I had never heard of The Standard and it looked like a unique place, so I snagged a Groupon they were advertising and waited for a time when my husband and I could go have a nice meal and night out on the town. The architecture was extremely fascinating. It is the oldest standing townhouse in Nashville, dating back to the 1840s. It has changed hands many times throughout the years and apparently has been taken over by the owners' son's pet project, which is an exclusive gentleman's club with a restaurant. The dinner was really good, we had the fried green tomatoes, quail and "The Standard" steak with macaroni and cheese and asparagus. The wine choices were fair and the mixed drinks potent. The dessert left more to be desired. We had cheesecake with Jack Daniel's whiskey caramel glaze and sugared pecans. It sounded yummy and wasn't bad but it was definitely from the freezer. They tried to heat it in the microwave and it was melted on the outside and cold in the middle. We were sitting there enjoying our wine and listening to the smoky blues singer when the owner sat down to talk to us. At first we thought it was a nice and intimate gesture and he asked if we would like a tour. We were introduced to his wife briefly and then we were lead around the house and the private club area rather quickly. The owner was polite and did make small talk, but suddenly we ended up at the front door and were lead out without another word. After getting over the personal touch we finally realized we had been dining for a few hours and we were kindly shown the door. I don't know if it was because we had used a Groupon or if they were trying to get rid of any non-members before it got hopping, but it was rude to say the least. Though we used a Groupon, we spent $150.00 and tipped for the full cost of the meal before discount. I was about to go to the restroom when the owner came by and ended up having to go to a gas station because we were shown the door and not given any options to go back in to the restaurant. If they want an exclusive/private club, they should keep it private and not open to the public if they want the non-members to be out by a certain time. It wasn't even 9:00. There were members in the dining area but there were plenty of empty tables. I don't know why we could not sit and enjoy the evening instead of being treated like we were less than special and inferior to the rest of the people in the place. If that was not the owner's intention, he needs to think twice about doing that to someone again. The whole thing seems like a facade and we saw the ugly truth...someone trying to start an elite club where the politicians and music stars can come and hob knob, but not making enough money without taking the common man's money to fund it all.
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The Old Spaghetti Factory is a step back in time. When we entered the restaurant my daughter remarked, “it feels like we are getting ready to ride the Tower of Terror at Disney World.” The antique décor is beautiful and makes me think that I should be wearing a finely tailored pin stripe suit and a daper fedora. OSF meals come with a choice of soup or salad, entrée, and a small dish of spumoni. The blue cheese dressing on their salad is nothing fancy, but I still prefer it to their minestrone. The day’s entrée for me was called “The Premier.” It contained generous helpings of chicken marsala and lasagna. Perhaps I am too southern to figure out exactly what a marsala is. To me it tasted like chicken with a nice mushroom gravy. My chicken was a little overdone, but the quality sauce made up for it. Let’s just forget the chicken, though. This is Italian and that means lasagna! The noodles were perfectly tender. The ricotta cheese blended rather than overpowered the rest of the ingredients. There was enough tomatoy goodness that I had sauce with the last bite that I took. The meat provided texture and weight without teasing me into thinking I was eating meatloaf. It was a symphony of Italian food perfection with each element wondrously playing its part. My wife is in love with their brown butter spaghetti with mizithri cheese. For me, spaghetti has to involve some form of tomato. I just ate more lasagna. They asked my kids at the start, “Salad or applesauce?” They declined both. This is the “Old” spaghetti factory after all. I can only imagine a grandparent coming up with that combo. The spumoni is a nice touch for the big folks, but thankfully they had vanilla for the little ones. The prices are middle of the road for what you get. You are, of course, paying for quality service and ambience. I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the $40 check justified the antiques, the low level lighting and the trolley car. Then I remembered how much it cost to ride the Tower of Tower, and recognized that you pay a little more for a quality experience. Go to the Old Spaghetti Factory. There is no reason to be afraid.
Though the English teacher in me cringes at the uncapitalized name of this restaurant, I could easily fall in drunk love with the happy hour at blvd. For $8, you get to choose two (that's right, two!) items off their happy hour menu. Being an individual who likes to be well-rounded, I opted for champagne, grilled cheese, and everything that I could pick off the plates off my nearby friends. This proved to be a solid strategy. Let's start with the wine. To begin with, it had bubbles, always a point in favor of any champagne. Moving forward from these basic essentials, it was slightly sweet, caressing the insides of my throat as it quickly pushed me towards my very low drink limit. I like my champagne slightly sweet, but not saccharine, like my men, and this lived up to my expectations. On to the fontina grilled cheese. Fontina is the best of all cheeses to use for grilling, it would seem, as evidenced by the creamy deliciousness of this meal. I could feel my arteries crying out in moaning, ecstatic agony as I stuffed the entire thing into my gullet. The toast was crispy, the cheese well-melted--no complaints here. Finally, on to my third choice: Everyone else's food (one of the many benefits of hosting a happy hour club). The truffle fries were slightly under-salted (though, being a resourceful witch, I remedied this by using the salt shaker), and the mac and cheese did not impress me--it appeared to be noodles with melted cheese. No pizzazz, no flair, no interest in showing off its potential as one of the most perfect comfort foods ever invented. It seemed to be the only underachiever in a class of Ivy League-headed students. I will be back, to check out the rest of the happy hour offerings at this fine establishment!