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Friday, July 25, 2014

Nashville Food Friday: Sinema

A review of Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
For a long time a certain stretch of 8th Avenue consisted of nothing more than a downstairs pool hall, a couple of dollar stores, pawn shops, and one abandoned movie theater. In the past few years the neighborhood around this little spot has grown up. A bunch of new condos and renovations brought new residents, followed by new restaurants and shops to the area, turning it into a really lovely neighborhood. Sinema takes it one step further by converting the old Melrose movie theater into a two level food spectacular. Run by Top Chef veteran Dale Levitski (now with less faux-hawk), Sinema is the swankiest place on 8th ave.
A review of Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
A review of Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
A review of Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
First things first, we have to talk about the decor which is absolutely the star of the show. The restaurant is a breathtaking mix of textures, where wood tables and velvet couches mingle and give off a luxurious vibe. The grand staircase is beautifully restored and screams old Hollywood glamour. The walls had bookshelves, carved wood pieces and photos of musicians and actors. But it was all done in a way that wasn't incredibly tacky. The low lighting really pumped up the loungey atmosphere and just made you want to snuggle up with a velvet pillow. Additionally, they have a bunch of projectors playing old movies, and they got bonus points for showing North by Northwest while I was dining. I love me some Cary Grant!
The upstairs bar at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
Our first stop was the upstairs lounge for drinks with the Nashville Food Bloggers. They are a great group of people and they always arrange fun get-togethers like this!
Cocktails at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
To start out we tried two of their signature cocktails. "Nobody Puts Bourbon in a Corner" had bourbon, lemon, sugar and a bit of mint. It tasted like a cold weather hot toddy. While the drink was good, it had a tad bit too much mint flavor in it for me. Steve tried the "Mr. Untouchable" which featured bourbon and amaro. This drink was smooth and deep, and my favorite of the two.
Octopus at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
After the cocktail hour Steve and I headed downstairs to have our own private date night. The downstairs dining room was bustling and fairly loud. They were playing music, but you couldn't hear it over all the chatter. I must also direct the ladies to check out the downstairs bathroom. It's gorgeous with dressing room mirror bulbs and a sexy bathtub picture of Colin Firth- what more could you want?!

Our first appetizer was the Octopus with a cold potato salad and paprika. The octopus was hot, fried, and crispy. The way they fried it was perfect, because it was not greasy at all. The potato salad tasted like a cold version of German potato salad and I really liked the juxtaposition of the hot octopus with the cold potatoes. I only wish I had gotten a bit more of the paprika taste from the plate.
Foie Gras at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
Next up was the Foie Gras served with zucchini bread and curry cashew butter. The Foie Gras mousse looked like a tiny scoop of delicate ice cream and the flavor was luscious. The zucchini bread was soft and added a nice flavor to the dish. For some reason when I ate everything together it tasted like a peanut butter sandwich. I would recommend slightly less of that cashew butter per bite so you can really taste the mousse. I must say that the figs provided a welcome sweetness and everything had a really good salt balance. This is a must-order from the menu.
lamb at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
For his entree Steve chose the lamb. It contained duck fat poached lamb, spiced lamb sausage, barley risotto and anchovy sauce. I have to say I was disappointed by the fact there was only one bone on this dish. If you've been reading me for a while you know I fully endorse full contact cave girl style eating, so only having one bone to gnaw on is quite a bummer- especially for the price tag! I was able to taste a full anchovy on the plate by itself, and I really liked that. But for some reason I wasn't the biggest fan of the combination of anchovies and lamb. I just wasn't into this dish at all.
short ribs at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
My beef short rib entree was the clear winner. The short rib was super tender and served pulled apart and shredded. It came with grilled radicchio, truffle dumplings, mushrooms and the most beautiful melty cheese. Overall the dish had a rich stew-like quality and the meat was packed full of intense, rich flavor. The truffle dumplings stood up nicely in the broth and had a fabulous taste and a really smooth potato texture. I can only hope that one day they make a dish where these dumplings are the star. The radicchio added a nice bitterness to the sweet dumplings and cheese. Once Steve tried this dish he looked at me with a blank stare on his face for a few minutes before saying, "I'm speechless. This is one of the best things to ever enter my mouth." So there you go!
Cookies and cream dessert at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
When it comes to dessert we usually share, but when there are two things on the menu that speak to each of us individually, we splurge! Steve went for the new addition to the menu, the cookies and cream. This dish had lemon curd, smooth vanilla farmers cheese, sugar cookies and fresh berries. I really liked the presentation and the nice addition of micro greens that complimented the cheese. The cookies were really soft and tender and the berries were ripe!
Chocolate dessert at Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
I went for the Chocolate. A thick and decadent brownie-like cake was layered with chocolate mousse and violet elderflower mousse, with a malt anglaise sauce. The malt flavor of the sauce was fabulous and reminded me of my favorite vanilla shakes! The cake was hard on the outside and really gooey in the center, but it took a fair amount of fork strength to break through the outer shell. Perhaps a bit overcooked? The mousse scoops were tasty, but I wish I got more of a punch from the elderflower. This dessert was nicely balanced and a good sweet ending, but it was massive and should have been shared.
A review of Dale Levitski's Sinema in Nashville, Tennessee
Overall Sinema was really a good dining experience, but there are a few kinks to work out. Fist of all they charge $3 for valet parking, which in a city of free valet is insane. I hope this nonsense doesn't become a trend. While we enjoyed our meal, other diners weren't 100% pleased. While our octopus came out hot, a friend of ours got a cold order. And the prices are VERY expensive for what you get, especially when that something is fishy tasting lamb.

