The Food Biz: Hybrid concept

New fast casual cafe on West End aims at breakfast, lunch crowds

A veteran of Bread & Company has opened a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch in a high-profile spot on West End.

It’s called, in fact, West End Cafe, and it’s located in the former Baja Fresh spot at 17th and West End in midtown (across from Hotel Indigo).

Owner Blaine Archer was director of operations at Bread & Company for 10 years before launching his own place in late January.

Archer overhauled the space where Baja Fresh had operated for years, aiming to upgrade the atmosphere. “We tried to really open it up and make it feel more comfortable,” he said.
Breakfast — which starts at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays — and lunch are the main push right now, but the cafe also wants to attract an after-work crowd. Unlike Baja Fresh, Panera or other quick-casual restaurants, West End Cafe has a full bar in one corner. There are also TVs around the room that can be tuned to sports.

The concept seems to be something of a hybrid. “It can be what people want to make of it,” Archer said.

In the next month he plans to gear up dinner service with hot entrees, but for now the joint closes at 7 p.m. (5 p.m. on weekends).

As for the menu, breakfast offerings include omelets, like a chorizo-Manchego cheese version with salsa verde ($7), and a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream ($6). The lunchtime focus is sandwiches (hot and cold), salads and soups.

Breakfast ends at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, but weekend brunch lasts until 3 p.m. There are some special drinks to accompany brunch, such as a festive mimosa or the spicy Hot Mary.

Unlike some other spots in the neighborhood, West End Cafe has a rather large parking lot in back. Archer is also targeting nearby offices by offering boxed lunches and catering.

West End Cafe is located at 1720 West End Ave., Suite 100. Hours are likely to expand, but for now the cafe is open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

Who doesn’t love a scratch biscuit, right? That’s the appealing concept behind the Biscuit Love food truck, which will hit the streets in early April.

The folks behind Biscuit Love are the husband-and-wife team of Karl and Sarah Worley. They’re from here, but they both attended culinary school at Johnson and Wales in Denver and honed their skills in Durham, N.C., before returning home and turning their love of Southern food into a rolling restaurant.

The tagline is “scratch-made gourmet sandwiches,” and Karl Worley said most everything will be made in house, including the biscuits, of course, the gravy and even toppings like pickles and mustard.

Perhaps the most intriguing menu item is the Princess, an homage to Nashville-style hot chicken and a certain famous hot chicken joint. It starts with a biscuit, topped with a spicy fried chicken thigh (boneless, in a concession to biscuit mechanics), plus the aforementioned pickles and mustard and a drizzle of honey.

You can also build your own biscuit with alluring ingredients such as local bacon, country ham, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheddar, sausage gravy, and most delirious of all … Olive & Sinclair chocolate gravy.

The Worleys plan to unveil the truck April 6 at the Meet ’N Three food truck gathering at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. To check out the menu, visit biscuitlovetruck.com or watch for updates on Facebook and Twitter.

 

If you’ve never attended Iron Fork, which pits some of Nashville’s best chefs in feats of culinary competition, you should really consider getting a ticket soon.

This year’s roster of competitors seems especially epic: returning champion Laura Wilson of the Grow Local Kitchen at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, Roderick Bailey of Silly Goose, Hernan Borda of Rumours East, Jason Brumm of Merchants and Vinny Tardo of Saffire.

Tickets are $35 ($45 after April 1) and your admission includes samples from 20 or more local restaurants and spirits purveyors. The event benefits Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

The party starts at 6 p.m. April 25 at the new Marathon Music Works venue at 1402 Clinton St. Tickets are available at nashvillescene.com and will most assuredly sell out.