Capitol Grille: Brunch with Class

Social class is far from invisible in America. Every choice that we make—whether it be how to spend our money or time (or both)—usually shows something about our socio-economic background. Food and restaurants are no exception to this rule. In fact, the “you are what you eat” mantra goes much deeper than your skin turning orange if you eat too many carrots. The dining/food/health choices you make are directly tied to your social class, cultural beliefs, and economic prosperity.

That being said, under normal circumstances, we would never find ourselves within the illustrious dwellings of the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel. But thankfully, Pierce’s parents were kind enough to give him a birthday gift card for $100 to the restaurant. Upon receiving this gracious gift, Pierce asked “Well, geez, thanks, but what are we going to do with all the money that is left over?”

Surprisingly (or maybe not), that wasn’t an issue.

Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel

Pierce: Shrimp and Grits, Tennessee Jack Egg Sandwich, Chocolate Ganache Tart, Mimosa ($33.95)

Kristen: Sweet Onion Bisque, Steak and Eggs, Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée, Mimosa ($33.95)

Service Time: Five minutes for biscuits/mimosas, 10 minutes for first course, 20 minutes for second course, 10 minutes for dessert.

First Impressions: How is it possible not to be impressed when entering the historic Hermitage Hotel? The elegant Capitol Grille is nestled under the lobby and features a dimly lit interior that highlights some local Nashville landmarks. Murals of Centennial Park and the State Capitol encompass the walls.

We made reservations on OpenTable, but at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, it didn’t seem like it was really needed. Our waitress was very prompt in bringing us our drinks and menus. Our original table spread included an option between a variety of spoons and forks prompting a few “what is this one for?”’s.

The Main Event: Much to our delight, the Capitol Grille employs the three-course menu—the first that we’ve seen it on our brunching adventure. For the first course, Kristen decided to have the sweet onion bisque—which tasted like someone juiced the world’s most delicious onion rings.

Pierce went with the shrimp and grits, which was the size of a main course and featured four jumbo shrimp accompanied by a fried take on grits.

After having a little time for digestion, our main courses arrived. Pierce ordered the Tennessee Jack Egg Sandwich that included Jack Daniel’s-infused toast with egg, tomato, and jowl bacon. Yes, jowl bacon. It was incredible—but after the shrimp and grits, Pierce was only able to finish half of it.

Kristen went with the Steak and Eggs which featured a nice 7 oz. steak, potatoes, and eggs. The eggs—prepared scrambled—were a little runny/mushy and the potatoes were nearly burnt, which wasn’t Kristen’s preference.

Throughout the meal, our waitress came around and continuously topped-off our Mimosas—something neither of us had a problem with.

The meal ended with two light desserts—a chocolate ganache tart and a vanilla bean crème brûlée.

The Verdict: When one thinks of “high-dining,” they think small, flavorful portions. But the Capitol Grille doesn’t abide by this stereotype. Despite the sky-high prices, the food is creative, very good, and anything-but-skimpy. The service and atmosphere are simply second-to-none. While it certainly isn’t an “every-other-weekend kind of place,” if you are looking for a once-a-year/special-occasion brunch, the Capitol Grille is a great selection. (If there’s room for it in the budget.)

4/5 Syrup Crocks


Miss Emily’s: The Pulaski Edition

Editor’s Note: Pierce and his roommate Cory ventured an hour and a half south of Nashville to Pulaski for a Trail of Tears Memorial Walk. On the way, they stopped for a brunch. The following is what transpired.

Every small town in the South—and maybe America—looks the same. There is a large, distinguishable government building (in Pulaski, it’s a courthouse). There is usually a “town-square” structure that may or may not center on aforementioned building. The sad reality is that many of these downtown areas have dark “foreclosure” or “For Rent” signs in the unlit storefronts. The Wal-Mart down the street bustles with crowds.

Pulaski was not the exception to this rule. The small town—which is home to Martin Methodist College—certainly has its charm. Before we took part in the Trail of Tears Memorial Walk, we looked around for a brunch establishment to fuel up. Luckily, we spotted a small diner-like place called Miss Emily’s.

