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Anatolia Turkish Restaurant
48 White Bridge Road

There are plenty of Mediterranean mash-up restaurants in Nashville. They combine Greek, Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish and even Italian. While it’s fun to be able to take in so many options in one menu, all those choices usually mean a lack of depth. Nashville could use more restaurants that specialize in those various cuisines. Luckily Anatolia has Turkish food well represented. They’ve been in operation for about five years now in the Lion’s Head Village strip mall on White Bridge Road. Inside you’ll find a homey, welcoming dining room and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Dinner starts with olive oil poured into a plate of spices: paprika, dried thyme, a little red pepper. It’s a zippy dip for the squishy, moist white bread. You can spot the quality at Anatolia in the sampler platter appetizer. The grape leaves are fresh and firm; filled with pine nuts, raisins and rice. So many places serve mushy stuffed grape leaves. It’s nice to see a crisp, clean version. The rose petal jam goes well with the fillo dough roll. The hummus is tangy and savory.
The entrees take you into Turkish specialties like Roasted Chicken, Turkish Stew, Roasted Lamb and eggplant stuffed with lamb. They have several vegetarian options including Guvec, a veggie stew, and stuffed eggplant and Artichokes. The grill brings a variety of kabobs and lamb chops. One item we’ll need to try later is called Manti, basically a Baked Turkish Ravioli of sorts filled with ground beef and in a garlic-yogurt sauce.

The Meat Eater went with the Chicken Stew which arrives covered in mozzarella cheese and a sauce. It looks a bit like a Turkish version of French onion soup. Inside you find sautéed chicken, onions, peppers, potatoes and carrots. The flavorful broth waits at the bottom of the crock making for real comfort food, perhaps best in colder weather, but still welcome even on this 90 degree day.

Veggie Eater: Anatolia does have a limited veggie entrée menu. None of those items really seemed to be what I was looking for on this night, so I opted for the salad and the sampler platter. The grape leaves were wonderful; the rice was moist without being gooey; anything with pine nuts is a winner to me. The fillo dough roll was unexpected; a different type of fillo than what you normally encounter with Greek dishes, such as spanokopita and baklava. The hummus was good, but not great. The Shepherd salad is loaded with cucumbers and sprinkled with feta; it was very fresh. My biggest gripe about the salad was that there was only 1 lone olive; seems like for $5.95 per salad, they could pop for a few more olives. What I really liked most is that my conception of Turkish food was that it was essentially akin to Middle Eastern or Greek food; although it certainly belongs to the same family of cuisine, it is really quite unique. I will happily return in an effort to expand my knowledge about another culture and its cuisine.

Meat Eater: We paid a total of $45 with tax and tip. We’ll be back again soon. We’d love to see more specialty places in Nashville. If we could order up by country: Lebanese and Syrian would be a good start. See our review of Genie’s Persian Palace under the Middle Eastern category.
Anatolia on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Night-Courtesy of the Nashville Farmers' Market

So, we hit the Nashville Farmers' Market on Saturday morning with the intention of buying stuff for a fun Saturday night at home. We needed a little help from Lazzaroli Pasta shop in Germantown along the way. Here is what ended up on the menu:

-Mini sandwiches
Sweet rolls from the Amish stand, Kentucky.
Sweetwater Valley Farm Italian Pesto cheese, Philadelphia, TN. (From Lazzaroli Pasta)
Little ugly tomatoes from Smiley Farm, Ridgetop, TN.

-Orzo with feta, tomatoes and dill
Actually used Pasta di Gragnano from Italy (Lazzaroli Pasta)
Cherry Tomatoes from Tammy's, Tennessee

-Italian sausage from Boone's Butcher Shop, Bardstown, KY (stand at Farmers' Market)

Damn, that's good eating. The Farmers' Market, Lazzaroli combo is a good one. The inside of the Nashville Farmers' Market restaurant area is still a shame. We'll have a review of Nooley's Cajun soon. Oh, by the way, all of this goes well with a DVD showing of Midnight Cowboy and a bottle of Gnarly Head 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
7215 Nolensville Road

A lot of folks think Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint is one of the best barbecue spots in the Nashville area. So, why did it take me so long to get there? It’s about a zillion miles from home. Nolensville is a pretty little town about 8 miles south of far south Nashville. It’s a nice drive and well worth a day trip. You know the word is out about a place when it’s in the middle of nowhere and yet the parking lot is jam packed full of contractor’s trucks. Inside it looks like a middle-aged guy convention, with a few barbecue connoisseurs mixed in with the working crowd. You wait in line to order and take in the road house atmosphere. Martin’s certainly looks and feels like a barbecue joint with license plates and rock and roll albums nailed to the rough cut wood plank walls. Once you order get ready to wait, this isn’t fast food. On this day I hit a massive lunch rush that had the entire staff apologizing for the wait. And I do mean apologizing. Just about everyone in the place came by to check on the food once it came out, and apologized yet again. It was only a 20 minute wait. You can tell these folks take their customers seriously.

