by Stacey Morris
Fried chicken. Cheese grits. Buttery biscuits. And I admit, the food wasn’t the only preconceived notion I had about Music City.
You know the drill. It’s the south, and comfort rules. Or so I thought before my recent visit to Nashville.
At my friend Cheryl’s insistence, I took a four-day sojourn and made a pleasant discovery: There’s more to Nashville than fiddle jamborees and deep-fried everything.
There are world-class art museums (do not miss The Frist); the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, reported to have the best acoustics in the nation; an amazing jazz and blues epicenter; and roaming botanical gardens.
And then there’s the food: modern, eclectic, and endlessly interesting.
I marveled at the array, from Duck Confit Cigars and Cornmeal Crusted Oysters in BBQ Sauce, to Foie Gras-stuffed Burgers, and Blue Cheese, Pear and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas:
Ombi – A small but chic bistro offering adventurous cuisine at its best: Mussels in a Red Curry Broth, Tuna Tartar with Picadillo Sauce, Roast Chicken in a Bacon, Bourbon and Mustard Jus, and Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Pomegranate Molasses to name a few dishes. My Grilled Hangar Steak and Pommes Frites melted in my mouth. Dessert was a semi-sweet Goat Cheese Tart with Clover Honey. Dinner entrees: $13-$18. 2214 Elliston Place. (615) 320-5350. www.ombirestaurant.com
The Sunset Grill – A bustling music-executive-magnet where I had one of my best lunches, but not before a mighty tug of war between the Angus Meatloaf with Yukon Gold Whipped Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy and the Short Rib Quesadilla with Vella Jack Cheese and Cilantro-Jalapeno Pesto. The Golden Pepper stuffed with Ratatouille and Basmati Rice caught my eye, as well. But what hungry traveler in her right mind would turn down an Angus Meatloaf? And speaking of peppers, check out the Butterscotch Habanero Bread Pudding. Lunch entrees: $7.95-$16.95. 2001 Belcourt Ave. (866) 496-FOOD. www.sunsetgrille.com .
The Acorn – a two-story eatery with an infectious party-in-motion atmosphere and a chef who aims to tantalize. Specials can range from Osso Bucco to Alligator (which tastes, I’m told, like chicken). Cheryl chose the Hot Wasabi Green Pea encrusted Sushi-grade Tuna, pan seared on Sesame Carrot Mash, with sautéed Japanese Vegetables, Mushrooms and a Lemon Grass Ponzu dipping pool. Skipping over choices such as Pan-seared Country Styled Bacon-wrapped Beef Filet over a Horseradish, Turnip and Golden Potato Gratin with a wild Mushroom ragout and topped with Blueberry Stilton and Port Wine, I opted for a plain old bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo, which was nice and creamy and augmented by a showering (or three) of fresh parmesan. Dinner entrees: $16-$27. 114 28th Ave. North. (615) 320-4399. www.theacornrestaurant.com
Macke’s – an elegant beige respite from Nashville’s formidable shopping scene. Linen tablecloths and fresh flowers offer a soothing touch as does a menu of Velvety Lobster Bisque, Pork Tenderloin atop a mound of lightly fried goat cheese, and Fried Brie with Mixed Greens, Pineapple, and Mango. The Lobster BLT, and Macke’s Four-Cheese Macaroni were just some of the choices we faced, but I chose the special of Grilled Scallops and Avocado on Pannini. Cheryl had the Crab Cake Baguette. And dessert nearly brought us to tears: Tempura Bananas with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce. 2131 Bandywood Drive. (615) 292-3838. www.mackesrestaurant.com
And don’t miss Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles, famous for their dozens of varieties of homemade frozen Popsicles in bizarre but delicious flavors such as Avocado, Plum, Cantaloupe, and Chocolate Chili. Oh, if only they allowed ice coolers on the plane. 2907 12th Ave. South. (615) 386-2101.
Stacey Morris is a freelance writer based in upstate New York. Her writing has appeared in Better Homes & Gardens, Specialty Food Magazine, The Montreal Gazette, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her Web site is www.staceymorris.com.
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