Nashville trip report - long
After obsessively scouring the boards for a short work trip, my husband and I (hailing from the SF Bay Area) assembled an ambitious list - thanks to everyone who posted before us. Here's a rundown of our brief time in Nashville:
As we drove to the conference-designated hotel, we quickly realized that the boards are always right. There didn't seem to be anything hound-worthy around the Opryland resort (we didn't come all this way for Cracker Barrel...). We also discovered that we had an issue at hand, having arrived hungry on a Sunday evening in Nashville. Super Bowl Sunday.
We ended up at OMBI, around 7 pm. The restaurant was beautiful, but empty, except for a table of 4 enjoying their last sips of wine. The cooking staff was conspicuously absent from the open kitchen (I suspect they were watching the 2nd half in the back). We started with a few cocktails from the list - I had the Quince (with light pear and cilantro flavors) and the husband had a sazerac (which was on the sweet side for us); both seemed to be a little light on the alcohol, but maybe that says more about us... The bartender helped us out with our next order, with a very generous pour of Michter's rye.
The kitchen staff materialized, and they quietly and efficiently got to work. We had a variety of apps and tapas: fried artichoke bottoms (perfectly fried juicy little hearts), fried onions (with a scrumptious red pepper ketchup that we spooned into our mouths when we ran out of onion), chicken apple sausage on red cabbage slaw (sausage a bit crumbly, but loved the cabbage), a potato pancake with smoked trout (okay), sweetbreads (a bit dry), and iceberg wedge salad (what's not to love, but the husband did wonder if those were Bac-O's).
We split an enormous plate of oxtails (perfectly sauced and falling-off-the-bone tender) over a parsnip puree dotted with golden raisins. No room for dessert. Bill was about $65.
By the end of our meal, a few other diners had trickled in, but the restaurant was deafeningly quiet. Hopefully it was just the odd circumstance of Super Bowl Sunday, as it seemed to us that Ombi has a good heart and puts forth a genuine culinary effort for Nashville.
We ended up watching the rest of the Super Bowl at the 3 Crow Bar, where we learned about the local brew, Yazoo, from our incredibly helpful and speedy server. God bless Nashville, with its 2 for 1 nights. We enjoyed 4 pints of the Yazoo pale ale, porter, and hefeweisen for under $10.
A charmless continental breakfast was provided gratis by our hotel, so unfortunately, we conceded to time and budget and missed out on the local breakfast spots.
We cabbed it out to Eastside Fish for lunch. You feel sort of obliged to check out a place that is the self-proclaimed "crunkest" fish in town. We were pretty happy with the whiting fish plate. Two enormous filets, with tender flakes and perfect breading, and all the hot sauce you could pour on. Accompanied by two slices of white bread, well done greens, and tangy cole slaw, we definitely needed a nap after lunch (total: less than $10). The gentlemen running the shop were very nice to us (a recurring theme in Nashville), and wondered how we Californians had stumbled into their place. I filled them in on the whole Chowhound phenomenon. They seemed intrigued.
After that late lunch, we had screwed up our stomach schedules for any decent dinner, as we had planned to make it to the Station Inn to catch the Time Jumpers. PBRs were $3 apiece, and we had two helpings of "things of popcorn" for $2 each.
The set wrapped up around 11pm, and we went in search of late night bar sustenance at the Flying Saucer. Between the short plaid skirts and the flat screen tvs, it's a wonder that any guy in the place can focus enough to put in an order. We ended up with the Rocket Tots (can't say no to spicy, cheesy tater tots) and their version of a french dip sandwich (food total: $13). Again, can't say how much we love Nashville ($2.75 pint night!) - we polished off glasses of the Yazoo Dos Perros and Pale Ale and the Blackstone Nut Brown Ale - tasty.
Lunch was a triumphant experience at Monell's. We were the first to be seated at the table out front, and immediately poured ourselves giant glasses of sweet tea. Salads were pickled cucumbers and cole slaw. Biscuits, cornbread, and gravy came quickly thereafter. The table filled up, and the food kept coming. Green beans, white beans, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, greens, spinach lasagna, pot roast, and skillet fried chicken. Dessert was a quickly vanquished bowl of banana pudding. We loved it all - the truly communal dining experience was fun, the servers were sweet, and every dish was amazingly good. $12 each for instant food coma.
Needless to say, we rested a bit before dinner. But we put ourselves right back out there, with Prince's Hot Chicken. After reading all the posts, we got a bit scared and went with the mild versions of legs with sides of baked beans and slaw. I'm drooling a little now, just thinking about that chicken. Beautifully fried, juicy meat, with mouth wateringly spiced crispy fatty skin. I immediately wished I had ventured further on the spice level, and we briefly considered placing another order, before common sense and frightening levels of fullness intervened. Total: around $10 for two.
We rounded out the evening with the Beer Sellar, charmingly located beneath Hooter's. Apparently a surprisingly quiet night (the barkeep blamed the nasty wind chill factor), but we enjoyed pints of Purple Haze, Sweetwater Pale Ale, and the Boulevard wheat and ales.
After grabbing a quick bite of breakfast at the hotel, we set out for the airport early. Unfortunately - or fortunately - our flight was delayed, so we squeezed in one more meal in Nashville (does airport eating really count?). We shared a plate from Swett's in Concourse C - pulled pork, with sides of white beans and slaw. $9, and enough to get us through the first leg of our long journey home.
Thanks again, Nashville. Now how do we go about getting a branch of Monell's out here?
Monell's Dining & Catering
1235 6th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
prince's hot chicken
nashville, tn, nashville, tn
2214 Elliston Pl Ste 102, Nashville, TN 37203
3 Crow Bar
1024 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206
East Side Fish
2617 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN 37216
402 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
1010 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN
107 Church St, Nashville, TN 37201
swett's at the nashville airport
nashville, tn, nashville, tn
Glad you had such a good culinary journey in Our Fair City. I have to say I'm impressed that a couple from SF would steer almost exclusively to real southern food and beer joints. I agree about OMBI ... I think it does an OK business but Super Bowl Sunday is death to upscale restaurants.
Very nice! I'm glad you enjoyed it ... we're recently ex-Californians and I am glad to see more of "my people" enjoying my new city. We like it a lot, and really, what is there not to like about Monell's??
Ombi was scarily empty when we were there too, but we also tend to eat late and that puts us as the last people in places most of the time. I did like it, though, and this was a good reminder for me to go back and give it another look. Now we're going to have to try East Side Fish...
And yes, people here are so nice. Love it!