Root Beer Redemption

Last night at Movies in the Park, Dirty Dancing edition, I decided to give A&W a chance at redemption. This time, I skipped the horrendous Cool Springs restaurant middle man and went straight to the source … a nice, cold can of A&W root beer straight from the bottler (or is it canner in this case? cannery, maybe? Hmm, moving along …). It was perfectly chilled with just the right amount of fizz. Ah, refreshingly delicious. I could not have asked for more. It almost made me forget about that whole other incident. You know the one I’m talking about.

Hey, A&W, a little advice for you: drop the partnership with KFC. Those guys are only brining you down.


June 20, 2008 at 12:12 am Leave a comment

Free Root Beer Floats from A&W

So yesterday, A&W Restaurants across the U.S. gave away free root beer floats. Who doesn’t love root beer floats? Moreover, who doesn’t love free? Of course I, along with Kim, headed over to the Cool Springs A&W / KFC after my hour long kickboxing class at the Cool Springs YMCA to partake in the FREE ice creamy, root beery goodness. All through kickboxing class, all I could think about was how all this hard calorie-burning work was going to be so worth it because of the guilt-free root beer float that was soon to follow.

I was practically salivating when we got to the counter. We ordered KFC popcorn chicken and requested our free root beer floats. Yum, yes? Uh … no. The root beer was not only warm, but it was also flat, and not just root beer flat … really flat. I didn’t even finish it. And I was super thirsty from a long, hot workout. On top of all that, the whole place was kind of gross. There were flies attacking the buffet. I would not recommend the Cool Springs A&W to anyone. I would probably only go back if they were offering free floats again in hopes of undoing the damage caused to my taste buds.

Oh, A&W, why do you have to entice me with your promises of sweet root beer float goodness only to disappoint me so? Why? Why?

A picture of false promises and shattered dreams … sigh

June 18, 2008 at 12:07 am 1 comment

Goonies Never Say Die! Nashville Scene’s Movies in the Park

Summer is here. Classes are over. The kids are bored. Even those of us who don’t have the summer off from work still get a little antsy as soon as the days get longer and the sun gets hotter. What’s a person to do? The answer is simple – Movies in the Park!

Every Wednesday during the month of June, Centennial Park hosts the Nashville Scene’s 13th annual Movies in the Park. It’s basically a family-friendly movie shown on a big screen in the amphitheater section. Everyone brings their blankets and lawn chairs and BFFs to relax, make conversation, and enjoy a good movie, usually an older “classic” (I use that term loosely). There are food vendors, radio stations, games, and prizes before the movie starts. Movies begin at sunset (usually 8 p.m.) at the Centennial Park Band Shell, West End Ave. There’s also a rain date of July 5 in case of inclement weather.

Being fairly new to the Nashville area, this is my first summer to enjoy the summer magic that is Movies in the Park. And I loved it. I joined a few friends for Jurassic Park on opening night. Then, we were recruited several other friends and strangers last Wednesday for The Goonies – one of my all-time favorites. Goonies never say die! Our night included about 15 people spread out (or maybe crowded in) on five blankets, Jelly Bellies, popcorn, a cute little puppy, Uno, Calypso nachos, and occasionally stimulating conversation.

For those who are wondering, “What’s the big deal?” you should know that Movies in the Park is more than just a movie. It’s an experience. It’s moonlight and stars and the park and blankets and all your besties (or your significant other, or kids if you have them) and a picnic dinner and a classic movie, all in one. Plus, the “quiet in the theater” rules don’t apply here. And the best thing about Movies in the Park is … it’s free! You should definitely make this one an annual summer tradition.

The remaining movie schedule is as follows:

June 18 – Dirty Dancing

June 25 – Shrek III

Check the Movies in the Park Hotline (244-7989, ext. 341) each week for movie listings and weather conditions. Movies generally start around 8:00. If you have a large group or want a good spot, get there early (by at least 6:30) because the space fills up rather quickly. There are tons of kids and teenagers. If you’re bored on a summer Wednesday night, are looking for a fun, creative day night adventure, or need something to keep you kids entertained for a few hours, Movies in the Park is the place to be.

