Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pub 5

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Pub 5
104 5th Avenue

How good is a $15.50 cheeseburger? Pretty darn good, thankfully. And as you gaze out over Broadway and the Bridgestone Arena plaza, from your shaded perch at the cozy bar on the rooftop, you realize that while the ingredients are excellent and execution spot-on, you’re really paying for that view. Pub 5 is just down from the Palm restaurant on Fifth Avenue. It’s a prime location for concert-goers, hockey fans and tourists. The downstairs bar and dining area are tiny by downtown standards. That’s actually a good thing. Once they get fully settled in, the dining room and the rooftop could have a more intimate vibe. They’re still working on that. The staff currently seems to be more downtown tourist veterans than the Nashville homer servers we prefer. Nothing against the downtown wait staff and bartenders- they put up with a lot. But cowboy-weary and jaded doesn’t seem like the atmosphere Pub5 is aiming for. Maybe it’s just us- we were hoping the place could join Fleet Street as a Nashville locals place. Or at least split the difference. And the ownership knows neighborhood service. The bar and restaurant is the creation of Will Shuff and partners, best known for the successful 12 South Taproom, which anchored much of the growth in that area.

Back to that burger: it’s $13 for a perfectly medium-rare, juicy, grass-fed beef patty on a sweet bun. Add cheddar, bacon and avocado and you’re up to $15.50. Perhaps our waiter heard us complaining to each other. We were only charged the $13, which seems much more reasonable. Generous, high-quality sides help the price differential. Black-eyed peas with peppers, carrots and onion make for a lovely salad. They also load up the potato salad with carrots and peas in a tangy, creamy sauce.

A $13 Pastrami on rye is piled high, deli-style. It comes with kraut and Swiss, but seems a bit dry. Mustard does the trick. This outing puts Elote-style sweet corn on the side and it is outstanding. The elote is served Mexican street food style: grilled kernels off the cob with queso fresco cheese and pimentos in a cup. It’s brunch time and a bloody Mary comes out a wee bit thin, perhaps from the addition of beer.

The spare dinner menu, needless to say, ramps up entrée prices considerably. $30 gets you four 2 ounce filet mingon medallions in a creamy, mushroom sauce. $22 brings chipotle chicken pasta to the plate. There are a few nods to the Veggie Eater, although strangely, not any entrees on the main menu.

Veggie Eater: Let’s just get the full disclosure over-I’m thrifty by nature (M.E. would state cheap) and it’s hard to get past the prices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a quibbler when it comes to a high end meal, or even when I pay more for a well crafted low key meal. But it’s hard not to balk at an $11 and $12 vegetarian sandwich unless it’s spectacular. The sandwiches are Pub 5 although good, they weren’t exceptional. First up was the tempeh sandwich ($12). It’s a pretty straightforward affair: fried tempeh, which was well seasoned, mustard, arugula, tomatoes, and red onion on fluffy sourdough bread. You get a choice for side and I opted for the garlic kale, which, well, certainly tasted of both those ingredients, but nothing else. Perhaps the menu designer and/or chef is a minimalist/back to basics sort of bloke. The less expensive of the two sandwich options is The Wabbit and if you are feeling particularly decadent, you can pop an extra $3 for the fried tempeh found in the first option (bringing your fancy tempeh/hummus sandwich to $14). Needless to say, due to my aforementioned thriftiness, I had mine as originally advertised, sans tempeh. It is veggie wrap sandwich-that’s really the sum of it-the usual suspects are there-cukes, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, onion and sprouts, with, as advertised, black bean hummus. Again it came with a choice of sides, which are admittedly at least reasonably portioned. Both the potato salad and the black eyed pea salad were tasty accompaniments. M.E. did talk me ordering nachos for an app, for which I am appreciative, as they were a highlight (and somewhat more reasonably priced at $9). The queso had a subtle heat and strayed away from the Velveeta version. Fried jalapenos dotting the top provided some heat. The black eyed pea salad provided creaminess and the Pico de Gallo a bit of astringency. And the chips were freshly fried. Another positive is the Sunday special, $3 pint drafts, which includes Yazoo. Is the rooftop location and meal worth the prices? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Meat Eater: We’ll always support quality food options downtown and Pub 5 certainly fits that bill. It wouldn’t take much to tweak the prices a bit, if the rent can afford such a change. I would suspect that the ownership is going for a combo of locals and tourists. With the new Music City Center convention hall just down the street, they will undoubtedly be getting the type of visitors the price point wouldn’t bother. That rooftop bar will certainly be calling to us when we’re downtown this summer. The beer prices are fairly reasonable and the draft selection small, but nicely local. It will be a unique and comfortable spot for safely watching the tourist throng on a hot summer night and not having a hollering, drunk guy in a cowboy hat next to you.

We paid $54 with two beers, tax and tip on one lunch visit and $50 with two Bloody Marys on another visit.
Pub 5 on Urbanspoon