Nashville is known to be young, hip, and country-cool, with the right dash of yesteryear thrown in for good measure. As I flew into the city for this trip, I couldn’t help but notice the lavish estates of country music’s icons. I also spied Percy Priest Lake and LP Stadium, the scene where Tennessee’s Titans routinely clash. The city’s life-blood though is music, and it shows from the moment I walked off of the plane and into Nashville International Airport. But there is more to Nashville than country music. There is also a little restaurant called Monell’s.
The first time I discovered Monell’s was almost 10 years ago. My girlfriend had just landed her first real job there, and had invited a group of us girls out for the weekend. She showed us around the city and we hit the music scene, and hard. All and all it was one of the best girls’ weekend I’d ever had. On the Sunday morning we were set to leave, and at my friend’s suggestion, we met up at Monell’s for brunch.
As we entered the gate of the property, we were greeted by an enchanted garden complete with a swinging bench and hybrid tea roses in warm hues of scarlet. As I approached the door to the restaurant, I noticed a long line of people waiting to be seated. I didn’t mind so much because the morning was friendly to the wait; the air was fresh, and the sun was warm and welcoming. That said, I still found myself unprepared for this interruption in the flow of the rhythm to our day, I suppose I just foolishly assumed the good folks of Nashville were all in church, and my friends and I were the only loose girls not in a pew!
I was puzzled why so many people were waiting outside to be seated at this not-so-new place. After all, Monell’s is housed in a 19th century Victorian home. After about forty-five minutes of waiting, at last, our patience paid off. We were shown to a table by a smiling, thoroughly Southern woman who asked us to join a table already filled with people, none of whom we knew. I asked my friend if we were meeting someone, and she replied, “no, that’s Monell’s, it’s family style.”
What followed next was the most wonderful symphony of Southern dishes, including Monell’s famous corn pudding, greens and fried chicken. The food was unforgettable, but the company made the meal. We laughed and talked with strangers, though you wouldn’t have known we were strangers by looking at us.
On this trip to Nashville, I made the journey back to see that friend get married. Funny how life takes you full circle. I couldn’t help but stop there this trip with my husband. Together we shared not only a meal but also the memory of that grand old time at Monell’s.
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