Friday, October 10, 2014

Loveless and Lawless

OK, let's see...where were we?

Oh yes...5 girls getting hangry. We headed toward The Pineapple Room inside the Cheekwood Botanical Garden gift shop. But we missed lunch by about 30 minutes. Closed for the day. But I had a plan B. (As a side note, this is something that pretty much only Shana and Neal know about me...I HATE searching for a place to eat when I'm starving. Just driving around and hoping that I'll stumble onto something that looks good is basically my personal Hell. So, I always have plans A-F, at least.) Plan B was The Picnic Cafe and Catering in Nashville, just a few blocks up from Belle Meade Plantation, where we were stopping for a wine tasting after lunch. I had chosen it for the menu, their commitment to locally sourced ingredients and the proximity to our before lunch and after lunch plans. And we drove right by it on the first try because it sits back off the road. And I mean back off the road. Someone with better eyesight than I said, "There it is!" Hallelujah.

The first word that comes to mind when describing this restaurant is quaint. Second word would probably be tea room...except that it's not a tea room. But everything is mis-matchy with tablecloths and wicker baskets and wallpaper. Although it's basically in a strip mall, I think if you closed the blinds, you would actually forget that Publix sits on the other side. 
Also, there's a picket fence. On the inside. For real.
I'm not entirely sure what they do with people when there are more than 2 waiting on to-go orders. Perhaps put them inside the fence?

Anyway, the lady working the counter was super-helpful and friendly and suggested the chicken salad because that's what they are known for. You can mix and match the sandwiches, soups and salads allowing for a pretty fabulous customized meal. I had 1/2 pimento cheese (although I swear I said cold cucumber - which was supposed to be like benedictine...which I love...but was actually slices of cucumber on bread with cream cheese. Um...OK. Well at least they didn't call it benedictine.) and 1/2 chicken salad, with a bowl of lemon artichoke soup. Also a lemon bar and some kind of picnic punch. Because...why not?
Everything was tasty although not really the best I had ever eaten. I still vow my allegiance to the chicken salad sandwich at Hiram Haines in Petersburg, VA and I am equally committed to the pimento cheese at the Mousetrap in Lexington, KY. Both of those are worth a very long side trip. But it was a good and filling lunch. I didn't think much about it until later.

There is a book that Blue adores called Dragons Love Tacos. If you have or know someone who has a toddler, it's an excellent book that I don't mind reading a bajillion times. Basically, dragons looooove tacos but they hate spicy salsa because it makes them breathe fire and it gives them the tummy troubles. Spoiler alert: the kid has a taco party and forgets to bury all of the spicy salsa in the backyard and they accidentally burn his house to the ground. But the dragons rebuild the house because they are promised lots of taco breaks. About 3 hours after lunch, this book came to mind as I, too, had the tummy troubles. Maybe it was the dairy in the soup. Maybe it was dairy in the sandwiches. Maybe too much sugar in my tea. Basically....ouch. So, I don't know....perhaps it was me or perhaps you should proceed with caution.

Anyway, after lunch we piled back in the car and headed to Belle Meade Plantation for a wine tasting. We were all pretty much toured out and simply wanted to sit and sip on some grapes in a glass.
Unfortunately, this is as close as we got to Belle Meade wine. The wine tasting room was apparently part of the tour package. To taste wine, you had to buy the ticket to tour the mansion and the plantation and finish with wine. No thank you soverymuch. On the way out, one of the girls grabbed a brochure that talked about the plantation and about how they considered themselves to be the premier thoroughbred horse farm because so many of the Kentucky Derby favorites could trace their lineage back to Belle Meade. Perhaps it's better that we didn't buy the tour tickets. I would hate to see 5 Kentucky girls end up on the front page of a Nashville newspaper for beating up a Belle Meade tour guide who was spouting lies for 2 hours. Kentucky is the thoroughbred capital of the world. The. End.

As we meandered back down to Franklin, with relaxation and wine on the mind, we talked a bit about dinner but decided to make some final decisions later. Some of us went upstairs to the hotel room and some hung out downstairs in the bar where the wi-fi was free and the wine was $7/glass. As it turned out, all of the moms in the group laid down for 10 minutes and ended up taking a 2-hour nap. When I finally rolled over and looked out the window, the sun was just beginning to set and it occurred to me that it's been about 2 1/2 years since I woke up to a setting sun. What bliss. Sometimes I'm afraid that if I stop, if I relax, I won't get back up. Strolling down to the bar to grab a glass of pinot grigio, I realized that I can and I will get back up. Maybe a 2-hour nap in the late afternoon is exactly what I need. Now to convince my 2-year old.

