Dear Bites Brain Trust: You seem like a worldly, well-traveled and discerning group. (Why else would you be here?) Do any of you have suggestions for eating places—upscale, downscale, family, non-family, burger joint, roadside crab shack, whatever—around Destin? Specifically in the area near Seaside and Seagrove Beach? I figured if anyone would have the answers, it would be the Bites Brigade.
Lately, some of our loyal readers have complained that Bites is starting to look like a graveyard, what with all the memorials to fallen restaurants in recent weeks. But where others see problems, we at Bites see opportunities--especially opportunities for new and varied forms of gluttony.
Of the many restaurants that have boarded up in recent months, some, such as Green Hills Grille or Beethoven's Grille in Cool Springs, sat in locations so choice, pricey and large that most likely only a chain would follow. So instead of sitting back and waiting for yet another Applebee's, we'd like to suggest some regional and national chains--among the single-digit few that haven't already invaded--that should take a chance on Middle Tennessee.
Would we prefer more chains? Oh, hell no. Would we rather some enterprising, talented local chef assumed one of these spaces and gave Nashville the bistro/charcuterie/world-class veggie cafe it deserves? Oh, hell yes. But damn, folks, if tomatoes won't kill you these days, the price of gas will. Who else is going to fill these empty spaces? Who else has the mad money? Who indeed: Chains.
With that in mind, we extend a muffin basket of welcome to these candidates for Middle Tennessee expansion, after the jump. Please weigh in with alternatives, thoughts, testimonials, blind searing hatred, etc.
Oh yeah, Germantown? East Nashville sees your new coffeehouse and raises it to two—on the same block of Eastland Avenue. Currently in the finishing stages is Ugly Mugs Coffee & Tea at 1900 Eastland in the Walden building. Hmmm, you say—isn't that right across the street from the East Side's Portland Brew outpost at 1921 Eastland? Indeed it is, but owners Jarod and Courtney Delozier say the folks at Portland Brew have been nothing but encouraging.
"Our hope is that we will complement them in some ways and hopefully help East Nashville grow as a local coffeehouse district," Jarod says. "My wife and I have always talked about having a place where we could stand behind the counter and watch people have conversations and meet for the first time."
Ugly Mugs will stock Drew's Brews, the Nashville upstart that's the java of choice for Crema and Sip, along with eight to 10 loose-leaf teas provided by Minnesota-based TeaSource. Jarod says the shop will serve iced teas in summer as well as homemade chai made without concentrates. He adds that Ugly Mugs will offer pastries, breakfast items and desserts, but they won't be made in house: he says he'd rather outsource to local specialists such as The Sugar Bar than "serve mediocre food." For the same reason, he says that instead of serving smoothies he'll direct people to Fresh Blends, the concentrate-free juice bar that will open next door in the same building.
Jarod hopes to be open by mid-July, at which time Ugly Mugs will start booking live music as well. In the meantime, enough about East Nashville. Now that java mills rival cupcakeries as Nashville's growth industry of the moment, where's the coffeehouse that Woodbine wants so desperately—preferably within walking distance of Peachtree Street?
Many thanks to the folks up at Magic Hat Brewing Company, who may or may not have thumbed their Vermont noses at Tennessee liquor laws by shipping a couple of bottles of #9 ale to the Scene. Maybe we shouldn't have taken receipt of the package, but how were we to know the plain-brown box contained such boozy contraband? Hell, it wasn't even addressed to us. So now we've got the USPS on our asses too.
In any case, we cracked open the bottles in the newsroom, and as the fruity aroma of apricots mingled with the virtual stench of blog ink, a couple of reporters swooned with recent olfactory memories of Bonnaroo, where, apparently, the #9—along with Magic Hat's Circus Boy and Lucky Kat—was pouring like the sweat running down an aging hippie's bra-less cleavage.
We may not have been in the emerald hills of Manchester, Tenn., but we did start drinking at 10:30 a.m., and our taste-test did have a hint of festival merriment—that is, if you were at a festival of cubicles, stale coffee and outdated Dell computers that lasted from approximately 10:30 to 10:42 a.m. In that qualified carnival atmosphere, our taste-testers made the following observations:
“It's really fruity—maybe too fruity for me.”
“But it would be a great beach beer.”
“Dude, it's from Vermont.”
“I got some dish-washing liquid, right before the finish.”
“Yes, soap. Me too, but it's not bad.”
“It's no gateway drug. I mean, don't really like beer, and this is not the one that's going to win me over.”
“Yeah, It's no Boone's Farm.”
So it is in the opinion of the Nashville Scene tasters that Magic Hat #9 is our favorite beach beer from Vermont that doubles as a spring-scented non-abrasive detergent.
You can try it yourself at the concession stand of the Belcourt Theatre. The only local theater to serve beer with Bergman, the Belcourt began offering Magic Hat #9 this week.
Picture this: You're headed home from a movie, but you feel like stopping on the way home for a nightcap. And by nightcap, we mean a slice of Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie—made mostly with locally grown and produced ingredients—and a cup of specialty coffee. That tantalizing possibility appeared over the weekend on the Maple Sugar blog. A call to baker/blogger Rebekka Seale raised our hopes even more.
Seale is closing down her popular dessert blog, alas. But she's devoting her energies now to The Sugar Bar, a bakery and dessert bar she plans to open this year. It's a venture with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Michelle Branch, formerly half of the popular country duo The Wreckers, who posted the news on her own site last weekend. Seale says she and Branch met through Seale's former blog The Cake Parlour, an outgrowth of her wedding-cake bakery of the same name, and struck up a friendship over their mutual passion for baking.
