Tim is up in PA this weekend visiting his family and my sister Karen came down from Lexington to visit me. After a day of checking out the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Home Depot, and other practical things, we went to dinner at Flyte, which is located at 8th & Division just south of downtown Nashville. (It's also across from Frugal MacDoogal's liquor store and a p0rn shop but I digress...)
This was my second time at Flyte, but first time on the weekend. Reservations are absolutely needed on the weekend. I made our Saturday reservation on Thursday and the best time I could get was 8:30 pm. When we arrived the bar area was totally packed, so we ended up hanging out on the side until our table was ready (at almost 9 pm). From bar observations, I think people are a bit unsure of what type of restaurant this is (and the restaurant doesn't seem so sure of it either...). There was a range from people wearing jeans to nice khaki like pants (Karen & I) to people actually dressed in tuxes and long gowns (HUH? What's that about???).
When we were finally seated, our waiter was there right away to greet us and see if we were familiar with their concept. There are a couple of unique (and cool) things about this place. They have an antipasti menu so you can "build your own" appetizer platter. Everything on the list is easy for them to put together, so you end up getting it right away - particularly handy when you're sitting down to dinner at 9 pm! We picked two cheeses (fresh mozzarella, smoked gouda), marinated portobello mushroom, tuscan white bean dip, and foccacia (which isn't really foccacia, but actually just grilled slices of bread). Everything was yummy, although I should have ordered some prosciutto or something to go with the plain fresh mozzarella.
Since it was a chilly night, we were both in the mood for soup. Karen ordered the heirloom tomato soup, while I got the soup "flyte". The "flyte" had small cups of each of the three different soups - tomato, corn, and onion. They were all great soups, but the onion soup was amazing. It was like french onion soup but with more of a roasted flavor, with cream added, and then pureed. Really hard to describe, but delicious.
Karen ordered the chicken entree, which came with saurkraut (fresh! we both thought it was probably made in-house) and potato salad (made with a mix of potatoes, including some blues). The dish was supposed to have a horseradish cheese fondue sauce, but Karen's not a horseradish fan and she skipped that part. I ordered the porkchop, served with lentils, some fresh veg, and pear chutney. I'm sure that sounds quite ordinary, but it was really amazing tasting - just a great blend of flavors and textures, cooked perfectly.
For dessert, I ordered the bread pudding "flyte" and Karen had a couple of bites of it. I also got some coffee (French Press! I love it when restaurants do this.). The bread puddings were sublime, just amazing tasting. The three bread puddings were: bourbon, blue cheese and walnut, and cherry chocolate. The bourbon was quite subtle, tasted best with a bit of fruit. The cherry chocolate bread pudding was a bit burnt on top, which detracted from the flavor. The blue cheese-walnut bread pudding was (SHOCK!) my favorite. It had a very subtle tangyness from the blue cheese, but was overall sweet due to the honey they used in flavoring it. Yum!
*Antipasti menu to give you a bite to eat while waiting
*Soup and salad "flytes" so you can taste all of the different options
*Flavoring of everything was amazing - the only other place in Nashville that I've been to that has this level of complexity in their food is Margot's Cafe in East Nashville, BIG improvements in their entrees and desserts
*Wait staff - HUGE improvements here since our first visit, they seem to be working really smoothly now
*INCREDIBLY noisy when busy - they really should think about some noise abatement tiles or something because it's basically a big, tall, open room and it was actually hard to hear Karen at points!
*Wait time for our table - not happy to wait almost 30 minutes past my reservation, especially since there was no place to wait comfortably (since the bar area was full)
Poor Grad Student Cost Assessment:
This place is too expensive to, say, drop into for a random meal. But it's great for a special night out or when you want to go out for a fine meal. Wine-by-the-glass seemed overpriced compared to the bottle prices - the wine we picked was $11 for a glass, but $30 for the bottle. I also skipped the wine "flytes" this time because I didn't feel that they were a good value last time. The soup and salad "flytes" are totally worth the cost, however. The antipasti options were nice, but cost added up quickly with them and it was really difficult to judge how much of any given item you were going to get. For example, the marinated portobello mushroom was actually 3-4 slices of a mushroom not a whole (or even half!) mushroom. I have a better idea now of what you get with the antipasti servings, but it was hard to judge this time. Overall, I would say that the place is a fine value considering the quality of the food.
I'm really impressed by the improvements in this restaurant since the first time we went, in December. We were there with a group and everyone thought their entrees and desserts were "okay" but not excellent. I think that they've made a marked improvement in the quality of the entrees and have also significantly improved their dessert menu. The quality of the service also dramatically improved. I never felt rushed at any point, but I also didn't feel like I was waiting excessive amounts of time (except for while we were waiting for our table!) which I definitely felt last time. I would totally go back again, and would recommend it to others. I'm glad that I gave Flyte a second chance.
Total aside on etiquette:
I'd like to give a brief shout out to the couple sitting at the table next to us. I think it's great that you got engaged during your dinner on Saturday night at Flyte! Although, honestly, I personally wouldn't rate the place high for romantic ambience. But DUDE, it was ridiculous to feed your fiancee a line about how diamonds that were "too large" were "like costume jewelry". There's nothing wrong with small diamonds, but your excuses (and OMG why did you even bring it up???) were Grade-A lame. Also (and here's the etiquette bit) I do really think it's nice that you wanted to tell every single person in your family and all of your friends about your engagement but it really pissed me off when you pulled out both your cell phone and your crackberry and started calling and emailing everyone in your lives while I was trying to eat my dinner. I know it was a special time for you (trust me, even as an old married lady, I remember) but after the 7th, 8th, and 9th phone calls, it really started to get on my nerves. I would have really appreciated it if you could have waited until after dinner.