A trailblazer in 12 South and the first of two Rumours restaurants (a second showplace is in East Nashville), this cozy art-laden wine bar has a menu that invites you to make an evening of it. With a consistently delicious roster of entréesmany of which are lightly grilled meats or seafoods served over fresh tussles of greensyou might expect Rumours to be suffer from high prices and puffy attitude. Both are missing in this affordable and friendly neighborhood spot.
Its hard to tell if the halo around Vicki and Rick Bolsoms brick-walled landmark at the corner of West End and 32nd Avenues is a reflection of the fireplace just inside the front door, or if the seasonal repertoire of creative comfort food is simply glowing. The oft-changing menu turns up gems like spinach salad with fried egg, house-made sausage with fusilli, and catfish pomme de terre with braised red and green cabbages. Dont expect calling cards such as Angel Louie and the Med salad to be falling off the menu anytime soontheyre as much of a tradition as drinks by the fireplace on a wintry night. — Carrington Fox
Jenny Piper, who worked in a Baskin-Robbins store in college, returned to her dippin’ days in a big way, attending Carpigiani Frozen Dessert University in Winston-Salem, N.C., for six days, where she honed her recipes for whimsical and punny flavors such as My Cherry Amor, Minty Python, Are You There God? It’s Me Margarita, and Oatmeal Raisin in the Sun, all of which she makes by hand in the back of this adorable and colorful cottage. In the front, Pied Piper offers a used book exchange where customers can trade two of their own books for one of the store’s. Piper even has a MySpace page for The Pied Piper, on which she recently promoted Trailer Trash Tuesday: anyone who referenced the blog got a regular-sized scoop of the candy-Oreo-fudge-vanilla blend for the price of a junior scoop. Check myspace.com/piedpipercreamery for more specials.
This collaboration between chef/co-owners Corey Griffith and Anita Hartel—two wildly imaginative, highly individual talents—is a creative, unique, slightly quirky dining experience so thoughtfully priced it can be enjoyed often. The ambience is so welcoming, you’ll be dropping in when you’re not even hungry. The dishes are unpredictable—heavy on the Asian influences, with a smattering of Mediterranean—but diners can be assured that their meal will be memorable. Offerings include specialty martinis and an affordable wine list, as well as a separate bar/lounge area to meet for cocktails. Reservations recommended.
There are countless surprises, delights and irresistible temptations awaiting customers who wander into the unassuming Green Hills strip-mall space occupied by Kalamata’s, which offers freshly prepared, healthy and classic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods with a modern twist. The tiny dine-in/take-out restaurant is huge on flavor, freshness and friendliness—a tone set by co-chef/co-owner Maher Fawaz’s ebullient and generous nature. Every item is created fresh before your eyes on the premises, save for the pita rounds, the baklava (made by a cousin in Detroit and shipped overnight daily) and the cheesecake Fawaz’s 14-year-old daughter makes at home. That includes the hummus—which begins with dry (not canned) garbanzo beans—as well as the tabbouleh, baba ghanouj, stuffed grape leaves and the light, golden-crisped falafel. Appetizers include small stuffed pies filled with ground meat, spinach or sheep’s milk cheese. The pizzetas are flat pizza-like rounds topped with whatever strikes the chefs’ fancy that day; representative toppings might include olive oil, kalamata olives and fresh chopped herbs, or thin slices of fresh tomato, cheese and spices. Fawaz and co-owner/chef Beth Collins will put most anything in a pita and call it a sandwich—chicken salad, Greek salad with grilled chicken strips, falafel, gyro meat or grilled, marinated vegetables—and that spirit of invention extends to everything else you’ll find here.
The first inkling that unpredictable treats are in store comes via a mundane source: the salad dressing, a light concoction of citrus, pineapple, carrots, a touch of mayonnaise, soy sauce and ginger. That inventiveness extends to other starters, especially the salmon/tuna tartare and the mussels dynamite specials, both of which should not be missed. Though all of owner Yun Choo’s sushi is fresh and well-prepared, it is the “World Special” rolls that are, well, otherworldly. His signature Choo Choo roll consists of broiled freshwater eel, crab and salmon rolled in rice and topped with avocado, sliced strawberries and crunchy pine nuts. The Crazy, Volcano, Dragon and Hawaiian Rolls are all equally innovative, the flavors so pleasurable that they may best be enjoyed with no condiment. Though the floor is efficiently and warmly attended by the lovely Seong Jung. The small prep area and complexity of Choo’s rolls can mean a longer wait time than at other sushi restaurants.