When Tavern, the midtown branch of the M Street Entertainment restaurant group, opened in January, it lured patrons with the promise of cozy pub fare — including a s’mores-based dessert that diners toasted themselves over a flame.
Now that the days are long and the only thing toasty is the weather, Tavern’s two patios are open for sipping cool cocktails. In another new twist, the restaurant has added a feature ripe for summer celebrations: weekend brunch.
M Street honcho Chris Hyndman (Virago, Whiskey Kitchen, the new Kayne Prime steakhouse) has always had a smart sense for where and when people want to party, and high-quality weekend brunch is a kind of revelry that’s in relatively short supply in Nashville.
The company’s culinary director, Robbie Wilson, has a haute cuisine background, so Tavern’s brunch menu isn’t boring bacon and eggs (though those are on the menu, albeit with the promise of farm-fresh eggs and Nueske’s bacon, a highly regarded applewood-smoked product from Wisconsin).
Eggy variations include Benedict Uno (braised short ribs, poached eggs, English muffin, Tabasco hollandaise) and Benedict Dos (the same eggs and muffin but with smoked salmon and caper hollandaise). Those are $10 each. A couple interesting waffle offerings, red velvet with cream cheese drizzle, and blueberry cornmeal with cinnamon molasses and whipped mascarpone cheese, are $5 and $5.50, respectively.
S’mores may be out of season, but if you want something sociable to gather around, there’s a maple fondue ($17 for the table) with fresh fruit, grilled sausages and nuggets of red velvet and pain perdu (also known as french toast) for dipping.
Because it’s brunch, and especially because it’s an M Street venture, relaxing libations are prominent on the menu, including a cucumber bloody mary with house-infused cucumber vodka and spicy bloody mary mix ($8.50), and red sangria with blackberries, strawberries, oranges and apples with a splash of sparkling cava wine ($8).
New fare at the Farmers’ Market
Next time you head to the downtown Farmers’ Market to harvest some seasonal bounty, there are a couple new eateries to check out inside the market house.
Butter Cake Babe’s shop opened a couple weeks ago, but is having a ribbon-cutting party at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with samples of coffee and owner Julie Granda’s signature butter cakes.
Granda’s little booth sells coffee and espresso drinks, hot and cold, along with her fresh pastries, including St. Louis-style gooey butter cakes. She also sells bagels and her own intriguing cream cheese spreads: raspberry-basil, spinach-artichoke, olive-walnut and Greek-yogurt-dill.
Also new at the market: Green Asia, which serves a variety of Chinese and Japanese dishes, including fresh stir-fry dishes, salads and sushi. Chef-owner Jackie Liu said he uses fresh, healthy ingredients, with a lot of produce sourced at the market.
Finally, enterprising former Top Chef chef Arnold Myint (PM, Cha Chah, Suzy Wong’s) has quietly opened AM@FM in a sunny, airy space near the center of the market house. Myint said it’s in a preliminary phase with a limited menu for now, but you can get a preview by picking up one of his creative takeout items. The full concept will launch later this summer.
Midtown’s gourmet Italian
Vito Randazzo, whose father founded and operated Caesar’s on White Bridge Road for many years (it was the place where many Nashvillians first tried such exotic dishes as linguine Alfredo and Caesar salad), has just opened his own place at 1812 Hayes St. in the little house that used to be DaVinci’s Pizza. In addition to serving as executive chef at Caesar’s until it closed in February, Vito has a resume that includes culinary school in Italy and several years’ working for the Doubletree chain.
Vito’s Ristorante and Wine Bar offers gourmet pizzas, pasta and Italian-inspired entrees. Also of note for hungry hordes who work in midtown: a lunch buffet of pizza and pasta with salad for $7, available 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.