My latest dining experience to review is from a local restaurant called The Mad Platter that was unexpectedly one of my better dining experiences in Nashville to date . In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from this restaurant because the last upscale, local restaurant I tried ended up being slightly average. On top of that, when I attempted to make a reservation at The Mad Platter, the person I spoke to was quite rude and short with me over the phone. That alone got me started off on the wrong foot but because of my love for food; I was willing to overlook that little hiccup of a bad experience.
Located in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville, The Mad Platter is a small and quaint but exhibits a lot of character. The older, red brick restaurant definitely shows its age and the inside is no different. Older architecture, such as worn wooden floors, built-in bookshelves, and half brick/half wallpapered walls surround the linen-covered wood tables and chairs in The Mad Platter. However the most peculiar thing during our visit was that in addition to the cozy atmosphere, there were dozens of framed photographs of babies all over the restaurant. While I didn’t ask directly, I overheard in passing that it was for some type of charity involving infants (perhaps the March of Dimes?)
The Mad Platter‘s menu is à la carte. Salads and appetizers fall in the $7 – $10 range, soups for $5.50, main entrees $18 – $29, and desserts for $6.50. If you ordered the cheapest item from each category minus the main course, you’ll be paying at least $26 without your main entree. While this can easily add up, The Mad Platter has an option to make your meal a five-course dinner for just $20 on top of your entree purchase. For Haley and me, it saved us a total of $20 during our visit.
Having looked at the menu once before online, I was worried for Haley’s sake because the menu items seemed to be on the “fancy” edge of the fence. But little did I know that The Mad Platter‘s menu changes daily. This made me feel a little better but still… finding something that Haley wouldn’t turn her nose up at was a gamble. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side that day because five of seven of the main courses were things that she didn’t like (lamb, morels, shrimp, chickpeas, and duck.) When I explained this to the waiter, he was extremely cordial and said he would find out what he could do about it. A few minutes later, he came back and said that the chef would cook something up specifically for Haley. If that isn’t awesome service, then I don’t know what is.
My order consisted of Corn Chowder soup, Roasted Morels as the appetizer, a Spring Salad, the Pork Duo for my main entree, and Bananas Foster for dessert. Haley on the other hand got Black Bean soup, a Cheese Plate, a Strawberry Salad, special requested Grilled Chicken with Sautéed Vegetables, and the Chocolate Elvis.
Dinner started out with baguette-style rolls and butter. The rolls had an extra crispy crust and a soft, warm, doughy center. Shortly after came our soups. Haley’s Black Bean soup was chock full of beans and vegetables in a flavorful “beany” broth with a dollop of cream cheese. My Corn Chowder was thick and sweet, reminiscent of the sweetness you’d find in creamed corn but, the addition of vegetables and spices made for an extremely delicious and flavorful soup.
The appetizers were somewhat of a surprise. I knew what morels were (from my grade school science textbooks) but I never seen one nor tasted one. Haley’s cheese plate was expected to be the kind you see on an appetizer tray at your local grocer but was anything but. On Haley’s plate, she was served 3 different types of cheeses (I believe they were all brie), Melba crisps, apples, oranges, and large capers. On my plate were a small pile of local morels from Lebanon, TN, a pea puree, Melba crisps, and oranges. The taste of Haley’s cheeses ranged from smooth and acidic to an extremely nutty and pungent cheese that was too strong much for her taste buds. My morels were cold and tender with an earthy/nutty flavor. When I piled them onto a buttery Melba crisp and topped it with the pea puree, you had a nice little appetizer that could probably be eaten for days.
Our salads were nice and fresh. The Spring Salad was a nice mix of greens, radishes, roasted mushrooms, artichokes, and goat cheese. The herb vinaigrette was more oil than vinegar (even after a good stirring). Haley’s Strawberry Salad was more to my liking and I wished I would have gone with that instead. A nice blend of spinach, strawberry slices, toasted almonds, and shaved fennel tossed in a citrus poppy seed dressing that had just the right amount of sweetness and tartness.
The all-star of the evening for me were the entrees. Haley’s special request came out as sliced grilled chicken breasts dusted with spices on top of a pile of sautéed vegetables consisting of corn, green and red peppers, carrots, garlic, green onions, and celery. The chicken was extremely moist with a nice layer of seasoning. Her grilled vegetables were firm and had a nice savoriness to it.
Even better was the Pork Duo: a bone-in pork chop topped with cooked gala apples and Niman Ranch brand pork belly drizzled with a cider reduction, kale and bacon sautéed with lemon-leek juice and cheddar grit cakes. The pork chop was also extremely juicy with a nice sweet glaze stemming from the apples and cider reduction. The pork belly was very delicate with a combination of “melt-in-your-mouth” pork fat and concentrated cider sweetness. The kale and bacon was also very good. Bacon simply makes everything taste better and the lemon-leek juice helped remove of the slight bitterness I find in kale. What I didn’t like though, were the cheddar grit cakes. While cheesy, it was very similar to unsweetened cornbread. Not to say that unsweetened cornbread isn’t good… I just prefer the sweeter variety.
Last but not least to top off the dinner were the wonderful desserts. Given a selection of 5 items to choose from, our waiter recommended two of the most popular: Chocolate Elvis and Bananas Foster. Haley chose the Chocolate Elvis, The Mad Platter‘s signature chocolate dessert: a layer of milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate on top of an almond, walnut, and graham cracker crust in a pool of strawberry puree. I ordered the Bananas Foster: a concoction of sliced bananas, sautéed in butter, brown sugar, vanilla, rum, and banana liqueur and then topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
The Chocolate Elvis was excellent. It reminded me of an extremely sweet and rich quality fudge. The strawberry puree added a nice touch of tartness to balance out the sweetness of the chocolate-y dessert. The Bananas Foster was something I questioned because I do not like bananas. The flavor of the bananas was apparent but didn’t bother me at all and I really enjoyed this dessert the most. I especially loved the sauce and when it mixed with the already melting vanilla ice cream, it resembled a very delicious thin caramel.
As I said before, The Mad Platter was a pleasant surprise and turned out to be one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had to date. Our waiter was very cordial and did everything he could to honor our requests. The fact that the chef went out of his way to accommodate Haley’s request earns extra points of appreciation. The food here was fantastic and there wasn’t a single dish I didn’t enjoy. On top of that, I extremely liked the fact that you were able to get a full five-course meal for such a reasonable price. The Mad Platter definitely earns my mark as a favorite and I’ll definitely return/recommend it any day of the week.
|The Mad Platter
1239 6th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37208
Bill Total: $97.59 For Two (With Tax)