A Belmont alum who moved to Nashville from Alabama, Seale credits Branch with the Sugar Bar concept, which she describes on Maple Sugar as
a sweet little bake shop where you can purchase cakes, pies, cupcakes, and other old-fashioned homemade goodies, but also a place where you can go after dinner and have a specialty cocktail or local dessert wine with your slice of French vanilla almond cake.
Right now they're eyeing a location in 12South, but their immediate mission is to rent a commercial kitchen to provide catering as well as desserts for local coffeehouses. (If anyone knows of one, contact Seale through the website.) For regular progress reports, check out Seale's new blog—which carries (along with a photo of one heckaslammin' peach pie) a link to a menu.
Items listed include cupcakes (chocolate, red velvet, the usual suspects), baby cupcakes (pina colada!) and layer cakes (caramel, German chocolate, hummingbird), along with seasonal pies, cookies, and Mamah's Classic Banana Pudding ("in its own Mason jar"). To place orders, contact orders(at)thesugarbar.com. And don't schedule any blood work the day after they're delivered.
The following typed sign hangs on the glass front door of Green Hills Grille:
To all the family and friends of the Green Hills Grille,
It is a with a heavy heart that we must inform you that after 18 years of service we will be closing as of today. Over the past two decades, we have loved participating and serving this area. You have all been like family to us. Thank you all so much for the memories.
Sincerely, the Green Hills Grille Family
Located at 3805 Green Hills Village Drive, near Regal Cinemas, Green Hills Grille was founded in 1990 by Phil Hickey, a co-founder of Cooker restaurants. The original Santa Fe-style restaurant was located in the building that now houses Nero's Grille. In 1994, the restaurant was acquired by Applebee's International, along with Rio Bravo Cantinas.
Four years later, Abe Gustin Jr. and sons Greg Gustin and Guy Taylor acquired the brand under their Florida-based firm, Specialty Restaurant Development, which operated GHGs in Nashville and Knoxville. Both locations closed today.
No one could be reached at the Green Hills location, but an employee answering the phone in Knoxville said that he came into work this morning and learned that Specialty Restaurant Development had filed bankruptcy and closed both stores.
To go along with its new pasta boutique, hot dog store and burgeoning restaurant scene, Germantown is getting a new coffee shop. Kat Roos has begun construction on a 600-sq.-ft. space in the ground floor of the Summer Street Lofts, where she will launch DrinkHaus Espresso & Tea later this summer.
Roos and her husband purchased the tiny apartment a year ago when it was a residence. In the meantime, the homeowners' association of the Summer Street Lofts voted to allow commercial enterprise throughout the development. (As far as Metro was concerned, the building was already zoned for mixed-use development.) So far, Roos, who lives in the nearby Morgan Park development, is the first property owner to take advantage of the zoning change.
DrinkHaus will offer Batdorf & Bronson coffee, organic teas from The Art of Tea and local Bravo Gelato. Roos will produce a few pastries in house and will bring in others from Sydney Trading Company, including a vegetarian panini with fig jam made by STC's queen of tarts, Sydney Garrett-Hayes.
Located at 500 Madison St. #103, across from Germantown Cafe, DrinkHaus is now accepting applications for baristas.
Here's an ethical dilemma for you. If you know a cook so inept he or she could burn water on an unlit eye, you have until June 30 to nominate the poor sap for the title of America's Worst Cook. By so doing, you could make the victim eligible for "a culinary makeover trip-for-two to New York," courtesy of the American Egg Board. But is it worth outing a friend, family member or (shudder) spouse as a culinary serial offender, just to get an expense-paid trip to the Big Apple? We say: only if the nominee invites you along.
I would nominate myself, but I don't really have any cooking disaster stories. Well, except for the time I caught a skillet of bologna on fire and set off my apartment building's smoke detectors. Or the time I didn't wash the fresh-picked spinach for my spinach lasagna, providing my sweetie with a romantic dinner of triple-layered grit. Or the time my Pyrex dish of broiling salmon literally exploded in the oven. Or the time my brother dangled eggs from the rotors of our kitchen ceiling fan and hit top speed. Or the time....
On second thought, gimme that form.
Online grocer Plumgood Food has finally 86'ed its delivery charge. The purple trucks will now deliver groceries—including 5,000 brand-name products—without nickel-and-diming you at the online checkout.
The free delivery goes into effect today and replaces the existing $4 fee, which was recently reduced from $8. The change means that, for the first time, you can compare Plumgood prices to supermarket prices apples to apples.
Speaking of which, Plumgood is selling Fuji and Granny Smith apples for 99 cents apiece (and organic Fujis are on sale for 89 cents right now), while Kroger charges $1.99 a pound. Rule of thumb says that one pound of apples equals either two large apples, three medium apples or four small apples. So, depending on the size of Kroger’s produce, that’s just about apple parity.
How do you like them apples?
Question: If a particular vegetable turns you off, why would you eat it if it were processed into a generically tasty, crunchy foodstuff of indeterminate origin, then shaped to resemble a cave etching of its former self? Behold the Snapea Crisp—the snack of choice for people who want to consume something green and pea-shaped, but would prefer it tasted like that old bus-station vending-machine staple Andy Capp's Pub Fries.
A somewhat puzzled appreciation follows after the jump.
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