The Dish on dining at AVO

FANCY? AVO has a knack for remaking old favorites into creative, beautiful dishes that are 100 percent vegan (and 100 percent delicious). Located in a container building of OneC1TY on Charlotte near the 28th/31st Avenue Connector, the restaurant is a casual spot to grab lunch or even an early dinner. The atmosphere is clean and modern, which matches its nutritious vegan persona. The menu features dishes with luxurious names, such as Glazed Cauliflower Steak ($12), Zucchini Pasta Verde ($13) and Mushroom Tartare Toast ($10).

 FUN? Yes! Though none of the people in my party were vegan (or even vegetarian for that matter), we were thoroughly impressed with the taste and overall quality (and quantity) of food. This is a great spot to step outside your comfort zone and try something new! You really can’t go wrong with any of the dishes. But if you are stuck deciding between a couple, the waiters are extremely helpful in finding something you’ll love.

FRUGAL? AVO’s menu is reasonably priced: Large dishes fall between $12 and $14, while small plates range from $5 to $11. Menu prices aside, AVO is part of Spring Rewards, and you can claim a $5 gift from AVO upon signing up. This knocks $5 off your bill as long as your check amounts to $5 or more.

The restaurant also offers a happy hour that features its popular AVO margarita for $7, along with $7 house wines, 2-for-1 drafts and an assortment of vegan cocktails from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 8 to 9 p.m. weekdays.

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The Dish on happy hour at Silo

FANCY? Silo  has a southern sense of fancy. Located in Germantown, Silo complements the quaintness of this neighborhood’s brick sidewalks by providing an inherently rustic country atmosphere. The walls are wooden slats, and the tables and chairs are handpicked to match. Overall, Silo offers an enticing environment to unwind after a workday.

FUN? Whether you sit in the dining area, at the bar or on the patio, Silo offers a comfortable, friendly place. The waitstaff is knowledgeable and helpful, and the bartenders are personable. The music is not too loud, and the tracks offer easy listening.

FRUGAL? It can be! During the daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. (including weekends), Silo offers creative cocktails for $6, wine for $5 and beer for $4. The seasonal menu features a number of excellent choices. It may be tough to decide what you should enjoy first– but this is a good problem to have.

The red wine is the Buenas Tempranillo (priced at $10.99 in liquor stores), which doesn’t make this quite as good of a deal as Michael David’s Petite Petit for $5.50 (priced at $18.99 in liquor stores) at the Sutler. However, unlike most house wines, this Tempranillo is rich and delicious with a hint of spice, vanilla, and oak.

The New York Sour (bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, red wine float) and A Benny and Joon Morning (amaretto, bourbon, lemon, simple syrup)
The house wine: Buenas Tempranillo


The Dish on dining at 360 Bistro

FANCY? Yes! 360 Bistro is Belle Meade’s hidden gem. Located in this upscale area near the Highway 100/Harding Pike split, this establishment prizes itself on a seemingly never-ending wine list accessible via an iPad. The restaurant is composed of a variety of dining areas (a bar, an outdoor patio, indoor patio and a formal dining room with wine bottles lining the walls) to place the power in your hands as to how fancy you’d like your experience to be. No matter where you sit, service is always top-notch with a very knowledgeable staff! The vibe inside is very romantic and relaxing. This is a perfect place for any occasion from a special date night to meeting some guys at the bar to catch a game.

FUN?  With a big screen TV in the bar area and such options as chipotle BBQ wings, truffle parmesan fries and cheese/charcuterie on the bar menu, this could easily become your next happy hour spot for any day of the week.

FRUGAL?  Certainly can be! On Sundays, the restaurant offers half-priced select wine bottles. This week, we chose to go with the Seghesio Zinfandel ($60 regularly) and paid $30 for it. What a steal! 360 also puts out a Groupon every few months; however, these are in short supply. So if you spot one, buy it.

