If you haven't been out to Ri'chard's Louisiana Café since former Scene editor Liz Garrigan wrote her one and only food review, it might be time for a return trip to the Whites Creek eatery. Richard Trest, the musician-restaurateur-horse farmer who once explained that he didn't serve étouffée because it was too high-maintenance, has changed his tune. He has added the grueling roux-based delicacy to his dinner menu, and he now offers the ultimate New Orleans-style labor of love—beignets—at brunch.
In the three years since he opened his restaurant-music venue in a historic storefront, Trest has also taken a turn toward seafood and healthy dining options, adding more soups and salads. With a menu of blackened and grilled fish, fried pickles, vegetarian red beans and rice, and po'boys and muffalettas on Gambino's bread, Richard's serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday starting at 5:30 p.m. At Sunday brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), he adds waffles, banana pancakes and other breakfast fare. Just don't ask him to flambé a bananas Foster for you. To do that requires rum, and Ri'chard's doesn't have a liquor license.
For a listing of upcoming musical performances at Ri'chard's, click here.
I drove past Islas Las Marias Mexican restaurant for ages on my way to Phat Bites, assuming the Donelson Pike eatery offered standard issue splat-Mex. Not sure what finally lured me in—probably I noticed the word “mariscos” painted on the front window. It translates as “seafood,” but to me it’s a flashing, multicolored banner reading “YOUR CEVICHE IS HERE—SLAM ON THE BRAKES. PARK ANYWHERE. HURRY.”
And it’s a sensational fish ceviche, worth slamming on the brakes. Served salad-style, hand-chopped, full of lime and cilantro flavors and in a generous portion for $7. There’s a different, equally good shrimp ceviche in a spicy tomato marinade, some bites being one-alarm spicy and others two-alarm. It’s an equally big portion for $8.
There’s also a lunch menu, and maybe sometime we’ll try the other foods. But so far, there’s no reason not to get the ceviche.
Islas Las Marias
450 Donelson Pike
Like Spinal Tap axeman Nigel Tufnel and his guitars, Nashville barbecuer Catherine Mayhew loves each of her six grills for a different reason. The Weber BabyQ is good for tabletop grilling. She loves Smoky Mountain smokers so much that she owns two. The Char-Broil Professional was bought for testing the recipes in her barbecue book, Handy Mom’s Guide: Grilling (Cool Springs Press).
Mayhew, who put in time in the newsrooms of several local news organizations, fired up the grill every day for months to prepare and test everything from Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Crostini to Asian Chicken Salad, her favorite recipe in the book. “It tastes just like the salad at Nick of Thyme,” she says of the late, lamented Brentwood cafe/deli/takeout.
A Kansas City Barbecue Society certified master judge, Mayhew knows her way around a slab of pork. (Or beef or salmon.) She also belongs to a competition team, Chicks in Charge.
You’d expect her grill collection to include one that goes to 11, and that would describe The Big Green Egg. She says it "goes from 250 for smoking to 900 degrees or higher...the ceramic holds in moisture. Everything done in it is delicious.”
The book is available at Borders and Davis-Kidd, and also on amazon.com. Check Bites again Thursday for Mayhew’s technique for testing grilled meat for doneness.
With the anticipation of Navin R. Johnson waiting for his phone book, I am awaiting the release of the fall schedule of cooking classes at Whole Foods' Salud demonstration kitchen in Green Hills. In the meantime, there's a handful of classes left on the summer calendar.
If you think chicken is so bland it may as well be tofu with feathers, join Cindy Chambers for a lesson in goosing the bird. Her two-hour course will cover the basics of marinating, grilling, baking and sauteing chicken and will provide easy recipes to banish your poultry blues. The class is 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 26 and costs $40.
Or wipe grilling, baking and sauteing from your vocabulary for a night of Raw Foods Bliss. Nashville's Mistress of the Undercooked, Laura Button, will unleash her raw talent on a selection of chili, cucumber salad, melon juice and fruity sorbet. The class is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 27 and costs $30.
If raw food is a little parsimonious for your palate, indulge in a girls' night out with a hands-on class featuring Mediterranean cuisine. Cindy Chambers will lead you through a menu of Moroccan phyllo cups with almonds, raisins, carrots and chicken; artichoke salad; grilled sea bass with capers, tomatoes and saffron rice; and lemon panna cotta with macerated berries. The $60 class is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28.
If you thought croissants and bear claws grew on trees, Breakfast Baking is for you. Merijoy Lantz Rucker will lead you through the floury fine points of scones, muffins, sticky buns, streusel and coffee cake. The $50 class is 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 and includes lunch.
Salud Cooking School is located upstairs in the Whole Foods Market at 4021 Hillsboro Pike. Register online or call 440-5100.
Intrepid Scene photojournalist Eric England recently called our attention to Ghot Wingz, a new dine-in restaurant in East Nashville just north of Nashville Auto Diesel College. James and Sharonda Stone opened the restaurant in June and are serving a menu of burgers, fried whiting and catfish, pork chops, salads and fried chicken. As the name suggests, the main offering is 14 flavors of chicken wings, including Asian heat, Buffalo and garlic-parmesan.
James, a veteran chef and alumnus of J. Alexander's, developed the recipes, and he fries everything to order. We haven't been to Ghot Wings yet, but Eric offers this critique: “The wings are pretty damn good—sweet sauce with bit of pepper floatin' around in there.” Words like that are worth a thousand photographs.
