Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nashville Restaurants Open Thanksgiving Day

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 4:02 PM

While some Bites folks relish obsessing over the perfect method for roasting a turkey at home, others of our food-loving tribe enjoy eating out on Thanksgiving Day.

Last year Jim Ridley compiled an exhaustive list of Thanksgiving restaurant options (everything from Cracker Barrel to Capitol Grille), and it's worth checking out for possible suggestions for this year and phone numbers. (It's always wise to call ahead to confirm a restaurant will be open on the holiday.)

Here are a few more thoughts:

If you're in the mood for fun food but not seasonal fare, Lucky Bamboo China Bistro on Charlotte Pike plans to serve dim sum all day on Thanksgiving. Call 615-760-5930 to reserve a table.

Some people love hockey and popcorn for Thanksgiving, and happily, the Predators take on the Edmonton Oilers at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. Just across Fifth from the arena, the swanky steakhouse the Palm (615-742-7256) is serving a Thanksgiving meal, with a three-course turkey dinner for $55, plus the a la carte menu if you prefer.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Bobbie's Dairy Dip Plans to Stay Open Through Winter

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 10:23 AM

  • Bobbie's Dairy Dip on Facebook
Bobbie's Dairy Dip — the drive-in ice cream and burger joint that's been operating on Charlotte Avenue since the time when drive-in restaurants first became popular — has announced plans to stay open through winter instead of it usual seasonal closing. The announcement, made on the restaurant's Facebook page indicates that there are plans to add heating to the ordering and seating areas recently enclosed with heavy plastic curtains.

For the first time in Bobbie's over 60-year history, we decided to stay open in winter. There shall be ups and downs in this new adventure. Even we put up curtains, this is the least for our family. We are now searching for proper heating system, considering safety of customers, especially our children. It may take a while. Our inventory control system to keep all foods fresh is ready. Thank you for your patience.

From tomorrow, Monday, 11/10/2014, we move to Winter Business Hours. From Monday thru Sunday, we open at 11am and close at 5pm. Also there will be sudden notices depending on severe coldness. Sorry for any inconveniences. Please stay tuned.

This is good news for Bobbie's fans, although now, I've got some 'splainin' to do to my daughter. I told her just the other day that we couldn't stop at Bobbie's because it's only open during the summer. Guess I'm on the hook for a few more trips before it gets too cold. I have to admit, I recently had a cherry ice cream soda and I could definitely stand to have another soon.

Bobbie's Dairy Dip
5301 Charlotte Ave.
Winter hours (may vary based on extreme weather): 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The New Yorker Reveals America's Underground Network of Chinese Restaurant Workers

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 7:42 AM

The New Yorker’s Oct. 13 issue had an interesting story in it, “The Kitchen Network: America’s underground Chinese restaurant workers.” The piece details the journey that many Chinese people make to the United States from restaurant employment agencies in New York’s Chinatown throughout the rest of the country. I read it with great interest because, before moving to Nashville, I’d always been in a community (Memphis) with a large number of Chinese-Americans and new immigrants. Many members of the community came to Memphis from the Mississippi Delta (more here about their history; Lannae Long recently visited Greenville, Miss., so watch her blog for an update) and others have been regularly immigrating to the city because of its established community and The University of Memphis’s renowned Intensive English for Internationals program.

I know all of this now, but I never thought much about it before I moved to Nashville 10 years ago and had trouble finding a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t just standard take-out. In Memphis, folks have a favorite Chinese restaurant like they have a favorite barbecue restaurant. I grew up with Jade East and Formosa and still visit Panda Garden and Mosa, two extensions of the Formosa family of restaurants when I visit. There are plenty of standard take-out restaurants, but also nice sit-down restaurants of the linen napkin and tablecloth sort.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Melting Pot to Close for Renovations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Twenty years ago, downtown Nashville was very different. It was just the beginning of a revitalization process, one of the few that actually took hold (though it moved slowly for the first 10 years). Second Avenue was populated with a number of vacant industrial buildings that are now home to popular restaurants and night spots.

Among those pioneers of the mid-1990s were Mark and Carla Rosenthal, local franchisees of The Melting Pot, who opened their restaurant in the Rhea Building in early 1995. Built in 1887 by Bird S. Rhea as a feed and seed company, the building was later home to to a hardware company, Robert Orr & Company (now just Sysco Nashville, the foodservice provider), and then a woodenware company (source: A Guide to Historic Nashville, Tennessee by James Hoobler), The beautiful building sat abandoned for quite some before the Rosenthals chose it for their location of their restaurant.

