**More pictures coming soon**
I had a fantastic long weekend in Nashville, filled with good friends, good food and lots of good music. Here is my report:
The Hutton Hotel- This is one of my all-time favorite hotels. Many of the Leading Hotels of the World I have been to recently haven’t really met their or my exacting standards, but this one met and exceeded them. It boasts free wifi, free wine between 5-6 pm, free car service within 3 miles, espresso machine on every floor to make you complimentary espresso, rain shower heads, nice cotton bedding, nice restaurant, nice bed, soothing atmosphere with really nice L’Occitaine toiletries. Lots of free bottles of water and chocolate each night during turndown, multiple types of power jacks in your room, wonderful staff who were friendly and who would do anything asked. To add to that they also have a great hotel bar and staff. It is one of my favorite hotels. And really what more than that could you ask for? As a specific note Nashville is a place that you want to stay out late at night. There is so much good music and in cases like that a relaxing, soothing respite is necessary.
As an aside while I was there they were having a Bobbi Brown Fall Color Convention (Employee Presentation). I happen to adore Bobbi Brown products for their lack of harsh chemicals and their focus on the basics and neutrals with hints of color where appropriate. I happened to run into one of the artists at the bar who hooked me up with some new products. John- you are amazing. It is people like you that make me adore Bobbi.
It is worth checking out the Country Music Hall of Fame even if you don’t love Country Music. The exhibits are really neat and even those of us not well versed in Country recognized so many of the songs. While we were there they had a fantastic exhibit on the precious Brenda Lee.
I just missed an exhibit at the Frist Museum on Paris Fashion that looked wonderful. As a note the Frist does not have a permanent collection so judge whether you want to go on how interesting the two exhibits showing will be to you. While there they only had a Chihuly exhibit and it was rather small for the $10 admission.
Nearby check out the gallery at the Tennessee Art League. While there they had a fantastic exhibits by both members and children with some neat things.
Cheekwood House and Gardens is a very neat house with pretty gardens. They had the larger part of the Nashville Chihuly exhibit, but not as expansive as Phoenix one I visited before. The house itself had impressionist art, primitive american sculpture by African American, and fabrege exhibit. the bottom still housed many of the details from the family who built it, the Maxwell House family. The gardens were extensive and very pretty, but not as nice as the Huntington in L.A. or Vizcaya in Miami, but very cool and worth a visit.
So where to hang to get some of that good music? Well if you want to go downtown then I suggest starting at Bang Bar where dueling pianos have a good fun with the audience and the people watching is top notch. Then for some more serious music head over to the Stage or Second Fiddle. On a whim you could also stop by Roberts or Wildhorse Saloon which just reopened from the flood. Look for the crowds.
Away from downtown the Red Rooster and Tin Roof have live music, sometimes Country sometimes not and Dan McGuiness Irish Pub can turn somewhat into a college bar/club later in the evening. More of a last stop kind of place.
Jack’s BBQ- The great thing about Jack’s is it isn’t one thing. Nashville not being Memphis it can do whatever BBQ it wants without picking a style. It does brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork and sausages. The brisket and ribs were stand out, as well as, Carolina mustard sauce and their vinegar sauce. I liked being able to mix the Carolina mustard sauce with the brisket without dirty looks. They had good bready dense cornbread, slighly sweet, but very bread like. Nice ambiance, with big tables, a patio and very casual ambiance. It is right downtown among the honky tonks with long hours.
Pancake Pantry- this is a very down homey breakfast all day joint. Nice staff, not overly chatty because they have work to do, but nice. On my first visit I had cornmeal pancakes with bacon, cheese, green chiles served with salsa, maple syrup and sour cream. Nice mix of savory and sweet flavor, a few bites with syrup was good, but I mainly ate it with salsa and sour cream. Awesome lunchy, savory pancakes. The cornmeal had a crisp outside but tender inside and wasn’t overly sweet like some cornbreads.
On my next visit I had the Chef’s Skillet with their fantastic crispy hashbrowns and sauteed peppers, onions and tomatoes and ham. Topped with swiss cheese and fried eggs. As I was sharing the dish we ordered it with two buttermilk pancakes. It was crispy and very satisfying after a night out on the town the poached eggs soaked down through the mixture and perked you back up. It was nice to be able to have this and one of their light fluffy buttermilk pancakes. I don’t like a large amount of pancake, but one with their warm cinnamon syrup really hit the spot. Their pancakes really are incredible. They aren’t too thick or thin, they are a little crusty on the outside but fluffy all the way through. The buttermilk for me have enough tang that they aren’t overly sweet with syrup. I also like that they have buckwheat pancakes on the menu and real maple syrup. I lucked out both times I waited less than 30 minutes to get a table, probably because we ate late.
City House- this restaurant is nicely composed. A little hard to find, but well worth the attempt. The design is modern and minimalist. They had a short but diverse wine list, house salami with boutique wisconsin parmigana was excellent. The salami was peppery and flavorful, but the texture was soft and tender similar to the texture of lox. The parmigana cheese was from a company turned co-op and rivaled some of the best I have had anywhere with its flavor and texture. For an entree I had the margherita pizza with arugala, this was perfect neapolitan style pizza with excellent fresh taste, pillowy crust, and arugula gave nice crispness. Bread gnocchi of my dining companion so-so. I think if you had bread gnocchi before and knew what the texture and flavor was like then it would be ok, but on such a hot summer day it was a bit heavy. But their dessert list is amazing. I wish someone here in D.C. could come close to the wonderful creativity of the dessert list here. We split the peanut butter panini with rhubarb preserves and buttermilk ice cream. This dish made you want to give Elvis a hug. The ice cream had awesome tang and the warm peanut butter on cornbread then grilled for a crisp outside had perfect sweetness and crunch, but was balanced by tart rhubarb and tangy ice cream so as not to be too rich.
Neely’s BBQ- Yes, yes the home of the famous Food Network Neely’s is Memphis, but they have an outpost in Nashville too. Their BBQ, although not as smokey as Jack’s, was ok; their pulled pork was much better than Jack’s. It was juicy tender, but they put the sauce on it for you, and a lot of it so you couldn’t judge just how good the pork would be on its own. Good but standard mac and cheese and beans. However, they gave you toast instead of cornbread… not cool. I would go to Jack’s over this place if you want anything but pulled pork only. The portions are huge though, if you dig that.
Taco Mamacita- this is a fun taco joint with not your normal tacos. Instead be prepared for carnitas, jerk chicken or gyro tacos. I had a gyro and a fish taco. I did lament that you didn’t get a choice of hard or soft taco or a choice between flour and corn tortillas. The fish taco was really nice with a lightly floured then fried fish that remained moist and interesting slaw. The gyro was just a gyro in a tortilla, but it was good. The black bean and corn slaw was refreshing, but had too much cilantro for me.
And below the Taco Royale which was a favorite among our group:
So thank you Nashville for providing a great place to catch up with my best friend, and a great place to party hard with dear friends. I am so glad that it is recovering so well from such a devastating flood and keeping in such good spirit!