Monday, June 16, 2014

Nashville Originals' Discount Gift Certificates on Sale Wednesday Morning

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Elliston Place Soda Shop is a new Nashville Originals member.
  • Elliston Place Soda Shop is a new Nashville Originals member.
It's time once again for Nashville Originals'— the nonprofit group of Nashville-area restaurants whose goal is "to sustain locally owned restaurants as a critical component of Nashville’s culture" — gift certificate sale this Wednesday, June 18. Several times a year, the group's membership offers gift certificates discounted from face value. The gift certificates make great gifts and are also a good way to try out some new restaurants without having to pay full price.

The group's membership has expanded to more than 50 local restaurants. If it's been a while since you've checked ou the sale, note that new members include Alegria, Blue Moon Waterfront Grille, Bread & Company, Elliston Place Soda Shop, Fleet Street Pub, Gray’s on Main, and Nonna Pizzeria and Wine Bar. Even more recently, Martin’s BBQ Joint, Pizza Perfect, The Row Nashville, and Rumours Wine Bar have joined in. Along with longtime members Fido, Germantown Café, Jackson's, Jimmy Kelly's, and Tin Angel (and a large number of other popular places), many of these restaurants will be offering deals such as $25 and $50 certificates for 30 percent off. Bitester Emeritus Nicki Wood has been nudging me to try the great vegetarian dishes at Alegria, so I'm hopeful they'll offer up a gift certificate for sale.

Be sure to mark your calendars and set an alarm; the most valuable and popular gift certificates sell out fast. Check out the list of restaurants and prioritize your selection. The sale starts "around 7 a.m." but I have seen it start up to 10 minutes before then.

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Around the Mall in 80 Minutes: Adventures in Shopryland Dining

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Not too long ago, my husband had a weekday off, so after picking our daughter up from school, we decided to go to the Opry Mills mall and walk around and check it out for a while. Y’know, have a real touristy experience.

We stayed long enough that we decided to investigate dinner options. It had been years since I’d dined in the mall (the last place I ate might’ve been The Apple Barn, R.I.P.), so we walked around and perused our options for eat-in (read: not food court) dining. It was eye-opening, to say the least. Here’s a wrap-up with some impressions of what we encountered:

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Sunset Grill Offers Two Menus — Inventive Specials and Longtime Favorites — for Newcomers and Loyal Fans

Posted By on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 6:27 AM

I moved to Nashville for the first time in the spring of 1999. I’d never visited Nashville much before and didn’t know a whole lot, so I had to rely on my new co-workers for recommendations on where to live, eat and entertain myself. I got a lot of very bad advice, but at least one good tip for where to take my mother for brunch during her visit over Mother’s Day weekend: Sunset Grill in Hillsboro Village.

Years have passed since then, but I remember it very clearly. We sat in the pleasant atrium dining room, enjoyed the dessert trio (we loved not having to choose just two of the desserts), and my mom had her first celebrity sighting. As we were finishing up, she said, “Lesley, look! It’s Dan Miller!” Mom grew up in Paris, Tenn., where WSMV-TV was the NBC affiliate — and the news station of choice for my grandparents. So anchor Dan Miller was a familiar face, and Mom was mightily impressed that I had chosen a restaurant that was Dan Miller-approved.

I told that story not long ago to Randy Rayburn, proprietor of Sunset Grill during a dinner with a number of other Nashville Foodbloggers. Apparently, the late Mr. Miller was a frequent and beloved customer.

Things have changed recently at Sunset Grill, though. Lunch and brunch are no longer served on a regular basis (as of December), but the restaurant — open since 1990 — still serves dinner every night starting at 4:30 p.m. and continues to offer one of the best deals in town for night owls, the late-night special on Friday and Saturday, when the regular menu is half price from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Another big change at the restaurant, which has had a big effect on the menu is that the executive chef, Chris Cunningham is now also a managing partner. Actually “menus” is more correct, since the restaurant now offers two menus each evening: the “Classics” menu that includes the bestselling items that loyal customers have enjoyed for nearly 25 years and a nightly “Special Menu,” which features an extensive selection of soups, salads, and entrées made with seasonal, often local ingredients. The result is a bit like dining at two different restaurants at the same time.

