Since April, 2003, the chefs at North End Caf? have championed a focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Caf?'s menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to stir-fry and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's outdoor deck, an expansive wooden patio surrounded by vines and flowers.
At Zen Garden, many of the Asian dishes sound familiar, with adjectives like "orange," "sweet ‘n’ sour," and "kung pao." However, rather than tossing chicken or beef in with these classic flavors, the kitchen has adopted a meat-free credo. Chefs mix masterfully seasoned bites of tofu and other meat alternatives with fresh veggies, creating entrees such as green beans stir-fried with mock duck and the barbecued-soy sandwich. Noodles tangle around shiitake mushrooms in both the udon-noodle soup and the shiitake mushroom lo mein, and curry sauce imbues eggplant and shredded tofu with a spicy kick. Guests can pair their meal with a cup of green tea, prepped hot, iced, or in its purest form: emeralds that have not yet been juiced.
Taking the concept of the salad to its apex, Tossed offers more than a dozen piled creations composed of anything you can slice or dice, including the kitchen salad with porcelain sinklets. Bury yourself in a Greek salad with grape tomatoes, feta, and kalamata olives ($8) or dive into the spicy sea of a cayenne-shrimp salad with avocado, roasted onions, and black-bean corn salsa ($11). Wrap your salad for on-the-go chomps with a pesto chicken crêpe with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, field greens, and lemon basil vinaigrette ($7.95) or pour that salad into the blender for a soup of the day, such as chicken tortilla or Red Rock seafood bisque ($2.95 for a small, $3.95 for a large).
Though the experts at Studio Green are duly concerned with the appearance of split ends, aging skin, and unwanted hair, an even greater concern is with the effects of harsh chemicals on clients' skin, hair, and environment. That's why their 2,000-square-foot salon is solely stocked with vegan and organic hair products, including hair color that's been certified cruelty-free by PETA. The team of stylists tends to tresses more gently and ethically with formaldehyde-free serums, sugar scrubs, and gentle dyes. The aestheticians, for their part, can help clients to curate at-home beauty routines with a collection of organic serums by Éminence and Surface.
Though the menu of colorful salads, burgers, sandwiches, and side dishes at Symmetry's Greens Cafe is diverse, there are two things it never features: meat and animal byproducts. The kitchen staff specializes in preparing completely vegan?and mostly gluten-free?dishes, using local and organic produce whenever possible. The caf? is also committed to fitness, which is evident in its signature selection of fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices.
In 2006, chef Kristie's culinary reality flipped upside down. She tried a recipe for a vegan "cheese" dip, and the result tasted better than any real cheese dip she’d ever had. Excited by the realization that healthier plant products could outshine animal-based ingredients when processed creatively, she felt compelled to reinvent the meaty meals of her childhood under vegan standards.
After culling ideas from her collection of more than 62 vegan cookbooks, developing her own recipes, and shrinking two aprons by accidentally putting them in the oven, Kristie founded My Veggie Chef to cater to the growing meat- and dairy-free community in Nashville. The business delivers a week’s worth of healthy vegan meals, frozen and preportioned, to doorsteps every Sunday. Each entree kit’s prechopped ingredients arrive in BPA-free freezer bags with instructions on how to assemble the complete meal. Filling dishes such as Cajun black-eyed-pea cakes with lemon-caper rémoulade and a gluten-free kung pao rice burst with meat-free flavor, though omnivorous families can easily add a lean meat.