Friday, December 31, 2010

Pied Piper for Lunch, Holland House for Dinner

We had a lovely time at the Pied Piper Eatery for lunch today. The veggie burger and Wisconsin burger were awesome as always. Those cheese fries are some of the best in town. We hadn't had the steakhouse mushrooms yet and they were a hearty side dish. The creamy/vinegary cole slaw was also excellent. The Pied Piper Eatery was doing brisk business for breakfast and lunch, which is heartening to see. They plan on closing at 6 p.m. tonight and then opening at 2 a.m. tomorrow morning for an after bar crowd breakfast. We hope to make it to the Holland House for dinner next week. We'll be visiting all of our favorite East Nashville joints, as usual, well into 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Munchy's and Corsair Triple Smoke

You can't beat a few days off. I've taken the opportunity to hit some places I have been meaning to try. It's been a good year for sandwiches in Nashville. From new grilled cheese joints to steak sandwich specialists there have been a number of bright spots on the scene.

Munchy's is a little take-out spot across the street from Fisk University. We watched with amusement as the sign went up (that has to be the perfect bad name for a place across the street from a college) and didn't think much more until we started to hear some rumblings about the prime rib sandwich. The rest of the menu is pretty typical take-out fare. It's the smoker that gets the attention. The prime rib sandwich is a simple affair: a buttered and grilled  white bun topped with a thin slice of prime rib. It's well done and yet still juicy and tender. There's just the right amount of seasoning and a little fat for more flavor. It's a damn good sandwich. The baked beans on the side were pretty average. I'd be interested to see what they do with ribs. The rest we'll probably leave for the college kids.

My lovely and thoughtful mother-in-law (with some directional help from the Veggie Eater) gave me a bottle of Corsair Triple Smoke Malt Whiskey for Christmas. I only have one word to describe it: exceptional. The whiskey boasts cherry, beechwood and peat smoked barley and those flavors come out in a remarkably distinct fashion. How the Corsair boys have managed to pack so many different tastes into one whiskey is beyond me. It has a thin start, complex middle and a thick finish. The smokiness is almost akin to a small batch scotch, although less overwhelming to my taste. So far, we've had absinthe, gin and the triple smoke from Corsair Artisan. I can't say how excited we are to have them distilling in Nashville now as well. The Triple Smoke is still produced in Bowling Green, but they've got other stuff cooking at the Nashville site. We'll have to get down to the tap room soon to see what they have going. A reminder you can get a decent selection of microbrew beers in the tap room. They don't have the ability to serve booze samples yet. They are still working on logistics for some sort of a liquor tasting room (most likely off-site from the distillery due to laws.)

1734 Jefferson Street

Corsair Artisan Nashville

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DJ’s Pub and Grub

Nashville Restaurants and Food
DJ’s Pub and Grub
3736 Annex Ave.

The West Charlotte Pike area is booming and for many of us it has become a new shopping destination thanks to Publix and Target. And nothing beats a Saturday afternoon post-shopping beer. With all the chain restaurants popping up, we’ve been hoping for some home grown bar variations. DJ’s Pub and Grub is well situated to fill that frothy need. It sits in the parking lot of the Big Lots store and just around the corner from Publix.

Inside you’ll find standard issue sports bar. It’s plenty comfortable to watch a game and the centerpiece is a long bar to rest your elbows, or even better pick up some bar food. Things start well on visit one with the grilled Juan’s Wings: sweet, spicy and a perfect partner for a beer. The roundsteak sandwich is just a fun name for grilled bologna. It’s served down home style on grilled white bread with cheese and mustard. Toss some kettle chips on the side and you have a good lunch.

The West Nashville Buffalo Sandwich is prepared in a hot chicken style, but the flavor is all hot buffalo sauce and it’s served as an open faced sandwich. For the buffalo chicken skewer version we found the meat to be a little chewy on one outing. Burgers are decent here- flattened and yet stocked high with reasonably fresh veggies. Crunch onion rings provide an adequate side. The chili proves to be also in the adequate range.

Veggie Eater: As with many sports bars, there are limited veggie friendly items here. On my first venture, I opted for the nachos with chili on the side for Meat Eater. Meat Eater stated the chili was ok. My nachos were also ok. The menu touts a famous cheese sauce and instead, it was stingily sprinkled with your generic Mexican melting cheese. The chips were not fresh fried. About the most interesting thing was the addition of diced green peppers. Bean cheese balls have some decent seasoning. On the second visit, I opted for the Reuben, hold the meat. This was at least a bit more satisfying, as the rye bread was well toasted and it was generously topped with kraut and cheese. The staff members were friendly and we watched the Wisconsin Badgers rout the opposing team.

