I just returned from Country Music City where I attended Lisa and Derek’s wedding (Congratulations!). Turns out Nashville boasts much more than in-love fiddle players, boots, karaoke and The Opry. The food was indeed a delight. I will share my meals, day by day.
Lunch, Day 1: Provence, Hillsboro Village (near Vanderbilt)
This was a real treat. The bakery is part of Nashville Originals, a group of locally owned, high calliber restaurants. The cafe is French-inspired, featuring a variety of large baskets of freshly baked bread, a cooler full of sweet tarts and cakes, a selection of pre-made salads, sandwiches, frittatas and cheeses, plus lots of coffee options.
I ordered a lunch special: Tuna Melt + Curried Carrot Soup. The tuna salad was incredible (capers in the recipe–my favorite), topped with gruyere on bakerymade multigrain bread toasted in a panini griller. And the soup–wow–smooth and spicy with lots of ginger! It was so tastey I tracked down this recipe so I could replicate those flavors.
And I couldn’t pass on getting a sweet treat for the road: a Cherry and Cream Cheese Pastry. I love a good dessert, but I don’t normally turn to heavily breaded pastries to get my fix. But this bread looked sweet and irresistible. And it was everything I dreamed it would be. I feel inspired to try this out.
Dinner, Day 1: Sunset Grill, Hillsboro Village
I was attracted to this restaurant’s menu for its use of common southern favorites, with a sophisticated twist. The kitchen uses local, sustainable and organic products when possible. It’s also a part of the Nashville Originals group.
I started with Oysters Two Ways. The first pair of raw oysters was topped with a cocktail style sauce, heavy on the firey horseradish (my grandfather used to say that would make hair grow on your tongue!). The second pair was dolloped with creme fraiche, a golden caviar and lemon rind. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and throw it back (or eat delicately). Mmm. I wanted four more after that.
For my entree, I had the Fudge Farms Pork Roast– “slow braised in milk with potato-shallot ravioli and cider glazed parsnips, carrots and onions finished with fresh herb jus.” The pork was so tender it just flaked apart in perfect morsels. The jus was to die for–sweet and herby. The ravioli surpised me, concealed beneath the meat and veggies. They were tender little pockets of joy in your mouth!
Breakfast, Day 2: Pancake Pantry, Hillsboro Village
We actually tried to go here on day 1 for brunch, but at 11 there was a long line out the door. Driving by as late as 2:30, there was still a line. But, a line means people will stand and wait with a hefty appetite because it’s worthwhile. So, we got up early the next day to be at the door a touch after 8. I was craving country ham and grits, but thought I should try the pancakes to say that I did. Tennessee Country Ham = no joke. ‘Twas a big slab of meat. Some fantastic pancakes graced the table as well: a stack of blueberry and a stack of pecan. Besides plain maple syrup there was an extra rich cinnamon cream sauce. That’s what I call gilding the lily.
Would I return to this place? Probably. If it were more convenient. The 7am wake-up call was worth it because we did not wait in line. But I’m not convinced the food was worth the trouble. I’d rather not fight 200 hungry people at a single trough. Going across the street to Provence was a better option at a more reasonable, rested hour.
Lunch, Day 2: Bar-B-Cutie’s
Holy pig. The words, “This is the best barbecue I’ve ever had” did come out of my mom’s mouth. And I very well may agree. There were some excellent orders at the table, including the Memphis BBQ sandwich and the beef brisket.
I selected the pulled pork plate with sides of baked beans, coleslaw and cornbread. Just thinking about that meal makes me hungry as I write this. The pork was slow-smoked and served dry, but there a number of sauces on the table to dress up the meat. I tossed it with a touch of hot pepper vinegar and the mild tomato-based sauce. The cornbread was served like little pancakes, perfect for sopping up sauce or building a perfect bite of bbq, slaw and sauce. This is a don’t miss if you’re in the Nashville area, or any of Bar-B-Cutie’s franchise locations throughout the southeast. Pig out!
Dinner, Day 2: Wedding Cake
Pretty. And delicious. Strawberries mixed among layers of chocolate and vanilla with a whipped icing.
Yeehaw that was a heck of a trip to Country Music City. Food + traveling = the best! LG, I say Foodstalkers needs to go on tour more often.