The decor is beautiful and I will be coming back here to snack at their upstairs bar. The waitstaff was incredibly polite and knowledgeable about their offerings. I'm really happy to have such a nice new place in what was once known as pawn shop and ca$hville territory.

Sinema on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nashville Food Friday: The Post East

A review of The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
In a residential neighborhood not far from the bustle of 5 Points, The Post East is the newest coffee shop/smoothie/juice bar on the scene. The few steps off the beaten path make this place more of a neighborhood hang out rather than a hot-spot destination. There are only a handful of places like that on the East side any more, and The Post is a welcome addition.
A review of The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
The inside of the shop is clean, with polished concrete floors and wood accents. The large windows let in a nice amount of natural light, adding a warm glow to the wood. There is a couch area and a good number of tables. I even peeped around and noticed a fair amount of plugs for those who plan on bringing a laptop. The atmosphere was relaxed and fairly quiet; the perfect place to have a conversation or knock out some work.
Blueberry lavender latte at The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
For my coffee I went for one of the specialty drinks, a blueberry lavender latte. At first sip, I was impressed and obsessed. This was the most unique and delicious coffee concoction I've had in a long time. (I have a tendency to order the craziest coffee drink on the menu and I'm usually disappointed.) The blueberry flavor was prominent, but the lavender was meek. Personally I would add a tad bit more lavender, but nevertheless, this was awesome.
quiche and bullseye biscuit at The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
For breakfast we ordered two of their already prepared foods. I don't know if they have the capability to cook fresh food like scrambled egg biscuits or the like, but if they do that would greatly enhance the breakfast offerings. I ordered the bullseye biscuit with peppers, spinach, fresh basil, feta and a whole egg on top. While this muffin looked beautiful, it was slightly underwhelming. The biscuit was was very dense and I couldn't find the feta. I must say that the biscuit dough was very well seasoned and had a nice flavor to it. And you know me, you can't really go wrong with a whole egg on top of anything. That golden yolk was the best part! Steve ordered the quiche of the day, which contained spinach, tomato, and a few others. The egg was light and very fluffy, but the overall flavor was bland and could use a bit more salt.
Sweets at The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
lemon ricotta muffin at The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
While the savory items might have not been the best in the world, the sweets at The Post were delicious. After looking at the case of beautifully prepared treats, we had to order something. We chose the lemon ricotta muffin and it was light and fluffy and gently broke into pieces because of all the little air bubbles inside. It had a strong fresh lemon flavor and the icing was nice and sweet. In addition, I came back another day and was able to try their chocolate babka, and was very impressed with that as well!
Fresh Juice at The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
The Post is also a juice bar, so I had to sample some. Since I'm not really a fan of beet juice I asked for a recommendation of something with beet that would help me like it. I went with the Feel the Love which has beet, grape, strawberry, bell pepper and rainbow chard. While this drink still tasted like beets to me, it was more drinkable than any other beet juice I had tried up until this point. The grape and strawberry adds a much-needed sweetness to the earthy beet. But at over $5 a bottle, this juice is a bank breaker. Perhaps I would order it more often it was a tad bit easier on the wallet.
A review of The Post East in Nashville, Tennessee
I have to say that the staff of The Post is the best part of the experience. On both of my visits everyone was very friendly! I was able to talk, ask questions and get recommendations. It is the staff that really made my experience special.

Overall, I really like The Post East and I'm happy they are in the neighborhood. Their coffee is delicious, their sweets are great and the space is beautiful. But the best part is the staff! If you are on the East side go a few minutes out of your way to grab a juice or coffee at The Post.
Post East on Urbanspoon
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