Friday, March 30, 2012

Puckett's Team To Open Restaurant in Gray's Drugstore Site in Franklin

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Andy Marshall, who owns the Puckett's cafes in downtown Nashville and Franklin, has purchased the former Gray’s Drugstore building near Franklin's historic square and plans to open it this fall as a new restaurant.

The Gray’s Drugstore building at 332 Main St. is known for its iconic neon sign, but the space has been vacant for a while, and Marshall said that bothered him. “As vibrant as downtown Franklin is, it’s been a shame to see it empty,” Marshall told me in this week's Food Biz column in the Nashville Post section of The City Paper.

Marshall's a busy guy. He and his team are also expanding the Puckett's brand, with a new location coming to Columbia this fall and a new Puckett's Trolley already being deployed to festivals and private events.

The new restaurant in Franklin is a different concept, which Marshall is calling Gray’s on Main. His operating partners in the project are Joni and Michael Cole.

The menu at Gray’s on Main will take inspiration from Southern foodways, Marshall said, including the cuisine of the Carolinas and the Low Country, with lots of seafood. There will be an emphasis on shared plates, with “appetizers for people to sit down and enjoy together, as family or friends.”

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New Regulations 'Good for the City, Good for Food Trucks,' Says Riffs' Lofback

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 10:57 AM

As many of you have already heard, Metro — after weeks of deferrals in Traffic and Parking Commission hearings — has laid out a framework for food truck regulation, in a pilot program that rolls out, so to speak, next week.

Joey Garrison's got the rundown over at The City Paper, but here are the basics: Downtown will be divided into nine vendor zones where food trucks will be allowed; outside downtown, food trucks will be required to keep a set distance from driveways and from brick-and-mortar restaurants; trucks will be required to buy a permit and be inspected regularly; food trucks serving on private property will be required to have documentation showing they have been invited. The details, including how much these permits will cost, are yet to be worked out.

This might sound like a lot of red tape and bureaucracy for mobile eateries to navigate, but Nashville Food Truck Association president (and Riffs Fine Street Food chef/operator) B.J. Lofback tells Bites this is not a "crackdown," as some people have characterized it to him.

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Wandering Wino: Spring Break Edition

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 7:27 AM

As the April showers begin to wash away March pollen, it's time to put away the heavy tannic reds and think of the warmer-weather wines. Your favorite local wine shop can definitely point you in the right direction, and several of them are already popping the corks on the first "pool pounders" of the year. Put the top down and head out to try some of these winners over the next week.

Woodland Wine Merchant will be having a free "Red, White and Pink" tasting on Saturday, March 31, from 3 to 5 p.m.. They'll be opening:

Tintero Grangia, $12
Bright and springy, this Italian white has all the tingly freshness to fit the season. It's something like Italy's answer to Vinho Verde, a little effervescent and a softly tropical, perfect for the porch or the table.

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Pays D'Oc Rosé $15
Just off the boat, the Bila Haut Rose is an elegant and refreshing wine from one of the leaders in biodynamic farming in the south of France.

Cantine Valpane $15
The Monferrato zone in Piedmont produces one of the more classic expressions of barbera. This is a refreshing and very likeable style of barbera with plenty of lively fruit.

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King Market Rules at Weekly Open Thread

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 5:41 AM

In this week's dining review, Carrington Fox visits King Market, the hybrid grocery-store-and-eatery on Antioch Pike.

If you haven't checked out Sunnee Saysack's enterprise (they also sell gold jewelry, in case you're in the market for some bling), you owe it to yourself to head out there for some transcendentally good Southeast Asian fare.

Carrington found herself bowled over by a surprising delicacy: fish maw stew, studded with hard-boiled quail eggs and strips of fish stomach — actually the gas bladder the fish uses to control buoyancy. Even Saysack's daughter Nina, who manages the restaurant, admits that the fish guts are a little slimy.

"Slimy, yes, but also fabulous," Carrington writes."The silky smooth and slightly thickened broth is strewn with pulled chicken, dark threads of julienned mushrooms, finely minced garlic, bamboo strips and firm quail eggs, which burst like grape tomatoes. To dub such a delicacy 'fish stomach soup' is to undersell its richly textured and deeply flavored medley of earth, sea and sky."

