Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vegan Crunk Cooking Demonstration at Whole Foods in Franklin Saturday [EVENT CANCELED]

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 7:42 AM

Update: The event has been canceled.

BBQ tempeh and carrot sliders with poppyseed coleslaw
  • Cookin' Crunk
  • BBQ tempeh and carrot sliders with poppyseed coleslaw
Last year, I told you about Cookin’ Crunk, the vegan Southern and soul food cookbook by Bianca Phillips, the author of the popular Vegan Crunk blog. If you haven’t had the chance to check out her book (which I’ve seen on the shelf at the Whole Foods in Nashville), here’s a great opportunity to meet Bianca and find out more about the food she makes.

Bianca will be at the Whole Foods Market on McEwen in Franklin this Saturday, June 29, to demostrate her recipes for BBQ Tempeh and Carrot Sliders and poppyseed coleslaw. These are great dishes to have in preparation for a Fourth of July celebration. I know, you’re thinking, “No meat? But, Amurrica!” Yes, I understand you, dear omnivores, but no meat means a greatly reduced chance of food poisoning from food that’s sitting out in the July heat for a picnic. The coleslaw I make can stand up to levels of heat far longer than a mayonnaise-based slaw, for example. Plus, it's extra good with a little dill or pickle juice added in.

Anyway, check out Bianca’s demo at Whole Foods, where she’ll also answer questions and sell and sign copies of her book. She will have free samples of the food to share, as well.

Vegan Crunk Vegan Cooking Demonstration
Saturday, June 29, at 3 p.m.
Whole Foods Market — Franklin
1566 West McEwen Drive

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Protest of Farmworker Conditions Planned for Belle Meade Publix Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

According to a press release sent to Bites by an organization calling itself Nashville Fair Food, a coalition of concerned Nashvillians will descend on the Belle Meade Publix to protest the supermarket chain's "non-participation in the Fair Food Program, a human rights and farm labor reform which has been recently lauded by the White House and the United Nations."

Protesters will be joined by Nely, "a tomato-picker from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker organization in Immokalee, Florida which has worked with the FBI to liberate 1,300 individuals from conditions of forced labor, or what the FBI calls 'modern-day slavery.' " They plan to gather at Vine Street Christian Church at 6 p.m., then head to Publix at 7 p.m. to demonstrate and deliver a letter intended for Publix management.

Full release below:

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Kalamatas Team to Open Epice, a Lebanese Bistro, in 12South

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Maher Fawaz, the Lebanese-born restaurateur who’s operated the popular Green Hills cafe Kalamatas for nearly 10 years, is getting ready to launch a new venture in the bustling 12South neighborhood.

It will be called Epice, from the French word for spice (pronounced roughly as EH-piece). Unlike the original Kalamatas and its two spinoffs (Belmont Boulevard and Brentwood), the new place will be a full-service restaurant.

Fawaz describes Epice as a Lebanese bistro, with authentic flavors and recipes and a small selection of wines to complement the cuisine. (He’ll also offer a local beer or two.) The menu will be created by Fawaz and Beth Collins, Kalamatas’ executive chef since opening day. Some of the Mediterranean dishes will be familiar, some will be more unusual in Nashville — Fawaz promises some examples of real Lebanese home cooking.

Epice is taking over the space at 2902 12th Ave. S. formerly held by the Clean Plate Club catering business (which has moved to Houston Street). Fawaz hopes to open it mid-August.

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First Bite: The Slider House

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 5:42 AM

Sharing a wall, parking lot and at least one owner with Soulshine Pizza, The Slider House in Midtown seeks to fulfill the late-night munchie needs of Nashvllians as they spill out of bars in the area. With a last call for food at 3 a.m. scheduled to coincide with closing hours at marathon drinking spots, it might just be your go-to destination for late night cravings.

Notice I said "your go-to destination." Not that I didn't like it on my first visit or won't be returning. I just went for lunch since the last time I saw 3 a.m. was from the other side when I had to wake up early to catch a flight.

Back to that parking lot, finding a spot for your jalopy can be tricky at any hour in Midtown, so The Slider House offers valet during most of the hours that they are open for $2. It would be worth the price just to watch the young valets from Soulshine, The Slider House and Chuy's battle to find the few available legal spots left. (And that's before Two Boots Pizza opens soon.) I think next time I may just hop in the passenger seat so I can learn the secret side street where they stash those cars and get a little exercise as I walk back to the restaurant.

