Where I’m Going For Lunch Today…Congrats to the Arnold Family!
As I drink my morning coffee (which is really quite nice-Charbucks roast from Bongo Java “roasted as dark as the fire department allows” with Hatcher’s whole milk from College Grove TN-splendid indeed! Where to have lunch today? Usually I’m off on Sundays & Mondays and, unless having some friends over for dinner, eat out pretty often when I’m off. I usually try to adhere to rule of trying out something new since I’ve been in Nashville less than a year and there are still plenty of places I haven’t tried but sometimes like to forget about the rule when it comes to Monday lunch-more often than not, I can be found having my weekly dose of Arnold’s and some blackened tilapia (or roast beef) with mac-n-cheese, greens, mashed potatoes, & banana pudding with some of the best sweet tea (besides my mom’s which she sends back in gallon jugs when I go home to visit) I’ve ever had! If you haven’t experienced Arnold’s it’s a must!!
Congrats to Kahlil and the rest of the family on being one of five restaurants chosen as winners of the 2009 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics as they certainly deserve it!! Here is an excerpt from John T’s “Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South”:
In fine-dining circles, tales of temperamental French chefs are rife. Neophytes who fiddle with the foie gras or diddle with the duck confit are sure to stir the ire of the guy in the white coat and pleated tocque outfit. But who would expect such an outburst of temper from a guy in a flour-streaked apron, the proprietor of an unassuming little brick rectangle of a restaurant, set amid a row of old redbrick warehouses?
Meet Jack Arnold, a native of the North Carolina hills, with a dedication to fresh, honest foods that, in just a world, would make him as well known a cook as Julia Child or James Beard.
On my first visit to Arnold’s Country Kitchen, I caught Jack in a foul mood. Indeed, he was cussing a blue streak.
“The damn fools I hired to clean my greens broke them!” he told me, as he worked to stock the serving line with the day’s specials. “I told them to strip the leaves. But dammit to hell, they snapped them right in half. I had some really nice purple tops and they just ruined them.”
Like Hap Townes, who once ran one of the South’s best lunchrooms in the shadow of the nearby Nashville ballpark, and the late James Lynn Chandler, whose Sylvan Park Restaurant over in west Nashville still wins praise from locals for its vegetable plates and chocolate pie, Jack has spent a lifetime in the kitchen. And with each meal he serves, Jack Arnold makes a convincing argument that country cooking—collard greens and cabbage, fried chicken and meatloaf—is worthy of the respect normally accorded highfalutin’ French and Italian cuisine.
He started out at the age of 12, washing dishes. While studying fine arts at Vanderbilt University, Jack managed the campus cafeteria. Since 1983 he has been at the helm here, frying green tomatoes to a crisp, roasting monstrous rounds of garlic-studded beef to a turn, simmering fat butter beans in a swine-scened pot-likker, baking pan after pan of macaroni and cheese.
It’s all good, all simple, all Southern. Indeed, I would go so far as to posit that Arnold’s is among the best two or three plate lunch places in Nashville, which makes it among the best in the South. And, Jack’s protestations to the contrary, the greens were great, broken stems and all.
Sums it all up very well!
Another Monday recommendation is Smokin’ Monday @ the Corner Pub in Green Hills and really want to try the Chef’s Table on Monday nights @ ChaChah over on Belmont (had really great dinner there couple of Sundays ago). Well all this talk about Arnold’s has worked up appetite so I’m off to lunch!