East Nashville booster Matt Charette has done a swell job transforming what was a Laundromat and a barbershop into a pub with family-friendly dining that balances the deep-fried bounty of B&F with the fresh school of thought delivered by Wave sushi bar.
Broadway Brewhouse took over the short-lived Casabona Italian restaurant, which had taken over a furniture showroom in a storefront building on Lower Broad. Owner Kelly Jones has a proven track record with his two other Brewhouses -- one in Midtown and one in Bellevue -- and he has teamed up with a man who knows downtown nightlife, Hardy Ross, a co-owner of the thriving Rippy's at the corner of Fifth and Broad. There are 72 kinds of beer in bottles and on draft behind the 60-foot bar to accompany the roadhouse menu, masterminded by chef Ed Arace.
This restaurant and brewery started on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga; the Cumberland River outpost has outlasted many of its neighboring eateries downtown by offering a product -- good, reasonably priced pub food and tasty brews -- that does not rely on the fleeting attention span of trend-seekers. California-style pizzas are offered with a selection of unique toppings.
There are good chain restaurants and bad chain restaurants; put Fleming’s in the top tier of the good food chain. Addressing the first part of its full name, we can confirm truth in advertising. Their steaks are indeed prime, hand-cut daily on site, so if one of the five sizes on the menu—from an 8-oz. filet to the 40-oz. porterhouse for two—doesn’t fit you, the kitchen will cut one that does. While entrées are fairly standard, some of the appetizers pique more interest, such as the Bloody Mary shrimp cocktail and sweet chili calamari; the spuds are tater studs, but the creamy mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Everything is à la carte. When Fleming’s says Wine Bar, it’s serious: nationally recognized for its wine program, every year the restaurant introduces a new list of 100 wines by the glass, with a good number from hard-to-find boutique wineries. Special 2-ounce wine tasting samples will help you make up your mind before committing to a full glass. Over 80 bottles are on the Reserve List.
This 250-seat restaurant in the 12 South neighborhood has a state-of-the-art pizza oven with a dining bar looking right into the kitchen; the large outdoor patio has its own separate bar. The menu offers a dozen specialty pizzas and pizza by the slice, supplemented by appetizers, salads, pastas and sandwiches. Two-for-Tuesday, an all-night happy hour with food specials, packs the joint, the patio and all nearby parking with the young, the restless and the Harley’d.
There is nothing little about Maggiano’s, a 15,000-square-foot, 470-seat behemoth that looms over West End Avenue, the largest chain so far to claim a section of that corridor. Owned by Dallas-based Brinker International—the folks who have somehow managed to make a success of the innocuous Chili’s restaurants—Maggiano’s Little Italy feeds big crowds and big appetites from a big, corporate-controlled menu of pastas, chicken, veal and chops, seafood and house specialties, all à la carte. Family-style service is also available for groups, and a private banquet hall seating 152 can fit your entire mob.
The past meets the present in this quaint little ice cream shop, where soda jerks using old-school shake mixers collide with kids surfing on free Wi-Fi. The shop features a large array of ice creamshomemade in Mike's East Nashville outpost behind Sip Café. If the weather's too cold for ice cream, duck into Just Java coffee bar next door, which is also owned by Mike Duguay.
A chain of steakhouses aimed at suburban patrons, Stoney River differs in a most affordable and consumer-friendly way from its upscale competitors, which adhere to entirely à la carte menus. Steaks here start at $16.95 for a 12-oz. center cut sirloin and top out at $31.95 for the 14-oz. Legendary Filet. A potato side is included with every cut of beef, and a side salad is available for $3.95. Just as importantly, when it comes to quality, Stoney River can hold its own with the likes of Morton’s and Fleming’s. All steaks are premium, grain-fed, Midwestern beef, aged in their own lockers and hand-cut from the center. Prior to grilling, they’re dry-rubbed with a blend of salt, lots of pepper, rosemary, garlic and other seasonings, which adds a delicious, locked-in flavor as well as a subtle crusting. Before leaving the table, servers check to make sure that each steak has been cooked to order. There are several options available to those who eschew red meat. Stoney River offers reservations to parties of seven or more; smaller parties can get priority seating, meaning that if you call in advance, you’ll be guaranteed a table within 30 minutes of arrival.
Brace yourself for a blast of beauty as you open the door: Women are thin, men are well-dressed, walls are clad in exotic lumber, candlelight plays off textured surfaces of stone and wood, sushi-grade fish dazzles like gems behind jewelry store vitrines. No matter which angle you approach from, the build-out is dazzling, from the austere wall of river rocks confined behind wire grates to the half-wall plastered so delicately as to feel like suede. On the other hand, when it comes to approaching the menu, you’ll be well advised to come in from the sushi side, because it’s there that Virago puts its best culinary foot forward. Whether you’re looking for a cocktails in the lounge, sushi at the bar or a quiet evening in a cozy banquette, Virago offers a stunning atmosphere to enjoy the vibrant dynamism of modern Nashville.
In the quaintly crooked dining room, book-lined shelves and local art adorn
exposed-brick walls, the chairs dont match, and founders Marcia and Craig
Jervis, who live across the street, consistently deliver a seasonal menu dotted with their signature mustard-encrusted lamb, Mad Platter pasta and Chocolate
Elvis. At 20 years old, Mad Platters five-course dinner remains one of the best deals in town. Like a
word problem on a low-level algebra test, the menu invites you to pick any soup, appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert for the price of the entrée plus $20. Whatever you do, don't miss the bananas Foster.