The Restaurant Sampler
Brown County Ice Cream & Bakery
There are certain inherent hazards in the life of a professional diner.
I suppose no profession is without its pitfalls.
And it’s an open secret that someone in my line of work has to constantly be aware of the effects hours of serious “research” may have upon one’s waistline.
The significant Spoonerisim being, “A waist is a terrible thing to mind.”
Now believe it or not, and that may depend upon how often you’ve actually dined with me, I am not obsessed with desserts. I’m more of a “hearty home-cooked fare” kind of fellow. I like the sweets, but I can pass them by when propriety (and wardrobe) demand.
I like the occasional piece of cheesecake with coffee here and there, but, on the whole, I try to avoid two kinds of restaurants: bakeries and ice cream parlors.
I do have self control, but then I also know the limits of my willpower.
So it was with a mixture of chagrin, determination and bravado that I undertook an excursion to my most recent discovery; the Brown County Ice Cream and Bakery, located at 25 Locust Lane in Nashville, next to the Pioneer Museum (out back of the Old Log Jail) and north of Trilogy Gallery.
The excellent location commands a high corner on the northeast side of Locust Lane, with a deck for dining al fresco.
But lurking behind those dessert doors was a first-rate little bistro that is well worth your attention.
The first choice was from three soups of the day (absolutely everything there is home-made, the soups, the bread; even the ice cream—all 30 flavors—made right here.)
There was creamy basil tomato, a cheddar potato and, my choice, pork noodle. (It’s just fun to say; “pork noodle pork noodle pork noodle.”)
Very savory and well seasoned, with carrots, celery, with noodles and big hunks of—– surprise!—pulled pork.
The sandwich menu is bafflingly complete; roast beef and Swiss, smoked turkey and cheese, grilled ham and cheese, chicken or tuna salad and even a “gourmet grilled cheese.”
All are served hot or cold on homemade bread with a healthy portion of kettle chips and your choice of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and dressing.
There are also home made quiches (ham, cheese, and onion; “southwestern”), served with fresh fruit and vegetables.
I had the daily special. I find this is generally good policy; a restaurant’s special says something about it. It was a turkey club; a huge, double-decker with a thick slice of turkey breast, melted cheese, bacon, lettuce and a fresh, thick-sliced tomato with your choice of mayo or…well, ranch. But let’s face it, the only right thing to do with a sandwich like that is to have the mayo, right?
All on the aforementioned homemade, toasted bread and the aforementioned chips. It was delectably delicious.
There were salads, of course; a nice house salad with iceberg/Romaine lettuce, onion, tomatoes, carrots; the larger chef salad with ham, turkey, bacon, cheese and egg; each with a choice of seven dressings.
AND they have lunch delivery in town between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
But that’s not all.
There’s also an excellent breakfast menu, with seven different breakfast options that pretty much cover all the bases and fields: my favorite biscuits and gravy—not out of a can but HOMEMADE, two eggs with meat; French toast, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast quiche; granola and yogurt for the health conscious; not to mention the mouth-watering muffins, cookies, brownies, and the baked goods…
(…must maintain control…)
And, for those of us enamored of the bitter bean; The BCIC&B is a coffee house par excellence: espresso, café latte, cappuccino, and flavored espresso drinks (to each his own). They grind their own beans for the house blend.
There’s the ice cream, of course—two huge glass windowed freezers with row upon row of premium quality ice cream of every description—“over 30 flavors made here.”
It is the butterfat content that makes great ice cream great, and the BCIC&B uses fresh 14 percent cream and the best fruits, candies and flavorings available.
But finally, it is the old-fashioned bakery case that grips me, calls to me, that draws me with it’s siren song, drawing me closer…closer…
It’s like some kind of crazy scene out of Willy Wonka; it is literally a stunning display;
I stand mesmerized; buffaloed by the sheer fanciful wonder of its contents; huge cinnamon rolls dripping with glaze; brownies, cookies, “nutty bars”, various pies and cakes; big deep-dish apple pies like grandma used to make, something called “Chocolate Decadence…”; two or three different kinds of cheesecake, including blueberry-orange and chocolate swirls…
And the scones…
Orange, ginger and pecan scones…
Pistachio and Praline scones…
The mind boggles.
It was a nice day. There was a little table by the window. Photographic art by my friend Stephen D. Cale of Yellowwood Trail Studios, his trademark infrared rural landscapes, is displayed around the room.
I lingered over dessert, late for my next appointment, uncertain about the balance between the long run and the eternal; between the waistline and the appetite.
And I was profoundly satisfied.