Coffee Talk 

There’s buzz a-brewin’

The Standard at the Smith House, which opened last summer to a grateful downtown lunch audience, will extend its Southern charm to a coffee shop across the street in the Berger Building at 162 Eighth Ave. N., which formerly housed the Nashville Toy Museum.
The Standard at the Smith House, which opened last summer to a grateful downtown lunch audience, will extend its Southern charm to a coffee shop across the street in the Berger Building at 162 Eighth Ave. N., which formerly housed the Nashville Toy Museum. The expansion of the Standard name to a second location represents an effort to help invigorate downtown residential life, says Joshua Smith, owner of The Standard and president of Titan Financial Group. In addition to the restaurant, Smith owns real estate, insurance, development, home loan and construction businesses, concentrated on Eighth Avenue just north of Broadway. Smith recently recruited furniture store Mad Mod to expand from Belmont Boulevard into one of his downtown properties, with the expectation that denizens of the nearby new high-rises will be shopping for sleek, urban furniture. Now he’s out to fulfill the caffeine appetite of the burgeoning downtown population. Slated to open by Feb. 1, The Standard Coffee Shop will have barista service, in an effort to match the quality of the ubiquitous chain stores. Metal artist David Rahm will display his sculptural work in the store. Meanwhile, The Standard restaurant, in the refurbished 19th century building that most recently housed The Gas Lite Lounge, will begin serving dinner the first weekend in April. The restaurant launched to enthusiastic reviews from a downtown lunch crowd instantly smitten with its sweet potato fries, high ceilings and gracious atmosphere. An upscale American menu will be available Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, with reservations required. The Standard at The Smith House, 167 Eighth Ave. N., 254-1277. Dip and sip Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, the beloved blast from the past of burgers and shakes, has new owners and hours. Sam Huh and Geoff Collins, owner and manager, respectively, of J&J’s Market on Broadway, closed on the deal to buy Bobbie’s at the end of last year. After a few refreshing touches to the retro building and a few upgrades to the equipment, they will reopen the first week in February. Not only is the opening date earlier than the seasonal restaurant usually gets back to the business of burgers, but the hours will be moving up, too. While the old Bobbie’s team started serving at lunch, Huh and Collins will fling open the counter window at 7 a.m., offering commuters a caffeinated menu of coffee, tea, espresso and hot chocolate. Other than that, don’t expect any jarring changes to the all-American menu of burgers, dogs and sweet potato fries. “We love Bobbie’s too,” Collins says. “We’re not trying to remake it.” Meanwhile, next door, The Cottage Gate has swung shut. After about a year-and-a-half of serving sandwiches, salads and baked goods, the Wilson family has closed the small lunch spot. Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, 5301 Charlotte Pike, 292-2112. Picnic packed The Picnic Café, the lunch spot born in the back of a drugstore, has spread its blue-and-white cloth at a new location. With the closing of the H.G. Hill shopping center at the corner of Harding and White Bridge roads, owner Kathy Bonnet took her basket of chicken salad, pimiento cheese, soups, fruit tea and desserts across the parking lot, and reopened with the New Year in the former Laundromat. The Picnic will host an open house Jan. 22 through 27 with free treats and drawings for door prizes. The Picnic Café, 4320 Harding Road, 297-5398. Fill it to the Rim The Mad Platter Restaurant will host its second of six winter wine dinners Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m., featuring food and wine inspired by the Pacific Rim. Chef Steven Stuart’s menu opens with a taste of pineapple-and-lime-steamed red snapper with wakame (seaweed salad), paired with Choya plum wine. An appetizer of crab-stuffed naganegi (leek) in chicken broth will be followed by coconut shrimp soup and a salad of sesame beef tenderloin, spinach and pears. Rack of lamb with macadamia coconut crust, gingered sweet potatoes, Polynesian caponata with star anise sauce and fire-roasted pepper jam is paired with D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier. Dinner is $65 plus tax and gratuity. Call 242-2563 for reservations. The Mad Platter Restaurant, 1239 Sixth Ave. N.

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