Must haves: blankets or lawn chairs and your fave snacks

Could have done without it: the humidity

What makes it special: Sure, you can order The Goonies from Netflix, buy how often do you get the chance to watch it under the stars?

Know before you go: If you want a good spot, you have to come early.

Parking: Follow directional signs for free parking in designated areas. Cars parked on the grass or parked illegally will be ticketed or towed.

Price: Free

Web site: Movies in the Park

Address: 301 25th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203

Phone: For more information, including cancellations due to inclement weather, call the Movies in the Park hotline at 615.244.7989 x341 each Wednesday after 12pm.

Hours: June 18 – Dirty Dancing; June 25 – Shrek III; movies start at sunset (usually around 8:00)

June 15, 2008 at 11:45 pm 1 comment

Ode to Chicken and Biscuits

The Cheesecake Factory:

Chicken and Biscuits

Cajun Jambalaya Pasta

June 10, 2008 at 8:57 pm 1 comment

MAFIAoZA’s Pizzeria and Neighborhood Pub: You’re Gonna Love It … OR ELSE – Nashville’s 12South District

When you sit down to open your MAFIAoZA’s menu, you are welcomed with the following greeting:

Welcome to MAFIAoZA’S and welcome to “The Family“. Please make yourselves at home and let us know if you have any special requests. We make all of our food from scratch, so fugetaboutit. Please let your server know if you have any food allergies and we’ll be accommodating to the best of our ability. Remember, you’re one of The Family now!

And the Italian mafia theme does not stop there. Keep reading, and you’ll find an appetizer called Chicken DOA and pastas with names like The Mark, The Enforcer, Ol’ Blue Eyes, and The Tuscan Kiss. For the most part, it’s all traditional Italian fare, from the bruschette and ravioli sticks to the tiramisu and gelato. Other than the kitschy names, however, I can’t tell you much about the pastas and entrees. Our little group of six came to MAFIAoZA’s for the beer and pizza.

At MAFIAoZA’s, the beer is served in Mason jars. And in their own words, the “Pizza Pies are made with the blessing of The Don himself. We make the ingredients from scratch here at MAFIAoZA’s.” Continuing with the mafia theme, the New York style pizza pies are aptly named: The Associate, The Last Request, The Fall Guy, The Irate Italian, The Greek, The Scarface, The Fed, The Long Vacation, The Teamster, Brother Fredo, The Informant, The Dolan, and Brass Knuckles Pizza. The pizza is cooked in stone ovens, visible from the dining area, and offers some atypical ingredients – artichoke, shrimp, blue cheese, BBQ chicken, scallops, meatballs, eggplant, capicolla ham, sun dried tomato, and portobello mushrooms.

We decided on The Long Vacation (For the few who might have to get away: pineapple, ham, and mozzarella cheese) and The Scarface (You are gonna love our little friend! capicolla ham, salami, pepperoni, and Italian sausage). The pizza was decent, not the best I’ve ever had, but better than your average pizza delivery joint. For an appetizer, we had the bruschette, pretty good. Then there was tiramisu for dessert, which was a little too soggy for my taste, but still all right.

MAFIAoZA’s offers an extensive wine list and an assortment of beers and spirits. It’s a nice spot for a post-workday happy hour with both an indoor and an outdoor bar. There is also a large outdoor patio for those interested in enjoying nice weather and outdoor scenery. Specials include Two For One Tuesday (2 for 1 drinks and beer, all day and night, and 2 for 1 pizza slices until 9PM.) Happy Hour is Wednesday-Friday 4pm-7pm. Catering is also available.

What makes MAFIAoZA’s fun is the atmosphere. It’s a great place to meet up with friends, especially if you are able to make reservations for the pimptastic mafia table. I would recommend MAFIAoZA’s for anyone wanting a place to hang out and have fun. It is low-key and (for the most part) family friendly. But you would still fit in if you came “dressed to kill” (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). I would not recommend MAFIAoZA’s to anyone who thinks the mafia theme is passé or who is offended by Italian American stereotyping a la The Sopranos. I will admit that as a word nerd, I was entertained by the mafia-themed wordplay. However, to some, it becomes real old, real fast.