360 recently revamped its menu to feature a wide selection to please any palate. We started with the baked brie  ($10)– which was by far one of the most impressive cheese dishes in Nashville. For entrees, we went with the black pepper tagliatelli with bolognese and house-made ricotta ($20) and the short ribs with Anson Mills polenta, pinenut gremolata, and mushrooms ($29). Both entrees were large and delicious! We enjoyed a side of the Brussels sprouts ($8) that were beautifully presented in a white dish with a lid. Overall, this is one of our top-three restaurants in Nashville. Don’t be afraid to try something new– this would be the place to do it!

The Husband Bourbon Review: B

360 Bistro has all of the staples that you’d see at any restaurant in town ($10 for a 2 oz pour of either W.L. Weller Special Reserve or W.L. Weller Antique) — in addition to the rarer bourbons including Pappy Van Winkle and Parker’s Heritage 24-Year Bottled-in-Bond. This being said, the price tag on these high-end bourbons is steep, and your money could be better spent at 360. Considering this, I recommend opting for a bourbon-based cocktail or expanding your palate and trying a bottle of wine from the expansive iPad menu. This is, after all, what they do best!

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The Dish on dining at Urban Grub

FANCY? Located in 12 South, Urban Grub distinguishes itself from Josephine, Bar Taco, Burger Up, the Flip Side and Frothy Monkey by offering a very fine dining setting inside along with a more casual atmosphere on its patios and at its bars (yes, plural). The back patio sets the tone for a livelier dining experience with multiple TVs and a garden setting. The patios are heated in the winter, so there is no shortage of seating  during chillier days! The restaurant is a solid bet for any occasion from meeting up with friends to watch a game during the day or taking your spouse out for an anniversary.

FUN? Absolutely! I love going to places that offer different experiences depending on where you sit in the restaurant, and Urban Grub passes this ambiance test. You can easily grab a nice cocktail and appetizers at the bar and then transition into a more formal setting for dinner–  without hopping into an Uber.

FRUGAL? Actually, yes! Many of Urban Grub’s entree-sized dishes are easily shareable. We were thinking of splitting the carbonara ($20), and the waitress suggested that we have the kitchen split the dish in the back vs. sharing from the same dish since 1) they have no split-plate charge and 2) the kitchen usually gives healthier portions when you ask to split a dish. The photo below of the carbonara is of one split plate. No matter what you’re craving, Urban Grub’s menu will likely have it!

The wines are also not too expensive, and the restaurant is one of the few to offer quartino (9 oz.) pours. We ordered a bottle of Anciano Tempranillo ($33) and thoroughly enjoyed it for the price.

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The Dish on dining at Josephine on 12th

FANCY? Yes! Josephine is one of the fancier spots to dine within the 12 South neighborhood. This place would be perfect for a romantic date or a dinner with friends/family. The restaurant is larger than you would expect since there is an additional room partitioned off.

FUN? Very! Bring your own bottle of wine, request a decanter and enjoy your evening– resting assured that you cut costs where you could. Josephine also offers a X:X dining experience that features a 10-course meal ($85) with drink pairings ($45), making it a less expensive version of the Catbird Seat (which is $115/person not including wine pairings)!

FRUGAL? In keeping with most of the upscale restaurants in Music City, Josephine unfortunately does not offer a happy hour. However, you can bring your own bottle of wine and only pay a $15 corkage fee– which is well worth it! For example, the Seghesio Zinfandel is listed on the menu for $55/bottle. Most liquor stores sell this brand for $18 to $23. By paying the corkage fee, you save roughly $17– and this is ignoring the extra taxes you would have to pay for purchasing the Seghesio from Josephine.

We went with the Bloomy Rinds cheese plate ($17), the pappardelle ($27) and the hazelnut ravioli ($26). The cheese plate is very large, providing enough to split four ways or take any leftovers to-go. The entrees are not large enough to split and run between $24 to $30.

