Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Pavilion
Cole and I were at a local brewery event recently and were handed flyers for The Pavilion advertising their menu and a promise of good food and drink. So Cole and I agreed to venture out of our restaurant comfort zone, over to the “college strip” known as Demonbreun. We had no preconceived notions of grandeur due to the constant failures of restaurants that have occupied the small strip just off of Music Row but were definitely hopeful.

We happened to visit on a day where the weather was more than cooperating and we enjoyed the brisk evening air under a covered portion of the patio. We took a look around inside and were both impressed by the swanky d├ęcor, large bar area, and stage setup which could handle a few musicians and their instruments. We immediately ordered our drinks, a glass of Cava ($6) for me and a Volunteer Smash ($9) for Cole which consisted of Jim Beam, lemon, and vanilla syrup. He was a bit skeptical even as he ordered the drink but the concoction was blended just right and offered a sweet and incredibly refreshing drink that was perfect for any season.

Being the generous wife that I am, I let Cole make the first food choice of the night and he went with the Cajun inspired Croquets ($7). These were basically fried balls of rice stuffed with mozzarella cheese and Andouille sausage served with an etouffee cream sauce. While I’ll admit now that I was hesitant, these were spot on with a clever mixture of textures and sauce along with an interesting smoky twist and subtle hint of spice.

 Next up we had an order of Moody Blue Burgers ($11) on which we opted to substitute American in place of the standard blue cheese. The quality of these Angus beef patties really stood out but the true scene stealer here was the Applewood bacon. Now let me clarify, we love bacon, we love bacon on everything, and we love every type of bacon but this bacon added such a crisp and smoked flavor to the beef that it really captured our hearts and souls (a bit dramatic but we do love bacon).

 At this point, we had devoured everything set before us and were starting to worry that we couldn’t handle much more yet still had more food on its way. And then they arrived, in all of their delicious glory, our Chicken and Biscuit Minis ($10) which were the perfect combination of chicken fried to perfection on top of flaky buttery biscuits served with just the right amount of a house made parmesan cheese sauce. These are labeled on the menu as “Wanda’s recipe” and to give you an idea of our opinion of the enigma known as Wanda, just picture a beautiful lady deserving of a slow clap each time she enters or exits a kitchen.

 I don’t usually mention service as it is not high on our priority list in determining whether or not we will return to a spot we have visited but seeing as it was exceptional at The Pavilion I feel as if it deserves to be acknowledged. Our waitress was patient, attentive, and knowledgeable which I consider to be the trifecta of great service. The most impressive part was the fact that Cole, who I affectionately call “the camel” due to the amount of water he can throw back, was never stranded with an empty glass throughout the evening.

 When we received our check we were floored by the reasonable $49 tab based on the amount and quality of food and drinks we were able to enjoy. We always feel proud and oddly accomplished when we are able to keep our dates under $50 (major consequence of enjoying alcohol) and were especially impressed with what we were able to do with the money at Pavilion. All in all, this was a successful night

Ratings for Pavilion: (Scale 1-10)
Happy Hour - 0
Taste - 9.5
Ambiance - 9
Overall - 8.5

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SOL Restaurant

 Let me start with an admission; Cole and I don't make it out to Franklin nearly as much as we would like or a good foodie should. While it is the most charming city with some of the best restaurants, it is just a difficult trip for us to make from our house or downtown. But we kept hearing from everyone how we "HAD" to try SOL in downtown Franklin and when we saw that they had $5 margaritas on Wednesday nights, we knew it was going to be worth the drive.

Walking into SOL, an authentic Mexican scene is set with the use of low lighting, vibrant colors, and eclectic decor. The first table you see once you actually enter the dining area is large enough for a group of 10-12 people that would be perfect for a dinner party or any event and even has a curtain that can be drawn for additional privacy. We also found out that if you choose to sit outside on the patio, you can order off of both SOL's menu and 55 South's menu in case you have guests that are not fans of Mexican cuisine.

