Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lockeland Table

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Lockeland Table
1520 Woodland Street

A restaurant nestled in a residential neighborhood might seem like a conflict waiting to happen and yet at Lockeland Table it seems to work. While we can’t speak for the neighbors, the place does seem to fit the billing as a “community kitchen and bar”. Two young girls ride their bikes down the sidewalk as we dine al-fresco one night. The laid-back and warm feel of the place seems to fit the East Nashville neighborhood of Lockeland Springs in both style and spirit.

Inside, you’ll find an upscale dining room enhanced by the ever-popular natural wood interior. The glowing wood oven and open kitchen share close quarters with diners and the elegant, small bar. That makes for a festive scene on a Friday night when we luck into an open table without reservations. Our suggestion is that you don’t try your luck- make those reservations.

It’s a mix and match sharing of dishes by our party of three. The carrot and beet salad this night is deconstructed in presentation and while the individual taste of citrus vinaigrette on micro greens is welcome, it still comes across as a bit haphazard. They have a nice selection of regional cheeses, including the ubiquitous and yet always welcome Kenny’s and Noble Springs offerings. We choose the more unusual offerings including a Blackberry Farm sheep’s milk and Sequatchie Cove tomme.

An heirloom tomato, caramelized onion and spinach pizza is so ethereal in lightness that it almost passes beyond pizza to something else entirely. We had hoped for more substantial toppings. While we understand the move toward delicate Italian-style pizzas, there is a still a balance that must be achieved. The Mac and cheese is a knockout- smoky, mellow and with exceptional flavor. French fries also hit the spot: rough cut, salty and served with a nice aioli.

You can achieve a small plate effect by sticking with starters, which is what the Meat Eater chose to do on the second visit. Korean beef tacos were authentically simple- house made corn tortillas (double-stacked, of course) with just cilantro and radish. The wonderful marinated beef takes center stage. General Hal’s chicken is Chef and Owner Hal Holden-Bache’s playful take on Chinese takeout. The chicken pieces are small and crispy. The sweet, sticky sauce is certainly reminiscent of higher quality take-out. The pomegranate sweet spots and marmalade glaze is tasty.

Veggie Eater: I was hankering for comfort food during one of our visits, so starting with queso and chips fit the bill. The queso was mild and mellow (southwesterny-Ed.), but the chips were the star of this dish. They were freshly fried and lightly dusted with a chili/lime powder with just a subtle hint of salt. Next up, was the Bibb salad with bacon on the side for Meat Eater. Meat Eater kept stating he wished I could taste the salad with the Benton’s bacon, but I was happy without it. The greens were topped with a light and tangy buttermilk bleu cheese dressing, thanks to Kenny’s blue. There were dabs of red pepper jam and fried green tomatoes to mix it up. The tomatoes were perfectly cooked; juicy and crispy; summer at its best . Last, but not least, I opted for the rigatoni with seasonal veggies. Roasted veggies (eggplant, squash, corn, spinach, cherry tomatoes) and pasta were bathed in an herby cream sauce and topped with uber crunchy garlic bread crumbs. Given my excess earlier in the meal, there was more than enough for lunch the next day. Minor quibbles included the flies on one visit (no outdoor fans to keep them at bay) and the unwillingness of staff to seat out outside on our first visit due to the possibility of rain (despite radar confirmation that this was no longer an issue). We had almost given up on finding it on our first visit and I’m glad we didn’t.

Meat Eater: It’s really not that tough to find, but well outside of any commercial zone on Woodland. I kept picking at her excellent rigatoni during dinner. The inventive cocktails are well-balanced and they have a good wine and beer selection. This is a nice addition to East Nashville and one more reason that East Nashville has become our home away from home.

We paid $75 with tax, tip and drinks for three people on one visit and $63 for two people on another visit.


Anonymous said...

I am somewhat disappointed with this place. My partner and I began our meals with two dull cocktails, and followed them with some pretty lousy appetizers. She had crab corncakes, salty and tasteless, and even worse, deep fried. I had some farmed shrimp that were "blackened" and placed on a schmear of some rather insipid horseradish cream sauce. Followed by steak frites that were, well, steak frites. All of this accompanied by some fairly neurotic service. We won't be going back too soon...