The Husband Bourbon Rating: COMING SOON

The Dish on happy hour at Union Common

FANCY?  Located in Midtown where Broadway and Division split, Union Common is very sophisticated with its no-frills bar area and understated dining room. Its clean lines and colors resemble that of a Chicago hot spot. In the main dining area, the seating varies between booths and tables of all shapes and sizes. The marble bar is a nice place to spend a couple of hours catching up with a friend or to create a more casual dining experience. The space is smaller than most steakhouses, and the bar can get a little loud at peak times. However, I have never had an issue with the noise levels. This would be a great place to take a date or to meet up with family/friends.

FUN? Union Common has a modern, lively vibe! Its happy hour is always at the very top of my list for after-work drinks and appetizers.

FRUGAL? As is the case with most places in Music City, you can make your visit to Union Common as inexpensive or as pricey as you want. Its happy hour is the best in Nashville based on both the deal itself and the selection of side plates, wine and cocktails. Running from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays*, all wines and select cocktails and small plates are half-priced (menus below). Portions are rather large, which makes the half-priced deal that much more impressive! The quality of the wine for the price is unmatched– I have enjoyed some of my favorite wines of all time sitting at that marble bar. The wine and cocktail menus change every once in a while, but the newcomers never disappoint.

*The happy hour deals are offered exclusively at the bar.

The Husband Bourbon Rating: A

Lofty expectations usually accompany a restaurant’s decision to list bourbon selections under creative names like “brown water.” Fortunately, Union Common differentiates itself from the common restaurant by meeting (or even exceeding)  expectations. For the most part, the bourbons are reasonably priced, ranging between $8 and $15 per two-ounce pour. The menu consists of standard offerings, such as Four Roses Single Barrel ($9), Eagle Rare 10 yr  ($9) and Booker’s ($14), which are all great prices for the Nashville market. The menu also boasts several well-priced Buffalo Trace experimental offerings (the Rye Bourbon #105 is $25), along with Noah’s Mill ($12), Stagg Jr. ($24) and Garrison Brothers ($17) to round out its vast array of options. The cocktail menu currently lists five bourbon/rye concoctions– all priced for $10 or $11 (which would be $5 and $5.50 on happy hour).  I would venture to rank Noir No.1 and When in Rome up against any cocktail, and, with the aforementioned half-priced happy hour deal, these cocktails just got a whole lot better. Grab a seat at this well-appointed bar, try something new and discover what the brown water is all about!

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The Dish on happy hour at Holland House Bar & Refuge

FANCY? Situated in East Nashville, Holland House Bar & Refuge (HHB&R) captures the essence of a speakeasy: It is bustling inside, serves exquisite classic cocktails and comes with all of the upscale features, such as crystal chandeliers and a variety of seating ares. This is a solid alternative to Patterson House if you want to save some dough and avoid the wait. The bartenders are equally friendly and knowledgeable, making HHB&R’s bar a swanky place to enjoy drinks with a date or with a couple of friends.

FUN?  Very. Aside from the aforementioned atmosphere and drinks, one of the best parts about Holland House is that it is close to other neat spots in East Nashville (such as Rumours East, the Pharmacy, Eastland Cafe, Bar Luca, Butcher & Bee, etc.) if you are looking to enjoy a multi-part dining experience.

FRUGAL? Holland House arguably has one of the best cocktail deals in town! The happy hour menu offers classic-driven drinks for only $6. Both the Bee’s Knees* and the gin Gimlet are refreshing (and hard to put down), and the Ward 8 and the Old Fashioned will delight any bourbon connoisseur. Even if you are typically a wino, go with a cocktail for at least one round. Though the wine is pretty good, La Vielle Ferme at $6/glass is not considered a good deal since the bottle rings in at around $8/bottle at local liquor stores.

*A Bee’s Knees cocktail typically involves gin, honey and lemon. Holland House’s version subs out gin for rum, which is then typically called a Honey Bee.

From left to right: Ward 8, La Paloma and Bee’s Knees cocktails
Holland House happy hour menu