A long, windy and dark road lead us to The Loveless Cafe in Nashville.
This is one of those local legend kind of places where you feel you must eat at some point during your trip. Plus, the sign reminded me of the one outside our wigwam village last spring. It looked promising. When we arrived, it was 7:30 and the wait was an hour. They closed at 9. So, we would be last to be served, but we had made it in time. An hour seemed like an eternity to wait for fried chicken and grits but Loveless is accommodating with both a market and a retail clothing store. I do believe we stumbled upon the original Cracker Barrel.
In here I purchased 2 bars of Nashville chocolate for Neal, a chef's apron, hat and oven mit for Blue (he is warming up to the new attire. If I remember to wear my apron, he gets much more excited about his. I wish I had a matching chef's hat...a really tall poofy one. I need to check Amazon.) and some Dandelion jelly for me. By the way, Dandelion jelly is delicious. It's a little bit citrus-y and a little bit rock-n-roll. Perfect on an English muffin or, y'know, on a spoon.

The retail store across the parking lot had clothing, jewelry and toys.
They also had this...
It says "Pasture Bedtime"! Freaking genius. And although Blue can't say the word "horse," again, he has perfected the neigh...after much repetition. Yay for living in horse country where he gets to practice his neigh every time he sees a horse. Every. Time. I totally wanted these but I was afraid Neal would give me the look. And I was already going to get it over the chef's apron and hat. So, I left it there. Pasture bedtime. Hehe. Hehehe. Hehehehehehe.

The shops were closing up for the night so we strolled back to the cafe and waited for them to clean our table. We were hungry.
Actually, I take that back...we were starving.
I tried to distract myself with taking pictures of the interior. Photos of the rich and famous Loveless patrons lined the walls reminding me of Sardi's in NYC.

  And there was a case of pie staring back at us. I may have made eyes at the chess.

Finally, we were ushered back to our 6-top, right beside the bustling kitchen door.
 The Loveless Cafe offers breakfast all day long, even to the last diners of the evening. Biscuits and fried chicken with a side of cheese grits and some mashed caramel sweet potatoes. Yes please and thank you!
Under my plate is an activity sheet given to every customer, even the over-5 crowd. While searching in the black hole of my purse for a pen, I found one of Blue's plastic animals which resulted in one of my favorite pictures from the trip.
We know you were sad without him, Blue, but we took great care of him. Although he did eat some table scraps. As it turns out, tiny plastic wolves love fried chicken and grits.

We pretty much had to be rolled out of there. There was discussion of live music and downtown Nashville but it faded away to talk of a quick walk through the bar scene in Franklin. Franklin was closer to our hotel and our hotel is where our pj's were. Yep...thirty-something and rockin' it.

I grabbed a few more pictures on our way out the door. It's so rare that I get a good restaurant photo without worrying about offending someone as they shove a chicken biscuit down their pie hole.

I highly recommend this restaurant. It's bubbling over with charm, personality and mouth-smackin' good food!

We drove through Franklin after dinner. Actually, we drove through the downtown area about 5 different times, looking for a bar or an ice cream shop or a coffee shop open. It was a ghost town and that was at 9:30 on a Saturday night. We drove back and forth. We found ourselves in the traffic circle twice. Technically, we were cruising downtown Franklin...which, as it turns out, was illegal. There was a sign that no one noticed until the next morning on our way to breakfast. We were breaking the law. Badass. I would have paid to see the face on the cop that pulled over an out-of-town Rogue with 5 girls stuffed to the gills with Southern cookin' squeezed inside. Don't make me roll up the sleeves on my mom cardigan, mister! Yep. Breaking. The. Law. Watch us go.

And we went. Right back to our hotel and our pj's and HGTV until someone finally hit the lights about 20 minutes later.

1 comment:

  1. Yup, you've reached some kind of grown-up milestone when you enjoy getting out with the girls and actually like the fact that there's no night life available. We did a little road trip yesterday and found ourselves outside a little "country cafe" ... and getting back in the car because it looked just too seedy. So we may or may not have missed the best barbecue in the state!


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