How has your week been, Bitesters? Any delicious surprises? Thoughts, questions or musings? This is the perfect forum for spilling your guts.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Opry Mills Reopens Today with Lots of New and Returning Dining Options

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 7:38 AM

I'll admit that I've been a mall walker more than once in my life. Before I joined the YMCA, I used to walk laps around Opry Mills in the antediluvian days when it was the closest mall to my former place of employment. Then I would blow any calories burned by always ordering the Bourbon Chicken at Kelly's Cajun Grill in the food court. I did love that Bourbon Chicken ...

I expect thousands of Nashvillians to descend on Opry Mills today for the grand reopening celebration, so it'll probably be a while before I get back to visit. But I have managed to compile a list of all the eating establishments available for you intrepid shoppers willing to fight the crowds. Here's the most up-to-date list:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Whiskey Wednesday: Belle Meade Bourbon Hits the Shelves

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 8:01 AM

You might notice a new player in the bourbon section of your favorite liquor store as Belle Meade Bourbon makes its long-awaited debut in Nashville this week. Its the brainchild of local brother team Charlie and Andy Nelson, two young entrepreneurs who are working to revive a long defunct brand. In the years before Prohibition, their great-great-great grandfather Charles Nelson ran the Green Brier Distillery near Nashville.

His descendants discovered that they had whiskey in their bloodline and decided to join in the wave of new whiskey distillers sweeping the spirits industry, launching Green Brier Distillery.

The Green Brier Whiskey brand was hugely popular in Tennessee and beyond before statewide Prohibition tolled in 1909. On a trip to visit a butcher in the town of Greenbrier in Robertson County, the Nelson boys and their dad drank from the spring that provided the water for their family's heritage brands.

Visiting the town's historical society, the younger Nelsons discovered two empty bottles of the old brand, and something clicked in their heads that they must try to bring back the old days.

Starting a distillery from scratch is a tall order, even if your family name is already associated with the industry. Picture calling a banker's office and asking for a loan based on this pitch: "We've never made any whiskey yet, but we'd like to borrow enough money to build a fairly substantial chemical engineering facility. Then we'll put our product in barrels in a dark barn for at least four or five years and hopefully we'll have something good to sell after that. So what do you think, Mr. Drysdale? Mr. Drysdale? Hello?"

The Nelson boys are sharp enough to realize that distilling is only part of making great whiskey. A major portion of the process is how you blend and finish the whiskey, and the boys have sought out an established distiller to help them out with the first release of Green Brier Distilling Co. They tasted and selected every barrel that went into the original edition, and then supervised the blending of their bourbon baby, which lies in repose somewhere in Kentucky. This is a very common practice and some of your favorite spirits are actually distilled somewhere other than where they are aged and bottled. (Cough, cough, Bulleit, cough.)

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Red Door Expanding Its Midtown Location

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 5:50 AM

The owners of the popular Red Door Saloon have purchased the property next door to their Midtown location, and they will knock down that structure to expand their bar and add a new deck and parking, the Nashville Post's J.R. Lind reports. Here's the scoop.

The owners of Red Door Midtown hope to have an expansion complete by mid-summer.

Ric Clarke and Kelly Jones — as RC & KJ Properties Inc. — earlier this month snapped up a parcel adjacent to the Midtown bar for $555,000 and then pulled a $25,000 demolition permit one week later.

Clarke told that once the existing structure at 19th and Division is torn down, construction will begin on a 2,000-square-foot expansion of the popular watering hole. The project will comprise 1,000 square feet of interior space and a 1,000-square-foot deck. In addition, the purchase will add 14 new parking spots to the neighborhood.

Clarke said they plan to open the new space July 1, just in time for the bar's 10th anniversary.

The quarter-acre tract was previously owned by David Gabelman, who bought it from a savings and loan in 1991 for $101,000.

Red Door Midtown is at 1816 Division St. There are three other locations: One in East Nashville and two in Florida (Panama City Beach and Destin).


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FiddleCakes Bakery and Cafe Closes for Business

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM

FiddleCakes, the 10th Avenue bakery and cafe known for its decadent desserts along with gluten-free and vegan options, has closed for business. A sign on the door and announcement on the FiddleCakes Twitter account said that Saturday, March 24, was the bakery's final day.

Entrepreneurs Tasha Ross and Lindsay Beckner opened FiddleCakes in October 2009 in a little house-turned-cafe at 2206 Eighth Ave. S. The Scene's Carrington Fox raved about the bakery in 2010. Here's how she described a scone embedded with apricots, figs and brie: "a bewitching contradiction of sandy and spongy textures, whose triple-cream laced crumbs melt away with a sweet whisper of fruit."

In addition to pastries and espresso, the menu included sandwiches, hot panini, salads and soups.

