I'd read that if you're in the Nashville area you HAVE to make your way down to eat at the Loveless Cafe because their homemade buttermilk biscuits are rumored to be utterly life changing. And so, Saturday morning we did just that.
After breakfast we swung through the historic little downtown of Franklin, Tennessee to do a bit of window shopping and pick up some goodies at Merridee's before heading back to the city.
When we got back in to town Saturday afternoon my family lovingly obliged me by dropping by the Hermitage Hotel to watch me oogle the interiors and pretend for a few minutes that this was our hotel. And as gorgeous as the lobby is, that wasn't what I'd drug them there to see.
It was this.
The men's room.
It's not just any men's room as you can clearly see. The Hermitage restored this room to preserve the original art deco design, complete with green and black leaded glass tiles, a terrazzo floor and even the original shoeshine stands. It was so freaking dreamy, like an art deco acid trip. And I never thought I'd say that about a men's bathroom. In fact, I didn't want to leave. (Sorry, guy who came in to pee and then quickly rushed out all flustered and visibly annoyed that I was in there taking photos. Interior design nerd at your service. Totally oblivious to polite social norms and here to ruin your bathroom break. Guilty as charged.)
After that thrilling little piece of history we headed out for a backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium and yet another glimpse back in time if you will. (I realize how cheesy this all is, you guys. Thanks for sticking with me through this too wordy and far too photo heavy post. In another life I would be a travel agent. I'd also learn the fine art of editing. But that's neither here nor there, now is it?) This building, which is now part museum part concert venue, was the former home of the Grand Ole Opry. This is where Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash met and where he told her he was going to marry her that first night. This was also the same stage Johnny attempted to destroy when his mic stand broke during a performance and he kicked out all the stage lights in a drunken fury over it. It was just like standing in a scene from Walk the Line, you guys. It was awesome.
We spent the rest of our daylight hours walking around downtown and the river front. (We called this guy the batman building. Do you see it?) While we were there we made sure to stop in Hatch Show Print which is one of the oldest functioning letterpress shops in America. They still make all their posters and prints the old fashioned way with hand blocks and sweat! It was pretty fantastic. Also, the big, fluffy, fat kitties lazing around the shop were an extra bonus on the fun-o-meter ;)
You might be thinking this post should be winding down right about now. But you would be wrong. I'm just getting to dinner. And oh, what a dinner it was. It puts thanksgiving to shame. We went to Monell's in Germantown whose fried chicken is famously revered as the best in all the land. And I mean, when in Rome, right? To begin with, the restaurant is situated inside an old 1930's mansion, so it was pretty much love at first sight for me already. They seat you family style at these huge long wooden tables, elbow to elbow with fellow diners. They tell you right off the bat that there are two rules; no cell phones allowed and always pass to your left. Then they just start bringing out bowls of food. You don't order, they just bring out what they're cooking and everyone shares. And believe me, you don't need to order, there will be something you like, it's just a law of probability. Let me explain why. Here's what they brought to the table: First you start with dessert (banana cream pudding. I was already sold.) then biscuits, white gravy, corn bread, cucumber salad, cole slaw, fried green tomatoes, pinto beans, green beans, hush puppies, corn casserole, roasted potatoes, turnip greens, baked apples, fried chicken, catfish, ribs (which we all decided were the best ribs any of us had ever eaten), meatloaf aaaaand pitchers of fresh lemonade and ice tea. Honestly. I mean, honestly.
Now, one might assume after a meal like that, you might just forgo breakfast the next day. Well, that person has obviously never vacationed with us. You might not actually BE hungry, but you're going to eat. We like to call it fat-cationing and it is absolutely necessary. We feel it's our duty to experience as much of a place as possible while you're there. If that means walking for eight straight hours or consuming 8000 calories per day, then so be it.
And here's where Provence Breads comes in to play. I didn't want to make day three in Nashville a whole post unto itself since we were really only in town a few hours Sunday before we had to head back to Ohio. But that Sunday morning breakfast deserves a little recognition. (If not a standing ovation.) I equal parts dream of this bakery having an Akron location and am glad that it doesn't because I'd probably stop there every single day for a pastry if given the option.
And that french toast with the fresh peach compote? It's the stuff dreams are made of and that's a fact.
After breakfast we squeezed in the last few sights we could see. We walked around Hillsboro Village and peeked in all the shop windows of the stores still closed on an early Sunday morning. We hopped back in the car and drove around to see some more southern architecture before the day was done. Ben drove us around Vanderbilt University and then out to see the Belle Meade Plantation. The out buildings where the slaves lived and the dairy where they worked are still standing on the property. It was seriously unreal. We didn't actually have time for the full tour but I did do a good deal of trespassing on the grounds in the time we had allotted ;)
And that was pretty much it. (What?! That's all? I know what you're thinking.) I would love to go back and see the inside of the mansion as well as about 20 other things on my Nashville "to-do" list that we didn't get around to. Now, we just have to convince Ben to stay there long enough to warrant a return trip. And something tells me that shouldn't be too hard.
P.S. A special shout out to Josh is in order for being super dad and running the show while I was away. I'm also going to give a shout out to his sisters who I'm sure had at least a little something to do with this weekend's success ;)