When Elizabeth Stelling Bills and her husband Brian were scouting for a location to open a new restaurant in February, they discovered a building at 316 White Bridge Road that they'd never even noticed before. The nondescript little house is actually set into the side of a hill with a large hidden parking lot. If they'd asked me, I could have told them that it was the former location of Andy K's, where I'd shot many games of pool and consumed many cans of cheap beer in my misspent youth.
Since the pool hall's demise, more than one restaurant has attempted to open in that spot, but none ever really got any traction. As a former co-owner of the Blue Moon Cafe, however, Brian knew what it takes to get a restaurant up and running. The result, The Wild Hare, is now open for lunches, with an eye toward expanding to dinner service in the next month. After a sneak preview, I think the residents of West Nashville will thank them for their efforts.
One of their first smart moves was to hire Chef Jon Smyth, who had previously worked at Cabana, Sunset Grille and MacK & Kates. Chef Smyth definitely knows his way around the kitchen and is a double threat as a dessert chef. And since the Bills have young children themselves, they recognize the importance of providing good affordable food that is family-friendly. The menu they have concocted hits that mark without sacrificing inventiveness or high-end ingredients, such as a $7 pizza with caramelized onions, herbed ricotta cheese, roasted garlic, charred scallions and Benton's bacon.
Salads and starters range from $4-$7 and feature a wedge salad topped with a fried goat-cheese croquet and local farm-fresh deviled eggs with roasted jalapeño and pickled okra. Entrées and sandwiches range from a California BLT made with Benton's bacon, Roma tomato, mixed greens, avocado and sundried tomato mayo ($5) to a 10-ounce black angus rib-eye ($15). In an offering that would thrill Jake Blues, a whole beer-butt roasted chicken is available for only $12.
One treat we tried was a small dish of the chef's house-made spicy pickles. They were intended to come on top of the Wild Hare Burger, but they deserve to be put on the menu somehow. Torqued up with more jalapeño slices and several other mystery peppers, they reminded me of the spicy bread-and-butter pickles I enjoyed recently at Holeman and Finch Public House in Atlanta.
For insight into The Wild Hare's progress, the Twitter feed (TheWildHare1) and Facebook updates provide a fascinating account of the trials and tribulations of the build-out process. The couple remodeled the space to insert a wood-fired oven and repair the damage done by previous owners. It's worth a visit to see how the new proprietors have fared.
The Wild Hare is at 316 White Bridge Road, 818-0219.
signed up for Deb's class! woo hoo!!
Yeah, even in NYC, "deli" doesn't always mean "Jewish delicatessen," if that's what the author…
i attended the classes its a good experience now a days i am following the…
Beg to differ with David being the actual founding chef was Josh Habiger who brought…
Way to go Nashville! And to Randy~ You are still making dreams come true.