Must have items: Well, their specialty is pizza, and my suggestion is The Scarface, but I recommend it more because I like the name, rather than for its intrinsic value. I’ve also heard good things about The Mark.

Could have done without it: Tiramisu – I’ve had better, homemade

What makes it special: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.

Know before you go: Two-for-one slices, drinks and beer are offered all day on Tuesdays, and two-for-one drafts are all day on Sundays.

Parking: There is a parking lot.

Price: $$

Web site:

Address: 2400 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204

Phone: (615) 269-4646

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 4pm-3am; Saturday & Sunday, 11am-3am

June 6, 2008 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment

Las Paletas gourmet popsicles – Nashville’s 12South District

On a beautiful spring outing at Sevier Park in Nashville’s 12South District, I was introduced to one of the city’s many hidden treasures – Las Paletas gourmet popsicles. When someone in our little group of Frisbee throwers, bubble blowers, and kite fliers suggested, “Hey, let’s all go get popsicles,” I thought to myself: Sure, why not? I’ll tag along. I’m not a huge popsicle fan. In fact, I’ve even been known to turn down a free popsicle every now and then. But I was feeling adventurous and decided to try it. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Las Paletas is located in the art-deco style Cypress Building on the northwest corner of 12th Ave South and Kirkwood, just across the street from Sevier Park. The inside is very minimalistic, with a small counter, a couple of ice cream cases filled with the delicious treats, and an old school blackboard where the flavors of the day are listed. Since there is no sign on the building, Las Paletas can be hard to find. But once you’ve experienced the pure popsicle joy that is Las Paletas, you’re sure never to forget it.

A paleta is a Latin American ice pop usually made from fresh fruit and most often sold by street vendors. Here’s a little Spanish lesson for you: The name comes from palo, or “stick,” and the diminutive ending –eta, referencing the little flat stick frozen into each item. The stores, carts, and kiosks where they are sold are known as paleterías, and the sellers are called paleteros.

At Las Paletas, you will find what many call the best gourmet popsicles in town. These are not you’re your ordinary sticky, syrupy, artificial fruit flavored popsicles. For these homemade ice pops, only all natural ingredients are used. They come in unique flavors like chocolate wasabi, honeydew, blackberry lime, tamarind with chili, hibiscus, strawberry coconut, and pineapple blueberry. The flavors can change from day to day, and the popsicles come in two basic varieties: creamy paletas and fruit paletas. Both are equally delicious.

The two flavors I tried were the creamy strawberry coconut and the fruity blackberry lime. My personal preference leans toward the creamy variety, but both were awesomely delish. I would recommend Las Paletas to EVERYONE. At $2.50 a pop, this place is a definite must try. Be careful, though, you may be like me and develop a popsicle craving where none existed before.

Must have items: anything, everything, as long as you just try it

Could have done without it: the long line, but that just goes to show how popular these icy treats are

What makes it special: Where else are you going to find a gourmet popsicle?

Know before you go: Since there’s no sign on the building, it’s important to know exactly where you are going before you try to find the place. And bring cash; they don’t take the plastic.

Parking: There is an adequately sized lot. And if you happen to be at Sevier Park when your popsicle craving hits, it’s an easy walk from the park.

Price: $

Web site:

Address: 2907 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204

Phone: (615) 386-2101

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 12pm-7pm

May 25, 2008 at 12:53 am 3 comments

Marché Artisan Foods – East Nashville

Since the lovely Britt S. was part of the inspiration for this little project, naturally it would make sense to write about her birthday brunch for my first post. Last Saturday, the day of Miss Britt’s birth, several twenty-something locals gathered at Marché Artisan Foods for a lovely birthday brunch.

