Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Dutch Boy Going Back Up

The Damn Donut Debate appears to have ended today when lo and behold the owners of the Donut Den (3900 Hillsboro Pike in Green Hills) announced that the old sign is going back up. Here is what they have to say about it all:

"The vintage neon sign featuring a dutch boy and flying doughnuts has such a popular following that it even has its own Facebook page, is mentioned regularly on local blogs and Twitter posts and is considered a treasured work of art, listed on the 2009 “Nashville Nine” directory of endangered historic local landmarks."

So, why would you consider getting rid of it in the first place? Sounds like intelligent PR people got a hold of this one and milked it (sorry, couldn't resist) for everything they could. Now Nashvillians can buy donuts in peace once again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thai Switch and Donut Makeover

Nashville Restaurants and Food

Thai Switch and Donut Makeover
One Thai restaurant moves and another Thai restaurant takes it's place. Sound a little unusual? We thought so too. The restaurant in question is the Pad Thai Kitchen in East Nashville. Workers at the restaurant say they will be moving in about three weeks to a new location at 604 Gallatin Ave, near the new Aldi store. Meanwhile, a new Thai restaurant is scheduled to set up shop at the Pad Thai Kitchen location on Woodland Street soon after. I guess it means more Thai for East Nashville so who can argue. Update: We're now told this is the last day for the current location and they hope to reopen in the new location in mid-October.

The new Donut Den sign is due to be unveiled on Wednesday at 1pm. Fox's Donut Den has featured the old fashion dutch kid for years at the 3900 Hillsboro Pike location. A building renovation lead to the sign makeover, which isn't much of a question. They offered up two versions for the public to vote online. One is a lame miniature version and the other is...drum roll please: the old sign cleaned up a bit. Hmmmm, I wonder how this will go?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Garden Brunch Café

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Garden Brunch Café
924 Jefferson Street
Nashville
615-891-1217
http://gardenbrunchcafe.com/

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
Meat Eater: We expected the food to be light given many of the reviews. While there is a delicate touch in the kitchen, this is hearty, filling food. It’s nice to have another good breakfast option in Music City. We paid $77 with tax and tip for four people.
Garden Brunch Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Goat Cheese and Restaurant Kick backs

Nashville Restaurants and Food
More Goat Cheese and Restaurant Kick backs

A stroll through the park is never a bad thing and when you can chat with organic farmers it’s a pleasant way to spend an hour on a Saturday morning. The crowd at the West Nashville Farmers Market was apparently a little more laid back this weekend than the big crowds seen in opening weeks. The wet weather provided us with an opportunity to talk to the various vendors, under tents and dodging a few rain drops.
Noble Springs Dairy caught our eye. The Williamson County farm has become the third commercially licensed goat cheese manufacturer in Tennessee. Alex Noble says they’ve been selling cheese for about six weeks now. His son Dustin runs the venture. Dad just helps out with marketing and sales. We sampled several varieties of chevre including garlic and herb, and we took home a peppery Santa Fe blend. The feta proved mild and with a little brine. They also have a cherry and berry sweet cheese that sounds intriguing. The love of goats doesn’t just make cheese a possibility; apparently it makes love a possibility. Alex says Dustin met the girl of his dreams at a goat show. Justyne McCoy is now officially fiancé and part of the fledgling business. Noble Springs will be selling at the West Nashville Farmers Market for the next few weeks, as well as other area Farmers Markets. You can visit their website at: www.noble-springs.com but it doesn’t say anything about the cheese yet, it’s pretty much goat oriented right now.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the West Nashville Farmers Market organizers say they hope to keep up and running until the end of October. It happens Saturday mornings from 9am to Noon in Richland Park, at the corner of 46th Ave and Park Ave.
Restaurant Kick Backs
Eating out on a regular basis can really add up, especially if you’re dining at the high end of the scale. A new local venture is trying to give diners some cash back and provide new opportunities for area restaurants. We shy away from promoting particular business ventures. However, this one sounded interesting and after much checking it appears to be legitimate. It’s called Royal Oak Rewards. You sign up your credit cards with their system. When you use that card to eat out at a participating restaurant you get money credited back to you.

