Nashville Restaurants and Food
33 Peabody Street
The room is the star at the Pinewood Social, the latest dining and cocktail establishment from the gold-dust twins of the Nashville restaurant scene, Benjamin and Max Goldberg. The huge space, part of the converted trolley barn project just south and up the hill from SOBRO, turns the towering ceilings and brick of the historic warehouse-like building into a vibrant entertainment room with several different open spaces. While that may seem like a lot to manage, it is done to great effect. Witness brunch on a recent Sunday. Teachers are grading papers and drinking coffee at the long, laptop friendly, communal coffee table. Kids are sitting nearby with parents in one of the several armchair and couch areas. A group of twenty-something’s, dressed up with heels and hats, take photos of their food at the massive copper-topped bar at the center of the room. On all sides, diners in more traditional restaurant seating are chatting happily. Oh, and did we mention that all of this looks out over a bowling alley? It’s thankfully in another room. The main space is loud and energetic enough as it is. It has to be one of the most unique setups in Nashville.
This could be a DIY type of joint, but if you are expecting that, clearly you don’t know the Goldbergs. Everything is done in upscale hipster flair, much like the Patterson House and the Catbird Seat, and the crowd reflects that. Out of more than a hundred diners and staff in the room there is not one face of color to be seen in the place on our brunch visit. A dinner stop brings in a slightly more diverse crowd.
The Goldbergs love their craft cocktails and Pinewood Social doesn’t disappoint. A District 9, the kissing cousin of the Sazerac, is well balanced and refined. The Marathon Manhattan most likely takes it name from the Marathon Village home of Nashville’s own Corsair Distillery. Their intense and lovely Triple Smoke whiskey is paired with rye for a bolder flavor than the traditional version.
Pinewood Social serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the menu is spare at all times of the day. Cheese curds are salty, chewy and, in this case, perfectly fried. Served with a tangy pepper aioli it’s a good starter. The fried chicken is super-crispy and juicy. The Asian slaw on the side is a welcome twist. Brunch brings a beef tongue Reuben Benedict. If that sounds a bit much, you should give it a try anyway. It’s basically an open faced Reuben with a poached egg and hollandaise on top. The sauerkraut provides a welcome contrast to the rich egg yolk and hollandaise. The beef tongue is remarkably tender and light. A biscuit is baked browned crisp and served with an apricot compote that is both sweet and light. The smashed potatoes are simply tender fingerlings slightly smashed to draw in the butter and then herbed. They are a delight.
The terse menu can pose a problem for vegetarians. Only a couple of choices are available at each meal.
Veggie Eater: As ME noted, it’s a rather limited menu and even more so for the veggie eaters of the world. Then there’s the pretentiousness...any place that notes on the chalkboard, “Playlist curated by…” is inherently irksome. That being said, I did rather enjoy what sounded like a Robbie Fulks’ rendition of the “Eye of the Tiger”-yep, you know the awful song (yes, sounds like the playlist was well curated-M.E.). I am also opposed to people wearing their sunglasses on the back of their necks (sorry, she is rather cranky today-M.E.), yet I again found myself enjoying the experience, despite my best intentions not to. First time out, I went with the ubiquitous kale salad and since I care nothing about being trendy, it doesn’t bother me that kale is so 2013. I ordered the full plate, which was in fact a lot of kale. I found the Parmesan skimpy and think I only counted a few croutons. The dressing was authentic, so if you opt to fully exclude fish products from your veggie friendly diet, don’t bother with the salad-you can taste the anchovies in the dressing. I should be as strong as Popeye (that was spinach you know-M.E.) following the voluminous amount of the healthful green ingested. Brunch too offers only limited veggie options. I enjoyed the bloody Mary- it’s made with fresh tomato juice, fresh lime juice, olive juice and hot bitters-it could have used more of the bitters (or simply opt to doctor with Sriacha at request) to balance it out, but it is tangy and tasty. The goat cheese omelet was room temp upon arrival and has a somewhat unearthly spongy texture and appearance. Noble Farms goat cheese is the star and as I have a crush on Dustin at Noble (sorry Justyne) (she’s full of admissions today-M.E.) I love it whenever his products are prominently featured. Again, a little skimpy on the filling, but despite room temp, it was still a lovely combination of tangy (thanks to the tomato puree on top and inside of the omelet), creamy (from the goat cheese) and the strange egg texture works well with the baby spinach. Not sure I’ll be racing back, but probably can be enticed back without much fuss.
Meat Eater: Sorry, apparently she needed more than just one bloody Mary. It may be a bit off-putting to need the hostess to seat you at the bar. It’s the same technique the Goldbergs use at Patterson House and in both cases it’s quite necessary. On our two visits the place was packed from the word go. The genuinely nice and attentive staff more than alleviates any of the aforementioned pretentiousness. There is an army of well-trained young people at the Pinewood Social and everyone is all smiles. They keep long hours, often 7am to 1am. We never did make it to the bowling alley, but it looked fun, and well, rather hipster.
You do pay for all of this vibrancy. We ran up a $100 tab for dinner and a $56 tab for brunch. Still, that’s with a few cocktails and plenty of drinks at dinner.