White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails

While we were in Atlanta, we decided to try White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails for New Year’s Eve. White Oak Kitchen is an upscale restaurant featuring a spin on Southern food.

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With the word cocktail in the name, we expected a variety of specialty drinks and we were not disappointed.  Their specialty cocktail menu featured drinks with names like Jolene (Tito’s vodka, lime, grapefruit, and orange blossom flowers), Sweet Home (Rum, King’s Ginger, and cranberry juice), and Murmur (vodka, blackberry sage tea and coke).  I tried Rocket Science with Hendrick’s Gin and pomegranate juice.  The rim was coated with crushed sweet tarts.  The sweet tarts balanced the gin very well and surprisingly the drink was tasty, but not too sweet.  It was great.

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The Pimento Cheese appetizer had fried green tomatoes stacked on a spicy strawberry compote with pimento cheese between the layers of tomatoes.   The pimento cheese was a little spicy and complimented the fried green tomatoes well.  I know that fried green tomatoes are sometimes served with goat cheese, which I find to be a very strong taste to pair with the lighter flavors of the tomato.  I was concerned that the pimento cheese would be similar, but it wasn’t.

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The lamb chops were cooked to a perfect medium, and were served with wild mushroom fricassee.  It was also served with candied bacon Brussels spouts, which were a little underdone.

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The steak was served with a squash and zucchini medley and mashed potatoes.   The steak was tender and basically melted in one’s mouth.

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The whole meal had been delightful so far. The drinks, appetizers and entrees were great and the service was really phenomenal.  We were a little surprised with the desserts.  The ideas of the desserts we ordered seemed good, but there were just a little lacking.  For example, the special was white chocolate bread pudding with homemade peppermint ice cream.  Both of these things sounded delicious and I assumed they would be served independently of each other.  Apparently the ice cream was supposed to function as a sauce for the bread pudding, but it just didn’t work.  The flavors clashed a bit and because there was no true sauce the bread pudding came across dry.  We did go early for dinner and I got the feeling that the chef tinkered with the meal throughout the evening, so maybe it improved as the night went on.

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Cary ordered the creme brulee and we had high hopes for it.  It was topped with poached pears, whipped cream, and a sprig of mint.  The taste of the brulee was great, but the area under the pear did not have the crispy sugar topping, which was a huge disappointment.

Even though the desserts seemed off, the rest of the meal was great and we would visit White Oak Kitchen again.
White Oak Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint

To celebrate the New Year, we took a trip to Atlanta, GA.  We stayed downtown and enjoyed touring the World of Coke, as well as getting some much needed rest.  We decided to try a restaurant that was in walking distance of our hotel for dinner.  After looking at Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint, we decided to give it a try.  We did not get reservations, which at first looked like it might have been a mistake, however, we did get seated fairly quickly in the bar area.

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The cocktail menu was pretty extensive, featuring drink with names like The Color Purple (grape vodka and lemonade), The Juke (citron vodka and pineapple), and the Sweet Georgia Peach-tini (Georgia peach 360 vodka and peach nectar).  Since I was in Atlanta and love peaches, I decided to try the peach-tini.  I was afraid it would be a really sweet drink, but was pleasantly surprised that it was not.  As someone who is really picky about peach flavors, this was nice.

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I didn’t exactly know what to expect when we ordered the crawfish bruschetta.  The description said it would be a crawfish stew, topped with cheddar cheese on toast points.  The crawfish topping was not quite the texture of stew.  It was more like a thick paste.  The crispness of the toast points negated the pastiness of the crawfish stew, so things balanced well in the texture department.   The flavor of the stew was nice, quite spicy as good crawfish dishes usually are.

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The Caesar salad featured sauteed shrimp on a bed of Romaine lettuce topped with Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper croutons.  I was a little disappointed with the Parmesan cheese.  I really like shaved Parmesan on my salads, so it’s really just a personal preference.  I also felt like the Caesar dressing could have been a little spicier.

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The gumbo had large chunks of andouille sausage, shrimp, crawfish, scallops, mixed vegetables with a dollop of white rice.  The gumbo was pleasantly spicy.

We ate here on a Sunday evening and they had a very nice house band.  If extra charges bother you, they do add a $5 entertainment fee per person during the dinner hour.  The music was great.

Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint on Urbanspoon

The Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage

Recently we left the Bug with his grandparents and took a weekend trip to Callaway Gardens. While in the area, we stumbled upon the Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage run by chef John Makin.