Marché (a French word meaning “marketplace”) is a European-style cafe and marketplace specializing in brunch but also serving breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. With large, weathered farmhouse tables and wicker chairs, the atmosphere of Marché reminds me of Sunday dinner on my great grandmother’s back porch. The market area stocks specialty items in pastoral wooden cabinets, and diners who want to order at the counter can claim seats at one of the large rustic communal tables nearby. Two steps down, in the full-service dining room, you’ll find marble-topped tables with natural light streaming through two walls of floor to ceiling windows, giving the look of a Parisian sidewalk café brought indoors.

Marché is the epitome of shabby chic – the perfect place for a Bridesmaids’ brunch or an afternoon croissant and café au lait with your best girlfriends. Though Marché is a little on the girlie side, it wasn’t too terribly frou-frou for the guys in our diverse group. However, one of them did end up eating a sandwich from another establishment afterwards, as the Marché menu was not quite as filling as he would have liked. The dining room is small and intimate, but larger groups can be accommodated if a reservation is made.

Marche’ has separate menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The menus also vary seasonally. Selections include breads, pastries, cheeses, French toast, soups, salads, omelets, sandwiches, quiches, and crêpes. Desserts include crème brûlée, yogurt with fresh berries, biscotti, and a selection of cookies, tarts, cakes, and pastries. Specialty drink selections include mimosa, sangria, a marvelous café au lait, and a choice of wines.

While waiting on our entire group to arrive, I sipped on café au lait, which was served in a large bowl-like cup atop a little white saucer. The natural sugar available at the table added just the right amount of sweetness. For brunch, I had a small bowl of house made granola with vanilla yogurt (a favorite of mine) and a fruit cup that included pineapple, grapes, and strawberries. The granola and yogurt was delicious (best I’ve ever eaten), and the fruit cup was definitely fresh.

For the guys, I would recommend the croissant French toast, topped with Vermont maple syrup and powdered sugar, and a side of chicken sausage. I was able to sample my husband’s, and it was delish. I don’t usually like French toast, but I quite enjoyed Marché’s version. The difference for me was that it was made from a croissant as opposed to toasted bread. It was crispy, not soggy. As for the chicken sausage, which I have never tasted before, it was a large link sausage, and I have to say that I’m a fan.

There was also a vegetarian with our group. There were several vegetarian menu items available, and she settled on an omelet with tomato, onion, and peppers. She did, however, have to send it back to be remade because the original omelet brought to her contained chicken. Other than that, the service was pretty average – no grand atrocities, but nothing special, either.

Marché is a place that I would love to revisit, especially since I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the beautiful desserts. I could only hope that they tasted as good as they looked. I would recommend Marché to anyone who is looking for a light, café style brunch (breakfast and lunch as well). As I said earlier, it does lean more toward the girlie side, but your husband, boyfriend, father, etc. won’t complain too much if you bring him along. The setting is perfect for a stylish Bridesmaids’ brunch, a casual Sunday lunch, an afternoon gabfest with your besties, a Mother’s Day indulgence, ladies who lunch. I would not recommend Marché for date night, a Super Bowl party, your husband’s birthday, or anything that predominately involves males. Hint to guys, this is a great place to take your lady for brunch if you want to show her that you have a sweet, romantic side.

Café au lait

Croissant French toast with chicken sausage

House made granola with vanilla yogurt and a fruit cup

Must have items: café au lait, croissant French toast

Could have done without it: Sangria

What makes it special: shabby-chic atmosphere, French-inspired menu

Know before you go: If you have a large group, it’s best to make a reservation. Everything on the menu is available for take-out. There is also a large selection of marketplace items for your pantry if you abhor corporate supermarkets.

Parking: There is an adequately sized lot across the street – no parking fee.

Price: $

Web site:

Phone: 615.262.1111

Address: 1000 Main Street, East Nashville, TN 37206

Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 8am – 9pm (Dinner served 5-9pm); Saturday Brunch: 8am – 4pm;Sunday Brunch: 9am – 4pm

May 23, 2008 at 10:20 pm 3 comments

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