Sunday, January 27, 2013

Feast

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Feast
501 Main Street
Nashville
615-252-2542
www.feastonfifth.com

Update 6/21/13: this restaurant is open only for limited hours and menu while it goes through a concept change.

The expansion of fun spots in East Nashville has been slowly spreading from the Five Points apex. The condos at Fifth and Main had a tough go of it at first, and businesses have had a hard time there as well. The Germantown Café East finally seemed to breakthrough. And then in one very sad weekend the death of co-owner and chef Jay Luther effectively spelled the end of the restaurant. Manny Katz and operating partner Mike Harris have taken over the space to launch Feast. With the condos in the building nearly sold out, perhaps the area will finally be able to take off. Feast even offers a discount to folks in the building. The friendly staff and comfortable surroundings make it a good bet for dinner and drinks.

The interior is slightly updated from the previous space, with the names of East Nashville streets on the back of chairs. The space is opened up and a bit more casual and that lends itself well to the menu. It’s a simple line-up of American bistro-style food. The juicy Feast Burger has a bit of char for that backyard taste. Gorgonzola mac and cheese is a tangy, roux-based version with shells. Combined with a Jackalope Thunder Ann, it’s a satisfying lunch.

Back for dinner and we examine the entrees. The well-seasoned Porterhouse Pork Chop has a unique blueberry poblano sauce that is a pleasant blend of sweet and spicy. The thin chop is a bit dry but otherwise a good dish. Spring rolls come out crisp and cold with snap from carrots. The chili sauce is a bit lackluster. The rough cut fries are tasty and yet a bit soggy at this outing.

Veggie Eater: Feast has at least one veggie friendly item in each category on the menu. I opted for the Neapolitan flat bread. Not sure what I was expecting, as I thought it would be more of a sandwich, but instead got what amounts to a pizza (Meat Eater was amused by my misconception) (considering half the restaurants in this city offer flat bread pizza, it does seem a bit odd-M.E.). The bread itself was a bit bendy-for a pizza, that is. That said, it was loaded with tons of fresh basil, grape tomatoes, pecorino, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It was pretty as a picture upon delivery and offered a remembrance of summer during the middle of winter. With an app, it made a filling meal. The menu is reasonably priced and the restaurant and bar offer a space that looks trendy, but manages to be cozy at the same time.

Meat Eater: I think despite a few missteps they’re off to a good start. We’ll be interested in where they go in the future. It does seem like the right cross of quality and casual for the neighborhood. We paid $59 with tax and tip for a dinner visit with drinks. I paid $18 for a lunch visit with a beer.

Feast on Urbanspoon



Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Stone Fox

Nashville Restaurants and Food
The Stone Fox
712 51st Avenue N.
Nashville
615-953-1811
www.thestonefoxnashville.com

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

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hattie B’s

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Hattie B’s
112 19th Avenue S.
Nashville
615-678-4795
www.hattieb.com

Hot chicken has become the Nashville signature dish. The hot chicken options in town grow with the opening of Hattie B’s. The location couldn’t be better- Midtown, just off Division and across the street from Broadway Brewhouse. They’ve been packing folks in ever since they opened in the fall. The popularity says something about the demand for hot chicken in the neighborhood.

The popular warm weather location (and even on colder days) is the spacious covered deck. It gets a bit cramped inside, especially when the line starts to run out the door. Still, there’s something about the line and the bustle that seems to be part of the hot chicken tradition. Heat is of course the real hot chicken tradition and that has already proven to be a source of controversy among the hot chicken addicts out there. It seems to me that there was some adjustment of heat levels in the early weeks of the restaurant. They offer a spice level of no heat, mild, hot and damn hot. It seems that the hot is a little less spicy than the Prince’s medium. I would say damn hot would be a good place to start if you enjoy hot food. Folks in search of scorching heat will probably have to go elsewhere. Normally we don’t like to compare restaurants in a review, but with hot chicken everything comes back to Prince’s, the Nashville hot chicken original. Hattie B’s seems to have a similar cooking and saucing process. This isn’t buffalo style. The breasts are dark red, juicy and tender. The heat and spice has good flavor. It doesn’t have the depth or complexity of spice as Prince’s, or some other places in town, but it’s still a good hot chicken. The large white plate is a huge serving of chicken, too much for even this hungry diner. The small plate is plenty. Expect a wait, especially if they are busy. 15-20 minutes seems like child’s play, though, when compared to Prince’s waiting times.

Hattie B’s will probably stand out in the hot chicken scene as much for the sides as for the chicken. Red skinned potato salad has a great tangy flavor and big chunks of potato. Pimento mac and cheese is a welcome twist and served sticky and cheesy. Sweet and spicy baked beans are studded with bacon. The black eyed pea salad has vinegar bite, smoothed out with olive oil. Finish up with traditional banana pudding with vanilla wafers. It’s another big serving, so you probably want to share.

They only serve chicken as the main course at Hattie B’s. That does come in wings and tenders for a few more choices. They have hot platters for large groups and have a decent selection of beer to wash it down. I paid $15 on one visit and $10 on another.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken on Urbanspoon