The entrées at this rare vegetarian-only Indian spot are divided into five main categories: dosa, uthappam, curries, pullavs (rice dishes) and specialties. If you’re a first-timer and overwhelmed by the choices, head straight to the specialties such as malabar adai, a mixed-lentil pancake with vegetables and cilantro on top, and pesarat uppma, a lentil-flour pancake filled with cream of wheat seasoned with onions and chilies. Among the appetizers, the samosa chat adds a twist to the traditional Indian potato turnover, chopping it up and covering it with onions, a sweet-and-sour sauce and fried noodles. Try iddly Manchurian, fried rice patties in a ginger-garlic-soy sauce, or potato bonda, similar to a knish, which provides a great vehicle for sampling Woodlands' assorted chutneys and addictive tamarind sauce. An ever-changing lunch buffet ($6.95) is a great way to sample the expansive menu. The minimal interior design might benefit from a little more investment, but any shortcomings in Woodlands’ decor are far outweighed by the exquisite and varied flavors that abound.
Creative cuisine and sleek setting conspire to create a memorable dining experience, filled with Asian-inspired dishes and tapas and signature sushi rolls such as the Monster (black rice wrapped around tuna, salmon and avocado, topped with flying fish roe and laced with a lavender-scented dijon sour cream) and Green Envy (lobster salad and avocado wrapped in white rice, topped with kiwi and roe and served with berry sauce and wasabi mayo). An array of unusual saucescitrus-wasabi, tobiko mayo, guava purée, yuzu miso, mango-chili, lemon-curry vinaigrette, eel, wildberry and other homemade blends--adorns the colorful still lives that emerge from the gleaming open kitchen and sushi bar. — Carrington Fox
A pioneer in the Gulch, Watermark gracefully marries the chrome and glass of the shining New South with the painstaking and traditional commitment to seasonal, regional cuisine. The menu blends local ingredients with classical preparations for a repertoire that is both modern and timeless. Homemade corn bread, pork chops, grits and chocolate cobbler never looked so sleek as in Watermark's lofty dining room overlooking the growing skyline, or in the sultry first-floor wine room, which is fast becoming a secret retreat for the city's dining elite.
Vinh Long’s dual Vietnamese-Japanese dining style is the result of
owner Owen Nguyen’s previous employment in a Japanese restaurant. Nine
years ago, he brought that experience to bear at Vinh Long (also the
name of his wife’s birthplace), where a decor of golden fortune cats,
plump Buddhas, bamboo cuttings and landscape photographs create a
spare Pan-Asian ambiance, while tempuras, dumplings and stir fries
bolster an excellent repertoire of soothing soups. Don’t miss the beef
and carrot soup or the iced coffee brewed tableside.
Cool Springs is a long way from Mother Russia, but the sprawling suburb boasts a menu fit for a Romanovat prices that won't spark a revolt. Taste of Russia offers an endearingly homemade repertoire of Russian cuisine, as well as traditional items from the Ukraine and Poland. Specialties include borsch, beef Stroganov, Kiev cutlets and dumplings stuffed with cabbage, potatoes and farmer's cheese. Don't miss the sweet and savory blintzes stuffed with smoked salmon or fruit and cheese, the comforting crock of zharkoe (vegetable-beef stew) and the list of flavored vodkas, including cranberry, citron and honey pepper. — Carrington Fox
For a long time the neighborhood alternative to Belle Meade Country Club, Sperry’s was once considered to be just as exclusionary. But when second-generation owner Al Thomas bought the institution from his father and uncle, he added some spark to a menu that had remained virtually unchanged for years. In addition, he has woken up the wine list, made the restaurant appealing to a more youthful demographic and positioned it as a destination dining choice while maintaining its steadfastly loyal local clientele. In July 2006, Thomas—with partner Sam Sanchez—cloned the original Sperry’s and opened a second location in Cool Springs, where it will bring the sprawling suburban compound of chain restaurants much-needed devotion to personal service and non-corporate dining. Not only is the interior an exact replica of the Belle Meade store, so—thankfully—is the menu, which preserves time-tested classics like escargot, French onion soup, bleu cheese-stuffed filet, broiled lobster tails, 20-item salad bar (with Green Goddess dressing!) and Bananas Foster prepared tableside in a flaming grand finale. Reservations recommended.
This upscale supper club with Texas ties (the brother-sister owners opened the first Sambuca in Dallas) gussies up the gritty Gulch with live music seven nights a week and fine dining created by globe-trotting chef Stephen Shires. His extensive travel and experience in international kitchens of renown packs his menu with worldly influence and discovery. The nightly entertainment is built into the dining costs, which puts entrées in the $20-$30 range.
One of the more popular dishes here is the pineapple fried rice, which is prepared by cooking the rice inside the hollowed tropical fruit.
The royalty of Nashville’s hot chicken world, Prince’s was crowned by Gourmet magazine’s annual “Best American Restaurants” issue as one of four don’t-miss dining experiences in Nashville. Everyone from blue-collar working stiffs to working girls to white-shirted bluebloods lines up at the little ordering window inside for a chicken sandwich. It comes in four varieties: mild, medium, hot or, for the truly reckless, extra hot. All sandwiches come on two slices of white bread with pickles. Douse the flames with a beverage from the soda machine, or a side of the cooling coleslaw. Whatever the case, do not drive or get your fingers anywhere near your eyes while eating hot chicken. Oh, and delay travel plans for at least 24 hours. The baked beans also come highly recommended.
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.
A family Italian restaurant with staying power, Mama Mia's has operated for more than 20 years in the same location. They brightened the interior and energized the menu, keeping the baked pasta standards, but upscaling with items like the tantalizing lobster-filled, saffron-kissed raviolis with baby spinach in a creamy Rosatella brandy sauce. Rebecca is the hot mama in the kitchen, and she has a smile that lights up the cozy dining room. You'll feel like family. No alcohol is served, but a spirits store two doors down offers grape expectations.
In this hyper-designed environment adorned with exotic hardwoods,
mosaic tile, glass brick, supple leather banquettes and glass garage doors that
open onto patios, owner Chris Hyndman does to Hispanic food what he does to Asian food at his nearby Virago: houses it in an architectural showplace and makes it the focus of a creative
Chef-owner Bobby Kornsuwan has cooked in, owned or co-owned a succession of progressively more sophisticated Thai restaurants. Before opening Jasmine, he spent six months under the tutelage of haute-cuisine chef Emil LaBrousse, and the experience shows. Best bets are his sparkling executions of Thai salads; the delectable pla pad cha, chunks of fish filet sautéed with red curry paste; steamed chicken wrapped in minty pondan leaves; crispy shrimp in hot-sweet chili-tamarind sauce; and gai ob, marinated Cornish hen with sticky rice and spicy pureed mushrooms.
Yes, it's a chain, but the fact that it's a Nashville-based company buys J. Alexander's some credibility with its growing audience of devotees who overlook the corporateness to stand in line for good food, good service and a fern-less, white-tablecloth casual ambiance. Steaks, burgers, rotisserie chickens, shrimp and ahi tuna arrive on huge plates, accompanied by shoe-string fries or other worthwhile sides. The Alex's salad with its warm, honey-drizzled croissant and generous bacon and cheese topping can serve as a full meal. You'll never leave hungry, and J. Alexander's is generally loud and dark enough to drown out kids‹other people's or your own.