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Nashville Downtown - Steakhouse or Italian Recs

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I'm coming to town on business with a couple of coworkers and need to make restaurant reservations for 2 nights. I'd appreciate a few recomendations for either Italian restaurants or Steakhouses in or very near downtown.

Now, here's the hard part; they can't be too creative or progressive but do need to be somewhat upscale. So Catbird or City House are out for example.

So far I've found:
Kayne Prime (looks perfect)
Chains (Flemings, Mortons, Ruth Chris)

Now that chains would go over fine, but I hesitate submitting a well known, high priced restaurant on my expense report. It's not about the actual prices, but more about the perception ..."Oh must be nice traveling for business, living high on the hog", if you know what I mean?

So, most likely, we'll go to Kayne's one night, then for the second night is the question. It can be either another Steakhouse, or an upscale "New American" (without too much "weird stuff" on the menu) or an upscale, traditional, red sauce Itailian.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

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  1. Yes, for the general downtown area and steaks, you want Kayne Prime. Other people may suggest Demo's, but no. Just say no. It's very popular, but not remarkable in the least. Kayne Prime is one of the best restaurants in the city.

    For red sauce Italian, look at Sole Mio. A little further west in the Vanderbilt area is Amerigo, which will have a few lighter options and non-pasta entrees as well.

    If you want to look a little outside the Steak/southern Italian straightjacket, look at Mad Platter, Germantown Cafe, Eastland Cafe, Margot, Capitol Grille.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TLF

      Thank you for your reply!

      Ok, so Kayne Prime is a definite.

      I pulled the menus for Sole Mio & Amerigio, and I think either of these will please the group. I didn't look into them earlier because of mixed Yelp reviews.

      But, honestly and unfortunately I'm safer going to a middle of the road Italian restaurant than having to hear for the next year about how I took them to a restaurant that served pureed parsnips instead of mashed potatoes or there wasn't a caesar salad on the menu.

      1. re: aimeekm

        It's true I wouldn't give either SM or Amerigo top reviews, but they are fine. My fav Italian in town is Porta Via, but both locations are outside the downtown zone. Still, if you don't mind a little drive, the White Bridge Rd location isn't *that* far.

        And, I forgot two other choices. Caffe Nonna is further than Amerigo but not by much, and it's very good if tiny. There's also a new spot, Pomodoro, in East Nashville. I have not been there yet, though, and I've heard mixed reviews. Still, I love the other restaurants from the same owners.

    2. Reporting back ....

      We went to Amerigo the first night. It was just ok.

      Amerigo
      FETTUCCINE IMPERIAL - Subbed chicken and mushroom for extra pancetta. The sauce and pancetta were decent, the pasta was overcooked.
      SCALLOPS VENETO - Co-worker had this, he didn't comment if it was good or bad, but knowing him, no comment probably means mediocre. I did have some of the polenta; its texture was a little odd. It's like not quite enough liquid was added, so it wasn't smooth and creamy on the plate, it clumped and sat there unattractively. It tasted decent though.
      FILET WITH GORGONZOLA & ROSEMARY BUTTER - Co-worker had this without the gorgonzola or rosemary or the green beans. We were a little concerned how it would come out because our waiter didn't understand Pittsburg style or Black and Blue. But the chef obviously did, because my co-worker was happy with how it came out. The pasta though was over cooked, as mine was.

      The service was good, except when we mentioned the pasta was overcooked, the answer was, "That's fair" ...hmmm ... ok.

      But when the bill arrived, it was less than $100, including 1 cocktail, 1 beer & 2 glasses of wine. So it was very reasonable for a business dinner, which made the ok food a little easier to swallow.

      The second night we went to Kayne Prime. We all LOVED Kayne Prime. Traveling for business with a nearly all male company, we eat at a lot of steakhouses. All three of us were wowed here.

      Kayne Prime
      Appetizer:
      housemade bacon
      The waiter did a bit of a hard sell on this. We generally don't get appetizers, but we gave in on this, and were glad we did. It was absolutely delicious, salty, sweet, melt in your mouth good. One of my coworkers eats like a bird, and he could not stop eating this.

      Salad:
      farro
      I ordered this and it was very good. I really like grain salads and this is a great rendition.

      Mains
      Filet mignon
      Both my co workers order the 6 oz. Not sure why they didn't go for the Wagyu for $5 more, but whatever. They had nothing but good things to say, and they were cooked perfectly.

      SKIRT STEAK
      This was my order. Tenderer than I thought skirt could be, but full of the beefy flavor that you get in skirt vs. a filet. Cooked perfectly med rare. Serious Yum.

      Sauces:
      truffle béarnaise
      Co-worker ordered w his filet. He had never had a béarnaise before, but he ate every bit of the sauce, so I can assume it was good.
      anticucho
      Had this w my skirt. It was strongly flavored vinegar-y sauce. I really liked it and thought it complimented the steak well. My coworker tried it and found it too strong, so it's obviously not for everyone.

      Sides:
      cream corn brulee
      This was really good. Not to take anything away from it, but I could barely taste the jalapenos. I think if it had a little more jalapeno flavor and heat, it would have balanced really well with the sweetness.

      risotto tater tots
      These were good, but everything else was so outstanding, I think we each only had 1 or 2

      potato aligot
      These were basically very cheesy mashed potatoes. I didn't try them, but my eats like a bird co-worker put a healthy dent in them. So I'm lead to believe they were tasty.

      Popovers
      These came with the meal. They were amazing. I generally find popovers to be a bit bland and only have a bite or 2. We each devoured ours. They brought out more which we didn't touch. I had them wrapped to go for breakfast the next morning, so much better than anything the hotel had to offer. But then I forgot them on the table, I was so disappointed! One small complaint, they only serve these with the meal. We had to beg and cajole for them to be brought before dinner. Our otherwise great waiter seemed to indicate he had to perform miracles to get them before our meal. I thought that was strange.

      Everyone was really, really full and happy when we left. My eat like a bird co-worker even said we should have gone there both nights, it was that good.

      Thanks for the suggestions; they helped to make this a pleasant trip!

      1. Thanks for your thorough review of Kanye. I'd enjoy hearing more about your anticucho sauce and
        the farro salad.
        Sorry your pasta was overcooked. But you're right, the check improves the dining experience. If moderate price is part of the equation, Amerigo, with decent food and moderate prices is a good choice.