Here is how owner/CEO Jeff Gould described it:
· The rewards are 5% of the total amount of the check – food, drinks, tax and tip. That is consistent across all the restaurants.
· There are no extra cards or coupons that the diner needs to be able to receive their rewards – they simply register their credit/debit card(s) with us.
· You can redeem rewards after you accumulate $25 in rewards. You can receive your reward either as a credit to one of the cards you register with us or as a prepaid Amex gift card. We just deal in cash – no points or credits or anything else you need to interpret.
· The registered credit cards are all stored with our technology partner (Total Systems or “TSYS” a $2.5 billion NYSE company). Everything is encrypted and secured – it’s much more secure than handing your credit card to a server.
So, the first question to ask: how do they make their money? Apparently they ask participating restaurants to give them a discount on purchases through the system and they give part of that discount back to customers. The restaurants pay for the venture and I suppose the worth to them would be increased business. They currently list about 20 area restaurants on the website including: Yellow Porch, The Standard at Smith House, Midtown Café and the Mad Platter.
I guess if you drop $100 for dinner and save $5 that’s not such a bad thing. Perhaps best of all several non-profit groups have signed up, so you could get that money donated to a worthy cause. They also have a corporate version of the plan for businesses.
If you’re interested check out the web site at https://www.royaloakrewards.com/default.aspx

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Drifters

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Drifters
1008B Woodland St.
Nashville
615-262-2776
www.driftersnashville.com

4/11: We returned and found some positive changes. Please see the review below.

How many beers does it take for a vegetarian to accompany her husband to a barbecue joint for dinner? The answer is three, but only if the menu promises barbecue tofu. We know - this sort of thing never works out. However, the misadventure shouldn’t apply to the meaty offerings as well. Drifters is the latest creation of Matt Charette, whom we first met when he opened the bar Beyond the Edge about six years ago. The affable Massachusetts native has since expanded his Five Points operations with Battered and Fried and extended his reach to Inglewood with the sushi joint Watanabe. Drifters is in the perfect location: a back alley in center of Five Points in East Nashville. It’s the same spot as the former Alley Cat restaurant. There has been some nice updating. Charette moved the bar and created what seems like much more open space inside. Outside there are two options: the original front patio and a cozy beer garden in the back. It’s a great place to drink a Dos Peros and listen to rock and roll on a Friday night.

Barbecue is dangerous territory. It seems that no matter what you do people either love it or hate it. That’s particularly true with regional tastes. North Carolina, Memphis and Texas all have regular rumbles over who has the best ‘cue. Drifters appears to just be having fun, and that’s okay. They bridge a few styles that the house sauces try to reflect: Georgia hot mustard, New Mexico chipotle and jalapeno, Texas molasses based sauce and Tennessee vinegar based sauce. There can be plenty of arguments over whether those names fit the sauce. The real question is: do they taste good? We found the Georgia too much like Dijon, the New Mexico spicy but thin, the Tennessee nice with a bite and the Texas sauce suffering from a personality crisis.

Enough of the sauces. Barbecue is all about the meat .The pulled pork at Drifters is mild, moist and without any trace of smoke. It’s pretty tame stuff. The Danish baby back ribs looked good at the outset. The first bite revealed a crisp skin that raised a few questions. Are these ribs fried? They sure tasted that way. I kind of liked the effect, but I wondered why you would have to do that to ribs. Unfortunately the meat itself was completely without any smoke or real flavor. The rub was pretty tame and the ribs themselves juicy and a bit fatty. Overall so-so at best. The brisket was the true odd ball. It arrives pulled into long stringy pieces, kind of like pulled pork. It was lukewarm, bordering on chilly on the plate and suffered from a complete lack of flavor. I’m not a barbecue expert but it seems to me the key to good brisket is a tasty char on the outside and tender meat on the inside. Sliced properly you can get that char and juicy meat all in the same bite. I can’t figure out why they decided to serve their brisket this way. It’s an alternative take that just doesn’t work. I think this would qualify as a Texas travesty.

Okay, so all of this left me with an inquiring mind. I called up Mr. Charette to clarify things and we had a nice chat. He says the meat is slow roasted in a cook and hold oven made by a company called Alto-Shaam. The website says it’s designed to hold in the natural moisture of the meat. Charette says they cook meat anywhere from 12-16 hours. The ribs are in fact deep fried briefly before serving (vegetable oil he points out). This certainly explains the lack of smoke because there is no wood involved in the process at all. While I’ll admit everything was quite moist and tender, I really miss the smoke for flavor. I asked if he was considering a smoker in the future and he said perhaps for specials. Apparently the Alto-Shaam is an expensive piece of kitchenware so it seems the roasting method will prevail.

