The Restaurant Sampler

Nashville General Store
& Bakery

Many restaurants have a specialty, one particular dish they are known for. And most have some kind of theme or genre—a type of food you expect to find there.

But when I decided to take my professional dining skills to the Nashville General Store, I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect in this regard.

What does one expect the menu at a general store to be?

I suppose the image that leaps to mind when one considers dining at a general store is a moon pie and RC Cola out on the front bench, or possibly a handful of those nuts out of the little vending machines. So I was in for a pleasant surprise at Nashville General Store.

The “Store” is a what you would expect at a Nashville shop—chock-full of antique doo-dads and gee-gaws from a bygone era, surrounding an efficient little delicatessen, which offers a modest variety of soups, sandwiches and salads.

But the Nashville General Store has a specialty—not a particular dish or variety of food, but a celebration of one of the traditional “courses” of dinner, and my favorite one at that,desserts.

Since the Store is also a bakery which bakes all it’s own breads, it must have been a short leap to making all kinds of pies, cakes and other delectable desserts, including apple dumplings.

Arriving around the noon hour with my attractive colleague in tow, I made my way past shelves stuffed with candles, cards, table linens, curtains and rugs—along with lots of jars of specialty sauces, condiments and jams and jellies—to the deli counter at the rear of the store.

If you are ever searching for pickled okra, “chow-chow,” or even a good jar of old-fashioned corn relish (delicious with ham and beans) the Nashville General Store and Bakery would be an excellent place to look. Apple butter, maple syrup, and jalapeno sauce are just a few of the apparently innumerable jars of sauces, spices, and specialties stacked neatly in shelves around the shop.

The soup of the day was potato soup and the salad of the day was potato salad. I like that, it has a nice symmetry to it. I had the soup and my colleague had the salad. Each was delightful, with big chunks of potato cooked not-too soft and not too firm.

The sandwiches of the day, layered onto homemade buns, included pit ham, smoked turkey, and barbecue chicken. The sandwiches are served with a dill pickle and chips.

I opted for the turkey sandwich—dressed up with lettuce, tomato and a slice of cheese, while my lovely associate had the barbecue chicken. Both sandwiches were delicious and filling (of course, I always have to do a little sampling of my dining companion’s plate—purely professional interest, of course.)

It being a beautiful summer day, we adjourned to the small tables located by a little bridge over a winding stream to dine “alfresco.”

On your first visit, you may find the Nashville General Store a teensy bit difficult to locate. It is tucked away off Washington street (118 E. Washington) on the south side of town, across the street from the Coachlight Square/Nashville Follies complex. It is due east of the public parking and restrooms off Old School Way, across the little foot bridge.

It is a bright yellow building festooned with old advertising signs, window boxes with geraniums, and big wooden barrels that hark back to the days when the patron of such a store was expected to select his own pickle with his own hand.

The sandwiches were excellent; the setting superb, but, as I say, the best was yet to come.

Returning to the busy store, we perused the glass cases surrounding the day’s dessert offerings, a mouth-watering variety of pastries, strudels, cakes, and other delectable dainties.

The apple dumplings, fresh from the oven, looked as if they belonged on the cover of a magazine. I was also tempted by the “turtle” cake and the store’s specialty, cinnamon bread. But in the end, I opted for the blackberry cobbler, while my collaborator selected a seasonal favorite, the rhubarb pie.

The rhubarb pie was obviously handmade (you can tell by the crust) and sweetened to just the right taste. The cobble was “just like mom used to make”—what higher praise can there be?

And so, sated on sandwiches and savoring the sweetness of dessert, childhood memories, and interesting companionship, I slowly devoured my cobbler, sipped the iced tea, and took in the charming, shade-filled surroundings.

I thought about dear old Nashville High, the namesake of Old School Way; about the old sycamore tree, bent low by generations of students, where we used to gather after classes had dismissed.

I thought about condiments, old-time candies, and warm cobbler with ice cream.

And I was an acutely satisfied man.