The garden patch out front is a clear signal of the fresh delights to be found inside, where the cooking philosophy is to take the most direct route from the earth to the table. Owners Katie and Gep Nelson set the tone for this restaurant (as well as for their Brentwood place Wild Iris), and they hire chefs with a strong commitment to regional, seasonal fare. Reservations recommended.
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.
Walk into Savarinos Cucina and you can bet there will be a Savarino behind the counter, slicing meat and cheese, baking bread, making sandwiches or stirring a big pot of aromatic sauce. The homemade gelato and cases filled with Italian pastries and cookies, cheeses and meats, olives and artichokes, and baskets of fresh-baked Italian bread are enough to bring tears to a paisans eyes.
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.
Owner Inpeng “Peng”
shifts the focus from rice to noodles, recasting her menu with a
selection of dishes from Japan, Thailand and her native Laos. This tiny, uncluttered store centers on an open kitchen with bar
seating. Treat yourself to a cool glass of Thai
tea, sweetened iced tea mixed with cream or a refreshing som tum (papaya-tomato salad) appetizer. There is of course the staple pad Thai and the more exotic offering tom yum
hot pot (noodles, mushrooms, red chilies and broth.)
Chef-owner David Mitchell and chef Julia Helton are the toast of the crossroads, where they have opened up a long-awaited deli in Riverside Village. Meats and cheeses are available by the pound or in an array of sandwiches that includes lamb with mint raita, muffuletta and ham & brie.
Named for the foamy, golden-brown extraction that develops in the filter and encrusts the top of an espresso serving, Crema brings a welcome jolt of caffeine—along with pastries and sandwiches—to the emerging district of Rutledge Hill.
Chris Lowry and Jay Luther’s neighborhood bistro is elegant and sophisticated, with a minimalist, contemporary-styled room framing a spectacular view of downtown. Germantown Cafe adheres to the promise of straightforward dining in the style of classic bistros, with unpretentious, well-prepared food, sturdy white china, thick cotton linens, solid stemware and cutlery with a weighty heft. Perusing the selection of entrées is pleasantly effortless, with just 10 to consider, including a green plate for vegetarians. Meat and potatoes is the starting premise of several dishes, with the supremely succulent mustard-herb-crusted rack of lamb leading the way. The preparation of the day’s catch changes every night, but the coconut curry salmon filet perched atop a sphere of creamy risotto is a dependably delicious staple. The menu is tweaked as the seasons change (it is within walking distance of the Farmers Market). A recent expansion moved the bar to a separate room with a small lounge, and added more dining room seating on an elevated platform, the better to see the Nashville skyline.