The meal did start well. The atmosphere in that beer garden is great. Families pulled up strollers and sipped brew under the beer light. The wait staff is alert and friendly. We started with the BBQ Nachos and they were excellent. You have a choice of meat to include and we opted for the pulled pork on the side. The sides are okay at best. Slaw was uninspired and baked beans had a decent little barbecue sauce zing to them. There are plenty of other non-barbecue items to choose from on the menu: corn dogs (they already have a bit of a following it seems), catfish, chicken tenders, hush puppies and even a veggie burger. And then of course there is that barbecue tofu.

Veggie Eater: I’m sure you’ve noticed than many of the barbecue reviews are solo Meat Eater adventures. Although I consider myself a very understanding veggie eater, I get tired of having my meal reduced to oftentimes mediocre side items. But Meat Eater pulled out the stops on this one; after beers at FooBar and promises of barbecue tofu, I relented. OK, OK…you deserve what you get when you order barbecue tofu. I understand that, but I really appreciate Charette’s nod to veggie eaters. The BBQ Tofu was not so wonderful. It was over fried to the point of toughness and although dusted with some sort of seasoning rub, lacked any flavor. The black beans did not have much flavor, either. However, the corn niblet served with it was quite good; very fresh and sweet. The BBQ Nachos were actually some of the best nachos I’ve had recently. The barbecue sauce lent a depth to nachos that can be hard to find. Fresh tortilla chips, loaded with pico de gallo, black beans, cheddar cheese and sour cream: I’m a sucker for good nachos and these plus a Yazoo beer in the beer garden will bring me back again

Meat Eater: They just started serving lunch and the kitchen remains open until late into the night. This place will probably do well amongst those less picky about barbecue. Certainly the atmosphere, location and expertly trained staff work in their favor. As the Veggie Eater pointed out, an East Nashville joint for beer, nachos and corn dogs is not such a bad thing. We paid $55 with tax and tip for two beers, nachos and two entrees.

Update 4/11:

The original incarnation of the menu featured barbecue staples: brisket, ribs, pulled pork and chicken. However, the cooking method was a bit unusual- a slow roasted method done in a cook and hold oven made by a company called Alto-Shaam. They may still use the oven, but they are quick to point out the smoked meats. The difference is appreciated. The juicy ribs have a solid flavor. The pulled pork is a noticeable improvement with taste accompanying the moist meat. The Johnny cakes served with the barbecue are very good and studded with corn kernels.


Matt Charette and crew have also expanded the commitment to vegetarians with a number of new offerings: a fried tofu sandwich, veggie burger, barbecue veggie burrito and even a vegan burrito. They have even kept the barbecue tofu entrée on the menu. With all these choices you would figure the Veggie Eater would branch out, but her heart was set on the barbecue nachos.

Veggie Eater: I promise that next time I’ll branch out to another item, but I remembered the barbeque nachos to be among the best bar food nachos in Nashville and I remembered correctly. The chips are fresh fried. There is now an option to select black beans as a protein and the chips are heaped generously with beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese, and the Texas barbeque sauce. I would come back for these alone, not to mention the additional veggie items on the menu. Of note, we are told the veggie burger is made on premise.

Meat Eater: The patio space has also greatly expanded, making this an excellent outdoor dining destination. We’ll add this update to the old review and remember if you think a restaurant deserves another look make sure to let us know.

Drifters on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zavos Closed for Repairs and Where’s the Beef?

Nashville Restaurants and Food

Zavos Closed for Repairs

Zavos fans are going to have to get their Greek food fix somewhere else for awhile. The East Nashville restaurant just announced that they are temporarily closing for repairs. Here is the note:

Zavo's will be closed for the near future, indefinitely, until repairs and maintenance can be completed. Sorry for the inconvenience. We'll keep you posted...
Thanks, MGMT


We talked with them last night and it seems the closure may just be for a few days or a week. We wish them the best with whatever needs to be done, and we’ll update you when they open up again.

Where’s the Beef?