The grilled pear and brie sandwich is served warm on cranberry walnut bread.  It was the best upscale grilled cheese sandwich that either of us had eaten.   The sweetness of the pears and the cranberry bread really complimented the brie.

Cary ordered the roast beef sandwich with the soup of the day, which was potato leek.  The soup was the star of the entire meal. The potato leek soup was extremely smooth, almost like a broth.  The flavors blended so well, it’s almost indescribable.   It was a great compliment to the tangy cheddar on the medium rare roast beef sandwich.

If you visit Callaway gardens, you should definitely stop by the Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage.  Order the soup.  You will thank us!  :)

The Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage on Urbanspoon

Fresh Summer Produce

Summer is upon us!  For us that means it is tomato, green pepper and cucumber season!  In the past, we have participated in community supported agriculture or a CSA.  For a variety of reasons, that just doesn’t fit our lifestyle this year.  To get our fresh vegetable fix, we plan on visiting some of the area Farmer’s Markets.  Here are a few that we plan on trying to visit soon:

1.  Franklin Farmer’s Market: According to the website, over 70 farms participate.  Located behind the Factory at Franklin, this market is open Saturdays from 8am until 1pm.  There is also a Tuesday afternoon market open from noon until 4pm at Harlinsdale Farm, located on Franklin Road across from the Factory.

2.  Thompson’s Station Farmer’s Market:  Operates from 2pm until 6pm on Wednesdays at 4691 Columbia Pike.  No idea how many vendors participate, but baked goods were mentioned on the website and I do love a great baked good.

3.  Nashville Farmer’s Market:  We’ve been here a few times, mostly before the flood.  It’s open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  The hours are a little bit of a moving target, because it depends on the individual merchant.  There are also about 10 restaurants located next door that we would love to try.

4.  12 South Farmer’s Market:  The market is located in Sevier Park on Tuesdays from 3:30pm until 6:30pm.  Meat, dairy, baked goods and produce are all sold, with vendors listed on the website.

As we explore these over the summer, we hope to share some pictures with you all and maybe a new recipe or two!  Is there anywhere else we should go?

Mack and Kate’s: A revisit

Last Saturday, Cary and I had our first date night since the Bug came along.  We put on our “good” clothes (the ones with no spit up….  we are fancy) and got reservations for Mack and Kate’s.*  We arrived a little early and decided to wait on our table at the bar.

We had an excellent bartender.  Since it was a night out on the town, we asked him if he had any recommendations.  He suggested a drink called the Alpine.  When he described the drink, Cary and I snarled up our noses at the addition of gin.  Personally, I think gin tastes like a pine tree.  He convinced us just to try it, and we were hooked.  Not only did he make a delicious drink, he showed us how to make it at home (muddled lemon, equal parts Hendrick’s Gin and St. Germaine, a splash of soda water and a cucumber garnish) .  That, folks, is true service.

We tried the crab cakes and cauliflower tater tot appetizers.  We’ve talked about the crab cakes before.  My biggest surprise was how good the cauliflower tater tots were.  I didn’t quite know what to expect, but these were delightful crispy tots held together with some sort of cheese (white cheddar, maybe?).  They were very lightly seasoned resulting in a very aromatic and slightly nutty taste.  They went very well with the tangy mustard sauce and the Parmesan shavings on the plate.

The one complaint I have about Mack and Kate’s is that the menu isn’t detailed enough.  After debating for quite a while, I decided upon the scallops with butternut squash risotto.  I was pleasantly surprised that the risotto contained red and green peppers, red onions and some sort of light, creamy cheese along with the butternut squash.  The scallops were seared beautifully and went perfectly with the risotto.  If I had a little more detail (the addition of the peppers and onions), I would not have hesitated about ordering this dish.

Normally when I’m at a restaurant, I don’t get a chocolate dessert because they taste like they came from a box.  With some trepidation, I ordered the chocolate strawberry cake.  I was pleasantly surprised at the airy chocolate cake, with fresh strawberry layers and a somewhat heavy milk chocolate icing.  It was a perfect finish to a perfect evening.

*This is a post that wasn’t going to happen.  We had been to Mack and Kate’s on a previous occasion for brunch.  It was delicious, which is why we decided to go for dinner.  We had such a fantastic experience, I couldn’t help but blog about it. Sorry for the lack of pictures.

