- Published on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 16:20
- Written by Wes Wade
Sea Biscuit, Secretariat and Iroiquois, the first American breed born and raised thoroughbred to win the the English Derby in 1881 were all descendants of Bonnie Scotland, one of the most famous of Belle Meade Plantations thoroughbred studs.
In addition to music, Nashville is home to some unique historical attractions and great restaurants so that you can have a relaxing, enjoyable weekend getaway without going to go to a music venue.
Which is just what we did this past weekend when the decision was made to get a short reprieve from the day to day details of work, home and in general our crazy lives! While we obviously enjoy music this weekend found us both wanting something a little more on the quiet side and below is a review of our experience and what we found.
Belle Meade Plantation
We highly recommend the Belle Meade Plantation located in Southwest area of Nashville near Vanderbilt University. During our tour of this historic plantation we were told of the impact the owners had on thoroughbred racing in the 1800’s as mentioned above. By the 1860’s the plantation had amassed over 3500 acres and 136 slaves. I will not go into all of the history for Bellemeade as you can read it here.
Even if you aren’t particularly a history buff, touring the mansion and the still existing out buildings, i.e. slave quarters or original cabin built in the 1790’s, the Bellemeade Plantation is a treasure most anyone will enjoy. The tour of the mansion is conducted by numerous people all dressed in period appropriate clothing with each assigned an area of the house, describing in detail the mostly original artifacts in each room.
The plantation is also home to the only winery in Nashville with a gift shop and tasting room are included as part of the tour. If you are able go early enough to eat in The Harding House restaurant please do. Reasonably priced and exceptionally good our meal alone was worth the drive. The Southern Benedict included a flat iron cornbread topped with the best pulled pork I have had, layered with over easy eggs and lightly drizzled with a sauce resembling BarBQ but not as strong having a hint of catsup. It sounds a bit strange but we were in the mood for something different and were delighted by the dish.
Belle Meads Plantation Tour Photos
Belle Meade Plantation Tour
Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant
Dining in a grocery store may not sound like something you want to do but trust us this one needs to be on your list for Nashville. The name Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant belies days gone by when people would, in addition to shopping for groceries, gather to socialize and eat food prepared just for them. In our the location in downtown Nashville was hopping with a full crowd and servers running at full speed to accommodate the customers. The wait for a table was about 30 minutes on a busy Friday night. We didn’t mind waiting as there was a nice bar with a couple open seats for us to enjoy an adult beverage. The taps were mostly craft beers and seemed to include a few regional brewers.
Although they had filet migon and ribeye steaks as well as Alantic Salmon they also had fried green beans and fried green tomatoes. The menu was diverse and reasonably priced. This was more on the noisey side as it was a large crowd, somewhat tight on the seating space and live music was setting up to start at 9pm. We stayed for a few songs played by several musicians with an “in the round” style. The musicians were good and on another visit we may have stayed. You can visit their website here.
How about eating at Merchants which was originally a hotel where stars like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Porter Waggoner, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Roy Acuff to name a few would spend the night?
Merchants is on Broadway right in the heart of all the tourist traffic comprised of every bachelor and bachelorette party in the country (or so it seemed). Many of the bars and restaurants had windows open and music blaring with doormen occasionally touting the merits of their particular establishment. Broadway with all it’s tourist traffic certainly had some sites to offer such as the mobile bar which was powered by those who were on it peddling the same way you would a bicycle. Of course being a bar there were drinks and some hootin’ and hollerin’ goin’ on too!
So in the middle of all this ruckus and wanting to have a nice dinner what is one to do? Merchants! This restaurant opened in 1988 in the old Merchant’s Hotel and every effort was made to preserve the original architecture including rooms with fireplaces and marble counters. (More on that here). You have a choice of fine dining featuring a chef’s choice menu upstairs in what we were assured was a much more private atmosphere but our casual attire would be no issue. Or we could choose to eat on the main level they call the Bistro and had the look of a 50’s era dining establishment but with a nice menu full of delicious looking choices.
We chose the Bistro and found the service to be good and the food to be delicious. While the noise level wasn’t quiet it was decent and certainly well below most other places we walked by on Broadway. (Menu)
Nashville is a great getaway for our region as the drive from Cape Girardeau is approximately 3 ½ hours, the staff every where we went were friendly and professional and made our visit just what we wanted, relaxing and fun!
There is more we want to share with you but we are going to save that for another article as this one has reached the limits of our attention span.