We receive e-mails from various corporate restaurant chains from time to time. This one caused the Veggie Eater to collapse in fits of laughter. She explains:

So the following e-mail really was sent to us by a representative of Hardee’s:

“Just a quick note to let you know that what you see is not what you have to get. Hardee’s has a variety of vegetarian, low carb and gluten-free options that aren’t listed on the menu:

Frisco Breakfast Sandwich, no cheese and butter; Charbroiled Chicken Club packed in a fresh whole-leaf lettuce wrap; Thickburger, no meat, but premium produce and all the fixings… At Hardee’s you can order anything on the menu any way you like it. No gluten? No meat? No problem. Low carb? Consider it done.

Your readers can visit
www.hardees.com/menu/indulge for some ideas and to download a coupon to make their own flavor experiment. "

OK, so I appreciate the attempt to accommodate the veggie eaters of the world. I rarely eat fast food because 1)I much rather save my cash for a real meal, 2)most of it is really terrible for you, and 3)there are very slim pickings for a veggie eater on most fast few menus. So I find myself drawn to the website to see what the veggie offerings are. Were you aware the side salad has no meat on it and can be ordered as is? You can order a bacon cheese biscuit without the bacon. And the last one really had me on the floor; they’re serious…just order the thick burger, minus the thick burger. You too can have a bun with burger fixings only. I’m pretty sure that the veggie version is still full priced, despite the fact that it is comprised of 50 cents worth of ingredients.

I don’t know about the other veggie eaters of the world, but I was already fully cognizant that it was possible to order a side salad or a cheese and egg muffin/biscuit from virtually any fast food joint. How ‘bout subbing some grilled veggies for that thick burger? Or the easier cop out would simply be to offer a veggie burger as substitute for any of their sandwiches…I’ve been a veggie eater married to a meat eater for many years and have learned to be fairly adaptable and unflappable. What I find humorous and irksome is that they tout veggie friendliness, but really only are veggie accommodating.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Festival of Nations

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Midweek Odds and Ends

Festival of Nations

We hope you made it out to the Festival of Nations at the State Fair this weekend. The one day event brought music, dancing and fun. Best of all, ethnic food vendors stretched up and down the racetrack of the Speedway. We walked, chatted and sampled our way around the world. While some areas were better represented than others (Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean dominated) it was still a pleasant way to spend an hour or two, and the event provided the best Tennessee State Fair food we have ever had.
First stop is Korea for some bulgogee, basically thin cut marinated beef, and a super crispy egg roll. Many of the food booths were run by area church groups and it was basically moms and grandmas cooking up favorites. We could tell they tamed it down for the fair crowd. Still, the low prices (about $1 or $2 for sample items and $5-$7 for a lunch) made it possible to taste a bunch of different dishes.

Next stop was India where the folks at Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine were camped out and offering noodles, among other things.
The Laotians were really representing this day with several booths and a variety of foods. They offered samples of Lao beef jerky and we spied the ladies making spring rolls. While the menu version included chicken, they quickly rolled one up for the veggie eater with just veggies.

Veggie Eater: I love Woodlands, so I happily supported their booth by ordering veggie noodles. The thin egg noodles were served at room temp, had a mild spiciness to them and included carrots, scallions, cilantro, and peppers. I love fresh spring rolls and was not disappointed by the Laotian booth; julienned veggies and rice were enveloped by rice papers and served with a sweet chili pepper dipping sauce. And last, but not least, veggie empanadas. I rarely see a veggie version, so I had to avail myself. Boiled eggs and veggies fried in a masa pocket - comfort food at its best. This was a delightful, veggie friendly event.
Meat Eater: Paraguay also offered those light, pillowy empanadas with beef, carrot and egg. There were several Mexican vendors and we were drawn to one stand by the big bowls of handmade salsa out front. You can tell pretty quickly when someone puts some care into the food and a complex, peppery salsa made from scratch is a good sign. Now nachos certainly are not very Mexican, but if they’re really some fresh chips smothered in savory beef, potato and carrots, crema, and three of those lovely salsas (including glorious smoky chipotle oil based version) then you have the end to a great lunch.
The Festival of Nations is only a one day thing, so if you missed it this year you’ll have to hope they do it next year. Our only suggestions to the organizers: more trashcans near the vendors, more seating and table areas; more shade (perhaps a couple of tents) and continued expansion to better represent Europe, The Middle East and Africa. Kudos on the event, it made our State Fair visit so much better. We hope Festival of Nations returns next year bigger and even better.
In the meantime, don’t forget the Celebration of Cultures happening Saturday, October 3 from 10 am - 6 pm in Centennial Park. The admission is free and they too will have many ethnic food vendors on hand. http://www.celebrationofcultures.org/

