Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wake Up Call

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 1:52 PM

I jumped the gun this morning, but I couldn't wait to get to Crema, the new coffee shop opening on Rutledge Hill. Owner Rachel Lehman wasn't exactly expecting us—Crema will open its doors for a soft launch starting tomorrow at 7 a.m.—but she very graciously let Mr. Pink and me snoop through the store, which is fashionably decked in equal parts chic and salvage and looks like someone stained it in a rich bath of dark-roast espresso.

With sumptuous leather chairs, a long bar made of rustic wooden beams, amber pendant lighting and colorful canvases adorning the walls, Crema promises to become a caffeinated landmark in the newly emerging Rutledge Hill district, where Andrew Chadwick's restaurant and the recently renovated Children's Theatre—not to mention all the downtown residential projects—are suddenly luring folks who've never even heard of the once-neglected neighborhood.

This morning Rachel was arranging the first batch of muffins and biscotti fresh from The Wild Muffin bakery and waiting on deliveries from Provence and Star Bagel. The only thing missing was the hiss of the La Marzocco and the aroma of the espresso drinks, which will be made with Drew's Brews.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the curtain from Crema, there's a vacant space of equal size, just screaming out for a tenant—something along the lines of a bookstore or gallery—to complement the coffee shop. If you have any ideas of businesses that could fill the space, post them to Bites. In the meantime, Rachel and Ben Lehman will just have to accept our compliments on a very attractive new enterprise.

Lcoated at 15 Hermitage Ave., 255-8311, Crema opens officially on Jan. 28 and will donate a portion of the day's proceeds to Safe Haven, a nonprofit organization in the neighborhood that assists homeless families.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 10:33 AM


If you've been driving hungrily by the Belle Meade Plaza on Harding Road, looking for a place to eat now that Belle Meade Cafeteria and Goldie's Delicatessen have pulled out, there's good news on the dining horizon. Not only are Publix and Harris Teeter in the works for the Harding Road corridor near the intersection of White Bridge Road, but Cheeseburger Charley's will be opening in the former home of Signs Plus. Paul Ziady and Salem Ghanam, franchisees of Cheeseburger Charley's and Jersey Mike's, will start work on the location in the next few days, and they plan to open in late March. 4516 Harding Road.

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Conversation Bites: Chef Sean Begin, The Daily Dish

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2008 at 7:51 AM


This week’s review of The Daily Dish features chef Sean Begin’s deliciously bipolar menu of meat-and-three staples and specialty salads. For the traditionalist, there’s a predictable and comfortable list of Southern standards—meatloaf, fried okra and candied sweet potatoes, to name a few. But while most meat-and-three buffets consider coleslaw to be the only fresh vegetable you could ever need, The Daily Dish offers a bountiful selection of big, fluffy green salads piled with fresh fruits, vegetables and creative toppings such as fried mozzarella and sweet potato cakes.

Many thanks to Chef Begin for sharing his recipe for almond-encrusted goat cheese salad (after the jump). If you have questions for the chef, he’ll be popping in to answer them. Welcome to Conversation Bites, Chef Sean.

Continue reading »

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mediterranean Musical Chairs

Posted By on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 6:54 AM

Serial restaurateur Yanni Panagiotakis, a familiar name in Nashville's Mediterranean-themed restaurants, is at it again. This time, he has taken over the restaurant formerly known as La Luna, and re-dubbed the place Yanni's Mediterranean Grill. The tiny Berry Hill establishment, which has dabbled in Turkish, Greek and Italian cuisines under various management teams, now returns the focus to a menu of Greek favorites. Yanni's has outdoor seating and serves beer and wine.

Located at 600 West Iris Dr., 463-3707, Yanni's Mediterranean Grill is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Olive That Heaven Allows

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 11:06 AM


Over the Christmas holidays, I was at a party talking to Sue Caplenor, a Middle Tennessee resident and seasoned traveler who loves New Orleans cuisine. I told her how much I liked the muffuletta at the Italian Market, and I thought I might try making one sometime. She asked whether I had any Boscoli Family Italian Olive Salad. When I said no, she looked like I’d said I was going to make beignets from a Jiffy cornbread mix.

A few weeks later, out of the clear blue sky, a jar of this magic elixir arrived on my doorstep. I was fixing a turkey sandwich and thought, what the hell. I unscrewed the lid, and a wonderfully complex, pungent aroma arose from the large jar. I heaped a few spoons of the oily salad onto my sandwich, mashed down the bread, and took a bite.

Oh. My. God. Even without the salami, the capicola, the mortadella or the Emmentaler, the muffuletta taste was suddenly there, briny and sharp. The olives were the base taste, but an assortment of pickled vegetables (giardineira) including nibs of carrot, cauliflower and celery rounded the flavor, giving the sandwich both accent and crunch. It was like tasting one of those food-lab concoctions that manages to distill the essence of a cheeseburger into a single liquid drop.