Located at 2501 Gallatin Ave. (facing McClurkin), Ghot Wingz is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Starting Sept. 7, Ghot Wingz will be open 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday. As always, if you get there before we do, please report back on Bites.
Today you’ll encounter a new byline on Bites, as Nicki Wood joins us as a regular contributor. Of course, Nicki’s byline isn’t new to food journalism. She was a longtime food critic for the Nashville Banner (may it rest in peace) and has contributed to the Scene and Fine Cooking, among other publications.
A newly minted Certified Culinary Professional, Nicki has been editing cookbooks for a decade, and she is the dogged kitchen adventurer behind the blog Tupperware Avalanche, where she chronicles the culinary travails of an Anglophilic, carb-dodging bicycling fanatic who likes to pickle things, bake stuff and explore the aisles at K & S Market. Bites readers may just know her as “Fluffernutter.”
Fluffernutter’s arrival is part of the beefed-up food coverage you can expect to see at the Scene in coming weeks. We’re also preparing to launch a weekly dining newsletter, full of local news, foods, events and features to help you plan your culinary outings across Nashville. When that’s ready, we’ll let you know where and how to sign up.
In the meantime, a hearty Bites welcome to Nicki.
It's Friday, so the heart naturally yearns for a deluxe Nashville hot fish sandwich: planks of fried whiting piled high with yellow mustard, hot sauce, onion and pickle and toothpicked between endearingly inadequate slices of lunchbox-issue white bread. This monster is the Giant King of Nashville hot fish sandwiches, as Eastside Fish's Donald "Bo" Boatright will be the first to tell you. We found this photo and Michael Stern's accompanying write-up at Roadfood.com, and you can find the real deal at 2617 Gallatin Pike, where Mr. Pink heartily endorses the hot wings as well as Nashville's coolest fashion accessory, the "Crunkest Fish in Town" T-shirt. Call in your order at 227-8388.
• Worst-Case Scenario Dept.: You get home, your refrigerator has died, and all your condiments are now Petri dishes of angsty bacteria. Which ones do you restock? Ulika has a list of desert island dressings no kitchen can survive without, even if I'm currently surviving without some of them (sweet chili sauce, Cheez Whiz). My own additions to the list: soy sauce, Cholula, Louisiana Gold, and the most glorious of all enhancement aids, Omni Hut Teriyaki Sauce.
• At Nashville Restaurants, Sweetgrass Smokerie incurs the undying wrath of a Sicilian simply by taking its spicy smoked tofu on a pretzel roll off the menu. I would think anything that obliterates tofu could only be a diner's friend, but Katie the Veggie Eater does not agree. Even so, the "grits tots" they tried across the patio at Edisto (which caused a mild disagreement, if you can have such a thing with a Sicilian) sound like fried lumps of genius.
• Maybe it's because the venerable Abelmoschus esculentus stands up to drought like the Iron Mike of the vegetable kingdom, but okra seems to be in the air these days. (Not literally, thank goodness, as driving would be difficult.) The latest to take notice is Natalie at Fear Ye No Carb, who provides a roasting recipe that she says does away with that off-putting okra slime. But isn't the slime part of the appeal? If I ran the American Okra Council (if there were an American Okra Council), I would market it as vegan escargot.
• Speaking of vegans, Yvonne Smith, Nashville's Traveling Vegetarian, is up for a 2008 Veggie Award for "Favorite Veg Website" from VegNews magazine. We at Bites do not advocate ballot-box stuffing...well, yeah, actually, we kinda do. So vote for Yvonne before Aug. 31 and make sure you fill out at least 50 percent of the ballot. All write-ins must be vegan, which is a polite way of saying "Famous Dave's" is not an acceptable candidate.
This week, we stopped by In Dyer Need Café, the lunch spot that filled the proverbial clean, well-lighted space vacated when Provence left the Roundabout. There, in the shadow of Musica’s nine naked butts, owner Racquel Dyer delivers an efficient roster of fresh salads, sandwiches, pastries and coffees to the workday crowd in and around the gleaming high-rise at 1600 Division.
If you are one of the legions of devotees of the sandwiches that come out of the bright-pink Sub Stop at 17th and Broadway, it could be time to kick the nostalgia into high gear. The future of Sub Stop is a little fuzzy, since the property was acquired two months ago for potential development.
Judy Hall, who co-owns the business with Bill Taylor, says they have no plans to close or move right now. “We have not been given any notice that we should be packing up,” Hall said, adding that her lease agreement requires the owner to give three months' notice before taking over the space.
Earlier news reports have said that Sub Stop was closing in the very near term, and crowds poured in for a last taste of the popular sandwiches. But chances are there's time for a few more lunches in the Pepto-pink landmark. With the development market in its current slowdown, it's unlikely that anything will happen at 1701 Broadway in the next year, said Charlie Robin, who manages the property.
“We're taking it one day at time,” Hall said. “We've been here for 26 years, so we're going to work until they tell us it's time to do something else.”
When my mom pinched a leaf off my basil plant yesterday, she said the vibrant taste transported her to Florida in the 1950s, when she used to eat a fruit with a taste and smell akin to the basil. She doesn't know the name and says she hasn't seen one since she first rode in an Edsel, but here's how she remembers it:
Orange-red, ridged like a pumpkin, skin like a tomato, the size of a cherry tomato. She picked it from a shrub (as opposed to a vine), and she can't say with certainty that it wasn't toxic.
Mom, are you thinking of this?
I hope not, because that's homemade vegan candy corn.
Can anyone name that fruit?
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