Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dining in Nashville

I'm sure that you all have been chomping at the bit, wondering what the dear daughter and I ate while we were on our spring vacation. Well, allow me to lead you through our culinary journey.

One of our 'rules' was that we would not eat at any national chains. Sadly, in order to appease the dear daughter, we did stop at the Golden Arches to get fries on both drives.

And now, on with the tour. Our first dinner at the hotel was at the Jack Daniel's Saloon.

The menu at the restaurant is simple enough. Sadly, I either didn't take pictures of the food or I lost them. But I can tell you that the daughter had the Barrelhouse Burger while I had the Master Distiller's Club Sandwich. Both were okay. Not great, but not bad, either.

My breakfast the next morning was a blueberry muffin and a large cup of coffee. I was able to enjoy this meal out in the middle of the Cascades gardens.

Lunch was at Cascades Seafood Restaurant.

I chose the Seafood BLT Salad with shrimp, crab, avocado, bacon, eggs and tomato with a Louis dressing.

The daughter had fish and chips.

Both were excellent. Then we were off to the spa.

Being the rebels that we are, we decided to skip the St. Patrick's Day festivities on Tuesday evening. Instead we went to Rusty's Sports Bar in the hotel.

What to have, what to have?

Deciding that I had been a good girl that day, I chose the Black and Bleu Burger.

The daughter ordered the All-American Burger with Cheddar Cheese.

Once again, the food was decent, but not outstanding. We did have an interesting time watching the sports on the multiple screens around the room. In particular, we were intrigued by a presumably European sport that was part soccer, part rugby, part volleyball and part basketball. Very odd indeed.

On Wednesday we ventured out of the hotel and walked over to the nearby outlet mall. Opry Mills seems to have been designed as a way to part people from their money. The workers manning the kiosks were determined to assault the passing shoppers at every opportunity. Please, just leave me alone!

Back to the food: We decided to visit the food court for lunch. The daughter chose Bourbon chicken, chicken fried rice and sliced potatoes from Kelly's Cajun Grill.

I decided to get Southern pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, creamy cole slaw and bread from Dickey's BBQ Pit. I had to ask the worker to clean the knife and board as he had just cut a chicken breast for the customer before me. I realize that we are talking about cooked meat here, but geez, would it kill you to clean the equipment between customers?

On the other hand, this was not too bad. Not too great, but definitely edible. All in all, that is about what I expect from a mall's food court.

We decided that we wanted to eat with the fishies for dinner.

(You may have noticed that all of the restaurants we visited on this day are chains, but none of them is located in our area. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

This floor-to-ceiling fish tank greets you when you enter the doors of the Aquarium Restaurant.

Then we got to walk through a tunnel fish tank.


After walking all morning and afternoon, we decided to just sit here and relax.

These fish are busy.

The sting rays and the sharks swim amongst the other fish.

Well, this is a restaurant, so I guess we should eat. We ordered the Fried Onion Stack with deep fried onions, jalapenos and dill pickles. They were a little limp (perhaps the oil temperature was a bit low?) and we could not eat all of this by ourselves.

We decided to just skip dinner and head straight for dessert. I ordered the Aquarium Creme Brulee. A fish-shaped thin cookie dives into the creme brulee, while fresh berries and whipped cream accent the dish.

The daughter ordered the Shark Attack. This was a chocolate desert with a molten chocolate center and topped with ice cream and drizzles of chocolate and white chocolate and caramel. A fish-shaped cookie perches on top.

Rich and thick and delicious. And did I mention rich? Good thing we still had to walk about a mile back to our hotel room.

More fish.

And sharks.

Very restful to sit and eat while watching the fish.

On Thursday we opted to visit Findley's Irish Pub for dinner.

We had burgers at Stax on Delta Island for lunch, so we wanted something different for dinner. I ordered the Seared Tuna Salad, but they were out of the tuna, so I chose the Irish Steak Sandwich. The marinated and grilled steak was served on Irish country bread. Cottage fries accompanied the delicious sandwich. The daughter chose fish and chips for her meal.

Our last morning at the hotel rolled around and we headed back to Cascades Seafood Restaurant for a real breakfast. The daughter hit the buffet bar and began eating before I could even get a picture of her food.

I ordered the Cumberland Omelet with country ham, Tennessee goat cheese, peppers and onion. Potato Casserole rounded out the breakfast.
All in all we enjoyed our meals at the hotel. The prices were in line with other luxury hotels, which is to say that it was pricey. We tended to eat just two meals a day in order to save on food costs. We had also taken snacks and drinks with us so that we save more money.
If I have any real complaints about the food, it would have to be the lack of true diversity of the menus between the various hotel restaurants. Similar dishes were on several menus, with just one or two changes to the item. As I would love to explain to Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa, one ingredient change does not make for a new recipe. It's the same thing!
So Gaylord Opryland, go back over your menus and make each restaurant truly unique.

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I envy you your trip with your daughter.

Savor it ... until the next time.