I’m halfway through a big honkin’ jar, but panic is already setting in. Neither the Italian Market nor Savarino’s carries the Crescent City staple; nor does Whole Foods. According to a representative at Boscoli Foods in Kenner, La., no one in Nashville carries their olive salad. The good news: Boscoli’s website sells a 16-oz. jar for $6.15—or better yet, a 128-oz. hogshead for a mere $22.50. If sweet Sue Caplenor is really an undercover pickle pusher hooking another po’ boy on Boscoli—well, consider me a grateful addict.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bob-Bobbin' Along

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2008 at 5:39 PM


The Washington-based Red Robin burger chain has just opened its first Nashville outpost at the Nashville West shopping center off Charlotte. For their grand opening, they'll donate 50 cents of every gourmet burger sold this week to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.

The opposite of no-frills Five Guys, Red Robin has a burger for pretty much every land and inclination: chili burgers, pot-roast burgers, salmon burgers, teriyaki burgers, barbecue burgers. Also fajitas, cod fillets and fried jumbo shrimp, with individual pizzas for the little ones. A big, sprawling menu, just the way Kay likes 'em. Burgers run about $10, with sides of bottomless fries. And yes, Carrington, there is a milkshake.

The donation offer ends Jan. 20. Red Robin is located at 6802 Charlotte Pike, open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 352-1710.

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The Fifth Sense

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2008 at 3:04 PM


Ross Proctor, proprietor of Chateau Ross Vineyards & Winery in Springfield, TN, will be pouring his winey wares at Five Senses restaurant in Murfreesboro, Wednesday, Feb. 6. Unlike many Tennessee wineries, which produce wine from Muscadine grapes, Chateau Ross produces traditional European-style wines from vinifera grapes. (Click here to read Maria Browning's feature on Chateau Ross in the Scene.) Known for its Big Bitch Red label, Chateau Ross has won numerous awards for its red wines and has even been sold in local wine shops and fine-dining restaurants.

The tasting at Five Senses (1602 W. Northfield Blvd.) is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and costs $20. Call 867-4155 for reservations.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Spankin’ New

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2008 at 7:24 AM

If all goes according to plan, Spanky McGee’s, the new incarnation of The End Zone sports bar, will be open in time for the Super Bowl. New owner David Purcell is in the process of updating the tiny grey-blue house on the outskirts of the gleaming new Hill Center, in preparation for a Jan. 26 launch. With plasma TVs, a new covered patio out back and a fresh coat of paint inside and out, “it will not be nearly as dark and dingy,” Purcell says.

Spanky McGee’s has traded pool tables for a stage to host small acoustic live-music sets. According to Purcell, a limited menu, available for lunch and dinner, will include hand-patted burgers and “a fairly decent chicken wing sauce.”

As a 21-and-up bar, Spanky McGee’s will allow smoking. For now, the bar will be open 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and Purcell is considering opening on Sundays. Of course, he’ll open for Super Sunday. 2227 Bandywood Drive, 383-9115.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Music at Martha’s

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2008 at 12:09 PM

The Music at Martha’s series kicks off this month with two evenings of music and food at Martha’s at the Plantation.

Thursday, Jan. 24: Songwriter Joie Scott and a menu of chicken-and chorizo pot pie and winter citrus salad. Light dinner music by Kristen Cothron.

Thursday, Jan. 31: Songwriter Jen Foster and a menu of Chinese spare ribs, homemade ramen and Vietnamese salad roll.

$25 includes the meal and show. Door opens at 6:45 p.m., and show begins at 8 p.m. Seating is limited, so call for reservations: 353-2828.

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Conversation Bites: Chef John David Crow at 360

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2008 at 7:14 AM


This week’s review of 360 features chef John David Crow’s menu peppered with unusual and eclectic items such as pea vine, boar and fresh Asian noodles. Crow trained at Seattle’s famous Ray's Boathouse and at the four-star Fountain Court in Bellevue, Wa., before graduating top of his class from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. In Seattle, he was part of the opening team at Brooklyn Seafood, Steak & Oyster House, pioneering in the genre of Pacific Rim
 After serving as executive chef at The Space Needle, he opened Fire & Ice Lounge, which focused on seasonal fare from the Cascadia region.

Expect that résumé, along with the current culinary trends in the Pacific Northwest (think organic products, braising in butter and olive oil, and use of offal), to influence Crow’s work at 360 in the coming weeks. Crow predicts a menu flavored with Columbia River sturgeon, razor clams, octopus, sea urchin, sweetbreads
 and foie gras.

For a look at trends in the Pacific Northwest that might start to make their way toward Nashville, Crow recommends the following links:

If you have questions for Chef Crow, he’ll be stopping in throughout the day. Welcome to Conversation Bites, Chef Crow.

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