Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tenn Sixteen

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Tenn Sixteen
1016 Woodland Street

Tenn Sixteen joins the East Nashville Five Points bar scene with a prime location. Owner Ric Clarke should know- he runs half the watering holes in the neighborhood, including Three Crow Bar and the Red Door. The front windows at Tenn Sixteen open up during the warm weather, providing a festive addition to Woodland Street. It’s hard not to stop in and have a drink. The massive, wrap-around bar made of African bubinga wood beckons and the extensive beer list seeks to please. Tenn Sixteen is a bar, first and foremost. You’ll find eight big screen TVs tuned to sports. And yet a comfortable dining room, festive art and some New Orleans flair provide venues for diners, as well. It’s a full-service type of place- offering everything from late night dining to lunch and brunch. A straight-forward food line-up plays safe and still has enough creativity to be fun.

They bill the Tenn Sixteen menu as Southern with a Cajun accent. It’s all comfort food. Start with the salty and smoky jalapeno skillet cornbread served with ham enhanced white beans. Fried green tomatoes are tangy and super-crisp. Gorgonzola and crimini mushrooms keep the meatloaf light and flavorful and the blue cheese provides a satisfying bite. Cheesy baked, creamed spinach and asiago and chive mashed potatoes makes this a real meal.

We visit a second time for brunch with friends. Crab eggs Benedict seems a ubiquitous brunch item these days. But when the eggs are perfectly poached and the English muffin is nice and toasty- who’s arguing. They’re still trying to fine tune some items. The hash brown casserole was a new item and they asked our opinion. We enjoyed the assortment of peppers, onions and cheese; however it was a little gloppy on execution this day. Waffles and chicken were the big hit at the table. Nicely seasoned fried chicken was served crisp and an excellent partner for the nutty, vanilla flavored waffles. It comes with honey for a drizzle over the chicken and tasty syrup for the waffles.

The Cajun accent includes Mardi Gras bead lights and frozen drink dispensers. The colorful wall art also adds a NOLA feel. Crawfish cakes, gumbo and po boys are a few of the Cajun menu options. The Whisper Creek cream whiskey beignets sound completely over the top and probably on our list for our next visit.

Veggie Eater: When eating brunch at a joint that promises an ode to Cajun, one would anticipate a fabulous bloody Mary.  Instead, you get a spiced up Zing Zang version that’s a bit watery and dull.  That being said, the three egg omelet was a bit more inspired. The eggs themselves are light, airy, and fluffy.  Spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and garlic cheese all make appearances and my only quibble was they could have been more generous with the cheese.  The wait staff is attentive and perceptive, offering the hash brown casserole as a sub (as opposed to the standard potato cakes) and guessing I would like mine sans meat, given my menu choice (correct assumption).  There are not a ton of veggie options here, generally limited to one item per menu category (the brunch menu actually has three options, but 2 are sweet items and alas, I have no sweet tooth), which seems a bit odd given its East Nashville demographic.  However, the beer menu is delightful and I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to cobble together a good meal for future forays. 

Meat Eater: We know- how can you go to a place with a Cajun touch and not try any Cajun items? What can we say- we got distracted. When the windows are open at Tenn Sixteen and 3 Crow Bar and folks are dining outside at Margot, Five Points takes on an even greater street vibrancy that we really enjoy. Tenn Sixteen is a solid addition to the neighborhood.
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