Miss Emily’s

Pierce: Breakfast Special ($5.25), Sweet Tea ($1.05)

Cory: Pancakes and Eggs w/ Bacon ($4.75), Coffee ($1.05)

Service Time: 20 minutes

First Impression: Well, as we walked in we were greeted by a friendly, laugh-hardy waitress who told us to take a seat. The tables were plain and there was little attempt at decoration. A small TV beamed in Channel 4 from Nashville in the front corner. It was refreshing.

A little after we sat down, a couple of camo-donned hunters took a seat at a nearby booth. Apparently, they knew the waitress. “You kill anything this morning, boys?” she asked. “Time,” one of the guys said disappointedly.

The Main Event: As we contemplated the menu, I asked the waitress what she liked. “What do I like? I like two eggs over-easy, about six strips of bacon, hash browns, and some biscuits and gravy, but that doesn’t mean I get it,” she quipped. Awesome.

I settled on the breakfast special which included eggs, city ham, hash browns and biscuits and gravy. This was disturbingly similar to what the waitress liked. Regardless, it was all very good. The eggs—ordered scrambled—were nicely textured/fluffed. The ham—while a little bit overcooked—was still good. A little ketchup made the plain hash browns a lot better. The biscuits and gravy were borderline-godly—by far the highlight of the meal.

Cory went with the pancakes, eggs, and bacon. The pancakes were a perfect combination of large and fluffy. The bacon was a little burnt and over-crispy, unfortunately—but still edible.

The Verdict: Miss Emily’s was both charming and satisfying. It might sound bad, but we didn’t have very high expectations. That being said, Miss Emily’s exceeded those marginal expectations. The food was good, but not great. The watered-down Foldger’s coffee was a downside. But unlike most uppity places in Nashville, the price was right. The final tab was less than $15—after tip. To put that into perspective, two weeks ago at Dose, I paid nearly $8 for a coffee and a bagel. At least in Pulaski, you get what you pay for—no more, no less.

3.5/5 Syrup Crocks

Also: Keep an eye out for some exciting holiday contest/giveaway news coming soon!


Puffy Muffin – Brunchin’ On The Street

Every good idea comes with followers and interpreters—sometimes imposters. Once something is deemed successful, someone else always swoops in to get a share of the pie. It’s only a matter of time. Thus, it wasn’t a surprise when super-cool email-marketing discount service Groupon spawned a bevy of less-clever competitors. But for consumers, it’s still a win-win. Instead of getting one good deal in your inbox every morning, you can have the pleasure of getting four or five now.

That being said, we are always looking for good brunch deals and when Puffy Muffin popped up as a LivingSocial deal, we couldn’t resist. However, as we printed out the deal just moments before heading out the door, LivingSocial revealed a “Fine Print” section—only after we made the purchase. The $10 for $20 deal was only good on take-out orders. Ah…there’s always a catch.

The Puffy Muffin – Brentwood

Pierce: Eggs Benedict ($7.95), Sweet Tea ($1.50)

Kristen: Country Breakfast ($8.25), Bottled Orange Juice ($1.95)

Service Time: 21 minutes

First Impression: Tucked between a FedEx store and a Farm Fresh Market, Puffy Muffin has a um… refined reputation. When we first started going on brunching adventures back in March, a girl once said “You could go to the Puffy Muffin. But that’s kinda like where all the old people in Brentwood go.”

However, despite the confirmed presence of senior citizens and middle-aged breakfast goers—Puffy Muffin’s interior was still welcoming. The large glass display of bakery items would make someone of any age’s mouth water. The pumpkin cupcakes topped with cream cheese looked especially delightful—but we were here for brunch, not munch.

The Main Event: It was a busy Saturday morning, so we placed our order at the take-out counter and waited. After about 20 minutes—much shorter than if we had to wait for a table—our food arrived in Styrofoam containers. Then, we had to go somewhere. So, we decided that we would park ourselves near the curb right outside the restaurant and chow down. Yes, we essentially brunched on the street.

