Lest one think that our only Nashville nourishment came from alcohol, we also managed to squeeze in a little time for food. Our meals, however, consisted of only one fine-dining restaurant. The rest focused on the city’s culinary specialties of barbeque and “hot chicken”.
The Marsh House was our one and only fine dining venue of this visit. It is located in The Gulch neighborhood’s Thompson Hotel. We had two dishes at dinner. First was a seafood tower consisting of oysters (of which our server substituted our preferred cold-water PEI oysters for the standard warm-water variety), clams, shrimp, tuna tartare, and smoked fish dip. Then seared scallops on cauliflower puree with beluga lentils and fennel. While Tom had originally ordered gumbo (with shrimp, crab, andouille and okra), it took so long to come that he cancelled it.
We did get a shock with our bill. Although we had been ordering glasses of beer, wine, and whiskey though the afternoon in the honky-tonks, the high state alcohol taxes were hidden in the total prices—prices that seemed reasonable to us as we live in San Francisco. We didn’t expect anything different when we ordered a bottle of wine (2016 Thierry Germaine “L Insolite” Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley’s Samur) with dinner. When we got our check, we learned that there is an 18 percent alcohol tax atop the city’s roughly 10 percent sales tax! Ouch. Most places add the alcohol tax on their pricing, but not all places. Ask before ordering. Lesson learned.
But even outside of the wine, this place is not worth the price.
This large, multi-floored venue is one of the city’s premier BBQ venues. We ordered more than ample rack of ribs with baby pork ribs (especially with its Jack’s Creek tomato-based and Sweet Dixie molasses-based sauces), baked beans, mac and cheese, and cornbread. While the ribs were outstanding, we were somewhat disappointed with the sides. Not so with the beer list. Although Tom was reluctant to imbibe at lunch in anticipation of an afternoon and evening of honky-tonk drinking, one cannot help but to be impressed with its 30-beer list of offerings on tap and ten or so other bottle beers.
We ate at another BBQ place..after all, it is Nashville. At Jack’s, we got a plate with small servings of three different meats (St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, and Texas sausage) and two sides (mac and cheese and corn). We sampled five of Jack’s six sauces with the meats. Joyce, of course, preferred the no-heat smoky sauce. Tom enjoyed the spicy tomato sauce. And since we had been drinking in the afternoon, water worked well with our dinner.
Hattie B’s is the city’s primary purveyor of “hot chicken”, which is fried chicken which can be prepared with any level of heat, from none, to five-alarm fire. After a one-hour wait outside its mid-town branch, we finally got a chance to order—one small “No Heat” white meat (one half a breast and one wing) and one large large “Hot” white meet (one breast and two wings) with sides of pimento mac and cheese, fries, baked beans, and cole slaw, along with iced tea and lemonade. Although the “Hot” had less heat than Tom had expected and the meat was not quite as moist as we had hoped, both dishes were delicious. Joyce was less than impressed with the mac and cheese. Tom enjoyed both the beans and the slaw. Was it worth an hour for the food? Maybe. But try to hit is on an off-hour and you will enjoy it more.
We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown. The location was perfect and was a short walk to everything. However, we were disappointed in seeing this level of hotel having some maintenance issues.
The carpet was shredding going into the bathroom, exposing the carpet tacks. When you walked barefooted over them, you feel the tacks. After complaining about it, maintenance came in and sunk the nail heads further down. While still unsightly, at least they didn’t penetrate your bare feet. The sink plug was not operational. You could fill the sink with water and you could not undo the plug. Air conditioning seems to be preset and no changes actually work. Other than that, the bed and sheets are comfortable. USB outlet and plugs are by the bed. Room is bright and cheery. Bathroom has magnifying mirror. Still, for the price, the room should have been better maintained.
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