  We were instantly greeted by some of the friendliest and most efficient waiters we have ever encountered and without even needing a menu, ordered two of the happy hour specials, $5 SOL Margaritas (Regular Price $8.50). These margaritas are perfection, and have my vote for best in Nashville. They use Agave Nectar instead of Sweet and Sour and even Cole who rarely appreciates a good margarita, was hooked. Unfortunately for Cole, he was the DD and while I sucked down three of these bad boys, he was limited to his one.

  We decided to kick off dinner by sharing the Farmer's Market Corn Appetizer ($5.95) that our waitress recommended. It was a medley of fresh Grilled Corn tossed with Mayo, Fresco Cheese, Hot Sauce, Lime Sauce, and Chile. The flavors were incredibly fresh and alternated between sweet and spicy without ever feeling overpowering. We were nervous about ordering this as it is so different from anything we have tried before, but it went perfect with the complimentary chips and salsa and we ate every last bite. I also have to mention that SOL also offers a cart of gorgeous ingredients that will come to your table and prepare fresh Guacamole right in front of your eyes ($10.50). While we don't eat Guacamole so obviously did not order it, we watched many tables enjoy it and it looked delicious.

   I ordered another appetizer as my meal and thank goodness I did because their portions are generous, and who doesn't fill up on chips and salsa anyways? I went with the Chipotle Chicken Tostados ($8.50) which came with Shredded Chipotle Chicken on Crispy Corn Tortillas with Puerco Beans, Queso, Pico De Gallo, and Guacamole (I ordered with no Pico or Guacamole). These were delicious and crispy, even with the Queso and Beans on the Tortillas and all in all one of the best Mexican meals I have ever had.

 Cole went down a completely different path with his choice, opting for the "Drunken Mussels" appetizer ($9.95). These Mussels were steamed in Dos XX Lager (a famous Mexican Beer) with a Garlic Lime Butter, Corn Salsa, and Green Onions, and served with two slices of Grilled Bread to soak up the juice. Cole loved the flavors of the Mussels and said it was top two or three that he had ever had, even at Seafood restaurants.

 We finished our amazing experience at SOL by ordering one of my favorite Mexican dishes of all time, Churros ($6.50). While they were delicious as expected, they weren't anything out of the ordinary as far as Churros go and are the only part of our meal I would pass on next time.

All in all, SOL did more than live up to all of the hype that had been built around it by our friends. It was not only worth the drive to Franklin, it's worth a possible move to Franklin. Alright, I may have exaggerated a bit there, but this is an amazing Mexican restaurant and my fingers are crossed that they will open one in downtown Nashville soon!

Ratings for SOL: (Scale 1-10)
Happy Hour - 9.5
Taste - 9
Ambiance - 8.5
Overall - 9
Sol Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Movies in the Park

   All of the sudden it is Summer in Nashville, which means hot weather and free events that feature great food all over the city. We took advatage of one of these free events by going to opening night of The Nashville Scene's Movies in the Park to see 500 days of Summer (different family friendly movie showing each week) and visit some Food trucks we have been dying to try.

  We arrived at Centennial Park early, even though the movie doesn't actually start until Sunset which happened to be about 8 pm that particular night, in order to secure a good spot for the movie and hit up the food trucks before the crowd arrived. There were numerous vendors to choose from, with everything from the Grilled Cheeserie to Joe's Crab Shack and everything in between so we set out with $40 cash to try as much as possible.

    We started with the Grilled Cheeserie, a food truck that has taken Nashville by storm. I know you are thinking "it's just a grilled cheese sandwich" and not exactly on the culinary forefront, but I would just tell you to go taste what they serve and then see what you think. The Grilled Cheeserie has an extensive menu with specialty grilled cheese sandwiches and build your own options. I opted for the classic American on Wheat ($4) while Cole ventured into the unknown with the "Tomato Two Times Melt" which featured a fresh Pesto Marinated Mozzarella Cheese and Italian Blend Cheese on Italian Herb Bread with Basil Kumata Tomatoes and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes ($7). We also shared an order of the Tator Tots with House Seasoning ($2) and one of their Watermelon slices marinated in Lime and Agave seasoning ($1.50). I ordered an old fashioned bottle of Crush which took my grilled cheese journey back into childhood to the next level.  Still think it's just a grilled cheese sandwich?

