Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Stone Fox

Nashville Restaurants and Food
The Stone Fox
712 51st Avenue N.

Some joints just nail a unique ambiance from day one, and even if they expand, they hold on to that feel. That’s the case with the Stone Fox, the West Nashville bar, restaurant and music venue that is a ground breaking change for the Nations neighborhood. The Nations area (North of I-40 and Charlotte Pike) is primarily residential and industrial, but for several years has been home to some rough and tumble bars. The Stone Fox fits in well with the neighborhood, but certainly steps it up many levels in terms of comfort, quality and originality. In all, it reminds us of some cool neighborhoods in Austin, where residential spaces have been converted to bars, keeping the neighborhood feel. Perhaps the Stone Fox is the start of a new trend for the area.

The folks at the Stone Fox manage to multi-task well. Arrive for a Sunday brunch and you’ll find a laid-back, warm space filled with many tables and a bar. That bar went through a recent expansion and the new space is even better. At night, the crowd spills out onto the small patio out back and heads to the stage for a variety of original live music. The Stone Fox is the labor of love for siblings William and Elise Tyler. William Tyler is a Nashville alt-music guitar veteran who has played with some of our favorite Nashville bands, including Lambchop and the Silver Jews. He even has a band with Elise. They’re well-connected and the music line-up has been eclectic and impressive. Maintaining this level of quality in a bar, music hall and restaurant at the same time seems like an achievement in and of itself.

The menu is Southern hippie/creative. That brunch lineup includes a well-executed barbecue pulled pork omelet with white cheddar and Pico de Gallo. The pork is sauced and savory. Sliced jalapenos on top emphasize the Southwestern leanings of many of the dishes. Well-seasoned hash brown wedges round out the dish. Be sure to get a side of the biscuits. Some folks may complain about paying for biscuits. When they’re this good, we’re not arguing, although perhaps a couple more of the sweet, tiny biscuits should be included for the $2.50 price. The sake bloody Mary is a welcome twist on their usual house bloody Mary, which is damn good on its own. Both are full of horseradish bite and fresh tomato juice.

During a dinner visit spicy and rich pumpkin bisque was like fall served in a bowl. The pimento cheese is peppery and tangy. If you like sour and tangy, consider the kimchi Reuben. It’s subtle in spiciness and features house made corned beef. The seasoned fries were meaty and with decent flavor.

The concise menu always seems to have a number of vegetarian and even some vegan options.

Veggie Eater: As noted above, lots of veggie friendly options abound in both the regular menu and specials. A must do is the BBQ Nachos veggie style, which uses jackfruit as the “meat” option. I wasn’t familiar with jackfruit previously, but fell in love after this introduction. It’s a fibrous, tart fruit, which has the texture of pulled pork when julienned in this dish. The tartness plays well with the slightly sweet and smoky barbecue sauce, creating a sweet and sour effect. The nachos are topped with a light cheese sauce (no Sysco nacho sauce here), slaw, big slices of avocado, and peppers. It’s a bit pricey ($11), but generously portioned and enough to fill you up on its own. Brunch also offers many veggie options. I started with a mimosa, served out of mason jelly jar as all drinks are, which was tangy, thanks to the freshly squeezed OJ. Obviously in a Tex-Mex rut, I opted for the breakfast enchiladas. The corn tortillas appeared to be fresh, as they had a crepe like consistency. The tortillas are wrapped around roasted broccoli and carrots, sprinkled with shredded melted cheese, and served with a mildly zingy fresh salsa. The hash browns are really home fries: a large dice, very well crisped and seasoned, though mine seemed to have some sort of mystery grit for some bits (Meat Eater did not experience the same with his). For dinner or brunch, this is a great place to unwind and relax-just take in the scenery and let your senses enjoy.

Meat Eater: They list which items are vegan and vegetarian on the menu, which is always appreciated. The bar lineup is simple and yet fun, which a decent selection of beer and whiskey and a few creative cocktails. They always have some cheapo drink specials for those on a budget.

I hate to keep harping on this, but The Stone Fox really does remind me of the fun joints in the Austin Rainey Street neighborhood. Here’s hoping the Nations will continue to grow in that direction. It would be a fabulous addition to the cool neighborhood choices in Nashville.

We paid $36 with tax and tip at dinner and $41 for brunch (with a couple of drinks).

Stone Fox on Urbanspoon