Kristen ordered the country breakfast which came with choice of meat (bacon), eggs (scrambled), toast, and a side (cinnamon apples). Everything was good. The bacon was nice and crispy, the eggs were plentiful, and the toast was about as good as toast can be. Kristen didn’t care for the cinnamon apples, but Pierce confirmed that they were pretty good, as well.


Pierce got the Eggs Benedict with a potato casserole. The casserole had a nice texture and an unexpected peppery flavor to it. The lady at the counter asked if Pierce would like his eggs soft, medium, or hard. In all of our brunch adventures, we’ve never encountered that option. Usually, they are always “soft” and the gooey yolks blends with the hollandaise. Pierce went straight down the middle and went for medium—which had a firmer yolk. It was different, but certainly welcome. The dish wasn’t as messy, but was equally good.


The Verdict: We only had to pay about four dollars after our LivingSocial deal—which made it cost about $14. We didn’t mind eating our brunch outside—especially considering that it was such a beautiful morning. Old people or not, the Puffy Muffin was a good deal with good eats. Lesson learned: always go with the online coupon, but be prepared to contend with the fine print.

3.5/5 Syrup Crocks


Dose – Developing Better Habits

Habits are a part of life. Some folks bite their finger nails, others smoke. Psychologically, we develop these selfish traits. I’ve never heard of a “good habit”—that isn’t born out of a purely self-contained reason. Habits are typically the road with least resistance. There is always some sort of intrinsic, personal reason behind them.

Kristen and I developed a habit of blogging—because it was fun. Then, we developed a habit of not-blogging—because it took time and work ethic that we simply didn’t have. Well, it’s time to get back in the game. We started this blog with the notion of finding the best brunch in Nashville. And we will continue to do just that. This week, I’m goin’ at it alone again—but it’s a step in the right direction.

All I need is a little dose.

Dose Coffee and Tea – Sylvan Park

Pierce: Arago Bagel ($3.50), Medium Iced Coffee ($2.75)

Service Time: 4 minutes and 32 seconds

First Impression: Your first impression is typically boosted when you appear in the Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville—and this year Dose received the distinction of Best Iced Coffee. Being an Iced Coffee fanatic—that spelled “must-visit” for me.

Dose is located just off of Murphy Road, which is just off of West End. At about a half-past nine on a Sunday morning, it was practically empty (although business picked up big-time from about 10 a.m. on). I recently started a new online class and had some work to do. Dose’s interior was definitely conducive to my work. The setting is wood-themed and even features booths—which is somewhat rare for a coffee shop.  

The Main Event: Dose had a nice selection of baked goods (mostly muffins) and breakfast bagels. I opted for the Arago bagel which came with avocado, tomato, and provolone cheese—right up my alley.

While I waited for it to be constructed, I had to go with the iced coffee. I believe there is a bit of ceiling when it comes to how good an iced coffee can be, but Dose was definitely towards the top of that ceiling. (Like a balloon, if you will.) It was a really nice balance of “bite” and mellowness. I knew I was drinking coffee, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

After a few minutes, my bagel came out. For the price, it was certainly undersized. The little picks that were in both halves almost made it look like small finger food that you’d see at a party. That being said, it was still satisfying. The avocado was chunky—just how I like it—and the covering of melted cheese over the top was spot-on.

The Verdict: Dose was great on a lot of levels. It has a good atmosphere—which is certainly conducive to studying (or blogging). The iced coffee and food were both very good. But $6.25 for what amounted to a snack? Bongo’s iced coffee (although not as good) is only $1.75—and the food prices are more reasonable (if you know what to get). While Dose was definitely good—it’s not one of those “bang-for-your-buck” type of places.

3.25 out of 5 syrup crocks.  

Dose Coffee and Tea on Urbanspoon

Wild Bill’s: NOLA in Nashville

**Editors Note: This was written a few weeks ago, but someone *cough cough* Kristen  is a slacker (or she says “busy!”) and hasn’t gotten the post finalized until now! So here is a review, written as if it were the day after…

Today is a big day—a milestone, if you will. Pierce is turning 21—which really only means that he’ll be able to navigate Nashville music venues without big scarlet-letter X’s on his hands. Either way, we needed to save up some money for the day’s festivities.