After you enter through the large sliding garage doors that open onto a nice patio, your senses are assaulted by the kitschy decor of the dining area. Hundreds of beer cans line the ceiling and a large mural of a scene from The Big Lebowski and posters from Nashville rock 'n' roll shows of the past plaster the walls. Apparently one of the partners in the venture was an owner of Jack Legs Speakeasy downtown, so there's a nice historical record of that establishment traced among the handbills. Some of the tables are made from repurposed wood from the lanes at the old Melrose Bowling Alley, so that's another nice piece of Nashville nostalgia.

All those beer cans are indicative of the bar selection at The Slider House. They pride themselves on offering 53 beers in cans, which are all recycled after use, with the money raised going to an autism charity. To encourage your indirect donation to charity, The Slider House sells buckets of cans and gives patrons a free koozie with their first beer. If you're not into aluminum, there's also a full bar for your drinking pleasure.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

The Agonies — and Exit — of Paula Deen

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 5:55 PM

In reaction to the mounting controversy over statements Paula Deen made in a deposition, Food Network declined to renew the butter-loving cook's contract, which was up at the end of the month.

Hold on, we're gonna need 30 seconds or so …

OK. Better.

On Wednesday, details of the deposition leaked to TMZ including some comments where Deen acknowledged using the N-word.

Lawyer: Well, then tell me the other context in which you've used the N-word?
Paula: I don't know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me.

Lawyer: Like a joke?
Paula: No, probably a conversation between blacks. I don't — I don't know. But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do.

But this morning, it was all going to be OK, because she was scheduled for a heart-to-heart with Matt Lauer on the Today show. Then, maybe remembering that Lauer isn't always the easiest out in the world (just ask Paul Ryan), Deen cancelled her appearance at the last minute.

A befuddled Lauer noted the snub on Twitter.

Continue reading »

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Matt Bolus to Helm New Restaurant, The Kitchen at 404, in Upcoming Gulch Hotel

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 1:43 PM

(I stole this photo from Matt Bolus Twitter feed)
  • Matt Bolus hanging out with a friend last year. (I stole this photo from his Twitter feed)
Gulch watchers have been keeping a close eye on construction next to The Station Inn, and now there’s some welcome restaurant news to report.

In March, my Nashville Post colleague William Williams reported that developer Mark Banks is planning a small boutique hotel on the site, with space carved out for a little restaurant.

Now we know more. Chef Matt Bolus, who built a strong reputation in Charleston, S.C., before moving to Nashville and working for Watermark and Flyte, is the man in charge of the new Gulch restaurant, which will be called The Kitchen at The 404. (The restaurant address will be 404 12th Ave. S.)

Bolus told me the restaurant’s going to be charmingly intimate, a little more than 40 seats, with a tiny bar where patrons can chat and get to know the bartender crafting their special cocktails.

The chef added that other details, including the menu, are still in the works. Bolus did acknowledge that the cuisine will represent the food he’s come to be known for, “local and regionally based.” (I think we can take that to mean Southern-inspired.) “Pure, honest food,” he added. The opening is expected later this summer. “Sooner rather than later, I hope,” Bolus said with a laugh, because his wife Kelly is expecting their first child Aug. 3. (What’s with chefs launching restaurants and welcoming babies simultaneously? Hal Holden-Bache did the same thing with Lockeland Table.)

We’ll keep you posted as more details are revealed.

A version of this story appeared in my Food Biz column in today's print issue of The City Paper and online in the Nashville Post.

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The End of The Road [Eating Our Way Down Nolensville Pike]

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Ill always love you, El Amigo.
  • I'll always love you, El Amigo.
And with a heavy heart I must tell you that I have come to the end of The Road, my yearlong adventure in the wild and wooly Nolensville Pike food scene. I’m moving to less landlocked-pastures — shippin’ up to Boston as the Dropkick Murphys say — and as such I’m no longer going to be in a position to review restaurants here in Nashville’s most diverse neighborhood. Which is a bummer because I’ve had a lot of beautiful experiences, met a lot of great people and enjoyed some really great food — and I barely scratched the surface.

There is such a vibrant food scene on this street, and in the year I’ve covered it things have only gotten better, brighter, more interesting. Hell, even the chain restaurants are stepping up their game — lookin’ good Captain D! — which makes me think there are only wonderful things in the neighborhood’s future. With each new wave of immigrants — and it should be noted, the more recent influx of the young and hip — the neighborhood gets a new coat of paint and a broader palette, and I’m envious of the folks that will be right in the thick of that transformation. That said, my in-laws are still here, so you can expect to find me cruising the strip for new spots around all the major holidays. You can take the boy off The Road, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be making pilgrimages back.

