Sunday, March 18, 2012

Top 3 for Winter 2012

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Top 3 for Winter 2012

It’s actually been a pretty good season for new restaurants in Nashville. We had a number of good possibilities for the Top 3 Restaurants we reviewed this winter. Here are our choices:

1. Fleet Street

A festive St. Patty’s day lunch yesterday put this one over the top in our choice for number one. The Hatton Cross Hot Hen- Cornish game hen hot chicken is my new personal favorite in the city for hot chicken. It has a complex and addictive flavor with a hint of curry and herbs. The fish and chips are spot on: crispy, light and flavorful. We just kept ordering plates of bacon and cheese Blackfriars fries for our thirsty and hungry crowd. The staff is friendly and efficient and the vibe more local than touristy, although everyone is welcome. Fleet Street is quickly becoming our go-to bar and restaurant downtown.

2. The Pharmacy

Another terrific addition in the bar-restaurant scene, the Pharmacy delivers on several fronts. It’s a fine place for a cheery lunch and can turn to a hopping night spot with the lowering of the sun. That huge and inviting beer garden is starting to get a real work-out with the early advent of warm weather. The burgers are creative and excellent and now ordered to your specification in cooking. The beer selection is unique and well-chosen. The house-made sausages really surprised as a highlight of the menu on our visits. Make sure you don’t leave without trying a phosphate or malt from the counter. We were recommending a place for a couple with a small child and the Pharmacy instantly came to mind. Kids are fine there until 9 p.m.

3. Edley’s Bar-B-Que

There are several good barbecue joints in Nashville, but very, very few great barbecue places inside the city limits. We’ll add Edley’s Bar-B-Que on 12 South to the great column. The barbecue is well-executed: moist, smoky and delicious. The flavor and texture of the brisket is awesome and the sandwich heavenly. 12 South is continuing to grow into a diverse dining corridor for the city.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Downtown Nashville Dining

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Downtown Nashville Dining
We know there are folks visiting Nashville this weekend for the NCAA playoff games. Welcome and we hope you enjoy your stay. We hope you have an opportunity to visit a couple of the cool Nashville neighborhoods like Five Points, Hillsboro Village and 12 South. Chances are though you'll be downtown. We have a short list of downtown Nashville restaurants we have reviewed. You can click here for the list.

Enjoy the basketball!

Eric and Katie

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Butterbean Bakery and Bistro

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Butterbean Bakery and Bistro
112 College Street

Launching a vegetarian restaurant in Tennessee requires equal doses of bravery and good planning. Unveiling a vegetarian, gluten-free restaurant in Gallatin takes that challenge up several notches. Meredith Jones, the owner and chef of the new Butterbean Bakery and Bistro, seems to be up to the task. Butterbean has already attracted a following in Sumner County. Interestingly, it may be more for the quality of the food than the dedication to vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine. They use locally sourced and carefully chosen ingredients. Sumner County is chock-full of chain restaurants, but it has just a few, decent lunch spots with creative fare. This means that Butterbean is filling needs in many ways.

Butterbean is located in an elegant older house just off of Main Street and a few blocks from the Gallatin square. It’s warren of small rooms with wood floors and high ceilings. A couple of tables grace each room and the entire space feels very much like a DIY tea room. The menu is handwritten on little note cards. It changes daily, but seems to focus on a couple of Panini choices, a soup or two, a salad or two and some sides. It’s an extremely limited menu, but the emphasis on quality over quantity is appreciated,

A cherry tomato Panini is nicely pressed and features Dubliner cheese, red peppers and zucchini. The bread, as everything on the menu, is gluten-free. It’s a bit denser than traditional bread and yet it’s a pleasing difference with plenty of flavor. They’ll substitute dairy products on request for vegans, where possible. Creamy potato leek chowder proves to be the hit of this lunch. It’s silky, rich and fresh tasting. The vegan broccoli, pecan and golden raisin salad is sweet and tangy. It’s a small portion for a side and diners may find that throughout the menu. Still, given the quality of the food sometimes less is plenty enough. It may be a bit pricey for the portion size, but I felt perfectly satisfied with what I received for the money.

Another visit brings a barbecue wild mushroom Panini. The caramelized onion and aged white cheddar help make this excellent sandwich hearty and flavorful. As with most everything sampled, the sandwich is well-seasoned. A rich butternut squash soup is given a sweet turn with roasted apple. It too is top-notch, making this one of my favorite lunches in recent months.

You can’t leave without sampling the gluten-free baked goods. Jones worked as a pastry chef for years and when she developed a gluten allergy called Celiac disease she decided to take a turn at creating gluten-free baked goods. She remarks that the process was not easy. It’s safe to say she’s found her groove. A beautiful little banana cupcake is topped with rum cream frosting. It’s dense and almost scone-like in consistency. The date bars are a big favorite and sell-out quickly many days. Pineapple upside down cupcakes have chunks of pineapple for a moist treat as take-out. It would be a shame to leave for lunch without taking something home.