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Noodle House Thai Restaurant

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Noodle House Thai Restaurant
5270 Murfreesboro Road
La Vergne
615-793-4848
http://noodlehousethairestaurant.com/

We’ll take a road trip for food, especially if it’s a nice day, and even more so if the restaurant in question has received good reviews. So, we set off for La Vergne with high hopes and hungry stomachs. We’ve been hearing from readers about the Noodle House Thai Restaurant for a while. Recently the folks at the Nashville Foodies blog had nice things to say about the joint. We figured the 45 minute trip would be worth it. Well, we arrived to find the Noodle House closed. A sign on the door explained they were closed for the whole weekend. Not bearing a grudge, because restaurant people have lives too, we returned the next weekend, and we’re certainly glad we did. Under new management and with a new menu Noodle House offers up really good Thai food.

We kick our visit off with appetizers. The curry puffs are fried to perfection. Inside the crisp egg roll shell curry, chicken and sweet potato combine for an almost Indian flavor. The fresh chopped veggies, with a sweet sauce on the side, make for a nice counterpoint. The apps are like much of the menu, in that while Thai dominates there are frequent side trips to China and other Asian countries.

Tom Kha Chicken soup has a great separation of flavors, one of the things that make Thai soup so enjoyable. The savory soup gets a bite from galangal, chunks of lemongrass and kaffir leaves. The mushrooms and onions still have their texture giving the soup a nice freshness.

The grilled duck curry is listed as a chef special, and judging from the exceptional flavor there will be further investigation of the 15 other items on that page of the menu. The duck really holds up well in the delicate, spicy curry. The crispy skin and strong flavor does the dish well. Pineapples add a pop of sweet and green peppers a nice snap. The pretty presentation in the bowl shows that the chef does indeed take care with the specials.

Another chef special, Lomo Saltado, shows the kitchen isn’t afraid to mix it up. The Peruvian specialty is surprising to see on a Thai menu. Pumpkin shows up in the curry recipe and on the desert menu as a custard. The menu does keep the usual format of noodle dishes, rice offerings and curries. You’ll find many of the favorites here, and a few twists to shake things up.

Veggie Eater: I hesitate to say that this is some of the best Asian food I’ve had in Nashville; my hesitation isn’t due to personal insecurity, but because the last time I pronounced a restaurant as a “favorite” or “best”, it went belly up in record time. I started with the Tofu Fresh Roll. The rice paper wrapper was much thicker than the standard wrappers I am used to, and it had a wonderful, glutinous texture. It enveloped julienned lettuce and carrots, small chunks of tofu, rice and cilantro. The rolls are served at room temp and are accompanied by a hoison-y peanut sauce. The rolls themselves were generous in portion and helped quell my growing hunger. I then went for the Pad Bean Thread Noodles, tofu option (you can also choose veggie as an option). I love cellophane noodles, but you can rarely find them at a restaurant for a main dish (they occasionally make a co-star appearance in spring rolls). I was not disappointed. The noodles appear to have been lightly pan fried with sliced peppers, the ubiquitous mini Asian corns, tofu, celery, onion, carrots, and egg. The noodles were lightly sauced to allow all of the ingredients to shine through. The tofu appeared to have been marinated and then either pan fried or broiled, to add additional flavor and texture. I am very much looking forward to my leftovers for lunch. I’ll have to start conjuring up reasons to get to La Vergne in the future. There are tons of veggie friendly options on the menu.