So, our choice this Sunday was Wild Bill’s Beignets and Bikes—across the street from the Bridgestone Arena on 5th avenue. Wild Bill’s opened up in 2009 and brought a unique Cajun Café to downtown Nashville. Here’s our take.

Wild Bill’s Beignets and Bikes – Downtown Nashville


Pierce: Iced Coffee ($3.29), Chicken Sausage ($5.29)

Kristen: Café Au Lait ($3.29), Banana Beignets ($4.99)

Service Time: 11 minutes, 3 seconds

First Impression: At first, it was hard to tell whether Wild Bill’s was a sit-down joint or an order-at-the-counter place. It seemed like it could go either way. We sat down—admiring Wild Bill’s wall-sized mural—and the lone waitress in the place approached us. The poor girl later explained that she had worked until 4:30 a.m. the night before and didn’t get any sleep. She was clearly tired, but we appreciated the effort.

She made our coffees pretty fast. Pierce recommended the Café Au Lait to Kristen—being that the drink traditionally goes along with beignets. (Pierce is a self-proclaimed connoisseur of New Orleans cuisine. His two visits there give him that distinguished knowledge.) Pierce ordered an ice coffee.

The Au Lait was a little too “watery” for Kristen’s taste. Three packets of Splenda still wasn’t enough to fit it to Kristen’s needs.

Pierce, on the other hand, loved the iced coffee which had a distinctive mid-taste “bite” to it.

The Main Event: Kristen ordered the banana beignets—which came out covered in powdered sugar. The little pockets of doughy-goodness were filled with banana and had a distinctive mushy texture. Overall, they were very good.

Pierce had to resist opting for the beignets, as well. After all, we wanted a little variety in this review. So he ordered a Chicken Sausage. The sausage came in a hot dog bun, but didn’t come with any sides. It had a surprising taste—a sausage exterior, stuffed with chicken “herbs”—whatever those are. Regardless, it was quite good.

The Verdict: The food at Wild Bill’s was good. The atmosphere was OK and the service was OK. But the big downer was the price. Pierce’s chicken sausage was more than five dollars and—while good—wasn’t worth the price. Kristen’s beignets were tasty, but smallish in size. (Even the historic Café Du Monde in New Orleans includes three beignets per order.) So, two for five dollars, again, seemed a little pricey.

If you happen to be in downtown, Wild Bill’s is worth checking out—but it’s not worth going out of your way to get there.

2.75/5 Syrup Crocks

Calling All Chili Makers!

No, it’s not brunch related, but we feel obligated to let you know about the 2010 Music City Chili Cook-Off this weekend.

First of all, who doesn’t like a good chili competition? Second, all the proceeds go to the Tennessee Literacy Coalition–a very worthy cause. And thirdly, if you decide to enter and mention that you saw this on Belt Buckle Brunch, you’ll get $5 off the entry fee! (That’s $25 instead of $30… and a chance at a $200 First Prize.)  The entry deadline is Wednesday. So, hurry!

If you’re not a chili master, there will be live music, a rock wall, and, of course, chili tasting at Centennial Park from 11 am to 3 pm.

“Whimsical” Birthday Goodies

Two weeks ago, Pierce turned 21. Last weekend, his family came up to celebrate. It was a lovely weekend full of mild alcohol consumption and many laughs.

There was one family birthday tradition that survived the test of geographic difference–Whimsical Cookies. For at least five years (possibly more) Pierce’s mom has bought these sugary treasures for just about any celebratory occasion.

Traci Glass started Whimsical Cookies in Raleigh, NC (Pierce’s hometown) in 2003. Since then, she’s been supplying Carolinians personalized cookies that are equal parts art and delicious.

  

It’s not local to Nashville, but luckily they deliver. So, here’s to you, Traci!

Also, many thanks to Pierce’s parents and brother (and his belle) for coming up to Nashville and treating us to a great weekend!

(Editor’s note: Things are a little backlogged here at BBB. It is senior year, after all. We have one post “in the queue,” and it’ll be a little while before the next one. But hang tight! We’ll be back up and running soon!)

Whimsical Cookies on Urbanspoon