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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marche Artisan Foods


Marche is a European style cafe in East Nashville whose decor and layout can seemingly transport even those who hate to travel to a intimate cafe in Paris. As we walked in, we were both overcome with excitement at the sight of the decor and layout and having originally met in Europe, we both knew immediately this was going to be a beautiful night that would bring back amazing memories.

  We were sat at a bistro style table next to large open windows that allowed the 6 pm sunlight to illuminate the cafe beautifully. I was torn between the Prosecco Punch ($6) and the Sangria ($5) but upon a recommendation from our waitress, I went with the house made Sangria. Other than my homemade Sangria recipe, which I got from my dear friend Margaret (Details by Margaret), this was the best Sangria I have ever had due to the perfect mix of fruit flavor to offset the bitterness of the red wine. Cole tried the Highland Ale Beer ($3.50 Bottle) which he described as a very mellow pale ale with a refreshing crisp and bitter finish.

  We started off with the Herb Olive Oil ($2) that went perfect with the basket of fresh bread that they would occasionally bring around throughout the meal. Cole ordered the Pan Seared Duck Breast with Polenta, Pickled Rhubarb and Arugula ($16) but had to send it back, not my error of Marche, but due to his preference for well done poultry and failure to specify while ordering. He wasn't the biggest fan of the duck but loved the Polenta that came along with it.  I, though trying to eat light, ordered the House made Goat Cheese and Mascarpone Tortellini with Artichokes, Asparagus, and Sweet Peas all in a Pesto Broth ($13). I really enjoyed the balance of flavor with the goat cheese and sauce but would recommend sharing this as it was very rich and heavy.

  The desserts were out on display and looked amazing, specifically the strawberry Boston Crème Pie which was calling my name, but we were nearing the top of our budget and were stuffed from the meal. We decided we would come back another time either for their infamous brunch or for just a few drinks and dessert.

 This is definitely going to become one of "our local spots" and while we may order differently next time, there will definitely be a next time!

Ratings for Marche: (Scale 1-10)
Happy Hour - 6 (No Happy Hour but good drink specials)
Taste - 7
Ambiance - 9.5
Overall - 7.5


Marché Artisan Foods on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Raz's Bar and Grill

A restaurant in Smyrna, TN featured on Food Network's the Best Thing I Ever Ate? This may be hard to believe, but it's true! The Neely's named Raz'z Bar and Grill as one of their all time greatest, and if the Neely's say it's good, Cole and I knew it had to be true.

  We have had a few very busy weeks recently and since we didn't have time for our normal weeknight date we decided to switch it up and try a Brunch date. We decided to go to Raz'z as we had seen their brunch advertised while driving by (Brunch Menu Link)

 The first thing I have to mention is that the prices are fantastic! And I don't mean Happy Hour prices, I mean the normal, all the time cost to dine here. We each ordered a Mimosa ($3) and were brought out a hot basket of fresh rolls that reminded me of what they serve at O'Charleys. The Mimosa's were delicious and unlike many bars who serve you a glass of orange juice with a splash of Champagne, these were the perfect mixture of each.

With the jazz piano music playing lightly, this is a New Orleans style place after all, I decided on Mama Ts French Toast ($7) and Cole went with Raz'z Eggs Benedict ($7.99).  Even though they were busy, just a few minutes later our waitress emerged with two very large plates full of food.

My French Toast was delicious, living up to the expectations set by the menu description of thick slices of Texas toast in a vanilla/egg mixture and topped with strawberries and powdered sugar with a side of Bacon. If you haven't gathered yet, I tend to stick to a certain palette when dining and this was a little out of my normal ordering habits but this French Toast reminded me of how my mom used to make it.

Cole proclaimed after about three bites that his meal was the Best Eggs Benedict he had ever had. The Cajun Poached eggs were cooked flawlessly and the Canadian Bacon, toasted English Muffin, and Hollandaise Sauce made the dish traditional but exceptional . The plate also came with a side of Hash brown Casserole, which looked more like barely mashed potatoes that I just had to try and was glad I did.

The food, as amazing as it was, may not have even been the highlight of our Raz'z experience. Chef Raz himself walks around personally to each table and chats with the diners and with a huge personality and even bigger laugh, it is really a treat!

 Raz'z is a place anyone living in Nashville should try and you don't even have to go all the way out to Smyrna to do so with another location in Nashville (Address Link). Every bit of this experience combined to make our Sunday Bruch date a huge success and with a $30 bill including tip, Raz'z is definitely a place we will be visiting more often.
Ratings for Raz'z: (Scale 1-10)
Happy Hour - 7 (No Happy Hour but great prices)
Taste - 9
Ambiance - 6
Overall - 8


                                              (The Best Thing I Ever Ate Clip featuring Raz'z)

Raz'z Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon