The Harding House at Belle Meade Plantation acquaints mouths and appetites with steaming local dishes, pairing every platter with a side of Southern hospitality and tradition. Under the same ownership as Bria Bistro Italiano and Whitfield’s Restaurant and Bar, The Harding House proffers a lunch and brunch menu replete with house spins on classic Nashville meals. Lunchgoers feast on classics just as holdable but more edible than a loved one's hand with the hand-breaded fried oyster po boy ($11), swaddled in herbed rémoulade atop a toasted baguette bed, and the fresh-ground, hand-pattied plantation burger ($8+). House specialties ($12–$17), favored by executive chef Tabor Luckey, include sautéed shrimp submerged in spiced Creole sauce and laid over a simmering bowl of cheese grits ($17). When Saturday arrives with its unique appetites in tow, The Harding House’s brunch offerings sate desires for all manners of sizzling skillets ($9–$13) and specialty breakfasts ($7–$15). The straight-shooting Enquirer skillet ($9) gathers the facts from a tomato, mushrooms, and two types of cheese before mingling them together with piping-hot eggs, home fries, and sultry pangs of hunger.
The gleaming, stainless-steel brew cylinders at Blackstone Brewing Company's alcohol alchemist lab froth with the precursors of an array of quality craft beers, dispensed freely from the taps of its brewpub. Like legal-drinking-age Charlie Buckets, pairs of guests stare in wide-eyed wonder at the brand-new brewing and bottling apparatuses during an exclusive tour of the brewery's grounds. Tour-goers learn about the beer and how it is made and may choose to drive to Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery to sip six samples of the final product, such as the Nut Brown Ale, St. Charles Porter, and Chaser Pale. A Blackstone-emblazoned pint glass and four bottles of beer follow each guest home at the end of the visit.
Let's Make Wine helps vino aficionados brew and bottle their dream blend of wine during a four-week course, available in the evening or on Saturdays by appointment. The foray into brewing begins by selecting one of the many wine kits to serve as a base, adding in ingredients and softly whispered compliments to customize the fermenting concoction to a palate's demands. Grape gastronomes pop in once a week to check on their burgeoning brew, spending a combined total of two to three hours overseeing their tailored creation with the help of head winemaker Cheryl Lisi. Once fully fermented, wines slink inside corked cages, with customized labels spelling out the vintage or the appropriate type of cereal to pour it in. The 30 bottles of resulting wine, each 750 milliliters, make for pleasant gifts or decorative cellar-stuffing.
Coat the stomach lining with the soup of the day ($6.50), served with freshly baked bread, and introduce the soup to a deli sandwich served on your choice of bread. Grainy greats, including wheat berry, sourdough, rye, sub roll, and croissant, serve as a meat-docking station for honey ham ($8.75), roast turkey ($9.00), or roast beef ($9.25). You can also opt for a grilled panini with your choice of pasta salad, potato salad, fresh-fruit bowl, or chips. The reuben, stacked heavy with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand-island dressing ($9.25) appeases meat lovers. Or think outside the breadbox with nostalgic eats that still don't beg utensil usage. Try chicken fingers ($9.75), veggie-packed quesadillas ($9.75), or a bevy of burgers, each served with fries. View the complete lineup here.
Grinder's Switch Winery sits atop a 110-acre estate flourishing with vineyards that produce a variety of palate-pleasing wines. Inside a hand-built log cabin set against a backdrop of efflorescent countryside, Grinder's tasting room welcomes sophisticated sippers to sample such wizened grape juices as the 2009 Pearl—a sweet wine derived from niagara grapes ($10.93)—and the Blondy ($12.75), which boasts aromatic scents of apricot and peach. Swirling fragrances of golden apple tickle the noses of Honeysuckle Rose ($13.67) drinkers, while the lightly-oaked 2009 chardonnay ($13.67) proffers a finish as crisp as dollar bills made out of Granny Smith apples.
Jill and Spencer Pittman were captivated by the ingenuity of intelligent wine dispensers, eventually building a business around the idea at the corner of East Main Street and 2nd Avenue in downtown Franklin. The concept combines the relaxation of an informal wine tasting with the novelty of having a robot as a dinner guest as patrons serve themselves from the mechanized dispensers while a smart card tab keeps track of purchases. The helpful automatons even display information about selected vintages at the drink stations, allowing guests to learn about their favorite beverages and perfectly pair wines with soups, salads, or tapas plates of cheese, charcuterie, and seared seafood.
In an ironic twist, the wine bar hosts parties in the one-time home of a Prohibition-era bootlegger. The National Register of Historic Places house charms visitors with tucked-away wine rooms decked out with leather furniture and a bar adorned with paintings from local artists. As they unwind with glasses of rotating featured wines such as Cakebread Chardonnay and Opus One red blend and succulent morsels of chocolate desserts or cheese, patrons watch the street scenes and take in the open air from the lavish wraparound porch or sway to the strains of jazz amid the dark woods and overstuffed sofas of the wine rooms.