Mack and Kate's on Urbanspoon

Mack and Kate’s Cafe

We recently visited Mack and Kate’s Cafe in Franklin for Sunday brunch.  Normally when I go to a restaurant, I don’t pay much attention to the decor.  In general, I’m pretty focused on the food.  What I first noticed when I walked in the door was how peaceful the atmosphere was and how nicely the restaurant was decorated.  The bar made out of what looks like reclaimed wood reminded me of a nice restaurant in Charleston or Savannah.

We started our brunch with a blood orange mimosa and a bloody Mary.  Mack and Kate’s doesn’t make the mistake many places do with a bloody Mary, that is getting WAY too fancy.  The drink was a nice combination of tomato juice, peppery vodka, and good splashes of Worcestershire and hot sauce.  The overall combination was nicely refreshing with a good kick to go with a tasty brunch.

After ordering our drinks, blueberry muffins were promptly brought to our table.  The muffins were light, fluffy and had a delightful buttery taste.

We started the meal with fried green tomatoes topped with goat cheese and a chipotle aioli.  We liked the fried green tomatoes because they were thick cut, which meant they actually stood up to being cooked, and didn’t fall apart like the thin cut ones we see so often.  The goat cheese added a unique tang to the tomatoes and the chipotle aioli perfectly completed the dish.

The eggs Benedict had a traditional presentation with a tangy hollandaise sauce and slightly runny eggs.  It did seem a little light on the ham, but the tasty red potatoes on the side more than made up for it.

The southern crab stack featured seasoned grits topped with a crab cake and smothered with a shrimp and andouille sausage saute.  The grits had a nice creamy texture and were perfectly complimented with the addition of the crab cakes.  We also found out that the red potatoes were delicious dipped in the cheesy sauce that topped the crab stack.

Mack and Kate’s was an excellent way to start the day.  They take pride in using local ingredients and developing seasonal menus.  We can’t wait to try them for lunch or dinner.

Mack and Kate’s Cafe
3078 Maddux Way
Franklin, TN 37069

Mack and Kate's on Urbanspoon

Merridee’s Bread Basket

On a recent Saturday, we ventured to Merridee’s Breadbasket in Franklin, TN.  Merridee’s serves breakfast until 10:30 am and begins serving lunch at 11:00 am.  We arrived at 10:50am and they were still taking breakfast orders.  We were in the mood for lunch, so decided to try a few pastry appetizers while we waited.

Cary decided to try a pecan sticky bun.  The bun had an almost praline-like topping with a nice, light but also chewy dough.  It was absolutely delicious.

I opted for a raisin cinnamon roll with a light icing on top.  Like Cary’s sticky bun, the dough was light and chewy. Many times cinnamon rolls have an overwhelming amount of cinnamon.  This was not the case here.  I was pleasantly surprised by the light cinnamon flavor.  They had these packaged to take home.  I was very tempted.

The small side salad was a mixture of fresh greens, carrots and cheese with homemade croutons.  With the salad, you get a half piece of the famous Viking bread.  The Viking bread is a really unique whole grain bread.  Many times I feel like whole grain breads are gritty with hard grains that hurt my teeth.  The Viking bread contains soft grains that accent the soft bread well.

The chicken salad was a mix of chicken, mayonnaise and celery on white bread bread.  In my opinion, it was just a bit of a disappointment.  I’m southern a believe that chicken salad should contain pecans and some sort of fruit.  I’m sure people really like it, but it just wasn’t for me.

 

Merridee’s reuben came with a homemade thousand island dressing and was on the bakery’s delicious Viking bread.  While the corned beef of the inside had been sliced, it was nearly falling apart tender and luckily had a good bit of cheese to hold things together.  With the thick dressing to dip the sandwich in, as well as the substantial bread that was chock full of various seeds and grains, this turned out to be a top-notch reuben.

 

In our opinion,  Merridee’s Breadbasket is true to their name.  The thing they do the best are baked goods.  The breads and pastries were excellent.  We took home several of their dessert bars, a loaf of Viking Bread and a loaf of French Bread.  We used the French Bread to make French toast and made cinnamon toast with the Viking bread.

Merridee's Breadbasket on Urbanspoon

Amish Wedding Meal at the Mill

As many of you know, one of our favorite local places is the Amish Market at the the Mill in historic Nolensville, TN.  In addition to offering fabulous sandwiches from their Amish deli (at cheaper prices than your local grocery store, no less), and other wonderful food ranging from fried pies to homemade pimento cheese and chicken salad, the owner also does a great job of promoting unique events such as the meal we had an opportunity to enjoy a few nights ago.

