White Trash Hash – bacon / cheese / potatoes / chives
Kaya Toast – warm coconut jam / Texas toast / fried egg / sweet soy
Cheddar Cheese Biscuits – chorizo gravy
Pretzel Pancakes – white chocolate mousse / dulce de leche
Blueberry Cornmeal Waffle – cinnamon molasses / whipped mascarpone
Maple Fondue – cardamom-scented / fresh fruit / red velvet waffle / blueberry cornmeal waffle / grilled sausages / frosted flake pain perdu
Again exiting the conference for an extended break as the City of Nashville’s humidity finally gave way to rain, it was perhaps an oversight of Vanderbilt’s love of a boozy brunch that saw us arrive at Tavern to the tune of a 90-minute wait, the time largely spent wandering nearby Centennial Park beneath umbrellas until a text called us forth from the Pantheon to be seated amongst a mass of humanity with well lubricated co-eds screaming to be heard above the loud tunes echoing from high ceilings overhead.
Dining with a pair of ladies from the era which several of the restaurant’s 1960s tunes were sourced, and thus clearly not of a demographic common during the hour of our meal, suffice it to say that the ninety minute wait was further compromised by overstretched service that saw our table ignored until a manager was flagged down fifteen minutes later, the kitchen itself equally stressed but trying to make good by sending out four scoops of luke-warm “White Trash Hash” as the wait-time for plates was extended another twenty-five minutes after the order was eventually placed.
Already aware that my memory of the experience would be marred by the aforementioned events no matter how good the cuisine, it was unsurprising that when all items were brought out at once there was evidence of a good bit of heat-lamp treatment to found and although the Kaya Toast was actually quite impressive in its balance of textures as well as flavors despite the unnecessary decorative hot sauce, the biscuits were leaden and far too soggy, the supposed cheddar almost undetectable beneath gravy that tasted little of spice and closer to oversalted ham.
Unable to pass on sweets, but unaware that the “fondue” featured both Red Velvet and Blueberry waffles since the later was not amongst the menu items listed, it was with an unnecessary plate of the crispy cornmeal checkerboard that the meal progressed and faring far better than the doughy red velvet iteration which lacked any semblance of coco suffice it to say that any suggestion of ‘cardamom’ in the ‘maple’ syrup was so faint as to be imperceptible, the snappy spiced sausage and cornflake crusted French Toast saving the otherwise lackluster shared plate.
Informed that desserts are only offered at dinner, and as such going even sweeter than usual with mains, it was finally the restaurant’s thinly poured flapjacks that crossed our lips and although a better effort could have been made than a topping of pretzels straight from a bag it would be difficult to find any other fault in the buttermilk triplet, the sticky-sweet caramel finding an unexpectedly willing dancing partner in light chocolate mousse that produced a flavor not unlike that of tres leches as it soaked the pancakes straight down to the plate.