Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Party Fowl

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Party Fowl
719 8th Avenue South
Hot chicken is red hot. The competition to join in Nashville’s truly original yardbird style is at fever pitch in the Music City. Party Fowl throws a spicy leg and breast into the ring, but it’s offering something extra and that’s where the party comes into play.
Let’s start with the hot chicken. It’s super crispy and has a sharp flavored heat. The medium heat on this day would be a mild most everywhere else in Nashville. That’s fine, but the bird itself is a bit dry. One staple of hot chicken is a certain amount of greasiness. The sourdough bread underneath barely soaks anything up, which is a warning sign for me. The sweet slaw is a good side dish.
Another visit and the order is hot chicken nachos. The chicken tender version served on the nachos at medium is spicier than the previous visit for whatever reason. There’s still that distinctive sharp flavor to the spice. It’s not bad, but I tend to prefer more depth of flavor in my hot chicken. I think it’s what made the style truly standout as a Nashville classic in the first place. It’s not just spicy chicken that makes it special, it’s chicken with a wallop of flavor with that heat. The nachos are otherwise cold, and are served that way on purpose; it’s kind of a nacho salad with plenty of greens, white beans and salsa. I enjoy the style. I do wish they would consider upgrading the rather average chips. A wedge salad features good blue cheese dressing on my request and fun cornbread croutons. Crispy, Southern bacon rounds out a good salad.
The menu is much more wide-ranging than most hot chicken joints and that’s where the party comes in. With two well-stocked bars (kick-ass whiskey selection and many local beer choices) and plenty of space to spread out, Party Fowl is a bar/restaurant, not a hot chicken stand. Chicken liver mousse, smoked chicken dip, chicken and dumplings- they do a number of fun things with chicken, even serving it stuffed with goat cheese. It all has a Southern vibe and a whimsical attitude.
They have a bunch of happy hour specials and a friendly staff. Party Fowl would be a good choice for after-work drinks. But I don’t suggest Party Fowl as a place to take out-of-towners for the hot chicken experience. Prince’s, Bolton’s, Hattie B’s, 400 Degrees and Pepperfire are much better representatives of the style.
 As the name suggests, there is not much hear for a vegetarian. Bacon fried potato chips is an indication that any vegetarian venturing to Party Fowl should ask about prep and process.
I paid $18 with tax, tip and a beer on one visit and $24 on another visit.
 Party Fowl on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 23, 2015

Second Avenue Piranha's Closes - New Downtown Location Planned

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Piranha's News

It's no secret that the downtown Nashville Piranha's Bar and Grill has been our go-to spot for reasonably priced bar food and a great, friendly, local vibe for several years. They serve Pittsburgh style sandwiches with Cole slaw and fries piled on top. Those fries are fresh cut, the Cole slaw tangy and the sandwiches are excellent. So, we were extremely distressed to hear from Nashville Eater that Piranha's on Second Avenue has closed. Thankfully, ownership tells us that they will open a new downtown location in March on Third Avenue North. Piranha's has always been a haven for locals and tourists who are looking for something much less touristy. We're glad to hear that Piranha's is staying downtown. The owners also report that they are opening a Mt. Juliet location in just a couple of weeks. They have an outpost in Hendersonville, as well.

Nashville Eater reports that the former Piranha's location on Second Avenue will be occupied by a new food and drink joint called "The Stillery." Can we dare hope for something friendly to locals and reasonably priced?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fenwick's 300

