Tour de Nashville
This week's Restaurant Review will be a little different. Check out some short takes on all the places I hit up in Nashville over the past weekend.
My wife has raved about this place forever. She went to Vanderbilt and visits to Calypso were routine. This Caribbean-style restaurant was a mild hit for me. I wouldn't say it was rave-worthy, but I was pleased with all my items, the service was quick and friendly, and the price was right. Calypso specializes in healthy fare—I had the bbq rotisserie chicken with corn muffins and coconut sweet potatoes. The sweetness of the potatoes worked well with the jerky chicken. I also had some sort of a fruit tea. Interestingly refreshing. I almost forgot...we shared a black bean dip and chips for an appetizers. Very cheesy and very awesome—best thing we ordered.
I was ordered to check this place out by my in-laws. Just kidding. They met in Nashville, lived there for awhile, and rarely tell me to check a restaurant out—so I listened. Located a short 20-minute drive outside of Nashville, Loveless Cafe is world-renowned (Bobby Flay, Conan, etc.) for their chicken AND especially their biscuits. Translation: tourist trap. The cafe is just one piece in the compound-esque puzzle that is Loveless. Small storefronts, a barn, and country store allow visitors to kill some time. Expect an hour wait. We dined at an offbeat hour and still waited 45 minutes. It's fun walking around the area and checking out the shops. But I've got plenty of experience with places like Loveless. All of this glitter usually means average food, small portions, and high prices. Fortunately, Loveless didn't hit the extremes on any of these. Yes, the prices were a bit high... and yes, the portions could have been bigger. But the quality of food was excellent. Sara had the fried chicken. It was lightly battered, deep-fried, and very moist. Not greasy at all. I wanted more seasoning in the crust, but the flavorful sides (mashed potatoes, biscuits, and green beans) brought the chicken up to code. My chicken fried steak was solid, not memorable, but solid. Nat's cheeseburger was very underrated, and and may have been the best thing on the table. That charbroiled flavor really stood out. The biscuits were the star of the show and they did not disappoint. Airy, light, and buttery—I've never had better.
German Town Cafe
We did brunch with Sara's Vandy crew on Sunday morning at the Germantown Cafe. This sleek bar and restaurant was a hit. I ordered a Bloody Mary (it was ok but mine are better), cheese grits and French onion soup. My friendly cohorts allowed me to try the smoked salmon with eggs, the frittata, the banana bread French toast, and the crab cake eggs benny. I had absolutely no complaints about anything, but the crab cake dish stood out. Just a fun experience getting to see all of my wife's old friends and eating some awesome food. I highly recommend this spot.
I blame Chompie's in Phoenix for this debacle. Did I ever think I could dine at an authentic NY deli in the middle of the desert? No. I was proven wrong. Did I think I could dine at an authentic NY deli in the middle of Nashville? No. I was proven right. My half-Jewishness can sniff out the real deal in seconds, and Noshville was not it. It was a standard breakfast joint. The service was excellent and the food was average.
Chicago Style Gyros
Bitter sweet dining experience on this one. Met my favorite fellow food blogger Vivek for a late lunch at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. Closed. D@mn! The trusted internet said they'd be open. As Michael Scott would say, “I don't trust technology.” I was really looking forward to trying hot chicken—a Nashville classic. We were shaken a bit, but Vivek suggested this Gyro place—it was close and OPEN. It turned out being a good suggestion. My cheesesteak with pita bread was solid.
The Pancake Pantry, alongside Vanderbilt's campus, puts it all together—a tourist spot with outstanding food! We drove past the place our first morning, but didn't stop. Why? The line to get in wrapped around the restaurant. Sara told me this place was the real deal. No pancake is worth an hour and half wait. Wrong. These were. We went the next day, waited zero seconds, and I ordered the Georgia peach pancakes. My goodness...three, good-sized rolled cakes, topped with peach compote and sweet cream. I've had slightly better pancakes (Lou's in Chicago) but never has the entire combo of cake and topping been better. This was my best meal in Nashville.