Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mitchell Delicatessen

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Mitchell Delicatessen
1402 McGavock Pike

Top notch ingredients, carefully crafted by people who really seem to enjoy what they do, served up in a fun and inviting space. They seem like simple concepts, but so many restaurants fall flat. At Mitchell Delicatessen they clearly understand those basic building blocks and turn out truly great sandwiches to happy customers.

Mitchell Deli has been the talk of the Nashville Foodie scene for some months now. The location In Riverside Village is getting kinda crazy with traffic. Coffee shop Sip Café and Mike’s Ice Cream sit next door, the Veggie Café just down the street and Castrillo’s Pizza nearby. Add Bailey and Cato meat and three to the mix and you have a new restaurant destination for Nashville.

Inside Mitchell Deli you’ll find a small front dining area, the bustling deli counter and shelves

stocked with quality, hard to find, food items. This makes it easy to put in your order and browse while you wait. We picked up some Tennessee Smoked Cheddar, Drunken Goat Cheese, Blair’s hot chips and a loaf of bread from Silke’s Old World Bakery out of Clarksville. You’ll find some of these same ingredients in the sandwiches, most notably the Silke’s bread which is crusty, chewy and packed with flavor.

They keep long hours at the Deli, 7am to 8pm most days, catering to the early crowd with an imaginative breakfast bar where you pay by the pound. The bright, airy interior handles the crowd well and you can watch the sandwich production line at work.

The bow tie pasta salad has a nice tang and just the right amount of oil. The fresh feta and ripe, orange cherry tomatoes give a really bright pop to the salad. The Turkey, Avocado and Bacon sandwich features braised turkey piled high, flattened a bit and toasted with tomato, ripe avocado, mayo and cheddar. But oh, it’s the bacon that sends this sandwich over the top. They serve Benton’s bacon from Madisonville, Tennessee at Mitchell. The strong, smoky flavor is a great accompaniment to the turkey. Other sandwich choices include: Lamb with mint Raita, Roasted Veggie, Pastrami and Swiss, Caprese and Grilled Chicken with Portobello and Fresh Mozzarella.

Veggie Eater: Great vibe here. Looks like the whole neighborhood has discovered this gem. I was torn about what to have; there are quite a few veggie items to choose from. I ultimately opted for the Jalapeno Pimento cheese sandwich. It consists of just a hint of spiciness, sharp cheddar cheese, real mayo (no miracle whip here)mixed into a chunky paste. This is served on Silke’s great crusty bread and topped with lettuce and tomato. I remarked that the pimento cheese is as good as I make it, which is not something I say often about foods consumed elsewhere than home. Oh, and when the hot chips say hot, they’re not joking: habanero chips should be eaten with caution and only a few at a time. I had enough left over for lunch the next day.

Meat Eater: You can order the fantastic selection of meats and cheeses by the pound, get sandwich trays for parties and hit the salad bar for lunch. It’s a really good addition to the Nashville food scene. We paid $20 for two sandwiches, pasta salad, 2 bags of chips and drinks. And did we mention the gooey toffee Blondie for desert? Mmmm.
Mitchell Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nuttin’ But Wings

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Nuttin’ But Wings
2605 Jefferson St.

Sometimes in life focus is everything: Do one thing really well and forget the rest. Nuttin’ But Wings lives up to its promise and you should take their advice: stick to the great wings.
Nuttin’ But Wings first generated buzz with a location on West Hamilton, just off Clarksville Highway, in Bordeaux. The Nashville Scene first got hot about those wings several years ago and others joined suit. Oddly enough the Bordeaux location didn’t survive. The owners went looking for better wing territory and found it in the college land on Jefferson Street, smack dab in between Fisk and TSU. They have also set up shop near Austin Peay in Clarksville. The success they found in the fryer, and thanks to all those college kids, has propelled them to open joints in Murfreesboro and just recently Memphis. The Bites blog recently got excited about the soon to be opened location at 15th and Charlotte near downtown. They are a burgeoning chain, but with homegrown roots and with some of the better wings in town.

The Jefferson Street location doesn’t look like much on the outside. Inside you’ll find a busy counter area with a couple of tables. Rap and R and B boom out of the stereo, reflecting the college vibe. There’s a bigger room in back with a wide screen TV dialed up to ESPN.

