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.

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