Nashville Restaurants and Food
Garden Brunch Café
924 Jefferson Street
Nashville needs more good breakfast spots and it looks like the Garden Brunch Café is here to the rescue. The word is out though, so if you plan to brunch on a weekend make a reservation or leave some time to wait. It was a busy house when we visited on a Sunday. The promised 20 minute wait soon turned to 45 minutes. The incredibly nice owner and staff kept us well informed throughout and the food more than made up for it. That brunch crowd is a mixture of folks in Sunday church finery and others in shorts and t-shirts. Everyone is welcome and the atmosphere is convivial and relaxed.
The Garden Brunch Café is a labor of love for Karl and Jennifer Carpenter. We chat for a while during our wait and Karl tells us that the historic bungalow house on Jefferson Street was destined to be fixed up for resale when the whole restaurant venture developed. You can tell he knows his stuff. The interior is elegantly finished in a modern, yet warm, style. Original art adorns the walls, many of the paintings featuring a jazz theme that makes sense given the history of music clubs on Jefferson Street. The fresh flowers on the tables make for a nice touch.
The menu on a Sunday is short and to the point. Each dish has a church themed name. The Church Hat Special promises Banana Foster pancakes. Today’s Sermon is blackened catfish and grits. The Sing for Seared Salmon pairs the fish with a honey mustard glaze.
With our dining companions we manage to order half the menu. That blackened catfish is a moist, tender filet in a wonderful spicy rub. The execution is spot-on and each bite a treat. The grits are traditional in style, and while of high quality, a bit bland on their own. The shredded cheddar cheese on top is unmelted, requiring a bit of mixing and a little salt to bring it up. The scrambled eggs are fluffy. A poke at one dining companion’s plate finds flat marinated steak, a little chewy, but with nice flavor and perfect paired with those creamy scrambled eggs.
Everything we tasted was well seasoned with help from fresh herbs, perhaps out of the little garden in the side yard. Another fork, this time to that Banana Foster plate, finds the sinfully sweet banana in syrup over a thick, delicious pancake. The crunch of the walnut and the sweetened banana is an irresistible combo, sent over the top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Salmon cakes, a version of eggs Benedict and a traditional egg and sausage breakfast round out the items for Sunday brunch. The menu weekdays brings more options. Many of the people attending on this Sunday were already regulars, an impressive feat for a restaurant only open for a couple of short months.
Veggie Eater: I opted for the Germantown West Benny, with salmon on the side for the Meat Eater. It’s essentially updated Eggs Benedict. It was beautifully displayed; poached eggs adorned with caramelized red onions, grilled cherry tomatoes, spinach, and one of most favorite ingredients on earth, capers. It was lightly sauced with hollandaise, which allowed the various items to stand out. The home fried potatoes were also delightful; red potatoes, skins on, perfectly fried with fresh herbs. My two quibbles were, 1)my food did not arrive at the table piping hot; obviously my eggs were waiting for our companions’ food to finish up, 2) the wait almost caused me to turn to cannibalism. I would definitely enjoy going again, but will perhaps call ahead to make a reservation