Later, FiddleCakes opened a second cafe at 300A 10th Ave. S. across from Cummins Station, and it became the sole location in January after the closure of the Eighth Avenue original.

Yesterday's tweet offerered few details: "The rumors are true. FiddleCakes is officially closed for business. We truly appreciate all of the wonderful support over the years."

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Cooking Up a Storm with the Nashville Food Project

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 8:19 AM

The Nashville Food Project was established in June 2007 under the name Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Working out of a commissary kitchen at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, the group bought their first catering truck and began making runs into homeless camps three days a week, delivering sack lunch meals. Two years later in January of 2009, Mobile Loaves & Fishes moved to Woodmont Christian Church, when a second catering truck was added to the food project.

In October 2011, Mobile Loaves & Fishes Nashville became The Nashville Food Project, an independent entity that uses local funds and local volunteer labor to address the local problems of poverty and food insecurity in Nashville. Using food donated by local churches and restaurants, volunteer chefs prepare 100 meals Tuesday through Friday to distribute via their two food trucks to needy individuals living in weekly-rent hotels and homeless encampments around the city.

They also grow their own produce in gardens behind the church to provide more food and to educate urban youth about the process and necessity of urban farming. The staff and volunteer chefs are really quite creative as they plan menus around whatever shows up in the kitchen through donations or can be purchased at tremendous discount through Second Harvest Food Bank.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to join Judy Wright and Mary Carter in the kitchen recently as we all worked to prepare 100 nutritious and tasty meals for people living in several North Nashville hotels. Like an episode of Chopped, we took a few minutes to meal-plan as we shopped the pantry to see what was available, with particular attention to ensuring that as little food was wasted as possible. Whenever possible, the Nashville Food Projects tries to use fresh organic vegetables, but they also go through gallons of frozen vegetables too.

One thing was certain, we had to make Judy's meatloaf recipe, because if that doesn't show up on every other Tuesday's truck, there might be some disappointed people clamoring at the trucks at the Savoy Hotel for Miss Judy's meal. A gracious donation leftover from a catering gig by Calypso Cafe was transformed into a sort of chicken chili pie for later in the week. Homemade croutons were made from bread donated by local sandwich shops and from Provence.

We made huge trays of mac-and-cheese with a surprisingly nuanced bechamel whipped up by Chef Mary. Even though we were working in what amounted to an average-size home kitchen with four burners and a couple of extra wall ovens, the team danced a ballet around each other to make sure that everything came out hot in time for the volunteers who load up and drive the food trucks to apportion them into 100 trays in time for a 5 p.m. departure. Time waits for no hungry person.

I was especially impressed by the care the entire organization took to present healthy meals that were also attractive, offering some extra dignity over a stereotypical soup kitchen steam-table line. When confronted with a donation of kale not quite big enough to cook up something substantial for a hundred people, I suggested whipping up a few hotel pans of kale chips and proceeded to crisp them at the last minute to sprinkle on top of some roasted root vegetables as a garnish that might add a little extra nutrition.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Springtime Means It's Time To Ramp It Up!

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 5:50 AM

Around this time every year, Southern chefs get all a-twitter about the emergence of ramps, the flavorful cousin to leeks that are found in the eastern part of the U.S. Served fried or pickled, ramps are a short-term treat in the kitchen, so folks head into the woods to hunt them down usually in April.

Last year the lovely and talented Jennifer Justus wrote an excellent article in the Tennessean about a ramp hunt led by the king of the smoker, Allan Benton. Since ramps are frequently cooked up alongside bacon to intermingle their wonderful garlicky funkiness with the smoke of the pork, Benton is certainly an appropriate guru for leading such an excursion.

Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, our local daily has not allocated the disk space to keep this entertaining account of the adventure online, but Justus fortunately republished her article on her personal blog A Nasty Bite. I hope she doesn't mind extra eyes looking at her slightly embarrassing story of almost running out of gas on the trip, because you should really read it. Besides, her fellow Nashvillians Thomas Williams and Chef Matt Bolus should be more chagrined, anyway, by her account of Benton picking through their hauls of what they thought was the mother lode of ramps. "Lily, lily, lily, ramp, lily, lily, lily..." Heh.

If you'd like to go ramp hunting on your own, North Carolina is the place to head. There are at least three major Ramp Celebrations coming up over the next month or so in the Tarheel state. Courtesy of the N.C. Division of Tourism, here's the skinny on the great search for Allium tricoccum:

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