Meat Eater: We paid $42 with tax and tip on one visit and $45 on another visit.
DJ's Pub & Grub on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peter Chinn's is moving again

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Peter Chinn's is moving again

It's becoming a bit of a soap opera in the world of Korean tacos, and a story first reported by Lannae on Lannae's Food and Travel blog yesterday. Peter Chinn's Korean Barbecue Tacos will be closing it's latest location near the Mellow Mushroom on 21st Avenue South and moving down the street closer to Sportsman's Grille and Hillsboro Village. They will shut the doors tomorrow. I talked to the owner today and he says they have a sublease for the current location and the primary lease holder had a squabble with the landlord. The result is that the lease is up and Peter Chinn's will have to move again. You may remember that this will be the second move in just the last few months for the fledgling business that just started up last summer. They hope to be back up and running in about a month. In the meantime, Lannae makes a good point. Please try to visit and tip the staff well, they will be without jobs soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peter Chinn’s Update

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Peter Chinn’s Korean Barbecue Taco Update

Yes, it’s taken us this long to get to the new Peter Chinn’s location near Vanderbilt on 21st Avenue South. I guess we have mixed feelings about the whole move. First off, the food continues to be quite good and that extends to the “new” burger shop menu items. The French fries appear to be hand cut and skins on. They’re thick and yet still have a crisp exterior. The onion rings also surprised us with an excellent batter and a super crisp fry. The kimchi and steak quesadilla was cheesy, laid back and with a pleasant tang from the kimchi. We keep hoping that they would offer kimchi with more of a Korean fermented bite- perhaps as a menu option? The kogi taco is still good- marinated beef with fresh cucumber and onion.

About the only downside here is atmosphere. The quick move necessitated keeping the burger joint d├ęcor. Now, they need to consider dressing the place up to fit the true style of the place. It’s a fun and eclectic pairing of food styles and hopefully one day the surroundings will match the cuisine. We also miss the daily specials and the family feel of the take out location. True, we were in on a Friday evening, but it would be great if they could find a way to bring back the warmth of the take out stand. I know that sounds odd, but we always got a good vibe at the stand. The restaurant seems a bit impersonal right now. Perhaps it was just the time of day we visited.

In addition to the Korean barbecue taco options from the old Clarksville Highway location, the new menu includes burgers, a veggie burger, a salmon burger, a beefalo burger and milkshakes.

Veggie Eater: They’ve added veggie options, which include a tofu taco and a veggie burger. Trying to break out of my rut, which involves the delightful kimchi quesadilla, I opted for the tofu taco. It had cubes of seasoned, fried tofu nestled atop shredded veggies. It is mildly spicy. I would have appreciated a better condiment selection, both for the tacos and the fries (how about some Asian condiments, like sweet chili sauce?). I’ll be back, perhaps next time to sample the burger bar…though it seems sad to opt for a generic veggie burger when there is some much more inventive food to sample.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Village Pub Update, Help for Jamaicaway, Pizza on Charlotte and Crabs on Fourth

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Village Pub Update, Help for Jamaicaway, Pizza on Charlotte and Crabs on Fourth

We had to get back to the Village Pub. The Riverside Village bar has been adding items to the simple menu and quite frankly we’ve always dined outdoors on the lively, wrap-around deck. On this chilly Saturday the dark and woody bar room was warm, cozy and the perfect spot for lunch. We came specifically for the pretzel sandwiches that everyone has been talking about. We were not disappointed. The Silke’s Bakery pretzel buns provide a salty, crisp shell and doughy interior for a different accompaniment to blackened chicken, bratwurst and even a veggie burger. This day the special was a gyro meat pretzel sandwich. The two paired well, aided by some fresh lettuce and tomato. The tzatziki yogurt sauce is a bit bland. Still, it’s a good sandwich and when washed down with a sweet and malty Yazoo Fall Fest Ale (this is probably our favorite Yazoo) an enjoyable lunch.

Veggie Eater: The only veggie friendly stuffed pretzel option is a veggie burger. It is made from a restaurant grade Morningstar Farms veggie burger. This tofu disk is elevated by the delightful Silke’s pretzel bun, lime mayo, and optional addition of caramelized onions and pepper jack cheese. Apparently the owner’s wife is a vegetarian as well. My only wish is that they offered a more inventive veggie friendly stuffed pretzel option and/or more veggie options in general, but I’ll happily return again.

Meat Eater: This visit convinces us that the Village Pub is a good place to hoist a couple of beers and have something to eat- summer or winter. We paid $37 with tax and tip for two, huge 24-ounce beers and the two sandwiches.