Meat Eater: It’s a comfortable, although schizophrenic, dining room. We counted three different floor coverings and two different table sets. It doesn’t matter: the staff is quick and friendly, and the atmosphere relaxed. To be fair though, we were about the only ones in the house on our Sunday lunch visit. The cheesy elevator music may be the only negative. The food rises above it all and makes the Noodle House Thai Restaurant definitely worth a return trip. We paid $48 with tax and tip for two appetizers, one soup and two entrees.
Noodle House Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Midweek Odds and Ends

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Midweek Odds and Ends

We had friends from Milwaukee in town for the Labor Day weekend. One of the best parts of having people visit is taking them to some of your favorite restaurants. We made our way down the hill into Whites Creek for dinner at Richard's. The white Christmas lights and singer songwriter performing in the warm little dining room made for a fun Friday night. We add our latest experience to the review: http://nashvillerestaurants.blogspot.com/2007/11/rchards-louisiana-caf.html

Next stop was Bolton’s, one of the few places in town where you can combine the Hot Chicken experience with ribs, shoulder and good sides. The cheeseheads loved the Hot Chicken and Mr. Matthews was a kind host as always.

The Pied Piper Eatery has become an East Nashville standard for us. We’ve been working our way through the menu. Jessie from Milwaukee is friends with Mandy and Dennis from East Nashville, who also happen to be readers of this blog. It was nice to meet readers in person. They too have been trying to break out of the favorite thing at Pied Piper and explore a little. We enjoyed the latest dinner, as did our visitors. We add our latest menu tasting to the review: http://nashvillerestaurants.blogspot.com/2009/03/pied-piper-eatery.html

Upcoming Food Events: (non-profit or fundraising food event listings that have been sent to us...this is by no means a complete list of events. These are news releases not written by us)

5th Annual Flavors of Nashville

Join Chef Carl Schultheis on Monday, September 17, 2009 to celebrate the 5th Annual Flavors of Nashville, “a fundraising event that brings approximately 15 of the area’s top chefs together for an evening of epicurean excellence to raise funds for liver disease awareness, education, and research.” Experience contemporary American cuisine with Chef Schultheis. Schultheis will prepare a special five-course dinner for a selected table of 10 guests. The reception and silent action begins at 6:00 p.m. with a 7:30 p.m. dinner seating. Tickets are $250.00 All proceeds benefit the American Liver Foundation, Mid South Division. Visit http://www.liverfoundation.org/chapters/midsouth/events/309/for tickets and more information. Red Pony is located at 408 Main Street, Franklin, Tennessee. For reservations and more information visit http://www.redponyrestaurant.com/ or call (615) 595-6070.

Wine Down Main Street

Taste the culinary delights of the chefs from SOL on Thursday, October 8, 2009 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Wine Down Main Street. “The event offers adults the opportunity to sample wines and cuisine from around the world and to see all the wonderful merchandise available in the shops along historic Main Street.” Tickets are $85.00 per person, and proceeds are donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin/Williamson County. For tickets and more information visit http://www.winedownmainstreet.com/get-tickets.html. SOL is located at 403 Main Street, Franklin, Tennessee. For reservations and more information visit http://www.solonmain.com/ or call (615) 538-6021.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seoul Garden

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Seoul Garden
4928 Edmondson Pike
Nashville
615-445-3613


Crisp, cool efficiency describes the interior design and the table service for a Saturday lunch at Seoul Garden. The Korean restaurant is located in a newer strip mall, just off Nolensville Road and Edmondson Pike. The English speaking server seems a little surprised when the wife asks for a vegetarian recommendation. Not that vegetarians don’t have much to choose from here: with 69 items on the wide-ranging menu there are plenty of veggie choices, it just seems like he is not often asked for a recommendation. He provides a couple of terse suggestions, takes our order and we move on to watching other people eat. And it does look good. Barbecue beef is a specialty in Korea and at the top of the entrée menu at Seoul Garden. Most folks are sampling one variety or another. The banchan arrive quickly enough to keep us from snooping, and soon the Veggie Eater is tossing a slice of boiled egg on the floor due to uncooperative chopsticks. Realizing the chopsticks can’t really be blamed we switch to forks. Those banchan are a treat. They’re served as part of the meal to accompany the entrée. Like most Americans we can’t help but snack on the strong kimchi cabbage, those delicious soy and tea soaked eggs, tender chili tofu, and tart vinegar seaweed. We save as much as we can for the meal, but the server will offer to replenish the dishes if you run out.

