Lynchburg & Jack Daniel with Mark & Barbara, we got back to Nashville and retreated to our various lodgings. Following a little refresh, we reassembled at ChaChah, where we were joined by my friend Matt. I've mentioned ChaChah before; it's one of my favorite happy hour spots. One of four restaurants owned or co-owned by Top Chef contestant Arnold Myint, ChaCha specializes in Spanish-style food. Myint definitely spends time in the kitchen and restaurant in between media appearances and charity work, but day to day the kitchen is run by Francesco Vito.
We were not there in time for happy hour, but still took full advantage of the tapas options, passing plates around the table for tastes. Tapas are the Spanish version of appetizers; small portions that you can share or hoard, as desired. There's a daily menu of $5 and $7 tapas; many of these are standards, but a few seasonal specials rotate in and out. (The $5 tapas are half price at happy hour.) In addition, the regular menu has additional small plates -- slightly larger portions than most of the tapas -- plus the entrees. For me, a couple of tapas and/or small plate selections, plus perhaps a dessert, are plenty to make a meal.
There were enough of us to cut a wide swath through the menu. We ordered drinks, a round of tapas, then when that was done, another round, ending with desserts. ChaChah's food is creative, flavorful, and full of unexpected twists. Not every single dish may tickle your fancy, but there's enough variety to find something to please most everyone. If memory serves, between the six of us we sampled the macaroni & cheese, shrimp croustada, fried plantains, lamb balls, bacon & blue cheese dates, calamari, queso fundido, elotes, and hummus. We also tried some desserts -- of course Leroy got the special dessert of the day, a goat cheese flan with beet ice cream. He declared it good; the idea of beet ice cream wasn't appealing to most of us, although I did like the sound of goat cheese flan. I had the lemon coconut cake with lemon curd; the topping of a few leaves of micro basil was unusual but delicious with the lemon. Mark and Kellie got the chocolate cannoli and Barbara tried the ripe local berries with cream cheese ice cream.
We lingered and talked and laughed, enjoying a variety of cocktails, wine, and beer as well as the food. It was a fun evening, and it was nice to be able to sample such a wide variety of ChaChah's cuisine.
Kellie had been with me to Fido several times before but Leroy had not, so I suggested we visit there for their final meal in Nashville. We met mid-morning on Wednesday. The Bongo Java-roasted coffee was delicious as usual, and we all enjoyed our various types of eggs and trimmings. I also picked up a couple of dessert bars for later; that afternoon I enjoyed one of the best cream cheese brownies I think I've ever had.
Fido is a great spot for a beverage, a dessert, or a full meal any time of day. Follow them on Twitter if you'd like to get notifications of the daily lunch specials during the week, or visit their blog at http://www.fidospecials.blogspot.com. While the regular menu has a nice selection of solid, interesting selections, the specials are where they let their creative gourmet flag fly. For example, a few of the specials last week were:
- FRIED SHRIMP, POBLANO STONE GRITS, COCONUT SAUCE habanero, onion, garlic, curtido, mango hot
- RED & GOLD BEETS, ASPARAGUS, BROCCOLI CARAMEL VINAIGRETTE red onion, pistachio, chardonnay macerated raisins arugula, radish,goat cheese
- LINGUINE, SMOKED CHEDDAR SAUCE roasted carrot, oyster & shiitake mushroom, English peas, parmesan, toasted focaccia
All in all, we did quite the tour. There are even more excellent restaurants and foodie activities in town, and more popping up every day, so I look forward to their next visit so we can continue to explore the expanding culinary opportunities.