Two of the favorites judging from this lunch crowd: the Redneck Tacos with pulled pork, slaw and sauce piled on top of a big cornbread pancake (hoecake), and Brisket Tacos, which are more like real tacos with brisket inside. I wanted to sample a bunch of the smoked meats, which you can do if you have a big enough group and $35 to plunk down. I went with the sparerib combo plate.

I ordered the ribs dry with sauce on the side. They arrived in a huge slab, nicely charred and with rub still sprinkled on top. The smoke is really delicate, slightly sweet and delightful. Meat this tender and succulent doesn’t need barbecue sauce, but a little dip here and there puts it over the top. That sauce is a sweet tomato base with just hint of vinegar for tang. There’s plenty of fat to these spare ribs, so get ready for some grease. It makes for one flavorful slab of pork and enough meat that I actually had to say ‘no mas’ and put the rest in a to-go container. It was, in short, a bit of rib heaven.

The hand cut French fries are a great side. They combine the bite of skin on flavor with a thick cut and nice fry. The slaw is fresh and light and while not a standout, still a good accompaniment to the meat. Many orders come with the slaw piled on top.

Just as I was finishing a guy in an apron, sweat covering the back of his shirt, came over to check on me one last time. “Sorry for the wait, we really got slammed.” I’ve never met Pat Martin, so I’m not sure if this was him or not. It was actually kind of funny at this point. I’ve eaten is so many crappy places and faced a longer wait. To have such amazing barbecue, in such a friendly and fun surrounding, would be worth a wait twice as long. I’ll be back as soon as I save up my gas money for the drive. Or Mr. Martin could consider a second location, perhaps in East Nashville? We can only dream.

I paid $13.50 with tax for ribs, two sides and a drink.
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Siam Cuisine

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Siam Cuisine
265 White Bridge Road

It seems that the best Thai food in Nashville is spread around the edges of the city. This may be due to cheaper rents and closer proximity to the neighborhoods around Nashville. White Bridge road has its own stretch of Thai. Siam Cuisine can be easy to miss. It’s located in a small strip mall and sports a small sign.

Inside you’ll find a very, very red interior that manages to be casual and reasonably inviting. Service was a little spotty throughout the dinner, although not so much as to cause distress.
Siam Cuisine has a clean, fresh take on Thai flavors that works on many levels and disappoints a bit on others. The vegetable Spring Rolls are a good example. They’re crisp, fresh and rather unassuming. We would have liked a little bite from garlic or more onion. Perhaps a better array of dipping sauce would have helped. The Tom Kha Gai soup was similar in its fresh, but laid back approach. It lacked zing and perhaps could have benefited from more lemon grass. The mushrooms were expertly cooked, not mushy and not too chewy.

We had better luck with the entrees. The Panang Curry has good flavor and a very mellow after burn for flavor. It isn’t a super-rich curry, but I think this also speaks to the Siam Cuisine style. There is a light touch to everything and when compared with the more bombastic places in town, this can be appreciated. The little touches do count. The carrots and lettuce snap from freshness. Cooked veggies are crisp and still well cooked.

Veggie Eater: There is a small veggie entrée section. I am a nut for bean thread noodles and was immediately drawn to the vegetables bean thread. After a somewhat lackluster spring roll, the bean thread dish was a nice surprise. They were garlicky and juicy. Veggies were generous and well cooked. Again, would have perhaps enjoyed sauces on the table (perhaps a little sriracha sauce to zip it up) to accessorize as desired. More than enough left over for lunch the next day and they were kind enough to pack my to go box with fresh jasmine rice without asking. It didn’t knock my socks off, but some of the better Thai I’ve had since moving to Nashville.

