The Food Biz: An M., an M.L. and a Catbird Seat

Cummins Station, West Nashville, Midtown see flourish of food, beverage activity

M. Restaurant and Bar opened Thursday in Cummins Station, the second new restaurant in a month from the Strawn family, who opened m. market and deli (pictured here) a few doors down in Cummins Station a couple weeks ago. The Strawns also own Mack & Kate’s Cafe in Franklin and Macke’s in Green Hills.

Cummins Station has been a pretty busy restaurant locale over the past few weeks, with the already thriving Coffee, Lunch opening directly across the street, m. market replacing Joe Natural’s a couple weeks ago, and now M. Restaurant and Bar launching its elegant take on Southern cuisine “with a few unique, internationally inspired selections thrown in the mix.”

All the hubbub in Cummins Station makes a little more sense visually, now that you can stand on 10th and peer down Clark Place to see the illuminated prow of the nearby Music City Center, which is closing in on its 2013 opening.

The Strawns have turned a former Cummins Station storefront into a chic dining room with a convivial vibe that beckons from the sidewalk. M. Restaurant’s menu is divided into “Beginnings,” (appetizers that include the intriguing Deconstructed Chicken Noodle Soup, and Cajun-spiced crawfish toast with veloute and cheddar on baked brioche), an “Intermediate” salad course, and a creative list of eight or nine entrees.

Entrees range from $14 to $26 along with the usual slightly bigger-ticket beef dish (sliced tenderloin of beef with potato lyonnaise, mushroom demiglace and seasonal veggies for $32).

Pretty unique to the neighborhood is M. Restaurant’s weekend brunch menu, which covers the spectrum from sweet (bourbon barrel vanilla French toast), to savory (Sunday pot roast and house-made meatloaf) to sweet-and-savory (chicken and waffles). Brunch items are $12 to $22.
M. Restaurant and Bar is located at 209 10th Ave. S., Suite 223, in Cummins Station. The phone number is 678-1591. It’s open for dinner, plus lunch Monday-Friday and brunch on Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Over in West Nashville, another much-anticipated restaurant and bar opened last week, one that’s a little more of the pint-glass raising, sports-watching and burger-enjoying sort.

The popular M.L. Rose Craft Beer and Burgers in the Melrose neighborhood has spawned a West Side sibling. The new M.L. Rose takes over the old Lavender Motors Building at Charlotte Avenue and 45th Avenue North.

Restaurateur Austin Ray has turned the 1920s-era service station (later an auto sales lot) into an expansive pub that seats 200 inside, plus a large patio. The building’s automotive history is reflected in the whimsical decor, including a chandelier constructed of retired mufflers. The menu is similar to the original, with a slate of burgers, wings, the popular waffle fries and other pub fare. There are some 30 craft beers on tap.

M.L. Rose Craft Beer and Burgers is at 4408 Charlotte. The phone number is 712-8160. It operates 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday; on weekends, it opens at 10 a.m. to serve brunch, which lasts until 2 p.m. Ages 21-and-up only are admitted after 5 p.m.

• The Catbird Seat, the unique dining spot that’s getting notice from national outlets as one of the best new restaurants in America, is looking for a beverage director. Jane Lopes, the wine expert and mixologist who masterminds the creative beverage concoctions that complement chef-duo Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson’s cuisine, is planning to move on.

“It’s a very amicable departure,” said owner Benjamin Goldberg, adding that Lopes will stay on until a replacement is found. “Jane is amazingly talented. She’s so knowledgeable about different wines, spirits and beers, but she’s also able to communicate in a friendly and approachable way,” Goldberg said. “She’s really special, so it’s not the easiest position to fill.”

Goldberg said a wide-ranging search has been launched.

“We’re definitely looking both inside Nashville, and all over the world, to be honest,” he added.