In preparation for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the restaurant, it is set to undergo extensive renovations and will close after dinner service this Sunday, Oct. 26, and reopen on Nov. 7. This will be the third renovation in the restaurant's history, one that the owners (with managing partner Demetrius Kelley) promise will ensure that the restaurant continues to be one of the city's most romantic restaurants (as voted in numerous polls of local restaurant-goers, including the Scene's Best of Nashville Readers' Poll). When the restaurant reopens, it will also have the new fall menu available, which includes a lobster cheese fondue and a pumpkin pie white chocolate fondue dessert.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Zumi Sushi to Reboot as Lucky Belly

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Patrick Burke, the CEO of Seed Hospitality, has announced that Zumi Sushi in Hillsboro Village will be altering its sushi concept to reopen as Lucky Belly. The new venture will have a focus on burgers and sushi. Burke says the cuisine pairing grows out of the obsession of many young Japanese on American culture, a phenomenon he calls "Japanacana."

I spoke with Burke and he is extremely excited about the new venture, which also benefits from chef Jason McConnell as a partner. The two launched Two Ten Jack together earlier this year, and McConnell will contribute to menu planning and even help to raise the beef for Lucky Belly's burgers which will be grown to his specifications by Greene Cattle Company near his own farm in Bon Aqua, Tennessee, just outside Nashville.

Expect about eight specialty burgers and eight inventive sushi rolls on the menu at Lucky Belly, along with small-plate options and spiked milkshakes to complement a full bar with Japanese and domestic beers on tap, sake, shochu, Japanese whisky and other libations, much like at Two Ten Jack. Lucky Belly's signature burger will feature house-cured pork belly to replace the traditional bacon on top of the patty.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Chipotle’s Sofritas Have Arrived in Nashville

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Sofritas have landed!
  • Sofritas have landed!
Last year, I wrote a wrap-up of local burrito bowls in which I expressed my disappointment at the absence of Sofritas — Chipotle’s signature organic shredded tofu braised with roasted poblano and chipotle peppers and spices — at the restaurant’s locations in Nashville. The restaurant started offering the vegan item in stages around the country (all the tofu is provided by the same organic, non-GMO tofu supplier in California, so supply was a big part of the reasoning behind the gradual rollout) and has finally added it to the menus of restaurants in the Southeast. All Chipotle restaurants should have Sofritas on the menu by the end of the year.

I was able to get a sneak peek of the Sofritas last week when I stopped by the Belle Meade location. As with all of Chipotle’s “proteins,” you can get the Sofritas in a burrito, taco, burrito bowl or salad. It can also be combined with other proteins (the half chicken/half Sofritas is very popular) and other ingredients, including white or brown cilantro-lime rice, pinto beans or (vegetarian) black beans, salsas, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. I got a burrito salad bowl (essentially, a salad that also has rice) as well as a burrito to get two different taste and texture experiences.

First, the taste; the Sofritas have an excellent flavor and the poblanos and chipotles give it a bit of a kick. You can really taste the smoky flavor, even when doused with the honey vinaigrette dressing. The tofu was more apparent in the burrito and had a texture close to a turkey chili, according to Chipotle’s local marketing person, Mark Pilkington. If you think you don’t like tofu, you should note that it’s so finely shredded, you won’t even realize you’re eating it. In California, Sofritas meals are just as popular among omnivores as vegans.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Sinema To Begin Brunch (With Bubbles) and Well-Mannered Kids Are Allowed

Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 7:00 AM

From the brunch menu at Sinema
  • From the brunch menu at Sinema
Sinema will begin brunch service on Sunday, Oct. 26, featuring a whopping 18 entrees and, for those so inclined, bubble service (more on that below).

Chef Dale Levitski has been previewing entrees (or parts of them) at his last few events. On Wednesday, he rolled out a delicious, hearty stew at the Best of Nashville party that will be the base for one item.

"That dish on the menu is going to be called 'The Day After,' because it's a very savory Tuscan stew with sausage and seafood and chicken and that kind of thing," he told Bites. "We top it with a nice, runny poached egg."

That's a serious hangover cure right there.