Meat Eater: Siam Cuisine is among the better Thai restaurants in town and a quite reasonable night out. We had dinner with two beers, tax and tip for $40.
Siam Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Nashville Restaurants and Food
Jamaicaway Restaurant
Nashville Farmers’ Market
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

Veggie Eater hit the Farmers’ Market solo as the Meat Eater was out sick. I am pleased to report that progress is being made at the Farmers’ Market. Although the restaurant shed still looks like Beirut, there is a tucked away jewel among the tarps. The new space for Jamaicaway is simply darling. Stevie Wonder hanging out with Bob Marley in a framed print sets the tone. They now have their own seating area and use ceramic plates and real silverware. Families with children, middle aged friends hanging out, and old hippies dot the various tables.
But enough about the ambience…what really rocks is the food. They have on any given day at least 4 veggie entrees, in addition to the meatified versions. All side dishes are vegetarian as well. For $7.70, you get your choice of veggie entrée, 2 sides, and Johnny cake or corn bread. Veggie entrees today were the jerk gluten, barbecue Portobello mushroom, fried chicken, and curry chicken. Some of the sides were yellow rice, fried plantains, callaloo, and beans and rice. I opted for the jerk, beans and rice, and callaloo. The jerk was a mild affair, juicy, and the gluten had a nice texture. The callaloo had a hint of spiciness to it and the rice and beans were fluffy. They take great pride in their food here and are eager to check in to make sure you like your food. There were a few folks suspiciously eying the various veggie entrees suspiciously (“What on earth is gluten? What is seitan?”) and the folks behind the counter encouraged them to give it a go, stating, “Even folks who eat meat really like the veggie entrees.” Alas, Carnivores, no need to fret; there are plenty of meaty things as well (chicken, goat, ox-tails, ackee and salt fish?).
Sadly, they are still not open on Saturdays during the day, but are adding dinner hours, including Saturday nights.
Jamaicaway Catering on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Brewhouse West

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Brewhouse West
7108 Charlotte Pike

Some people seem to have an intuitive sense of cool. They know how to bring together the right elements in just the right way to make something special. Kelly Jones and various partners have put together plenty of local cool over the years, with the Red Door Saloons, 3 Crow Bar, and various Brewhouse locations. Each place feels original and the staff seems to take pride in what they do. That given, the Brewhouse concept has been a bit hit and miss for us lately in the food department. We really like the original Broadway Brewhouse near Division. The southwestern flavors and burgers always hit the spot. Just recently though we went back and found the queso pretty lame and everything just okay in the flavor department. Sure, it might have just been us, but we’ve noticed weakness in the downtown Broadway Brewhouse as well. The last time out the pizza was doughy and uninspired, sandwiches pedestrian at best. We had heard that Brewhouse West has some of the best food in the bunch, but it’s a long way out there, so we just finally made it last week. We’re happy to report the food is quite good.

The Brewhouse West sits just at the end of a commercial desert of burger chains and big box stores. It’s a welcome oasis. The windows slide all the way up, giving the place an open air feel like the west side location. Even on a sultry summer morning it was still cool inside with the fans whirling overhead. It feels like a beach bar in Florida, albeit without the water.
The menu is similar to the other locations. It goes heavy on the southwestern and Mexican with fish tacos, quesadillas and burritos. Chicken queso and catfish tacos are two of the more unique items. Vegetarians will find veggie beans and rice, a veggie burrito, black bean quesadillas and several salads, which with a special request can be turned all veggie. Burgers, po-boys and other sandwiches round out the offerings.

The chicken wings are roasted, not fried, which means they keep the chicken flavor and stay ultra-moist. The chipotle b-b-q sauce was tasty but quite tame. It might be worth going for the Mojo hot wings next time. They come with a southwestern ranch dressing that is a nice change from the usual blue cheese. Unfortunately the house salad comes with the same dressing so we began to get a little tired of it. The salad itself is a big pile of shredded greens with cucumber salsa for a sweet twist. It’s all smothered in shredded jack cheese. We moved the jalapeno bacon aside so the Veggie Eater could sample. It’s certainly a good fresh salad.

Veggie Eater: Let me just say that this was a delightful spot on a hot Sunday afternoon. Reminded me of sitting in a bar in Florida or New Orleans. Black bean quesadillas rocked. Far more substance than the cheese only cousin. The Diablo salsa was fresh, not terribly hot. There were quite a few veggie friendly menu items. All washed down with 2 for 1 pint beer; your choice of any beer on tap.

Meat Eater: We love the vibe at all of the Brewhouse locations. Charlotte has the food down and makes a nice option for folks in the West Meade area. We paid $42 with tax, tip and 2 beers each.