We were very excited and intrigued when The Mill announced the opportunity to partake of  a traditional Amish wedding dinner last Saturday.  You could eat the dinner at the Mill, or take it home, which we decided to do.   It was the first meal in our new home (with an amazing new kitchen), so the symbolism was quite fitting.

The pasta salad was amazing.  It was a mix of pasta, broccoli, cauliflower, ham, cheese, and bacon with a light mayonnaise dressing.  When I looked at the combination of ingredients, I was skeptical that the salad would be pleasing to the palate, but it was delicious.  The salad was an excellent use of raw vegetables and would be a great alternative to a vegetable tray.

The main meal consisted of baked chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and creamed peas.  The baked chicken had a light breading with simple salt and pepper seasoning, but remained moist and very tender throughout its preparation.  The stuffing consisted of discernible chunks of bread and was well seasoned with chicken stock, parsley and sage (we think).   As for the vegetables, I promptly mixed my mashed potatoes and peas like a little kid.  It was great.

For dessert, we had tapioca pudding with a light grape flavor.  The picture does not do this dessert justice.  It was light and creamy with a plethora of tapioca pearls.  While I would never think of adding grape flavoring to this dessert, the result was a slightly fruity, sweet dish that makes me wonder if any tapioca recipes are in our future.

There is a rumor the ladies who prepared this delicious meal will be back to cook for The Mill again.  We will definitely be there.

Amish Market at the Mill
7280 Nolensville Rd
Nolensville, TN 37135

Amish Market At The Mill on Urbanspoon

Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House

For my birthday about a month ago, Sarah thought a themed birthday was in order, and suggested we head down for a day trip to Lynchburg, TN to visit both Miss Mary Bobo’s boarding house as well as to tour the Jack Daniel’s Distillery.  Miss Mary Bobo’s is a local institution that was actually purchased by the company that owns Jack Daniel’s in the interest of preserving the historical significance of the area and continuing to support the local economy.  Today, Miss Mary Bobo’s serves as a family style restaurant for those visiting the distillery or anyone just looking for a taste of true southern fare.

As mentioned earlier, Miss Mary’s is a family style restaurant, which loosely translated means, all you can eat just like Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house.  On the menu when we visited was meatloaf and fried chicken as our meats, plus roasted potatoes, baked apples (with a bit of the “local product”), fried okra, and mac and cheese (yes mac and cheese is a vegetable as far as I’m concerned).

As with every visit to your grandmother’s (at least mine), sweets were definitely on the menu, this time in the form of a chocolate fudge/chess pie that almost sent me over the edge.

Just so everybody knows, downtown Lynchburg, yes all two hundred square yards of it, has plenty of other things to do besides eating and (not)drinking.  Moore County Jail was the first jail in Lynchburg and was originally erected in 1872 and remained in operation until 1990.  Ever supportive of the local economy, the distillery also doesn’t have a gift store on site, but rather encourages people to visit the gift stores it has located in the town square.

The visit to the distillery includes a heavy dose of the history of the area as well as a lot of little known facts about the company, such as the used corn is recycled as feed for local cows (when means we now know where the REALLY happy cows come from).  You finish off your tour with free lemonade (Moore county being dry and all), and a better idea of the history and culture that makes Middle Tennessee special.

Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House on Urbanspoon

Pancake Pantry

A friend of mine called and asked if I wanted to meet for lunch at the Pancake Pantry.   It was the perfect excuse to try this historic Nashville establishment.  We visited on a Wednesday at lunchtime and I was very pleased that the line wasn’t too long.  We only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, which I thought was a major victory.

The pecan pancakes had a generous amount of pecans in the pancakes, pecan sprinkled on top with powdered sugar and pecans drenched in syrup.  It was a pecan lover’s dream!  According to my friend, “They were excellent.  I had no trouble eating every bite.  The warm syrup with the pecans soaking in it is really what made it the best.”

I ordered the cheese and bacon omelet with green peppers.  The thin layer of egg surrounded the melted cheese in gooey deliciousness.  I expected the green peppers and bacon to be in the omelet, but the omelet was still good with everything on top.

The omelet came with buttermilk pancakes that I promptly drenched with the cinnamon cream syrup.  The pancakes were light, fluffy and delicious!

Personally, I felt like the Pancake Pantry had good food and wasn’t the “tourist trap” I was afraid it would be.  When I go back, I think I’m going to try the sweet potato pancakes.  That is what the young country music artist sitting beside us recommended.

Pancake Pantry
1796 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212

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