The wings come in the following sauces: B-B-Q, Honey Hot, Honey Gold, Honey Spice, Cajun Seasoned, Nuttin’ But Hot, Country Fried, Lemon Pepper and Garlic Parmesan. While the names may sound like the flavors you have seen in a thousand different wing joints, the sauces are not the same at all. The Honey Hot came highly recommended, so I tried a half and half order with Honey Spice. The first bite told the tale: sweet, tangy, a bit of heat, building in intensity to a pleasant after-burn. Really good. The Honey Spice was also sweet and sassy, but with just a mild tingle and all of the flavor. Sauce can’t stand alone: these wings are average sized, but meaty, fried crispy and moist inside. You can see back into the kitchen and they fry each order as it comes. It may take a few minutes but it’s worth it. The downfall of many a wings restaurant is tough, chewy wings. From what I could tell you won’t have to worry about that at Nuttin’ But Wings. I ordered up blue cheese as part of my usual wing ritual and after one bite I set the blue cheese aside. You wouldn’t want anything to take away from the awesome flavor of the wings. They stand on their own.

I ordered up the combo to sample a couple of sides. I’m glad I did, because I can tell you to forget the sides and order more wings. The white roll was dry and near stale. The crinkle cut fries were limp and mushy. They do serve up a variety of pizzas, hot fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, burgers and salads. I’ll have to reserve judgment on the rest. The name seems to say it all though: Nuttin’ But Wings. I paid $10.50 for the 12 wing combo with tax tip and a drink.
Nuttin But Wings on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sitar Indian Cuisine

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Sitar Indian Cuisine
116 21st Ave North

Ready, set, go. We’re off to the races at Sitar Indian Cuisine, led to our table, seated and trying not to get in the way. A hot plate of sizzling chicken is carried by a waiter in a half run. He avoids a collision with another guy rushing to fill water. The take-out orders are stacking up on a table. Our waiter arrives, then the phone rings and he rushes off to answer. It’s a flurry of restaurant madness on a Friday night at Sitar and somehow they manage to turn out some pretty good food along the way.

Sitar is a mainstay of Indian food in the West End area. We’ve eaten there so many times we’ve lost count. They do have six locations across the mid south, so it borders on being a chain. The Nashville location is big, with several darkened dining rooms that could be romantic if not for all the bustle. Still, many diners manage to take it easy anyway and happily chat by the candlelight.
Papadum comes to the table nearly immediately. The crispy, wafer thin lentil bread has a nice crunch that can be topped with mint or onion chutney and tamarind sauce. Soon after our vegetable samosa arrive. They’re crispy and filled with a comforting mixture of potato and peas.
There’s a bit of a wait for the entrees which is appreciated. The one issue I have with Indian food is that sometimes you feel rushed through the dinner. I’ve had places where the entrees came out a couple of minutes after placing the order. You know that food has been sitting for a while. That may or may not be the case with Sitar Indian Cuisine. Either way they manage to maintain a good quality level and consistency.

The group next to us has entrees delivered in a great arm long load of food by a waiter. They make some small talk and he smiles and laughs in response. It’s not that you won’t get personalized service at Sitar you just have to work for it. When they slow down everyone is polite enough. Some of the staff though are afraid to linger for even a moment.

Our entrees arrive and we dig in. The Chicken Tikka Mughlai is a creamy tomato based sauce with some spice in the background. I order medium, but I could have easily gone with hot. Hot at Sitar is spicier than what many places serve, but not enough to cause any pain. The mushrooms make a nice accompaniment to the savory sauce and the chunks of chicken are reasonably flavorful. Tikka Mughlai is like much of the Sitar menu: dependable, tasty and satisfying. There are no real fireworks or original styles here, just the classic dishes the way American’s expect them.

Veggie Eater: I have a fondness for Sitar that extends beyond food. My mother stayed with us for about a year while undergoing chemo and radiation over at Baptist. For whatever reason, although she thought she wanted Mellow Mushroom, her body would only tolerate Indian. She spent a lot of time at the Sitar lunch buffet, because she could pick and choose on the spot what her body would allow. Although they don’t have a buffet at dinner, it is a wonderful option at lunch, especially when trying to find an option for veggie eaters.

In any case, I digress. It was bustling on this evening. I was almost exhausted watching the various service staff literally running from point A to point B. I asked for a spicy veggie recommendation and was brought the Panir Masala. The Panir has a slightly squeaky quality like farmers cheese. It offers a bit of saltiness and texture. The Masala was a silky, red sauce that did have a moderate amount of heat. The basmati rice was perfectly cooked. Food was very good, service is almost too good (it’s okay to walk, really…). Plenty left over for lunch the next day.

It’s a fun place to people watch, as folks from all different walks of life seem to congregate here. Doctors from Vandy and Baptist, students from Vandy, and first time Indian food eaters.

Meat Eater: We finish and a moment later a bus person is picking up the plates and offering us a to-go box. We pay $35 with tax and tip. 40 minutes after we came in we are back on the sidewalk and off of the express train. We’re full and happy enough, but a bit out of breath.
Sitar on Urbanspoon