The menu promises to be a mix of sweet and savory with different things he's picked up at restaurants like Sprout, Blackbird and one of the first places he worked, Orange.

“I have a deep rooted love for brunch,” said Levitksi. “It started at my very first cooking job cooking for Carol Wallack, who also is known for her brunch technique. It’s the most important meal of the day and deserves the attention of the last meal of the day. I take it seriously, but trust me — it’s a playful experience.”

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

First Bite: As Riffs Opens Restaurant, Changes Coming To Truck And Cafe

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Carlos Davis and B.J. Lofback of Riffs
  • Carlos Davis and B.J. Lofback of Riffs
Sitting in a booth at the new Riffs restaurant in Donelson at lunchtime, co-owner B.J. Lofback is a little peeved. After he had a no-show, no-call by his morning line cook, he spent the early hours cranking out breakfast at his new place instead of preparing some of the things he wanted to show for lunch.

It didn't matter. Even if some of the dishes Bites tried were a work in progress, they still displayed the hallmark Riffs twist on favorite dishes.

Lofback soft-opened the place a few weeks ago. A block off Donelson Pike, Riffs is located in the newly renovated Four Points Sheraton. If it seems like he keeps going east while the rest of the city's dining scene is moving west — Riffs Cafe, which opened last year, is in an office park off Briley Parkway at I-40 — it's a smart gamble. Not only is there a built-in clientele because of the hotel's business-traveler base, there's precious little in the way of fine dining as you approach the eastern border of the county. The hotel's owners specifically sought out Riffs to run the hotel's food.

Between Lofback and his business partner, Carlos Davis, there are now three Riffs entities — and they're all changing a bit:

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Let There Be Birthday Cakes

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 6:49 AM

  • Omni Hotel Nashville
This time of year seems to be pretty popular for birthdays, not just for people, but for businesses as well. Downtown, The Omni Hotel celebrated its first birthday in Nashville with a party and a stunning cake that was modeled after the hotel itself. As part of its celebration, the staff shared some stats from the hotel’s first year in operation:

• Number of cheeseburgers sold in Barlines and Kitchen Notes: More than 50,000
• Pounds of coffee brewed at Bongo Java or sold at Five & TENN: 7,543
• Number of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey drinks sold in Barlines: 11,904
• Number one selling item in Five & TENN retail store: Goo Goo Clusters

Though I wonder if their Goo Goo business will take a hit from the new “pop-up shop” on Third Avenue. And no word on the stat I’d like to see: how many biscuits served at their biscuit bar (located in the Kitchen Notes restaurant). I admit to being skeptical about hotel biscuits when I first heard they were touting them, but tasting is believing. It helps that they’re served with some housemade and other locally made jams, jellies and honey.

Further west (and south), the area’s Nothing Bundt Cakes stores are also celebrating birthdays with special designs including new seasonal designs. I no longer celebrate my birthday, but I was easily convinced to celebrate “the harvest” recently.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Boscos in Hillsboro Village Has Closed, Owner Focusing on Ghost River Brewing

Posted By on Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Note on the door at Boscos
  • Note on the door at Bosco's
With a terse note to customers, Boscos in Hillsboro Village announced that it was closing by email.

Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. has closed its location in Nashville, Tennessee. We appreciate your years of support and invite you to visit us whenever you're in Memphis, TN or Little Rock, AR.

If you are a 2014 Mug Club Member, you will be able to pick up your Mug on Monday, September 22, or Tuesday, September 23, from 9am until 5pm. We apologize for the inconvenience and sincerely appreciate your loyalty.

Sunday was Boscos' final day of operation. Reached at the company's Memphis headquarters, longtime president Jeremy Feinstone said a variety of factors went into the closure.

"It was a long time coming. We did everything we could to do it. We were under financial pressure," Feinstone said. "We had a situation out in Franklin that wasn't so good. It never materialized into the kind of sales we had in Nashville. It was one thing after another."

After the recession, sales at the Nashville store never recovered. When asked if their lease was up, Feinstone said that the brewpup originally had a 15-year lease followed by a short extension that "we have satisfied."

"I'd say that it seemed to have maybe run its course," he said. "I can't put an exact thing on it. I don't think the construction next to us helped very much."

The craft beer climate has changed dramatically in Nashville since Boscos opened at the end of 1994 as one of the city's first brewpubs. Boscos opened its first brewpub in the Memphis suburb of Germantown in 1992.

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