   Then it was time for the Sweet Stuff. We started with Chilly Pops, an all natural popsicle with a variety of fruit and vegetable flavors. Each popsicle is only 23 calories and with no additives they are a very healthy option. Peggy Bartosh, the mastermind behind Chilly Pops, even uses seeds and rinds from her ingredients to add in that extra bit of nutrients and flavor. Cole and I shared a Strawberry Kiwi Paleta ($2.50) which was incredibly refreshing on this hot afternoon and not at all sweet as we had incorrectly assumed.

   Next we headed for the Fleur De Lis Flavors a New Orleans style Snowball truck that I previously mentioned in my Farmer's Market post. Let me just say, they were well worth the wait. These were the most delicious snowballs (like Icees but a lighter texture) I have ever had and the family that owns and runs the business could not have been sweeter (their boys are pictured below). I order the Strawberry Cheesecake ($3) and they talked me in to adding the Condensed milk ($.50) which I was hesitant about but trusted the experts and did. I was so glad I added it because it provided a cream like flavor and texture that made the Strawberry Cheesecake Snowball, in my opinion, unbeatable. Cole ordered the Tiger's Blood which was Strawberry and Coconut and while I am usually not a fan of Coconut flavor, I loved it as well! Brent was with us too and went for the Dreamsicle which he said tasted like an old fashioned Dreamsicle, just better!

   Movies in the park was a lot of fun and a great date night idea but the best part was definitely the food! You can catch all of these amazing food trucks all over Nashville by following them on Twitter, Facebook, and their websites or in Fleur De Lis's case, at the Farmer's Market.

Ratings for Movies in the Park: (Scale 1-10)
Happy Hour - 0 - No Happy Hour Specials
Taste - 9
Ambiance - 6
Overall - 6

The Grilled Cheeserie on Urbanspoon

Fleur de Lis Flavors on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Germantown Cafe

For those of you who have never spent time out in Nashville's Historic Germantown, you are truly missing out. The feel of "Nashville's first Subdivision" with its updated lofts and sidewalk cafes, made our dinner at Germantown Cafe more of an experience than just a meal.

We were seated immediately against the large wooden booth "wall" that added a warm, Southern feel to the otherwise modern and trendy decor of the cafe. The large windows let in beautiful amounts of sunlight which made the place seem larger and brighter than the typical dark restaurants of downtown Nashville.  

The menu offered so much variance, it was difficult to know where to start. As we were trying to watch our weight after the cruise, we passed on the appetizers (begrudgingly). We had given up red meat for the week as well so we both ordered the house Riesling ($6) since we knew we would be having a chicken or seafood dish. It was a very crisp and refreshing Riesling, especially considering it was the house option.

 Our waiter than brought out a basket of bread and this is the moment when the earth stood still for a quick second. This bread can only be described as more of a savory doughnut. It was delicious and by all means, the best bread I have ever tasted (Cole seconds that sentiment). If this restaurant had the worst food I have ever eaten (which it definitely didn't), I would still become a regular for this bread alone. Our waiter confirmed that the bread, along with most everything they serve, was made in house. He also explained that for Sunday Brunch, they serve this bread covered in Brown Sugar and served with a Fruit Butter, something we are very excited to try.

 I guess that's enough about the bread, as the rest of the food was amazing as well. We split an order of the special which was a Blackened Tilapia ($19) served over Polenta Cakes with a Fruit Salsa and Sauteed Spinach. We also order the Pasta of the Day ($11.95) which was a Bowtie pasta in a Tomato Basil Sauce. Both of the meals came with salads so I opted for the Caesar while Cole had the House Salad. The salads were very fresh and the perfect start to our meal, with house made croutons that separated them from the "normal" dinner salad you would expect. The Tilapia was cooked perfectly and the spices were just right but the pasta was just a touch bland. We decided to combine the two meals and add the sauteed Spinach which was just the perfect compliment to the conservative flavors of the pasta.


 While Germantown Cafe can be pricey, it can also be enjoyed on a budget by combining aspects of the menu as we did. My biggest tip, be sure to order something that comes with the bread (Are you getting how much I liked the bread yet?)  Also, try to go before 6 pm if it's a weeknight so you can try The Cocoa Tree right next door, which provides the perfect end to a wonderful meal.