During my visit, I struggled to decide between the Vegetarian VooDoo Pasta from the Classics menu and the vegan savory roasted chia seed and turnip green cake with blistered tomatoes and arugula from the specials menu. I opted for the vegan special as well as a green tomato salad, both of which had just the right amount of flavors and creativity to make them interesting and delicious. Both were reminiscent of the vegan dishes I’ve had at Etch and Zola, which makes sense when you realize Chef Cunningham worked for Deb Paquette for many years prior to coming to Sunset Grill.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Where to Brunch? Tips for Celebrating Mother's Day

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 6:33 AM

Special stuffed cinnamon roll at Grays on Main just for Mothers Day
  • Special stuffed cinnamon roll at Gray's on Main just for Mother's Day
I remember my first Mother’s Day; my daughter was just a few months old and Nashville was just beginning the process to recover from the 2010 flood. So I wasn’t in much of a mood to party hard. I really just wanted to have some comfort food without dealing with crowds and to just relax. My choice? Waffle House. Triple order of hash browns with toast. It was carby deliciousness and also cheap and fast.

But if you prefer to make more of an event of Mother’s Day this year (or if the special mother in your life does and it’s prudent for you to oblige), there are a lot of great options for celebrating. Check these out and make your reservations soon.

Music City Tippler
is offering a huge brunch menu (which includes a Krispy Kreme burger, shrimp and grits, and a variety of salads) with extended hours, 2 for 1 cocktail specials. And — even better — moms eat free. Moms also eat free at Porta Via locations in West Nashville and Cool Springs (note: one mom per party). Over at Sunset Grill, it’s the kids that eat free (from the children’s menu).

Watermark has a special menu (hello, pimento cheese grits souffle) and is also offering free $25 gift certificates to moms to redeem on Mother’s Day. For the hip mom, there’s the Drag’n Brunch at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum with free entertainment and 2 for 1 mimosas and brunch punch.

As Chris Chamberlain reported last week, Mother’s Day brunch is the last chance you’ll get for regular brunch service at Tin Angel. Over at 360 Bistro in Belle Meade, this Mother’s Day brunch will be the first that the restaurant will serve and will include several seafood specials including ceviche of Peruvian scallops, pan-roasted grouper, and a cioppino (a fish stew) with mussels, clams and monkfish. Riffs is serving a special brunch at Conexión Américas with a portion of proceeds donated to support the center. M Restaurant and Bar and Macke’s will all have special brunch menus but will also serve from their regular menu on Sunday. Macke’s in Green Hills has a lovely dining area in the atrium of a small, quiet shopping center. Kate’s Kitchen and MacK and Kate’s in Franklin will also have special menus and Kate’s Kitchen will be open at 9 a.m. and have live music.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Otaku South Begins Dinner Service Gig This Week at POP

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 5:03 AM

Fans of Otaku South’s ramen will have more chances to enjoy it starting this week at POP in East Nashville. As reported last month, POP is a pop-up restaurant and event space owned by Sarah Gavigan of Otaku South that is intended to serve as a location for events and pop-up dining, particularly for budding pop-up restaurateurs.

POP is not a permanent home for the “occasional ramen shop.” In fact, service will only be offered Tuesday — Friday evenings starting tomorrow, May 6 at POP (located across Gallatin from Barista Parlor and Porter Road Butcher) so that other pop-up restaurants and events can be held during the day and on weekends.