We don’t know much about Korean food. The menu offers short English descriptions and glancing at the other tables helps us make decisions. All of the entrees are artfully presented on the plate or in the case of my order the bowl. The Gal Bi Dolsot Bi Bim Bob comes in a sizzling hot stone pot. Rice is layered with chopped veggies: purple onion, and cabbage. An egg over easy tops it all. It looks pretty, but the beef is rather meager. It tastes good, but the quality doesn’t match the heavenly Korean beef I’ve had in the past. Suddenly a woman appears at the table with a heaping bowl of marinated beef rib. She apologizes profusely and says I received the wrong beef. The addition is certainly an improvement: tender, medium rare and packed with juicy flavor. The whole dish perks up considerably.

There is plenty of tofu on the menu, a variety of dumpling dishes, and buckwheat noodles. Barbecue includes beef ribs, short ribs, sirloin, as well as marinated beef, pork and chicken. Interesting seafood includes codfish milt soup, and stir-fried octopus. We’re already considering Soon Dae Guk (Korean sausage soup) and the Jap Chae (sweet potato noodles with veggies and beef) for a return visit.

Veggie Eater: This is some of the better Asian food I've had in Nashville. I opted for the Bi Bim Myun Special, as I am always a sucker for noodles. This is a room temperature dish with a hint of chili heat. The thin noodles are dressed up with Daikon radish, a variety of cabbages, carrots, and scallions. It is an enormous serving and I happily consumed it again for lunch. I loved both of the tofu banchan offerings; one was a fairly straightforward marinated variety, the other was some sort of tofu skin version; both were delicious. The eggs, other than being shot across the room in my attempt to use chopsticks, were also very tasty. I was surprised at how many of the dishes incorporated either boiled or fried eggs.

Meat Eater: Clean, cold rice tea accompanies the check. It’s a nice way to end a meal. Nashville Restaurants reader Starbucks girl has been trying to get us to try Seoul Garden for some time now. We thank her for the good suggestion. We paid $30 with tax and tip.
Seoul Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Vegetarian Restaurant

Nashville Restaurants and Food
The Wild Cow

Anne Gregory says she is opening a new vegetarian restaurant in East Nashville at 1896 Eastland Ave. The Wild Cow will be located in the new building across the street from Rosepepper Cantina. This is from their website www.thewildcow.com

Coming to Nashville in November 2009, The Wild Cow will be a vegetarian restaurant that offers both vegetarian and vegan fares and vibes. In addition, all of our cheeses and dairy products will come from humane and organic dairy farms. Our menu is still under construction but we plan to include:

-Ready to go items in our cold case-sandwiches, soups, vegan dips & hummus
-Handmade veggie burgers
-Vegan Mac n' Cheese
-Awesome salad combinations
-Toasted bagels and grilled sandwiches
-A delicious array of vegan baked goods
-And daily specials including soups, salads, casseroles, hot sandwiches & sides

The Wild Cow will hold regularly scheduled events and specials to benefit local and national organizations that promote animal welfare and humane farming. Stay tuned for details about our Grand Opening Bash!

The vegan options would be especially appreciated. East Nashville could use a good vegetarian place. We’ll certainly swing by to check it out when they open.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chickens and Rakka

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Odds and ends

The wonderful Café Rakka continues to impress. We went back for lunch this week and found Chef Rakka continuing to turn out some of the best Mediterranean cuisine in the Nashville area. It’s well worth the trip to Hendersonville. We’ve added our most recent experience to the review, just scroll down to the bottom to see the update: http://nashvillerestaurants.blogspot.com/2008/12/caf-rakka-mediterranean-grill.html

Our neighbor Sean Siple is calling out the troops to help support the backyard chicken proposal under consideration by Metro tonight. We have chickens, as do many folks up here in Joelton. The fresh eggs are a revelation. Hens are quiet and clean if you do a little work each week. There is no reason people should not be allowed to have hens on smaller properties. Visit the meeting tonight or e-mail your council member. Here is the note from Sean and Audrey Patrick of Good Food for Good People:

There will be a hearing on keeping a limited number of chickens in urban backyards this Tuesday, September 1st. This proposal, to be put in front of the City Council, would allow residents to keep a reasonable number of "city chickens" in urban backyards. It disallows roosters.

Councilman Jason Hollemann is a co-sponsor of the legislation and asks that if you have time, please come and speak at the Metro council public hearing tonight, Tuesday, September 1st, at 6 p.m. at the Metro Courthouse. If you cannot attend the meeting, we would strongly encourage you to let your opinions be known by e-mailing the Metro Council. To read the text of the bill, you can do so by following this link.