Friends of Jamaicaway restaurant in the Nashville Farmers Market are holding a benefit Saturday to help the struggling business.  Jamaicaway was closed for weeks after the flooding in May. The benefit will be held this Saturday, December 11 from 6pm-9pm. Admission will be $25 for a buffet dinner and live music. They are one of our favorite restaurants and we hope folks will get out there to give them a hand. If you can’t go Saturday try and get out there for lunch soon. This is a link to our review:
NY Pie is a new pizza place open in West Nashville at 6800 Charlotte Pike. The web site promises fresh dough and a brick oven. Barbecue chicken and Mexicano pizza has us wondering about authenticity claims, but hell if it tastes good, call it whatever you would like. The menu also pitches calzones, stromboli and subs. We’ll be by soon to check it out.

Meanwhile, downtown offers up a joint called the Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company at 160 Fourth Avenue. We can’t find a working phone number, so we haven’t been able to ask them if they are associated with the restaurant by the same name in Somers Point, N.J. If you have hit either of these two spots and have a scouting report, please check in.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Top 3 for Fall 2010

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Top 3 for Fall 2010

We love fall in the South and this one provided plenty of sunshine. That got us out in search of some new spots to eat. One of our Top 3 was an unexpected delight, another a long anticipated expansion and the third a further step in the right direction. Without any further ado we present our Top 3 picks for fall 2010.

1. Peter Chinn’s Korean Barbecue Taco
Normally, a restaurant moving within just a few months of opening would be a sign of trouble. In the case of Peter Chinn’s Korean Barbecue Taco it was a good thing. Nothing against Bordeaux- there’s plenty of great food to be had in the neighborhood. But it seems like most of the Peter Chinn’s regulars were driving pretty far afield to get their kimchi taco fix. The move to the Vanderbilt area was lightning fast and didn’t seem to hurt Peter Chinn’s one bit. The addition of dining room seating was a big factor in the move, according to the owners. The kimchi bulgogi taco is outstanding and the kogi beef short rib taco is tender, charred goodness . Not the most extensive vegetarian selection: kimchi or kimchi really. The addition of burgers and milkshakes may make good business sense given the location. What it means for the continued creativity of the menu will have to be seen.

2. Mas Tacos
Dedication to fresh, quality ingredients and a refusal to participate in mass production make Mas Tacos, the land location, just as good, if not better in the options, than the original taco truck (which still chugs around town on weekends.) The soups are simply spectacular and each taco is crafted to blend particular flavors and textures. No one taco has the exact same toppings and that’s a rarity in the taco biz. Things are a bit limited in Veggie Eater land. Those elotes (Mexican roasted corn) rock and there is always at least one veggie taco and an interesting special or two simmering in the back.

3. Ginger
This is not your average Thai food. Ginger kicks it up a notch with deep curries and distinct flavors. The house made udon noodles are a creamy treat and the green curry complex and fiery. They have plenty of options for the Veggie Eater and tofu is always a substitute on request if needed. Make sure you try the house specialty desserts.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Far East Nashville Veggie Update

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Far East Nashville Veggie Update

What better antidote for the post-Thanksgiving blahs than a warm bowl of pho. We landed at Far East Nashville for lunch on Friday. You may remember that the original review was a Meat Eater only excursion. Now, the Vietnamese restaurant has an entire vegetarian section on the growing menu (still rather modest next to the other Vietnamese joints in town.) Green vegetable stir fry; bamboo, mushroom and tofu; and fish sauce grilled eggplant grace the menu.

Veggie Eater: The veggie section of the menu is a welcome addition. My green vegetable stir fry warmed me up on this cold fall day. The greens were slightly bitter and in a mildly hot sauce. The tofu was a happy vehicle to absorb the sauce. Not sure if the fish sauce grilled egg plant (which is listed on the veggie section of the menu) uses a vegetarian fish sauce (there really is such a thing). We inquired about vegetarian pho and were sadly told that efforts to add this menu item have been scrapped in the current space, as the kitchen is simply too small to accommodate completely separate preparation of a veggie version. There is some discussion about perhaps another location being added in the Vandy area and if so, this space would be larger to allow them to add more veggie items, including veggie pho. There are not any veggie apps, but for the fish eaters of the world there is a shrimp fresh roll which is served with a delightfully thick, sweet, and savory peanut sauce. He promises they will be adding more items to the vegetarian menu soon.

Meat Eater: It was good to get back here again. The traditional meat pho broth is still delicate and onion-y and featured nicely seasoned beef balls. The thin noodles are served al dente and are quite good. We paid $30 with tax and tip on this visit.