I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
August 21, 2019
Last fall, Dennis and I had a lovely dinner at one of the hottest restaurants in Nashville. The experience was flawless. After sipping on handcrafted cocktails at the bar, we dined outdoors at a rustic farm table beneath ropes of twinkling lights. The night air was divine, the bread crusty, the atmosphere sparkling, and the house-made pasta to die for. As I perched on my (reclaimed, repurposed, relentlessly uncomfortable) bench and gazed at the avant-garde mural painted on the wall of the building next door, I felt so freaking relevant, I could hardly stand it.
“This is my second favorite restaurant in Nashville,” I told Dennis dreamily.
“It is very good,” he replied.
And that was that.
Of course, this being Nashville, home to more restaurants than one can shake a fair trade-certified stick carved by a 7th generation goat herder at, we pretty much forgot about My Second-Favorite Restaurant in Nashville until recently, when the night air was once again divine and a repeat performance seemed like an excellent way to spend the evening. We arrived at the restaurant, miraculously found a parking spot, and headed inside. As we entered, another man was right behind us, and when Dennis paused to hold open the door for both of us, the guy stopped short and stared at him. “HOLY SH!T!” he shouted in what could only be described as horror. Then he continued past us.
“What was that about?” I said, alarmed.
“Don’t worry, it was only a fan,” Dennis said with a pleased grin. “Just a fan.”
“Yeah. I don’t think so,” I said.
“I do,” he said.
“Why?” I asked. “Because that’s what fans do? Shout HOLY SH!T with a horrified look on their face and then walk away? No. No. That was not a fan.”
Dennis shrugged and gave me that annoying look known to every couple who’s been married for a while, the look that starts with let’s not argue, but then goes on to say because I know I’m right and I have known it so often and for so long that I no longer have any need whatsoever to explain or defend myself to you.
So I gave him a return smile that said You can go to hell, friend! and then the whole thing was forgotten. That’s what’s great about being married for 17 years– You get so good at arguing that what used to take hours can now be over and done with in two nice-nasty smiles and three seconds.
Still hoping for a repeat of our wonderful night a year earlier, we headed to the bar. We placed our order with the bartender, a bearded twenty-something desperately trying to perfect his sardonic look. Within moments, Dennis had a pint glass of beer before him… and I had three tablespoons of a hard cider I’d never heard of before in a wine glass. “I’ll top it off for you,” the bartender said grimly, no doubt in response to the crestfallen look on my face after he’d set the glass in front of me. He opened a new bottle and proceeded to dribble in another half-teaspoonful of liquid into my glass. Dennis and I exchanged glances.
“Bottoms up,” I said with a weak smile, lifting my glass in a toast before taking a swig. I choked. This so-called cider tasted like… Well, how do I say this? If a horse peed in a dirty stable and it sat there for a few days before being vacuumed up and filtered through cheesecloth into a glass, that pretty much exactly describes what was in my glass.
“You’ve got to try this,” I sputtered, handing the drink to Dennis. He took the drink and sniffed it suspiciously, then frowned.
“Gross,” he said before taking a small sip. “Oh, this is awful.” Three feet away, our bartender pretended not to notice what was going on.
“I don’t think I can drink it,” I whispered to Dennis. “I mean, I hate to say it, but I really don’t think I can take another sip.”
“We’ll send it back,” Dennis said resolutely. His gaze went to the bartender directly across from us, who fussed with some lime slices in a bowl and studiously pretended we weren’t there. “Excuse me,” my husband said. The bartender responded by crossing over to two girls in their twenties across and engaging them in conversation. It was only after he felt confident he’d established with them that he was a great recreational softball player that he returned to our side of the bar and acknowledged our presence.
“This cider is… Well, it’s awful,” Dennis said apologetically.
“It’s French,” the bartender responded with a frown, as if that somehow explained everything.
“I know,” I said, “but… okay, I really love cider and I’ve had it from all over the world, France included, but this? This is just…” I trailed off. The bartender stared hard at me. “…gross,” I whispered.
“Really,” the bartender replied with a frown. “Perhaps I should have told you it’s a funky cider. It’s not for everyone.”
“Well, I mean, I like to think that I’m funky, too, but–”
“Smell it!” Dennis interjected, realizing that the conversation was headed in a dangerous direction. Hesitantly, the bartender put the glass to his nose and sniffed. Although his eyes began to water, he did an admirable job of keeping a straight face. “It smells fine to me,” he said. “But if you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it.” He sighed heavily. “What do you want instead?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “A Double Dare, please,” I said. Stone-faced, the bartender set to work making it. This was not going at all well, and nothing I said seemed to make it better. But that wouldn’t stop me from trying. “Look,” I said, “I’m really sorry, okay? I promise, I’m not normally a drink sender-backer,” I said. The bartender didn’t respond. “But that drink tasted like crap,” I said. “I mean literally.” The guy next to us burst out laughing and I felt slightly encouraged.
“It’s not a problem,” the bartender said through gritted teeth.
“It really was disgusting,” I whispered to the guy sitting next to me.
“I don’t doubt it,” he snorted.
The bartender put my Double Dare down in front of me, then picked up the bottle of French cider and quickly crossed over to the other twenty-something bartender for a whispered conference. The second bartender took the bottle and poured himself a short glass. He drank from it, then said loudly, “Excellent,” and shot me a withering look.
And this is where my review ends. Because I realized in that moment that I was being subjected to some snotty New-Nashville bullsh*t from two guys who I am pretty sure both still sleep on futons and spend their crumpled dollar bills that aren’t going to rent on overpriced lattes and jeans that were artfully distressed by the wife of someone from Kings of Leon. And the way they make sense of their desperate pseudo-hipster existence is to try to make customers who aren’t music executives or beachy wave-wearing females feel bad about themselves for not liking a glass of cider that, as one reviewer put it, has an aroma of ‘…stinky feet, funk, and barnyard.’
Yes, dear readers, I looked up this French cider online the next day and discovered that real experts confirm this particular cider includes, in their words ‘…lots of farmhouse notes and a touch of manure.’ So number one, I WAS RIGHT, and number two, if you first smell stinky feet in a glass, then take a sip of what distinctly tastes like poo, and then have the gall to pronounce it ‘excellent’ and shoot the person who said, “This smells bad and it tastes like actual shit,” a dirty look, then you, my wearing-a-shirt-inside-out-on-purpose friend, ARE EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH NASHVILLE RIGHT NOW.
Fortunately, our table was ready shortly after my impromptu manure tasting, and we went outside to have what turned out to be a fairly lackluster dinner. I don’t think we’ll be back to this particular restaurant because because by now, we’ve had a whole lot of meals in a whole lot of restaurants around the world and we’ve learned a few things. One, great food is great food, whether it’s the miso-marinated black cod at Nobu in London or the bratwurst sandwich at the Charcoal Inn in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Two, no matter where a person goes to eat, they want to feel good about themselves while they’re there. I don’t care if you’re working at the ‘hottest’ restaurant in your town– Act like a pompous douchebag and there’s an excellent chance we won’t be back. And I know I’m not alone here. Friendly bartenders and servers who are passionate about the menu and give great, honest recommendations never, ever go out of style.
And that’s my review.
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