Ratings for Germantown Cafe: (Scale 1-10)
Happy Hour - 0 - No Happy Hour Specials
Taste - 7.5
Ambiance - 9
Overall - 7.5

Germantown Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nashville Farmer's Market

  Cole and I work downtown, right on 4th and Church, and while there are plenty of amazing restaurants in downtown Nashville, lunch options can become a bit tedious to say the least. With the weather getting warmer and bathing suit season creeping closer and closer, we decided to try the Nashville Farmer's Market for a fresh alternative.

 Let me start by debunking any myths, as The Nashville’s Farmer Market is not like any other farmer’s markets I have been to. It is a hub of hot spot restaurants, with vendors that bring to the table different, inspired options that are always made fresh and from the finest ingredients. With every option from Jamaican fare to Artisan Marshmallows and New Orleans style Snowballs, the Nashville Farmer’s Market can cover anyone’s tastes.

  Cole’s face lit up the second he saw Swagruha Indian cuisine, and realized he was actually going to get to eat Indian food without feeling guilty that there was nothing on the menu for me. Cole ordered a mix of the Buttered Chicken and Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice ($6). The chicken was very tender and the meal was evenly spiced and Cole liked it enough to eat every bite with just a little rice left over. I finished it for him as my plain taste buds love white rice with a little but of the curry sauce and I thought it was just the perfect spicy for someone who shies away from overpowering flavors.

  I went the Mexican route at El Burrito Mexicano and had one Chicken and one Beef taco for $1.75 each. While the shells were corn tortilla which most people love, I found them to be a little bland and ended up eating the chicken and beef out with a fork, sans the shells. The chicken and beef were both the best quality meats I have ever had in tacos and while I should have ordered some tortilla chips to scoop it up with, I was very happy with my meal.

   Now comes the best part; all of the sweets we tried after our meal. Our first stop was the Bang Candy Co. “trailer”. This is the cutest food stand I have ever seen that serves gourmet marshmallows and homemade flavored sodas. Cole tried the Toasted Coconut Marshmallow ($5 for 4) that was not only gorgeous but also delicious and huge! These marshmallows would also be the perfect favor for a Nashville themed wedding or as gifts to send out to of towners.

  As we continued walking, we were offered a sample of a homemade cookie from Dozen A Nashville Sweet Shop and after one taste, we bought a chocolate chip cookie for each of us to take home. These large cookies are made with all local and organic ingredients, with big chocolate chips that were to die for after about 20 seconds in the microwave.

Last, but definitely not least, we had an outstanding strawberry shortcake made by Katy of Foxy Baking Co. These shortcakes were fresh biscuits that had the moist taste and consistency of Angel food cake with the crunch and taste of a breakfast scone. She piled on the fresh strawberry confection right before our eyes and then topped it off with a whipped cream that I am positive she made herself as well. This treat did not make it home and while sinfully delicious it was also surprisingly light.

  There are so many options at the Farmers Market that this is going to have to be a multi trip project for us to even begin to try all of what it has to offer (for a list of all of the vendors, click here). I also don’t want to leave out all of the beautiful, locally gown veggies and fruits for sale as well as the goods market on the opposite side. One of my closest friends Tess (who just got engaged to an amazing man, Congrats!) just moved to Nashville from New Orleans this month, so we have planned another trip to take her and Matt to specifically try the Fleur de Lis New Orleans style gourmet snowballs, which I have heard nothing but amazing things about.

  The Nashville Farmer’s Market is often forgotten in the conversation of great places to eat and visit while in Music City but it definitely shouldn’t be. They even feature special events such as the Night Market and Education classes. It’s the perfect place to get a real feel of what Nashville is about, a place to escape from the hustle of working downtown, and a great option for couples that do not necessarily always enjoy the same flavors but don’t want to eat at separate restaurants.

Ratings for Nashville Farmer's Market: (Scale 1-10)

Happy Hour - Individual Specials Vary
Taste - 8.5
Ambiance - 6.5
Overall - 7