Mother's day out hits some sweet spots: Dose, Firefly Grille, Fido and Bricktop's 

Eat Days A Week: Wednesday

Eat Days A Week: Wednesday

The little hand is on the eight, the big hand is on the 12, and this bleary-eyed mom needs a cup of coffee before she swerves off the road. I dock the minivan in front of Dose Coffee & Tea and head inside for a steaming sip of sanity. There, in the iron-and-wood-accented cafe, where the gentle waves of free Wi-Fi commingle with the earthy aroma of fresh-brewed dark roast, I have my version of a Nescafé Moment. Of course, this is no insipid instant java. Dose brews beans from Humphreys Street Coffee Co., which engages high school students in South Nashville in a coffee-based entrepreneurship and mentoring program. The good social energy is almost as stimulating as the caffeine itself.

After my constitutional trips to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, I'm so entangled in the web of Green Hills traffic that I alight at Firefly Grille for lunch. At any moment, I expect to see owner Curt Cole park by the kitchen door to unload bushels of fresh produce from nearby farms. Whatever Curt finds in season, chef Kristen Gregory transforms into a colorful and fresh menu that blends the best of local food and global flavor. Perusing the roster of grilled leg of lamb (with baby arugula, fried capers, feta and toasted pine nuts) and grilled shrimp (with beluga lentils, couscous, basil, arugula, shaved fennel and crushed pistachios), you might assume Firefly to be a dressy white-tablecloth affair. Au contraire, y'all. Chances are Curt is wearing shorts and a baseball hat, and the dining room — decked with twinkling lights, paper lanterns, concert posters and family photos — looks kind of like that basement where we all hung out in middle school. It's a good reminder that beautiful food doesn't have to be served in fussy rooms. Nor do you have to be a Lady Who Lunches to be a lady who lunches at Firefly. Prices range from $9.50 for a burger to $14 for the shrimp and lamb, and most plates come with a side salad and grilled housemade focaccia.

As the minivan hurtles through the logistical spanking machine of late afternoon, we've got a few minutes between music lesson pickup and sports practice drop-off. It's snack time. And while I'd love to say I travel with sliced apples and whole grain snacks to nurture my busy brood, the truth is I'm just looking for an excuse to get back to Fido, where my sweet tooth longs for s'mores cheesecake, sweet potato muffins, beet cake and other whimsical confections that chef John Stephenson and pastry chef Lisa Ann Jones conspire to tempt me with. While we're there, we may as well order some hot chocolates and a coffee. What the hell, it's 4 o'clock somewhere.

We've bent it like Beckham and now it's dinnertime. The only groceries in the house are some Whole Foods granola and the four different kinds of chocolate-covered almonds I bought at Trader Joe's. Meanwhile, two kids are still wearing soccer cleats and another one has tattooed himself head to toe with ballpoint pen. We need a place that is dark and loud, with a kids' menu and a cocktail list. The tiny tattooed man suggests Bricktop's. And Bricktop's it is. Grilled artichokes, deviled eggs and sugared bacon, hunky chunky guacamole, flatbreads, steak frites, crabmeat salad stacked with avocado, shrimp and egg. Even those kids' meals look good. You want to trade your chicken finger for my deviled egg? Your ice cream for a bite of my steak? A sip of your apple juice ... for my cocktail? Not so fast there, kiddo! You've still got homework to do. Then brush teeth and hit the hay so we can start the whole exhausting — and delicious — circuit all over again tomorrow.

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