The first impression of Nashville is of a growing city, scaffolding and construction sites dot the downtown area in what looks like a hotel boom in the city. I was told over eight hotels were being built and these were seriously big hotels. Good sign for Nashville.
On the way to the hotel I noticed the beautiful huge new Music City Center. Construction looked almost complete on this 2.1 million-square-foot convention center which will be having a its grand opening this weekend. According to the website the center is, “…working towards LEED Silver certification with its green roof, solar panels, and rainwater collection tank…the Music City Center as one of the largest public art collections in the nation.”
There are of course hundreds of things to do in Nashville but here is a list of things if you are short on time, like to eat/drink, going on a Monday/Tuesday when live music isn’t as readily scheduled and the snowy weather limits your time outside (yes, it was 30 degrees and snowing while we were there and actually warmer in Chicago). My next trip I would like to see a show at Ryman Auditorium, go to the Frist Center of the Visual Arts and tour the Country Music Hall of Fame among other things.
1. Hatch Show Print is one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America making its mark with creating music posters for famous country music stars back in the day. The store serves as part museum and part shop selling vintage and current prints.
2. The Patterson House fits the speakeasy theme with an all black nondescript storefront and no sign. When the cab driver was finally able to find it, it looked closed. I love places like this because you know what is waiting for you behind closed doors is going to be nice and interesting. For Chicagoans, it reminded me of The Violet Hour.
Named after Tennessee governor Malcolm R Patterson, the interior has a beautiful tin ceiling, a library, antique chandeliers, awesome glossy wallpaper and comfortable booths. This is a great date place with its dim lighting and hushed tones. I do wish it were brighter only for the sole purpose of getting some great pictures. They do serve food in the form of a bites menu. I would recommend coming here with just an appetite for a couple appetizers. Coming here hungry and wanting a full meal doesn’t make much sense unless you are a light eater. Nevertheless the food was very good.
Truffled Deviled Eggs – Four halves filled with a crème fraîche and truffled deviled yolk atop a dash of shallot marmalade.
Tator tots with dill & horseradish crème fraîche dipping sauce
Brushetta with Roma tomatoes, red onion, basil Mozzarella and balsamic reduction.
The real reason to come here is for the drinks. Inventive cocktails made with fresh ingredients, precision and strong.
El Diablo- Lunaz up Reposado, lemon, and house made ginger syrup, Briotet Cassis. It’s almost as fun watching the bartender make the drink as it is to drink it…almost. Delicious balance of sour and sweet.
Revolutionary League: Prairie, lemon Lillet Rouge, cinnamon syrup, strawberry. Lemon perfectly balances out cinnamon and not too sweet.
Part & Parcel: Prairie, grapefruit, St. Germaine, grapefruit bitters. A classic drink you can never go wrong with as long as the bartender knows what they are doing.
Open Invitation: This was the winner of the night. Prairie, lemon, Treble Creme de Pechr, ginger syrup, egg white, Fees old fashion bitters. Rich but fresh drink with hints of coconut.
3. The Station Innhas been a Nashville institution since 1974 with old plywood floor (thinking they are the original floors…) that is equal parts charming and dive bar. Full of beer, pizza, and people Sunday night they have a Bluegrass Jam session (no cover!) and I counted 15 people joining in playing the violin, fiddle, guitar, cello, banjo and accordion. I liked that the age of the musicians ranged from looked like about 20s to late 60s. Highly recommend you come here for the best in Bluegrass and Roots music.
4. Merchants Restaurant was recommended by the bartender at The Patterson House for a quality meal in a relaxed setting. It should be noted there are two restaurants; the upstairs is more formal and the downstairs more casual. We went to the “downstairs” restaurant and sat at the bar. The bartender uniform was short-sleeved buttoned down shirt with a bow tie and suspenders. More Southern looking than hipster. He gave us a tin cup full of sour cream and onion popcorn so we were off to a good start.
When in Tennessee do as the Tennesseans do…started off with a Tennessee Mojito: Prichard’s peach and mango rum, lime, mint, simple syrup. I was afraid it was going to be too sweet but it was surprisingly refreshing and didn’t cross any too-sweet lines.
While waiting for our appetizer I noticed all the decor touches, subway tile, beveled windows, exposed brick. Once the wings were delivered my attention was brought back to the food, dry rubbed with sauce trio of house buffalo sauce, bbq and blue cheese. Very good but can’t compare it to my fave, Crisp.
My Mahi-Mahi fish tacos with mojo, pico de gallo, jalapeno aioli, guacamole and slaw were excellent. The fish was cooked properly and it was obvious all of the ingredients were fresh and made in-house. The sliced radishes on top added a nice crunch and pungent dimension to the dish. My partner had the Classic Cobb salad and it was a solid Cobb, what you would expect but with very crisp bacon and juicy chicken.
5. Music City Trolley Tour. I usually prefer to tour on my own to discover a new place but it was freezing and snowing and our first attempt at walking around did not go well. A trolley tour is a great way to see a lot of a city if you do not have a lot of time. Stops include 2nd & Broadway, Ryman Auditorium, Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Music Row and Vanderbilt University. As impressive as all these sites were one really struck me, the Parthenon. The Parthenon is IN Nashville — can you believe it? A fully reconstructed and to scale version of the Parthenon is sitting in the middle of Centennial Park. Why you might ask? According to the website it, “serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture.”
Whiskey Bent Saloon. We stopped in here to hang out while we waited for the trolley tour to begin. We listened to some great music by a couple that drove up that morning for southern Tennessee. I imagine it gets crowded at night/on weekends and has good music if the music at noon on a Wednesday was any indication.
Next stop, Atlanta!