Sunday, May 12, 2013
110 Lyle Ave.
The Row is strategically placed to entice tourists, Vandy students and perhaps even people who work on Music Row. The interior speaks to the country music theme and in a tasteful and comfortable way. Large banquettes give the place the feel of a supper club designed for the TV show “Nashville.” The space has had several incarnations, including eating and drinking spots for Nashville songwriters, thus the inspiration for the name. The cavernous enclosed patio has wide doors for nicer weather. If location and design are positives for the crowd they seem to be trying to reach, the food is a mixed bag in execution right now. We’re hoping that can change.
The Row features a Southern bar-style menu including barbecue. Pulled pork has a good smoke and yet comes a little dried out. The slaw on top of the sandwich and a variety of barbecue sauces, including a classic Tennessee vinegar base, help matters, as does the grilled bun. Bacon Mac and cheese comes with corkscrew noodles. They’re baked and perhaps a bit dry (sense a theme?) bacon and breadcrumbs adds a nice crunch to the crust.
Some aspects of the Row reflect that the managers value Tennessee products. The well-culled beer and whiskey selection highlights locally made items and the menu incorporates Tennessee ingredients here and there. That said, this isn’t a farm to table joint by any means, and we experienced several ingredient choices that could have been upgraded. The choice in chicken breast and the quality of pork are just two examples.
There is a sweet touch to everything (another theme). Even the hot chicken sandwich gives a sweet drizzle of honey to the mellow spice of the spicy chicken breast. It’s a good open face sandwich. However, combined with sweet-sweet potato fries and sweet pickled items, it gets to be a bit much. Those fries are soggy on one visit, probably from an overabundance of honey.
They have a number of interesting starter sets, including a selection of sweet pickled stuff. Pickled carrots are a surprise and the sweet and tart peppers stand out on the plate. “Pots” of spreadable appetizers come individually or mixed and matched. Pimento cheese was our favorite. Chicken pate is accompanied by sweet caramelized onions. A tangy white bean hummus hit the spot.
The brunch menu is a short accompaniment to the usual lunch line-up. French toast and griddle cakes keep company with a couple of eggs Benedict options. The bloody Mary, made with our choice of jalapeno garlic infused vodka, and helped along by generous horseradish, is spicy and tasty.
The items are limited for a Veggie Eater, but quite frankly we shouldn’t have ordered anything for her- the Veggie Eater spent most of her time sampling the various condiments.
Veggie Eater: Meat Eater is right, I’m a condiment whore. I found most sauces to be a bit too sweet for my liking- the peppered vinegar was my favorite. First up for me was brunch and the theoretically enticing Greens and Green Eggs. This was a take on eggs Benedict consisting of biscuits topped with vinegar greens, fried green tomatoes, poached eggs and hollandaise. The tomato and greens were a nice touch, but the eggs were overcooked and it appeared that my dish had sat under a heat lamp for some time, as the hollandaise was cracked and dry. The grits on the side appeared to be real grits, but suffered from a serious lack of personality. Next up, was the pimento grilled cheese sandwich. Upon arrival, I was advised they had run out of the bread for the sandwich, so standard white bread was used. Due to the bread deviation, they threw in an extra half sandwich. The pimento cheese was tart and tasty, but it was unclear if this dish was to be warm or cold, as mine was lukewarm. The bloody Mary was tasty, but the promised pickled eggs were omitted and Bibb lettuce was substituted instead; for the record one is not like the other. The other oddity we encountered was the green serving staff, which seemed to account for the rather bizarre interaction whereby our waiter pocketed 5 dollars of our change, stating he took it for his assumed tip (actually it was stranger than that…but hard to explain-M.E.) Don’t know that I’ll be racing back here, but don’t think it will matter, as every frat and sorority member at Vandy seemed to be eating here either in groups or with their parent in tow to foot the bill.
Meat Eater: We hope they’re still tinkering here. They have an inventive menu and we appreciate that in a restaurant. There definitely needs to be more quality control in the kitchen. The prices are certainly not out of line for the West End, but they need to upgrade quality to match.
We paid $65 with tax and tip at brunch with a couple of beers and a bloody Mary. A lunch visit rang up $41.