Next time you're cruising the high-rent sidewalk between Whole Foods and Anthropologie in the Hill Center, duck into (yn). The zippy little wine shop with streamlined shelves and a cryptic name is the project of Ed Fryer, formerly of the Wine Shoppe of Green Hills. You might also recognize wine educator and so-called Burgundy Bootlegger Melanie Armstrong, who is helping get the store off the ground.
The name (yn) is the only quasi-pretentious thing about the store. The "y" should have a bar across the top, making it sound like “Y”, which, combined with “N”, should sound like “wine.” Get it? (Editorial note: I don't know how to type that bar across the top.)
Beyond that, (yn) is as straightforward as possible. With 365 wines in stock—one for every day of the year—Fryer focuses on bottles under $20. The store is divided into red, white and bubbly, with signs above the racks denoting “Light,” “Lively,” “Lavish” and other such flavor profiles, so if you like, say, Vivacious Vicky, you'll probably like the other labels surrounding her on that shelf. Or you might want to walk further down the wall toward the fuller-bodied wines under the “Rich” sign.
Don't be surprised if the next big thing on the tony streets of Hill Center isn't a $500 handbag, but is instead a white cardboard carrier for six bottles of wine. You can mix and match a 6-pack for a 15 percent discount.
(yn) is located at 4025 Hillsboro Road, 383-N2YN (6296).
You might remember a few weeks ago when Bites posed the question of where to find good mole in Nashville. We came up with a few places—Lime, Sol and Rosario's among them—that make the intricate Southern Mexican sauce, which is often served with chicken and tamales. But the consensus was that there's a shortage of the Oaxacan specialty in these parts.
Maybe that's because mole is a complete bitch to make. With dozens of hard-to-find ingredients that need to be roasted, toasted, ground and even set on fire, mole is not for dilettantes.
Intrigued by the online conversation, frequent Bites contributor Claudia Young tried her hand at mole negro this week—using 29 ingredients, including Mexican cinnamon and an avocado leaf. It took her the better part of a day to roast and grind sesame seeds, pecans, bread, chiles and plantains, mixing them in a delicate titration with Mexican chocolate and pork fat. After forcing it all through a fine sieve countless times, God bless her, Claudia packed up the finished product with a chicken and some rice and schlepped it down to the Scene office, where we devoured it in about the time it takes to say, “Yo no quiero Taco Bell.”
The end result was a mysterious marriage of spicy and soothing, sweet and savory, in which fruity tones of raisin and chocolate nestled up against the sultry burn of pepper, with a dusty finish of cinnamon and clove. For us benefactors of Claudia's kitchen labor, the experiment was an unqualified and delicious success. Then again, we didn't spend all day Monday trying to ignite chile seeds.
For Claudia's part, she vows never to repeat the tedious chore, and she is deaccessioning the surplus guajillos, pasilla Mexicanos, chipotles mecos and anchos negros via a contest at her own website. All visitors to cookeatFret.com will be entered in a random drawing for a mole kit, complete with all the ingredients necessary for mole negro—with the exception of one ingredient that Claudia can't provide: time. You'll have to find that for yourself.
Congratulations to Margot McCormack, chef-owner of Margot Café & Bar, the only Nashville chef and restaurant to make the semifinals for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. McCormack is one of 20 semifinalists in the category of Best Chef Southeast. The only other Tennessee contender in the category is Erling Jensen from Memphis. Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., is in the running for Outstanding Wine Service.
On Monday, March 24, the James Beard Foundation will announce five final nominees in each category, from which the winners will be selected and announced on June 8 in New York City.
For a full list of nominees and information about the awards process, see the press release.
It is a headline that has seemed inevitable. The Trace, the sleek and chic restaurant and watering hole at 2000 Belcourt Avenue, is closing. After tonight’s final clearance dinner, when everything on the menu will be marked down 50 percent, owner Ken Perry will turn out the lights and, he says, possibly return to the healthcare field from whence he came.
Founded in 1997 by Herb Allen and Greg Shockro, The Trace first traded hands in 2003 when restaurateur Danny York took over. Since purchasing the place three-and-a-half years ago, Perry has faced a series of challenges, including an eviction lawsuit, rumors of closing, the advent of no-smoking legislation and a shifting economy.
While legal wrangling over the lease is ongoing, The Trace is no longer under an eviction notice. And Perry recently declared the restaurant a 21-and-up establishment to circumvent the new no-smoking laws. But, he says, “It’s time to move on to the next thing and let someone else take a shot.”
Just who will take the next shot is still unclear. Attorney Adam Dread—coincidentally, Dread was the first general manager of Faison’s restaurant, which predated The Trace in that location—has a list of prospective tenants. Dread is working with the Hayes family, who own the property, to select a business that complements the neighborhood. Dread is unusually tight-lipped about the process, but he says the transaction could happen fast.
Randy Rayburn, owner of neighboring Cabana and Sunset Grill, says he will not throw his hat into the ring. Meanwhile, Perry will leave all the restaurant equipment on site.
Brett Allen, former owner of Wild Boar restaurant, has signed on as general manager and wine director of 360 Bistro. Allen will work with co-owner Nick Jacobson to expand the wine list this spring.
Last year, owners Jacobson and Joe Gordy brought on chef John David Crow to help reinvent the restaurant formerly known as The Grape, after separating from the Atlanta-based chain of The Grape wine bars.
Located at 6000 Highway 100 in Spaces shopping center (353-5604), 360 serves lunch and dinner seven nights a week.
First, there was the rumor. Then it was confirmed. Then an orange awning went up on the facade of the former Radio Cafe. Now, finally, after months of anticipation, Rachel Fontenot and Neil Clark are opening the doors to Mad Donna's. Starting Thursday, March 6, Mad Donna's will ease into business with a soft opening in the downstairs dining room only. The renovated upstairs, which used to be an apartment, will eventually open as a space for live music, karaoke and other events.
Chef Joyce Maloney is launching a menu that includes butternut squash ravioli, Thai grilled salmon, a stuffed burger, a steak under $15, sweet potato enchiladas, nachos, Thai wings, hummus, and shrimp and grits.
Located at 1313 Woodland St., at the corner of 14th (226-1617), Mad Donna's will open for dinner at 4 p.m. nightly and will close at 3 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 a.m. Monday and Sunday.
As always, if you get there before us, please report back on Bites.
Sunset Grill and Cabana will get new neighbors when 20th and Belcourt in The Village, a 67,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use development, opens next year. Restaurateur Randy Rayburn and a team are developing the site where diners at Sunset Grill and Cabana currently park. The five-story project will include office space and retail stores, but no restaurant is currently planned. See the press release after the jump....
The left-handed and very tasty Chimalles Mexican Grille—at 1530 Demonbreun near the roundabout—is having a super-special deal right now. This week and this week only everything on the menu is 50 percent off. This is in addition to the two-for-one margaritas and beer at happy hour. A steal at lunch or late night, they’re open ‘till 4 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.
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