And with that I would like to thank all of you, the readers, for taking the journey down Nolensville Pike with me, for all your comments, criticisms and dining tips. I know that I generally skewed towards positivity in this column, and that didn’t always sit well with folks, but I want you to understand that the positivity is solely rooted in my love for other cultures and the independent business folks who toil long and hard to keep us fed. If I had decided to review nothing but corporate chains I would have been a seething ball of hatred at every turn, and frankly, that’s no fun. (Well, it is for a little while, but ... ) Needless to say, the very premise of the column made me very happy, and I apologize if folks wanted more hard-hitting reviews.

I’d also like to thank my editors for supporting this wacky plan and my wife for letting me drag her into parts unknown every week. But if you enjoy my writing, you’ll still be able to find me over in the music section — music is more telecommuter friendly, food not so much. All in all though, this has been a wonderful experience and I really appreciate all the opportunities that the town, this neighborhood and this blog have afforded me over the years. And now if you could all say a little prayer for me in hopes that I can actually find a decent pupusa in Massachusetts.

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Mason’s Southern Provisions: This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 9:26 AM

This beauty of a plate is called A Devil of an Egg
In this week's Dining column, Scene restaurant critic Carrington Fox checks out Mason’s Southern Provisions, the new restaurant in the renovated and refreshed Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on West End.

The hotel has been an institution for decades, and it's nice to see such a robust infusion of newness in the restaurant and bar. Fox says:

In a cocktail lounge dominated by wall-sized television screens, comfortable cowhide-covered furniture stampedes across rusticated wood floors toward a dramatic chandelier constructed of hundreds of lightbulbs in Mason brand canning jars. ...

On our evening visit, we were stunned to see and hear such festivity in the formerly buttoned-up locale. Welcome to It City, baby. Across from the clattering bar, a more intimate dining room awaits, where carpeted floors and richly upholstered booths and chairs absorb the clanging cocktail conversation.

Fox notes that Mason's chef, Brandon Frohne is a familiar figure despite his youthful age (we at Bites have written about him quite a bit) what with "his prolific food blogging, his adventures in urban gardening, or his Forage South pop-up suppers."

Continue reading »

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Transitions and Tombstones: Feast, Mac's, a Couple of Roosters and a Royal Thai

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 7:18 AM

You know that as fast as new restaurants are opening in Nashville, there has to be at least some collateral damage. Just in the past few months, several old favorite establishments have announced either major changes or closings and here are some more.

Lesley first introduced you to Feast last year, but the restaurant just never really hit its stride as a replacement for Germantown East after the shocking death of that restaurant's chef/co-owner Jay Luther. Feast owner Manny Hatz valiantly stepped in to attempt to provide a neighborhood dining experience for the residents of the Fifth & Main condominium building, but after several tweaks to the menu and dining room concept, he has finally decided to completely rejigger his operation. After initially announcing Feast's closure on Facebook, Hatz amended his stance due to customer demand so Fifth and Main residents still have a place to hang out while the concept reboots. According to the official statement:

We’ve listened to your feedback, and we’re cooking up something new. Thank you for your patronage. You’ll be among the first to know what’s next.

While Feast will ultimately reopen as a new concept, building residents and neighbors requested that the restaurant remain open in the interim. To accommodate those requests, we are open Tuesday — Saturday, 3 p.m. to close (between 9-10 p.m.) with a full bar and extremely limited menu. This will continue indefinitely until we are ready to make the next move on this journey. We’re thankful to our loyal guests.

Best of luck to the Feast team and we're anxious to see what's next.

Not so lucky were the nice folks behind Mac's Restaurant on Eighth Avenue across from Flyte. I really enjoyed meeting the young folks who were trying to make a go of the former location of 24/7 Fish and Grits, and I hoped that their meat pies might be a unique enough of a specialty to help them get a toe hold. But alas, it was not meant to be and the building is currently available for lease.

Continue reading »

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The Weekly Open Thread — Windowless Restaurant Edition

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 5:48 AM

Would you like windows with your meal?
  • Would you like windows with your meal?
Last week, Bites received the following email from a reader on the topic of windowless restaurants:

Along the lines of the moratorium on barnwood, I'd love to see a post on how much the environment of a restaurant affects a diner's enjoyment and the influence of the overall experience. I was thinking of six restaurants off the top of my head that are considered great (debatable) Nashville restaurants and have no windows. And to us, no windows often translates into claustrophobia/the airport experience. They are: Virago (maybe they are going for a Vegas-y feel?), Flyte (seems like a converted strip club), DeSano Pizza (like a converted roller rink), The Catbird Seat, Park Cafe, and Mason's. They all could at least use a few skylights. And these aren't even chains like Buca di Beppo that champions the no windows schtick!

Where do you stand on the window issue? Do you prefer a restaurant to have a view of the world and/or natural light? Couldn't care less?

And what else is on your mind?

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