A few stops in Nashville, TN

by Skip on August 18, 2009

in Travel

Chalkboard at Las Paletas

Shady Lawn Truck Stop

Route 65 North from Birmingham to Nashville has its share of iconic roadside attractions–the Ave Maria Grotto, former President James K Polk’s home, and the shrine of the Most (!) Blessed Sacrament–but the Shady Lawn Restaurant and truck stop’s giant, well-armed chicken seemed a good enough place to stretch my legs as any. Didn’t stick around long enough to try the food because it was predictably seedy. Interestingly enough, I noticed no lawn and even if there were one it wouldn’t have been shaded (however shady).

Heavily armed chicken

West Nashville Farmer’s Market

I got to visit the inaugural showing at the West Nashville Farmer’s Market. A handful of purveyors has a decent variety of produce–giant white cucumbers, local honey, tomatillos, corn, peppers, and orange Turkish eggplant (below). Richland Park seems like it’s in a neat neighborhood. I’d like to go back the next time I’m in town. Excellent post over at The Charlotte Parker. The market currently runs Saturdays from 9am until noon.

Turkish Orange Eggplant Local Honey by Paul Kidd Timbertop Farms Shitake Mushrooms

Las Paletas

Given my recent obsessions–ice cream and watermelon juice–it should be no surprise that I would have to investigate the Mexican ice pop mavens at Las Paletas. With flavors like rose petal, mexican caramel, avocado, chocolate/mint, honeydew, strawberry, and tamarind, I would be there constantly if I lived close enough. I tried a rich, creamy avocado pop for $2.50. A fruit variety like tamarind or honeydew may have been more thirst quenching for the seasonally toasty day, but the slightly sweet avocado was just what I needed. The menu changes daily and the pops are available at a number of Nashville locations.

2907 12th Ave S # B
Nashville, TN 37204-2545
(615) 386-2101

Avocado Paleta at Las Paletas Chalkboard at Las Paletas Flavors at Las Paletas Chalkboard at Las Paletas

Fido

When Carla Jean suggested a few coffee shops, I went in expecting something like Primavera or the Urban Standard. Fido had more of a soda shop feel, with plenty of booths and tables (all filled around 1pm on a Saturday). I’m not sure why, but when I come to Nashville I seem to be drawn to New York flavors. The last time I was there, I ate a reuben at Noshville, and for lunch at Fido I had a Fishy Bomb–open faced bagel sandwich with smoked salmon, herbed cream cheese, onions and capers. It was well executed and the house made tea punch continued my cooling trend. The atmosphere started off frantic and slowed down to a mellow bustle by 3pm. Good music on the hi-fi: Kings of Convenience, Andrew Bird, Iron & Wine.

1812 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212-3706
(615) 777-3436

Fishy Bomb at Fido Raspberry Beret Cake at Fido

Crema

After my few hours at Fido, I headed over to Crema, a quiet, intellectual coffeehouse closer to touristy downtown. They brew Drew’s, a local favorite it seems, and offer it three ways: drip, french press, and recently Chemex. The very scientific-looking Chemex system focuses on a fine filter. When done correctly, Chemex filtered coffee has a crisp robust taste, similar to French press without the oily texture. Unfortunately, I was not able to try it out since I walked a mile through the high-90 degree weather to get there. Cold brewed ice coffee was exactly what I needed. Before leaving I got a Cubano–espresso with steamed milk and sweetened condensed milk. Quite nice but hot. The sweetened condensed milk gave the drink a distinct nuttiness but also weighted it down. It was delicious, if flubby.

15 Hermitage Ave
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 255-8311

Robert’s Western World

We were exhausted after the wedding but as I’d never been to a honky tonk, we figured it was high time. Robert’s Western World was a good introduction to the genre, I think, as it seems like the clock may have stopped back in the 1960s. The house band was rocking and there was a great crowd of cowboys, burnouts, cougars, and hipsters. As happy as I am that it was non-smoking, a haze would have added to the authenticity. The boots on the wall aren’t for show, but according to one onlooker they were fairly expensive for a no-name Chinese brand. I wish I owned a giant belt buckle.

416 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203-3931
(615) 244-9552

Robert's Western World (interior) Robert's Western World (boots vert) Robert's Western World (band)

Katy K Designs

If you need some casual ranchwear,  a new flannel shirt, boots, or an aforementioned belt buckle, Katy K’s is one of the places to go. A veteran of the New York City rockabilly scene, Katy headed south to Nashville and she’s stocked with new and used items.

Katy K's Designs

Marche

This little Marche kept coming up when I polled locals on their favorite brunch spots, so I had to take a trip before we left. The shelves are stocked with neat European import pantry staples. It was bustling and we were told it would be a 30 minute wait (around noon). We decided to wait and were pleased to be seated 10 minutes later. The waiter was helpful and brought out our peaches with hand dipped ricotta, tomato and okra bread pudding, and braised pork belly with pickled peaches, with all due speed. The French Roast Drew’s Brews was a bit intense and hit me like a truck. Whoa.

The concept for the food was excellent, but the execution wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for. The peaches with hand dipped ricotta was fabulous and I’d be happy to have some every morning for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, the pork belly was dry and the tomato and okra bread pudding was bland (well cooked and structured but bland). Overall the experience was great and I would go back even though the food was a bit disappointing.

1000 Main St
Nashville, TN 37206-3626
(615) 262-1111

Dan is the producer of ‘Ham Sandwich. Read about his cooking adventures as Skip on The Gourmetro and learn about him on aisle-9.net.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

CJ August 19, 2009 at 4:20 am

Funny, as I read the Fido entry I was about to write, “Did I mention Crema, too? Because you should go to both!” I actually wrote an article on Nashville coffee shops five years ago. That was a hard (read: fun) one to research …!

Cabbage Babble October 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

Good to read about your adventures in Nashville. a few notes for your next trip to Music City:
– there is a local farmers market in East Nashville near the Turnip Truck (our health grocery) and it happens on Wednesday during good weather.
– Family Wash is a gastro-pub in East Nashville and has a billion beers available (really good ones, not Bud, Miller, etc.), wine, and a really good shepherd’s pie.
– If you liked Marche, try Margot, which is the restaurant also owned by the same people, but the dinner and brunch there is out of this world.

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