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Fenwick’s 300
2600 Franklin Pike
Fenwick’s 300 is located in the thick of the Franklin Pike boomtown on the Southside. It’s in the new Melrose development with Sinema and the redux Sutler Saloon. Fenwick’s has only been open six weeks and yet the staff and kitchen are in-sync and ready for business. That’s not a surprise, since Fenwick’s 300 is co-owned by Bongo Java and Fido guru Bob Bernstein and Bongo Java Roasting Manager, Derek Wolfe. Fenwick’s 300 seems intent on capturing a wide variety of customers for its diner concept. They serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner and, best of all, you can get anything on the menu, at any time they are open. Meatloaf for breakfast? Salmon eggs Benedict for dinner? Go for it. From what we have seen, you’ll have quality options for any day part.
Fenwick’s 300 is basically upscale comfort food. Slow-cooked pork brisket in a light sauce certainly fits that bill. Jalapeno pepper and cheddar grits on the side are sticky, rich and a perfect accompaniment to the pork. But perhaps the stars of the plate are the charred Brussels sprouts in a tomato gastrique. A house salad has fresh greens and comes lightly dressed, with my choice of creamy peppercorn dressing. It’s a small salad for $6. And that’s probably the only complaint we have with Fenwick’s 300. Some items come in a generous serving and are well worth the price, but a few others are not. It’s an easy fix.
A Saturday morning excursion shows the place is hopping and there is a wait at the door. Luckily, they turn those tables quickly. You can put in a reservation at the door or wait to grab a seat at the large bar. Just beware- no reservations for those bar seats. It can get a bit cut throat when it’s busy. And by the way, that bar, which is the centerpiece of this sleek, modern design room, is reclaimed from one of the lanes from the old Melrose Lanes, the legendary bowling alley and bar that occupied the site for decades.
Steak and eggs are skillfully executed. The beef is tender, sliced thin, and served in delicate gravy. Eggs are fluffy and the steak nicely seasoned. The hash brown cakes are thick, delicious triangles of potato and cheese that disappear quickly from our plate. Excellent.  Beignets and Belgian waffles are just a couple of the other breakfast items. Fenwick’s 300 has a full-service coffee bar serving, needless to say, Bong Java. You can grab a latte there, pay separately and sip your coffee while waiting for a table. They also have a small beer selection and a number of fun wine cocktails. The Prosecco mimosas were popular on the morning we visited.
Veggie Eater: The menu is fairly veggie friendly, sporting both vegan and ovo-lacto options.  They’ve got several menu items that either feature or offer seitan, specifically “b hive seitan." I have no idea who/what b hive is and I didn’t try the seitan items on my trip.  I opted instead for the quinoa salad, saving room for a multitude of sides/split dishes.  Unfortunately, I found the quinoa salad a bit underwhelming.  First things-this would be one of the overpriced menu items alluded to by ME earlier-for a 10 dollar salad, I just would have expected more.  Setting that aside, the salad itself lacked a bit of personality.  I think the issue at hand was a matter of execution-I was excited to see peppadew peppers, but was disappointed to find them so finely minced that they lost any of their sprightly contribution.  The same could be said of the cukes and missing an opportunity to add texture.  The black quinoa was well cooked, retaining both a fluffy and chewy texture.  However, the salad was unevenly dressed, leading to rather bland bites interspersed with livelier bites boasting the white balsamic vinaigrette.  Baby herbs were lightly scattered on top, adding a nice freshness.  In contrast,  veggie sides had plenty of personality-both the chickpea salad and Brussels sprouts rocked.  For the chickpea salad, the legumes were crunchy and mixed with pickled veggies and fresh dill.  ME lured me here by the promise of fabulous sprouts and these sprouts will likely bring me back again-there’s still plenty more to sample. 
Meat Eater: As of this writing they were keeping long hours, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and brunch only, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Sundays.  We’ll be back to try the shepherd’s pie, ratatouille and fried chicken daily specials. Parking could be an issue at night. Even at 11 a.m. it was tough to find a spot. There is valet parking available at night for Sinema and Sutler. We’re not sure if that includes Fenwick’s 300.
The Melrose stretch of Franklin Pike continues to develop as a food destination. There are a bunch of restaurants and bars within walking distance. Now if Metro could just figure out a way to slow down traffic a bit and provide more sidewalks- it could be a fun walking neighborhood. Dodging that traffic is just plain dangerous.
We paid $60 with tax and tip for a visit with several plates and two beers. I paid $26 on a lunch visit with one beer. Fenwick’s 300 is not cheap, but we found the food and service to be worth the money.

