Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish
624 Main St. 254-8015
Open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tues. & Thurs.; 11 a.m.-midnight Fri. & Sat. Closed Sun., Mon., and Wed.
“Our chicken is spicy, but it won’t cause you to lose your composure.” That’s how Dolly Graham, manager of Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish, describes their version of the peculiar Nashville delicacy known as hot chicken.
Though Bolton’s has only been open since March, it’s connected to a legendary history. The “Bolton” refers to owner Bolton Mathews, the nephew of Bolton Polk, who owned and operated Columbo’s Hot Chicken at the foot of the Shelby Street Bridge for more than 20 years. Hot chicken aficionados often engaged in heated arguments over who had the better recipe: Columbo’s or Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack? The argument was made even hotter by the fact that Bolton Polk started cooking chicken at Prince’s, then went from there to open Columbo’s. Despite some reports to the contrary, Polk says he did not take the Prince’s recipe with him. Instead, he made up a new one of his own, a claim borne out by the fact that there were definite differences between the hot chicken offered at each place.
Polk also denies reports that he gave his recipe to the late Grand Ole Opry star George Morgan, whose daughter Lorrie Morgan opened her own hot chicken restaurant this spring, HOTchickens.com. “George Morgan used to come by often to get hot chicken to take home, and he was a very nice man,” Polk says. “I first met Lorrie when she was about 11 years old, and she’s a very nice girl. But I didn’t give my recipe to her daddy; I didn’t even give it to my nephew.... I won’t sell it either.”
At Prince’s and at Bolton’s, the chicken is fired up with the cayenne cooked right into the skin. But at Prince’s, customers can also customize their heat level from mild to super-hot. Bolton’s offers one version, which is definitely hot, but not so hot that it will sear your tongue, rip your throat out, or burn a hole in your stomach. “You can taste the spice, but you can also taste the chicken,” Dolly Graham says. A man recently spotted toting a sack of hot chicken sandwiches from the order window to his BMW sports coupe agreed with her assessment, noting that he had been a longtime Columbo’s fan, and was thrilled to discover that a member of the Polk family was back in the business again.
Bolton’s offers takeout only. In addition to hot chicken sandwiches served the traditional waybone in, on white bread, with dill pickle slicesthere’s also a fried fish sandwich (catfish or whiting) of three meaty filets laid atop white bread and dressed with mustard, hot sauce, onion, and pickles. Hot dogs and burgers are available, along with beans, slaw, potato salad, and french fries. Chicken and fish sandwiches are $3.50 each.
Down from Memphis
According to Larkin Grisanti, since 1909 there has been a restaurant owned by a Grisanti in Memphis. Now he’ll bring the family name to Nashville when he opens a branch of the restaurant his father Frank Grisanti opened several decades ago in Memphis. Grisanti’s Nashville, which will offer fine dining specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, will open by the end of July in the new Embassy Suites Hotel at 19th and Broadway, not far from Mario’s, Valentino’s, and Amerigo.
The Memphis Grisanti’s moved to an Embassy Suites in East Memphis about 14 years ago. Still run by Frank Sr., it is one of that city’s most popular and successful restaurants and has been a repeat recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its wine list. Son Frank Jr. runs Bol ’a Pasta, a more casual and family-oriented eatery with two locations in the Memphis suburbs.
According to Larkin, “We have been looking to get into the Nashville market for a couple of years, but we waited to find the right opportunity. Our relationship with Embassy Suites is good, and everything seems right about this opportunity.”
Grisanti’s will seat about 160 in the dining room and the atrium room, which is in the lobby of the hotel. A separate bar area will offer additional seating. The restaurant will be open seven days a week and will be responsible for all food service in the hotel.
Also expanding, but so far only locally, is Obie’s Flying Tomato Pizza. The original Obie’s, which was the first pizza parlor in Nashville to offer deep-dish pizza, opened in 1972 on Elliston Place, where it remains still. About five years ago, Arab immigrant Mohamed Abdel purchased Obie’s. Mike, as he is known to friends, recently embarked on a major expansion of both the number of stores and the menu. Already open is Obie’s Franklin at 1113 Murfreesboro Rd. and Obie’s Donelson at 2260 Lebanon Pk. Just opened is a new takeout/delivery-only Obie’s, next door to Vandyland at 2914-A West End Ave. Coming soon is an Antioch Obie’s at 2371 Murfreesboro Rd.
Besides deep-dish and regular pizza with tomato or pesto sauce, Obie’s is now carrying 10 different calzones (which are so huge one could easily feed at least two adults), baked pastas, hot subs, sandwiches, burritos, salads, and dinner platters including rotisserie chicken, ribs, steak, shish kebab, or fish.
Reflections after a year
Congratulations to Colleen and Michael DeGregory, who will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the stylish restaurant Mirror on July 5. The couple moved here from Miami about four years ago with the intention of opening their own place. They took a chance on the redeveloping 12 South neighborhood and took over the space formerly occupied by Laurell’s Central Market at 2317 12th Ave. S.
It took time for Nashvillians to get accustomed to the restaurant’s tapas conceptsmall plates of different grazing foods. Thus the couple added a more traditional set menu and began featuring different global cuisines on a special menu that changed monthly. They’re currently in Thailand, with three Thai starters and three entrees.
On select Monday nights, Mirror is showing famous food-themed movies on a ceiling-suspended screen and serving dishes to match. Big Night was screened this week, and the meal included a climactic serving of the huge timpani featured in the film, wheeled with great fanfare into the dining room by the delightful Mrs. DeGregory.
For more information about Mirror’s dining hours and movie screenings, call 383-8330.