Can you really go Nashville without going country? I was just a little skeptical. Born and raised in the Midwest, I had ventured down to Nashville back during my school years, where the brief tour included the Grand Old Opry, the Jack Daniels Distillery, and every cowboy bar that would let us in. Nothing but country!
Fourteen years later, I found Nashville to be less country and much more my speed, at least in the fabulous East end of Nashville. We picked the Eastland Cafe for our dining needs, and found it to be well beyond satisfactory. Though the feel of the cafe was certainly a local comfort, the food was spectacular. I started with a Pomegranate martini and Cafe Salad until my main course, the Pecan Crusted Chicken, arrived. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical, thinking the dish may end up taking a sweet course, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the light mustard cream sauce just that – perfectly complimentary to the juicy, encrusted chicken without being overbearing. Oftentimes, I’m disappointed in the accompaniments – anything from items chosen off season to being cooked beyond recognition – but I found the baby green beans cooked to a pleasant al dente and the fingerling potatoes anything but overcooked. And while we didn’t make room for dessert, rumor has it their Happy Hour is a not-to-miss. You can check out Eastland’s executive chef Hal Holden-Bache in action here while making a Dijon and horseradish-crusted salmon during a recent cooking demonstration.
There’s quite a bit packed into East Nashville, including Margot Cafe & Bar, who’s chef, Margot McCormack, was recently nominated for a regional Best Chef James Beard Award. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop at a few of the neighborhood nighttime spots, namely The Red Door Saloon and the Three Crow Bar, both local favorites serving a wide range of brews. The 5 Spot is also great for Nashville music acts, like Heypenny and Kyle Andrews.
97 Chapel Ave
Nashville, TN 37206