Fenwick's 300 on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chelsea Bistro Closes

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Chelsea Bistro Closes

We're sad to report that the Chelsea Bistro in Whites Creek has closed. The official word came earlier today on their Facebook page. The French restaurant hadn't served dinner since last week, and that left many wondering about its fate. We have to thank Josh, him mom, and Chef Garrett Pittler for giving it a go and taking a chance on the Joelton/Whites Creek area. They had a fine dinner service and one of the better brunch options in town. Chelsea Bistro had been open for a year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Acme Feed and Seed

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Acme Feed and Seed
101 Broadway
Can you get a decent meal in a place that describes itself as “22,000 square feet of cocktail, culinary and entertainment space”? The answer is yes. Acme Feed and Seed, which sits at First and Broadway, is a massive enterprise of fooder-tainment with all sorts of nods to Nashville’s roots and plenty of Americana merchandising. It’s upscale in identity and pricing. All of that should have turned us off, but it didn’t. The food is casual, creative and good.
The main floor is a huge space, carved out of a historic building. The Acme is best known as a farming supply retailer since the 1940’s and hence the theme of the restaurant complex. The Victorian style structure dates back much further than that, operating as a flour warehouse and buggy company. Two bars and dozens of tables stretch out over the room and towering ceilings retain that historic warehouse feel to the place. They’ve spent some time refining how they will handle such a large space and the accompanying large crowds. On the first floor, you order up front and take a number to the table. We have taken to sitting at the bar. They have an interesting array of craft brews, including a decent selection of locals. A beer goes well with the food here, both for flavor and for ambiance. There’s a beer hall feel to the first floor.
The first floor menu is limited. This is usually a good idea when a business first takes flight, but it seems a bit restrictive now. A first glance shows the Southern favorites with a few twists here and there. Chicken-fried steak is a bit chewy, but with a fine, peppery breading and thick white gravy. The vinegar slaw is simple and fresh. You could certainly stick with the traditional side of the menu, but if you look a big closer, you’ll see some ways to shake up your palate. The Lobro sandwich is rare ahi tuna on a good old fashion hamburger bun. It doesn’t look like much on serving. The fish is cooked to expectations, but it’s the toppings that show the Acme difference in downtown dining. Pickled ginger and Asian sesame slaw put the sandwich over the top. I end up using most of the avocado aioli for the thin and crispy sweet potato fries. That seems to be the Acme style: a Southern mash-up with international flavors. Mexican street corn and house made falafel share the first floor menu with Brunswick stew and barbecue of various types. There are several options for vegetarians.
Veggie Eater: I was fully prepared to hate this joint, but must admit, I rather liked it. The menu has enough veggie items to keep the veggie eaters happy and not simply the generic black bean burger or Portobello options.  During my visit, I was most intrigued with The Hatchery.  It’s a mish-mash of curried chickpeas, which still have some denseness to them, and lovely coconut rice, sprinkled with cashews and cilantro.  This is then topped with over easy eggs and grilled flatbread, which has the consistency of naan.  It’s a large, filling affair, and every bite was a lesson in contrast of textures and flavors (a sight chewiness and earthiness from the chick peas, velvety and slightly sweet rice from coconut, salty crunchiness from cashews, gooeyness from the eggs).  Meat Eater tried to convince me that we needed to go back just to expand our menu selections for the blog write up (“really, Kate, how can we do the review without having sampled the Mexican Street Corn or Falafel…”)-but alas, we are backed up for a few weeks with other obligations.  However, I assure you, we will be back to sample more of the menu in the near future. 
Meat Eater: Yes, the offer of house made falafel downtown is a big deal miss vegetarian. The second floor promises sushi soon and bars extend up to the roof, where they book private parties for the beautiful river views. This type of mash-up is a good thing for downtown dining. The tourists have deserved better food for years and the Acme first floor also gives us locals another place to dine before the symphony or a show at the Ryman. We paid $45 on one visit for the two of us and I paid $25 on another. It may turn folks off to pay that much for a typical hamburger bun and basket style serving ware. It’s a reminder that the real estate isn’t cheap on Broadway.

Acme Feed & Seed on Urbanspoon