Tasty Thursday: Nashville Edition

My last Tasty Thursday post touched on restaurant highlights from J and I’s summer road trip, but I had too many Nashville highlights to include in that post.  So, Nashville’s getting its very own Tasty Thursday post. And a culinary theme from our Nashville eats might be pimento cheese.

Loveless Cafe

Okay, friends, there’s a reason why this place is iconic. It’s not just a catchy name. Or cute ambiance. It’s really fabulous food!  J and I loved it so much, we came back again the next for breakfast. So, of the three days we were in Nashville, we ate here twice. And we both bought shirts from the gift shop.

Loveless BiscuitsThe biscuits are the best biscuits I’ve ever had. I can usually ignore restaurant biscuits unless they’re smothered in sausage gravy. The Loveless biscuits are almost impossible for me to leave alone. They’re warm, buttery and tender. Also, biscuits are accompanied by preserves that are nearly as good as the ones I make myself — whether we’re talking blackberry or peach. I almost bought some to bring home till I reminded myself of the 100 jars of jam already in my pantry. I did bring home some blackberry barbecue sauce.

Fried Green Tomato SandwichAlso, I had my first fried green tomato experience here. Where have fried green tomatoes been all my life? I’ve been missing out! Add a fried green tomato to pimento cheese and a Loveless biscuit, and you’ve got yourself a seriously good sandwich. Also, the Loveless taught me that pimento cheese makes an excellent omelet filling. This is my new favorite omelet.

And, last, honorable mention goes to the cheesy hash browns. One word: tremendous.

So. Much. Food. We couldn’t eat it all, and tough choices about what to leave behind had to be made. They were really tough choices.

If you hate waiting, crawl out of bed and get here before 8:45 AM or during non-peak meal times. It gets crazy busy. It’s worth the wait or planning ahead. I’d go back to Nashville just to eat at the Loveless. Also, check out the gift shop if you’ve got time. They’ve loads of cute stuff.

The Pineapple Room at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

Pineapple Room 2The Pineapple Room was a total surprise for us. After sweating to death walking around the gardens and estate (which were another highlight of our Nashville trip), I basically declared that we were resting and eating lunch here. J was not excited initially. But, I heard staff talking up the fruit tea on the menu, and I wanted to hydrate myself and camp out in some AC. J relented, so we headed into the restaurant. The fruit tea alone was worth the stop. Part tea. Part juice. Totally refreshing on a day where I thought I was literally melting.

It was a lovely date spot for lunch, with some light options. We were Pineapple Roomseated right by the floor to ceiling windows, looking out upon the gardens. I had been sad about not being able to make tea at the Biltmore, and felt vindicated that the Pineapple Room had a tea plate on the menu. I still got to experience tea on the trip! I could’ve done a happy dance right there! I held it in. Barely.

Bonus: prices were reasonable for lunch.

The little finger sandwiches were so yummy! The chicken salad was creamy deliciousness! To be honest, I was not a big fan of the ham salad, but J was. He was happy to score an extra sandwich. Also, his pimento cheese sandwich was awesome.  Lesson learned in Nashville: pimento cheese is amazingly versatile and yummy. Not just for crackers.

Jeni’s

Jeni's Ice Creams 2

After wandering around Bicentennial Park, J and I headed into the Nashville farmer’s market. We picked a slow day at the market. After checking out all the stalls, we found ourselves back in front of Jeni’s Ice Cream looking at sundae options. OMG! Hands down, the best ice cream sundae I’ve ever had in my life! Dairy goodness with sweet, salty and buttery nuts interspersed throughout. And the waffle fortune cookie on the top was totally charming! Totally worth the trip, and it helped us cool down after braving the heat!

Hai Woon Dai

Since we’d eaten loads of classic American food on the trip, J and I decided we craved something a little more adventurous. I’d been hankering for Korean food ever since we’d gone to the Korean BBQ place in Chicago a while back. So, I googled Korean restaurants in Nashville, and we found ourselves at Hai Woon Dai. Fabulous choice on our part! Thank you Google and Yelp for directing us here!

Korean 1

We decided to order some appetizers and bulgogi. The gyoza (not pictured), a pan fried dumpling, was tasty!

And, then I made an ignorant mistake. We ordered the seafood pancake. Now, the seafood pancake was tasty and loaded with seafood. We just had no idea how huge the thing was going to be. I thought since it was under the appetizers that it would be small. Oh no!  It came out on a plate that rivals our turkey platter for Thanksgiving!  J and I made eye contact as the plate was plunked down. Both of us started laughing and groaning at the same time.

What in the world were we thinking?!?! How are we going to to eat all of this? We did not. But we Korean 3made a valiant effort.

The banchan (side dishes, including some kimchi and sweet savory pickled cucumbers) were yummy!  The bulgogi made me so glad we came. It was tender, sweet and seasoned perfectly. This is total comfort food for me.  And now I’m hankering to find a good place for bulgogi here in the Twin Cities.

Also, the staff here were so wonderful and kind to us while we were here! They were so gracious and warm, and not just to us, but to all the patrons. The place had a delightful community feel; if we lived in Nashville, I think I’d be here all the time.

Hog Heaven

Centennial ParkOne of J’s coworkers hails from Nashville, and recommended we check out Hog Heaven right by Centennial Park. Since it was walking distance from our hotel, we hiked over through Centennial Park and over to Hog Heaven for lunch one afternoon. Now, we had a delightful time in the park — including swinging together on one of the benches in the park. Here’s us swinging and taking a selfie in all our hot and sweaty, sun burnt awesomeness.

Hog HeavenThe day was sweltering. Humid. Hot. The sun beat down a blistering assault on my skin. This made the amazing sweet tea at Hog Heaven all the more wondrous. Minnesota doesn’t do sweet tea like they do down in Nashville. And Hog Heaven’s is pretty exceptional.

But enough about beverages, let’s talk BBQ. J and I ordered at the Hog Heaven 2window, and plopped onto the wooden picnic tables with our meals. The kickin’ chicken white bbq sauce is unlike anything I’ve found up here in the great state of MN. J ordered this one, and it was spicy and tasty. I was unsure whether I’d like it or not, and found myself pleasantly surprised. I went the traditional route with sweet bbq. And it was everything I hoped it would be. Which also left me grieving because while the Twin Cities has a lot to offer in terms of cuisine, finding good bbq is hard to do. It’s possible, but places are few and far between.

Fair warnings: I’m ambivalent about the side dishes at Hog Heaven. I could easily leave those. But, the BBQ and the sweet tea were phenomenal. Also, I feel like a trip to Tennessee can’t be complete without at least one good BBQ meal. We definitely accomplished that mission!

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