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Friday, June 8, 2012

Food Friday: Eastland Cafe

This post might be slightly biased, since Eastland Cafe has been one of my favorite spots in Nashville for the last few years. It is consistently delicious, with the menu changing with the seasons. The staff is always friendly and prompt and the big summer time bonus is the large back patio on those nights that aren't sweltering. Add to the fact that this place is right in my neighborhood and that they have the best happy hour in Nashville, you can see why its an easy favorite.

I am not joking about Eastland having the best happy hour in Nashville. They have been voted Best Happy Hour in the annual Nashville Scene "Best of Nashville" readers pole multiple year in a row. They have a lock on this title, and I haven't seen any real competitors yet. There are fancy martinis for $5, wine for $5, beer for $3 and a whole menu of food where each delicious dish costs only $5. These dishes aren't huge; they are appetizer size. But if you get a whole bunch of them to share along with delicious drinks, you have a great meal at an upscale restaurant without paying the fancy price. This is my kind of bargain.

I'm very well acquainted with Eastland's happy hour drink assortment.  My normal go-tos are the blimey martini (blackberry/raspberry flavor) and the Cubatini (rum/triple sec/pineapple juice). I normally rotate between the two and if I'm having a big night, I'll order one of each.  But at our recent adventure a delicious wrench got thrown into my plan: the addition of the Tropical (citrus vodka, triple sec, mango nectar, orange juice, lime juice). I'm a sucker for anything mango so I took a chance on this new addition.

It was positively delicious and might now be my new favorite drink on the menu.  The best part of this was the consistency.  Since mango nectar is so thick, the whole drink had a nice heft to it. It was a highly substantial cocktail.

The happy hour menu normally has two types of pizza, a taco, a quesadilla and whatever ingenuity the kitchen comes up with. We started off with the fish tacos which were light and summery- no frying at all! I'm always impressed when a place can make a good fish taco without deep frying the fish to hell. The light slaw on the top and the fresh lime complimented the grilled fish.

The quesadilla of the day was steak, roasted peppers and mozzarella cheese. I've had a whole assortment of quesadillas at Eastland and I've always enjoyed them. I make a lot of quesadillas at home, so I use Eastlands ideas for inspiration when I don't feel like making something "traditional".

We went for the pepperoni pizza. No shocker there for me as I love my cured meats.  I mentioned this pizza in my review of Five Points Pizza. This pizza is fresh from the oven and smells like heaven. It is by no means a traditional New York pizza. The droopy oil ratio is all off. But for a fancy pizza, its hard to beat. I love whatever cheese Eastland uses. It reaches the perfect consistency of gooey and crispy!

Pimento Cheese. I did not knew that it existed until this winter. My family never served it at events and I guess up North it just isn't as big of a thing as it is south of the Mason-Dixon. But ever since I had my first bite of the stuff, I was in love. I've been buying it at stores, ordering it off menus and contemplating making my own version.  At Eastland they had a jalapeno pimento cheese plate, so I had to get it. The cheese was tasty but there wasn't that much heat to it. I guess I was expecting something hotter with the jalapenos added. I think they could stand to mix in a few more! I was a fan of the celery stalks over the pretzels. Pretzels were too salty and overpowered the delicate taste of the cheese.

The best part of the dinner was getting to take this guy to his first Eastland Happy hour. I would say that that is the face of just eating a pretty tasty dinner.

Eastland Cafe on Urbanspoon

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