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One thing being new to Nashville is that every time someone asks where we should meet for lunch or dinner, I have no clue what to say. Only major chain restaurants come to mind, which is great if you want to know what you will get, but what about feeding a craving for authentic Thai food? (I mean the kind of authentic Thai food that has a green curry that will burn your socks off. In Thailand, this dish is very hot, but not according to the Thai people.)

Portland, on the other, hand has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country. While living there, not only was there usually a nice small restaurant within one mile of anywhere in the city, but it was often run by a person with high hopes for making their mark on the culinary world. This made doing business over lunch and dinner, the habit of many home-office-ers like myself, very easy.

Resolute to discover something besides the Cracker Barrel in Nashville, we dropped in on the Rose Pepper Cantina last night. If Rose Pepper Cantina has a website, google hasn't found it yet, but Citysearch has a reasonably up-to-date summary.

The place boasts a flat screen TV showing sportscasts, interesting decorating ideas that I might steal and a HUGE outdoor porch that would be a lovely place to sip iced tea in the summer time. Lovely, that is, as long as you don't melt in the famed Southern Humidity.

Our Dining Story
8:30 pm on a Saturday and the place was packed with people much hipper than I. We were told that it would be 15 minutes before we could be seated so we opted for the bar.

Like most places in Nashville, I was shocked by its non-Oregon-ness. A child sat on his mother's lap in the BAR area while she chatted over food with a friend. Certainly, had this been Portland, there would have been a large fine for this transgression. We ordered drinks and laid into the chips an salsa.

Of the three types of salsa, my favorite was the hot red, followed by the yummy green. Mark preferred the mild red (which tastes of tomatoes) and the spicy red. The chips were freshly fried and they made the salsa taste great.

As is my custom, if I spot something on the menu that has the restaurant name, I order it. The Rose Pepper Rings were tempera-battered and fried pepper rings with a creamy guacamole sauce and chunky tomato salsa. They were spectacular. I will have cravings for this dish.

We also tried the tamales and tacos. The pork tamales were superior to the chicken. The only better-tasting tamale I know of was hand made by a neighbor in Tucson.

The kitchen must have thought that our waitress made a mistake when she put in the ticket requesting no beans (I have an allergy) because my plate had a healthy portion when the food arrived. The service was a bit slow, but the server was cheerful and kept us in booze.

Ranking

  • Atmosphere: Good - not a place to pop the question, but comfortable. The restaurant is proud of their unusual decor, but to a gal from Portland it looks like normal to me. I did like their idea of the light rope spiraling up a post with meshy fabric wrapped outside the lights. Nice to look at.
  • Business dinner capable? Not if your client is stuffy.
  • Food flavor: Best Amerimexican I have had this far in Nashville. Oh wait. It's the only Amerimexican I have had in Nashville... Those Rose Pepper Rings are superb.
  • Service: C. The German in me just can't go higher than that.
  • Cool-Factor: With a porch like theirs, this place ranks high in the cool-factor category.
  • People: Hipsters.
  • Blogger Interest: 3 - Only three people have anything to say about this place.

Any tips on where I should try next? Preferably a place where the bar tender doesn't suggest a Chardonnay because it is similar to a Shiraz? (Anything can happen in Tennessee.)

Links of note
Appon's Thai Food Recipes
An excellent collection of recipes available for free online!

Ramblings of a Gay Nashvillian

A fellow blogger has much stronger opinions on the Rose Pepper experience.

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