Magellan and I headed back in time (literally, who knew Nashville was an hour behind the east coast? the things they don’t teach you in school) to Nashville TN for a long weekend at the beginning of spring. We decided to break up the drive and stopped at Evaroni’s Pizza in Kenova WV for a bite to eat. It was ok. I’ve had better (see a recent post on The Pizza Place in Parkersburg) and I’ve had worse (lookin’ at you, most national chains).
Moving on, we spent the night at a Hampton somewhere in KY. We were going to stop at the Corvette Museum on our way to Nashville but a recent sinkhole prevented that from happening. We did stop at the TN welcome center and picked up lots of literature including a brochure on an “All Access Pass” http://www.visitmusiccity.com/visitors/discountsdeals/TotalAccess. Since we were planning on visiting several of the places listed on the Pass, we decided to give this a go so after checking in to our super swank hotel, The Hermitage (not to be confused w/President Jackson’s home), we walked downtown (again with the literally as The Hermitage Hotel is on a hill near the Capitol building and you don’t realize it’s as steep as it is ’til you are walking back up it).
After purchasing our passes from the very friendly folks at the visitor center, we headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum countrymusichalloffame.org. Even on a Thursday, this place was packed and understandably so. Fans of music in general, and Country music in particular, will enjoy the memorabilia – including Bandit’s Trans Am – and history on display. During our visit we enjoyed several traveling exhibits focused on Reba McEntire and that Bakersfield sound.
After leaving the Museum, we realized we were very hungry and headed over to Broadway to see if we could find some good food and entertainment. We randomly chose Robert’s Western World http://robertswesternworld.com/ and soon realized we chose well. We ordered a burger and hot bologna and several beers while listening to the afternoon house band’s renditions of many Country classics. The food was great, the service was stellar (particularly since there was only one woman working the bar and tables), and the music was excellent. I could’ve sat there all day, but instead we decided to check out the nearby Johnny Cash Museum http://www.johnnycashmuseum.com/.
This small space packs a huge amount of Johnny Cash. Memorabilia, albums. videos, and all sorts of history about the Man in Black. They also have a nice gift shop with music, books, shirts and much more. If you’re in Nashville, it’s definitely worth a visit.
After nap time, we headed back out on foot to find dinner and we had many choices nearby. We decided on 417 Union http://www.417union.com/ which is a lovely little space and had a good rating on Yelp. After ordering and not loving our meals, I read the Yelp reviews and learned the better reviews were for their breakfast/brunch.
The next morning we drove to The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, http://www.thehermitage.com/. We arrived just ahead of a large school group and managed to stay several steps ahead which made our visit most enjoyable. The tour begins with comprehensive information on the history of the Jackson family and life at The Hermitage. From here, guests make their way to the home and enjoy a docent-led tour through the two story house. After this, you may take a self-guided tour of the grounds, garden and graveyard.
After immersing ourselves in the life of one TN President, we decided to drive an hour away to check out another. On the way to the home of James K. Polk in Columbia, we researched potential lunch destinations and discovered a Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant http://www.puckettsgrocery.com/ located just a couple blocks near our destination. The service and food at Puckett’s was excellent and we could understand why their Nashville location was packed when we walked by the night before. I had the three (of my favorite) veggies – slaw, o-rings and mashed potatoes w/gravy – and Magellan had a bbq pork wrap.
The nearby President James K. Polk Home & Museum http://www.jameskpolk.com/visit.php includes an video, historical timeline and tour of the Polk family home. The folks who run this place are enthusiastic about our 11th President and it made the tour very enjoyable.
Heading back to Nashville, we stopped at The Cat Shoppe and Dog Store http://www.thecatshoppedogstore.com/, a must for cat lovers, and Parnassus Books http://www.parnassusbooks.net/, a must for book lovers. Though we didn’t get to meet Parnassus owner Ann Patchett or her dog(s), I did get an interesting story along with my signed copy of Bel Canto.
I can’t believe I didn’t take any pix of The Hermitage http://thehermitagehotel6-px.trvlclick.com/homepage.aspx. It is gorgeous and the service was stellar. There was a book in our room celebrating the property and its history which was quite interesting. It’s a sister property of The Jefferson in Richmond VA which is also fabulous. We had reservations at The Capitol Grille on Friday evening and I was very much looking forward to this. Our dinner and experience there exceeded my expectations. We began our meal with the sweet onion bisque with brie grilled cheese, bacon and chive NY Strip. This was the most delicious soup/bisque/whatever I have ever eaten. The grilled cheese was like a big crouton in the dish and it melted in my mouth. The menu changes regularly with items in season, but I hope you are lucky enough to enjoy this bisque if you get the chance to dine here.
On Saturday morning, I was up surprisingly early enough for us to enjoy breakfast at the nearby Puckett’s http://www.puckettsgrocery.com/ before they got crowded. They had a buffet which was a good deal and full of good eats.
With full stomachs, we decided to give The Parthenon http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parthenon.aspx a try as it was a bonus included on our City Pass. I wasn’t expecting much but it was amazing and you should visit if you’re in town. The statue of Athena must be seen to be believed.
We learned the Corsair Distillery http://www.corsairartisan.com/ was nearby and open for tours so we thought we’d give it a try. The tours for the day were already full (if you want to visit call in advance to book a space on a tour) but we enjoyed a chat with the bartender and partook in an early morning adult beverage in their outdoor space housing a distillery tortoiseshell cat.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts http://fristcenter.org is an art museum located in Nashville’s former post office. The art deco architecture of the building is an interesting as the exhibits. They also have an excellent gift shop in which I found some artsy socks.
Magellan mentioned that he almost chose The Hutton Hotel http://www.huttonhotel.com over The Hermitage but based on construction taking place around the Hutton’s property he opted for The Hermitage. We decided to check out the 1808 Grille http://www.1808grille.com/home.cfm?src=ppc_yahoobing_brand in the Hutton for lunch. Service that afternoon was from their special brunch menu and we both ended up ordering a dish with poached eggs, kale and pulled pork over grits. This dish was delicious! And, their special cocktails – I had something lemony – were the perfect complement.
After an extended nap time, we decided to head down to the Oak Bar in The Hermitage for dinner. I enjoyed another bowl of the onion bisque and Magellan had a sandwich and a special bourbon only available at the Oak Bar. Service in the bar was outstanding and, as expected, the food was delicious. The perfect end to a perfect trip