The Restaurant Sampler

The Daily Grind

The Daily Grind

A fellow who was studying to be a nursing home administrator once told me that as we advance into extreme old age and our senses begin to diminish we lose our vrious tastes one by one. And the last sense of taste we hang onto is bitterness.

I must say that as I get older, my love of good coffee is expanding, largely through the missionary work of my younger brother, a coffee aficionado on the order of a fiend.

When the opportunity arose to dine professionally at the Daily Grind, Nashville’s first fine coffee emporium (established 1977), I looked forward to the task with the relish of a man who knows he is going to be well fed and then get a good cup of coffee to boot.

I collected my brother, along with the available parts of his family including my two nieces—one 18, the other just three years old—and we made our way down to Calvin Place where the Grind sits tucked in from South Van Buren Street.

It is comfortable and inviting with its creaking wooden floors, Brown County Stone fireplace, and the smell of exotic beans.

The terrific teen had dragged along her beau and my sister-in-law joined us at the last moment, and so with a large group we were able to make a full-out assault on the menu, sampling a goodly cross section of the items. I—purely from professional interests, mind you—was able to nibble from everybody’s plate.

The elder niece had the grilled chicken breast sandwich, which was delicious—a juicy breast fillet served warm on a toasted croissant, topped with melted colby-jack cheese, tomato and lettuce with just a tangy touch of honey mustard.

Her companion had the “plump ham” stacked high with mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and mayo. They shared a strawberry/banana fruit smoothie that she proclaimed to be “superliciuous.”

My brother had the tuna salad sandwich, a generous portion of tuna fish mix on croissant; but he was having a hard time resisting my own “hoosier hen” selection—thinly-sliced chicken breast piled three inches high on a soft, hoagie-style roll with colby-jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

Sandwiches came with chips and a dill pickle.

The younger niece, who received the ultimate genetic gift of having been born with good hair and a winning smile, got a beautiful grilled four-cheese sandwich on crispy whole-wheat toast. She only seemed interested in the chips (she doesn’t usually get them) and, experimentally, the pickle. The sandwich was good. When she gets older, I’ll explain to her what she’s been missing.

My sister-in-law had the seafood salad plate, served on a bed of lettuce with sliced tomato and a lightly toasted croissant. It was delightful and, as usual, I wanted what she had ordered. I always want what the other person ordered, but this time she really got me with the iced Oregon chai—a delightful concoction that creates an immediate desire to keep it for oneself. The poster for this drink reads, “It’s intoxicating, addictive, and completely legal.” If you have all the addictions you can handle right now, stay away from this stuff—it is absolutely enthralling.

Also on the menu: beef barbecue, cheddar bagel dog, and “the vegetarian”—generous amounts of tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, black olives and lettuce, served with colby and mozzarella cheeses, topped with a light Italian dressing. There’s even peanut butter and jelly on white bread for the kids.

The Daily Grind also serves a variety of specialty bagels, including “the Godfather”—Italian beef, mushrooms, onions and mozzarella on an onion bagel; the “Special K”—ham, colby-jack cheese and dijonaise; and the “Todd”—ham, mushrooms, and colby on an everyseed bagel with a side of dijonaise.

Or if you’d prefer, you can “build your own bagelwich” choosing from a wide variety of vegetables, meats, sauces, cheeses, and bagels.

Sides include coleslaw, potato salad, nacho chips, or a spinach and feta croissant.

As one might expect at a coffee house, the Daily Grind serves breakfast 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. Along with more traditional offerings like biscuits and sausage gravy, ham and cheese croissant, sausage and cheese biscuit, or cinnamon toast, the breakfast menu also features house specialties like “espresso eggs”—a generous mound of fluffy steamed eggs with ham, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes smothered in melted cheese and served with whole wheat toast. Or try the Belgian waffle with sausage links, or the steamed eggs with or without a melted-cheese topping.

Aside from the iced chai, you can get iced coffee, iced cappuccino, iced mochaccino, or even the “iced sledgehammer”—coffee over ice with a shot of espresso. You can choose from over 50 quality teas from around the world, flavored sodas, soda pop, orange juice, and milk.

There are of course a variety of hot drinks at the Daily Grind including flavored steamers, milk hom, hot chocolate, and mulled cider (in season.)

My mind was set on coffee, a dark roasted, bitter, very strong Italian double espresso, at the end of a wonderful meal. Perhaps I am getting older—not ready for the home just yet—but still, few things as desirable as a good strong cup of coffee.

As I sipped my coffee my heart balanced happily between my two near-perfect nieces.