There’s no word yet on what other pop-ups are scheduled, but Tony and Caroline Galzin of Sycamore Nashville and Deli House are involved in both Otaku South and POP, so I hope we’ll see more from them as well as get introduced to some great new pop-ups. POP has a calendar on the website that will list all upcoming events, so check it frequently. There’s rumor that among the planned events may be another weekend brunch option for East Nashville.

As for the permanent location for Otaku South, I spoke to Gavigan at the Cherry Blossom Festival and she noted then that she was still looking around for a spot. I lobbied hard for West Nashville, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll have ramen on the west side, too.

Otaku South @ POP
604 Gallatin Ave. #202
Tuesday — Friday 5:30 p.m. — 10:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Gavigan sent us photos of the POP interior. Check 'em out after the jump.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goodbye Sam's Sushi, Thanks For The Memories

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 7:00 AM

My first job in Nashville was with Lightning 100 and we were downtown at the L&C Tower. At the time, The Husband (then The Boyfriend) also worked downtown and we'd go have lunch together at Sam's Sushi. We ate there a lot, either together or solo or with friends. I even brought my parents there when they visited and they were very tickled by it and impressed at how generous he was with his food.

Sam was always friendly with us, in spite of his nickname being the Sushi Nazi due to his strict ordering rules and how he'd sometimes tell people they were ordering too much. Everybody has a Sam's Sushi Bar story, and here are mine.

This one time I was dining there, a rather heavy woman (heavier than Sam) walked in and proceeded to order not one but 2 of his lunch sets which, honestly, were already of an ample portion size.

He looked at her order slip, looked at her, look at the order slip again and said "I give you one first, then if you're still hungry I give you another. This is too much food." He saw me watching and winked. It was really hard for me to contain the giggles.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Spirit of Rumba Is Alive at Antica

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 7:31 AM

Selections from Anticas new spring menu.
  • Selections from Antica's new spring menu.
I’ve seen many lamentations here on Bites as well as among foodbloggers and foodies/eaties regarding the closure of Rumba. It was a well-located, accessible and fun restaurant and bar that was an easy go-to for many of us. It just always kind of hit the spot.

I have good news for the folks who miss Rumba: The spirit of the tapas bar lives on at Antica in the Fifth and Main building, just over the river from downtown on the edge of East Nashville. The menu is set up similarly with a variety of small and large plates plus salads. (The new spring menu is viewable on their Facebook page.) The primary difference is that Antica is “modern American” rather than South American-inspired food with a menu that has influences from across the country, but with a concentration in the South. Examples from the current menu include “Nashville Hot” quail, pulled pork on a corn flapjack, deviled quail eggs, catfish cakes and a pork belly rillon with mustard “caviar” and molasses. But there’s also an olive medley, wasabi-edamame dip and kelp-cured baby scallop.

Portion sizes of the small plates vary quite a bit, but the price and notes on the menu give you a clue on sizing. The salads — priced about the same as small plates — are actually fairly large. I shared two small plates (deviled quail eggs and steamed crimini mushrooms) and two salads (the charred endive and the mushroom-duxelle-stuffed potato), which filled me up. It's difficult to choose a favorite, though I was surprised by how much I really liked the steamed crimini, which was served with parmesan and thyme. All of the menu items — which change seasonally —are creative and beautiful as well as tasty, though I have yet to try any of the large plates. The same was true for me at Rumba, though.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eat REAL Tennessee Announces the First REAL Certified Restaurants in Tennessee

Posted By on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Eat REAL Tennessee, an organization developed through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and the U.S. Healthful Food Council, has announced the state's first food-service establishments (restaurants, caterers, and other businesses that provide food to public and private customers) to achieve REAL Certification. All of the businesses receiving the certification are located in Middle Tennessee, as Nashville was chosen as the anchor city to introduce the program. The program will be expanded to Memphis later this year and Knoxville next year.

Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a growing national program that helps combat diet-related disease by recognizing food-service operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship. Tennessee’s inaugural class of REAL Certified foodservice establishments includes many of my favorite restaurants: 1808 Grille, The Barn and Main House at Blackberry Farm, Frothy Monkey, The Garden Brunch Cafe, Joe Natural’s Cafe, Juice Bar, My Veggie Chef, Sky Blue Cafe, Sloco, Sunflower Cafe, The Wild Cow and the new Music City Center. “We’re pleased to recognize these leaders who are providing food that is not only good for business, but also good for Tennesseans,” said Eat REAL Project Manager Kristen Korzenowski. “These operators are contributing to a culture where the healthy choice is the easy choice.”

Eat REAL Tennessee reached out to local restaurants to educate them about the new program and encourage them to apply for certification. Utilizing the points-based REAL Index, independent registered dietitians conduct an assessment of menu offerings and overall nutrition and sustainability practices.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Restaurants Offer Up 'Tax Relief' With April 15 Specials

Posted By on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 1:18 PM

At this point, I’ve lost track of most of the “tax relief” specials that businesses are offering tomorrow, but a few of the restaurant specials (and one preview of a new food truck) stood out among the crowd.

From 5 to 7 p.m. tomorrow, Hard Rock Cafe at 100 Broadway will be hosting their “Sing for Your Supper” event. As a way to promote their new menu, Hard Rock is offering a free entrée from the new menu tonight to anyone who performs a complete song on the live music stage. The restaurant says the new menu is a result of extensive customer research that resulted in the addition of 30 new items and modifications to 28 other items for a completely revamped menu.

Out in Bellevue, Domino’s Pizza has informed us (actually, they informed SouthComm staffer J.R. Lind, who can’t figure out how he got on the Domino’s media contact list) that they will be serving free pizza and their new “Specialty Chicken” to folks waiting in line at the post office at 7619 Highway 70 S. That’s the location in the strip mall across from the old Bellevue Mall. Domino’s will be handing out the free food from 2 to 4 p.m. to anyone waiting in line to mail their tax returns at the Bellevue post office. If, like I do, you file electronically, you may be able to snag a slice if you stop in to buy stamps or just to say hello.

And in Green Hills, one of Nashville’s newest food trucks — excuse me, “Chinese Bao Bus,” Bao Down will be serving up bao (buns) at Kohana Japanese restaurant at 2002 Richard Jones Road for Bao Day Happy Hour from 5 until 7:30 p.m.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gray's on Main Announces Spring Menu

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Grays chef, Donnie Counts
  • Gray's chef, Donnie Counts
I’ve been meaning to try Gray’s on Main in Franklin since they opened last year, and after reading Carrington Fox’s review in February I was even more intrigued. But Franklin is just so far away. Finally, lured by a new spring menu, I carved out a few hours of time and braved the excruciating (I'm kidding!) 30 mph speed zones to make a visit.

Chef Donnie Counts came on board earlier this year after opening chef Kenneth Jenkins had a medical issue and decided to step down. The Gray's folks sought to find another chef who shared their vision for what the restaurant should be. Counts had approached Gray’s owners, Michael and Joni Cole and Andy Marshall, when he wanted to relocate to the area. Since Chef Counts has worked all over the middle, deep and coastal South, his background perfectly suited Gray’s mission of serving traditional yet eclectic food from all over the South. According to Marshall, “Donnie's experience — and grasp of flavors he brought from the coastal Carolinas — paired well with our original vision for Gray’s.”

One of the new menu items — the Jack and Coke Bread Pudding — was actually what sealed the deal for the new chef during the interview process. I tried it at the end of my visit, and it is truly fantastic, though I couldn’t help but think that a few chunks of Olive and Sinclair chocolate would take it to the next level. (Though what doesn’t benefit from the addition of chocolate?) Among the other items I tried was the new Grilled Pear Pizza, which pairs the pears with arugula, mozzarella and cambozola, which is a cheese that’s essentially a combination of gorgonzola and brie. These flavors blend together incredibly well and are served on a perfect thin and crisp crust.

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