Now for the sad part of this story: the Veggie Eater hasn’t been able to eat here yet. Butterbean is currently just open on weekdays (check their website to see if that changes). Until they have weekend hours I suspect there will be many Nashville folks bummed out that they can’t enjoy one of the better vegetarian restaurants in the area. The gluten-free aspect should also pull people in, as Butterbean is being called the only dedicated gluten-free restaurant in Middle Tennessee.

I paid $25 with tax and tip and three cupcakes to go and on a second visit $14 for lunch alone.

Butterbean Bakery and Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Nashville Restaurants and Food
201 S. Main Street

Pastry folks are known as being sticklers for detail. It’s perhaps one reason that bakeries often do well when they cross over to a wider restaurant menu. Trish Golter has spent much of her life in cooking and pastry creation. She worked at Mad Platter for 11 years. Her latest passion is her own bakery and restaurant in Goodlettsville called Flourgirls. You can watch as folks come in to pick-up cakes for all occasions. One day we see an artfully finished purple Barbie design for a seven year-old’s birthday and the serious consideration by both staff member and mom to make sure Barbie’s head is on straight. The sweet baked goods are a highlight of Flourgirls, but don’t let the bakery business make you lose sight of the restaurant offerings. They have an excellent line-up of sandwiches, salads and soups, making Flourgirls one of our favorite cafĂ© lunches in the Nashville area.

Ginger-carrot bisque is a thick, hearty soup with a slightly sweet finish. The Flourgirls salad features lightly grilled portabellas, sliced thin and combined with feta, spiced-sugar pecans and dried cranberries over fresh greens. The sweet basil vinaigrette is the perfect accompaniment. It’s interesting that they don’t bake their own bread for the sandwiches. But it makes sense. The quality bread fits the bill and it leaves them plenty of time to focus on the sandwich creation. The grilled Panini’s are skillfully pressed. The Cuban is a damn fine rendition with crispy crust, flavorful pork and ham and just the right amount of Swiss cheese. A lightly dressed salad with feta comes on the side. A muffaletta also does tradition proud with a fresh-tasting house-made tapenade that trends light and savory over vinegary and oily. A delicate potato soup is mild and satisfying and paired with a doughy and herby rosemary foccacia for dipping.

You can’t leave without sampling the baked goods. They specialize in the sweet side of things, with a small number of cookies, brownies, and cupcakes that seem to change each time we visit. It’s not a huge operation and so the selection is limited. The treats are made with love. Witness the chocolate espresso torte, presented with a couple of dollops of house-made whipped cream. It’s rich, dense and with a lovely flavor for a wonderful finish to one meal. For another lunch we experience a unique and tasty tahini and almond shortbread.

Veggie Eater: The menu seems to make great effort at ensuring veggie options. The daily soup selection is a rotating affair, based on whatever is locally available and seasonal. Again, they have a veggie option. The first time out, I opted to pair a bowl of the three bean chili with the tapenade plate. The chili is a chunky and thick creation with corn, carrots, and peppers providing company to the beans. It was simply seasoned, allowing the veggies to take center stage. The tapenade is zippy, thanks to the olives (green and black), capers, and roasted red peppers. The folks at Flourgirls were kind enough to throw in a complimentary dollop of the homemade hummus. Again, the hummus is simply seasoned and is the perfect mate to the tapenade. Carrots, crackers, and toasted pitas served as the scooping vehicles. On the second visit, I just had to try the pimento cheese. I have strong feelings about what constitutes excellent pimento cheese; none of the Miracle whip, slightly sweet, mousse-like textured stuff will do. I opted to have the Flourgirls version on a croissant and was thrilled with the result. This is a coarsely mixed spread with a wonderful tangy finish. The pimento cheese is generously heaped on your bread of choice and coupled with a salad. I was left with a half-sandwich for another day’s lunch (can’t wait). We received a lesson on the history of the building during one of our visits. Apparently, the building was the original fire house in Goodlettsville and was later re-purposed into a long-standing dry cleaning business. The building still has many 40’s retro touches (check out the front windows). There is music wafting from the kitchen with staff singing along. Regular customers engage in serious discussions with staff about what additional items should be taken home (a whole cake) after the meal has been finished. The staff makes a big point to greet everyone and display obvious pride in their products. Our waitress was concerned that we did not like the carrot bisque (it was simply too hot and needed time to cool) and also offered to comp our dessert because she was apologetic about the wait to get our food (maybe 15 minutes max). We assured her that the soup was delightful and that we did in fact plan to get dessert, but would happily pay for it given the fact that our wait was not at all unreasonable. This venture has been open for three years and it seems almost criminal that it’s taken us this long to wander down the hill to take advantage of the menu.

Meat Eater: The next visit will have to include the vegetarian lasagna. They serve coffee and bakery goods for a late breakfast (they don't up until 10am) and do take-out for dinner pick-up until 6pm on weekdays. It’s a simple dining room, very much in a down-home country style. Original photography and artwork lines the walls. Located just across the street from the Goodlettsville City Hall it is well-situated just down the street from the Antique stores on Main Street. We think this gem needs wider recognition.

Flourgirls Cafe on Urbanspoon