Last I checked, soon after waking on Jan. 1, 2000, to a fully functioning home and a daily newspaper in my front yard, I was the only working journalist in the entire universe who did not compose a thoughtful look back at what had transpired the past year/decade/century/millennium on my beat. Some might call that laziness. I prefer to think of it as a public service to readers who are surely at least half as sick of those silly lists as I am. The Best! The Worst! The Biggest! The Greatest! Says who? Please, enough already.
True, I was being a little selfish in refusing to rehash the ghosts of meals past. I feel extremely fortunate that, since I first began eating professionally seven years ago, the most serious physical repercussions I have suffered are some mild heartburn, uncomfortable sodium-overdose bloating, and the occasional poundage increase. Still, I have endured some downright awful meals, a startling number of mediocre ones, and not nearly enough memorable ones. Why submit myself to an encore? I prefer to look ahead.
Besides, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked by friends and readers is, ”What’s new?“ So this and next week’s columns are devoted to supplying the answer to that burning question, as well as a few predictions of my own. No guarantees.
On the rise
Commuters on Hillsboro Road in Green Hills have been twisting their necks at the sight of the new tower hooked onto one end of Bread & Company. The compelling architectural hook, designed to grab people’s attention, seems to be working; a mid-holiday visit to the newly expanded store found it bustling with activity in all three of its distinct yet blended sections. According to president John Clay, the construction has nearly doubled Bread & Company’s square-footage, though much of the new addition is devoted to the kitchen.
That kitchen, headed by chef Richard Goldfedder (formerly of Noshville), is plenty busy these days. The new space has not only a sandwich counter for made-to-order sandwiches, but also two different cases. One is filled every morning with pre-made sandwiches, salads, and two new frittatas. The other features prepared salads, sides, and entrees sold by the pound. Among the items on the menunot all are sold dailyare grilled salmon, salad, shrimp salad, artichoke and rice salad, black bean enchiladas, grilled tenderloin, stuffed chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, two soups, three rollers, and vegetable or beef lasagna. Clay says the store will be expanding its boxed lunch options soon, with additional delivery areas as well.
The middle section of the store sells brewed, squeezed, smoothed, and frozen drinks. The original section of the store still sells breads and pastries, as well as gourmet food items from various purveyors. There are now three cashier stations, which help traffic move more efficiently. There is also more seating for in-store dining.
Hours at the Green Hills store are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; the Page Road store in Belle Meade is open 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; the Maryland Farms store is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and until 2 p.m. on Sat.
The Corner Market, in business for 12 years in the Westgate strip center at Hwy. 100 and West Tyne, is at long last set to begin its desperately needed expansion, which will add 3,700 square feet to its existing 4,000. The space next door is empty and ready for demolition, which should begin by the end of January. The remodel will significantly increase the kitchen size and will reconstruct the deli area, which, according to owner Jim Frith (with wife Emily), will be the geographic center of the combined spaces. The current deli space will house a juice and coffee bar as well as increased seating; groceries, produce, and shelf items will be moved to the addition. Says Frith, ”We are looking to solve our space problems while retaining the ambiance of The Corner Market.“
If Nashville reacts as other cities have around the country, expect to see a lot of goofy clown heads bouncing around on car radio antennas. It’s not Ronald McDonald but Jack, the make-believe spokesperson for Jack in the Box restaurants; the antenna-toppers are distributed to customers as a promotional item. The San Diego-based chain of 1,515 stores has just opened its first in Tennessee. The Hermitage Jack in the Box opened on Dec. 29, at the Old Hickory Boulevard exit off I-40 East.
Though the clown is the chain’s most recognizable logo, what most people remember about Jack in the Box is no laughing matter. Six years ago, an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in Pacific Northwest stores caused four deaths and more than 600 illnesses. After undertaking several stringent corrective measures and instituting new health policies, the chain has bounced back and is undertaking an expansion that will see 120 new stores this year, with 30 of those opening in Tennessee, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
Among the things one might find in the Box are a sourdough Jack sandwich, bacon cheeseburgers, tacos, chili cheese curly fries, and milkshakes made with actual ice cream.
Po' to go
Veteran Tennessee Titansthose with enough tenure to remember the bad old days in Houstonmay soon be pumping more than gas at their neighborhood Exxon Tiger Markets. Beginning this week, Antone’s Famous Po’ Boys and Deli, a Houston-based retail deli chain, will begin selling its 9-inch po’ boys at all 25 Nashville-area markets. The sandwichesmeats and cheeses on a French bread loafare being made at a new commissary in MetroCenter, then distributed to the Exxons. This fall, a full-service Antone’s deli will open at 2525 West End Ave., close enough to the Vandy campus to lure the school’s Texas transplants.
Four years ago, Darry and Alisa Huntsman started a wholesale company called Mange Biscotti and began distributing their signature biscotti and other baked goods to area coffee shops, including Bean Central and Bongo Java. Now the Huntsmans are returning the favor and carrying Bean Central and Bongo Java coffee in their newly opened bakery and cafe at The Factory at Franklin. South City Baking Company is serving takeout breakfast and lunch from its corner store (with limited seating inside), located next to the Viking Culinary Arts Center. On the menu and cooked on the premises are soups, salad plates, sandwiches, and wraps. South City Baking Co. (790-0555) is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.