Memorable Meals
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Memorable Meals: Park Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee & Closing Out Our Trip

I’ve been posting a lot about our recent road trip to Kentucky and Tennessee and it culminates today with a post about the final night on our trip.

We succeeded in our goal of bonding and finding our heritage but I know I speak for our group when I say that one of the most unexpected highlights were the friends we made along the way.

This post should really be called Just One of Those Nights.  It was so much more than just the meal.  Let me set up the precursor to the meal.  Let’s call it the appetizer.

The “appetizer” started two days prior when encountered three of the most fun people at our bed and breakfast in Louisville, Kentucky.  We met Derek, Lynn, and Kevin during our first night in Louisville and enjoyed breakfast with them the next morning.  Needless to say breakfast went on for two hours due to all the talking and laughing.  When we told the boys our next stop was Nashville, Derek and Lynn announced they were from Nashville and graciously invited us to their home for drinks the last night of our trip.

Breakfast at the Mansion

Not a group to miss out on an offer like that, we all accepted.  In the interim, we cruised around Kentucky in our rented mini van eating boiled peanuts from gas stations out of styrofoam cups.  That may seem like a weird detail at this point in the story but I want you to take note of it nonetheless.  P.S. Boiled peanuts are amazing.  Eat them the next chance you get.

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

Our final night in Nashville, we met Derek and Lynn at their beautiful home.  We were greeted with drinks and had a fabulous tour of their residence.

Now is as good a time as any to tell you…if you’re going to spend more than 5 minutes with these men prepare for sore cheeks and lack of oxygen.  I think that night was nothing but a long continuous laugh from all of us.  No one could breathe.  There were tears.  None of us have ever laughed that hard in our lives.  The night started with tiaras and wine and ended with my aunt asking to move in and shots of Tuaca.

Lynn & Derek Home

Yes, that is my grandmother in a tiara. It was that kind of night.

The tour culminated in their to-die-for garden and party patio.  I don’t know if they call it the party patio but I do.  I mean, c’mon…wouldn’t you?!?

Lynn & Derek GardenAs we headed out for dinner, Derek and Lynn offered to drive and as their garage doors opened our jaws hit the ground.  A Rolls Royce and Lexus appeared and we were chauffeured to the restaurant.

Rolls Royce

Am I in a movie?  Who does this happen to?  Remember earlier when I said we cruised around on our trip in a rented mini van, eating boiled peanuts out of styrofoam cups?  Less than 48 hours later, we’ve made fabulous new friends who are chauffeuring us to dinner in a Rolls Royce.

Peanuts to Car Trays

Ever pull up to a valet stand in a Rolls Royce?  You feel like you’re a size 2 in a flaming red dress.  Then you realize people are gawking at the car.  But that’s ok!  It still feels pretty darn awesome.

Now, onto to the meal.

This was DEFINITELY just one of those meals.  We got back from our trip in mid-June and we’re still talking about it.  Derek and Lynn chose the Park Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee and let me breakdown what everyone enjoyed (I apologize for the photo quality.  The lighting was low and we were all REALLY hungry):

My Mother: Diver Scallop, Parsnip Puree, Capers, Orange Supremes, Spiced Pistachio, Arugula, Orange Caramel

Park Cafe Scallops

My Sister: 12 oz Pork Porterhouse, Chili Creamed Corn, Swiss Chard, Andouille, Pickled Peaches, Peach Moonshine Jus

My Grandmother: 8 oz New York Strip, Potato Pave, Broccoli Rabe, Smoked Vidalia Onion, Black Garlic Puree

Park Cafe Steak

Lynn: Pan Roasted Salmon, Coconut Rice, Szechuan Green Beans, Sweet Chili Plum Sauce, Grilled Lime, Wontons

Derek: Smoked Ham Shank (special for the evening and I wish I remembered all of the delicious ingredients)

Park Cafe Ham Shank

My Aunt & I: Pan Roasted Chicken Breast, Popcorn Grits, Charred Cauliflower, Smoked Pecan Relish, Gazpacho Puree, Salsa Verde

Park Cafe Pan Roasted Chicken

The only time our group was quiet was for the first 15 seconds of eating our meal.  Shortly after, the laughter and emoting over our food picked right back up.  We all had a taste of everyone’s dinner and I couldn’t believe how fantastic EVERY dish was.  Each dish had great balance of salt, sweet, sour, and bitter.  It was food at its best.  Usually I can pick a favorite entree but all were so good I could’ve moved right into the restaurant and eaten for days.  Derek and Lynn knocked it out of the park with their restaurant pick.

If I had a gun to my head and was forced to pick the absolute best thing that passed my lips, it would have to be the popcorn grits served with the pan roasted chicken.  I love grits.  I’ve enjoyed them for years.  These were the absolute best I’ve ever had.  The flavor was incredibly deep and rich-the perfect accompaniment to the sharp gazpacho and smoky pecans.

At the end of the meal, Derek looked at my sister and I and asked what this trip meant to us.  Being the “young-ins” of the group, he wanted to hear our perspective on the journey and what we were taking away.

After rubbing my cheeks to ease the pain of laughing, I told him this trip has meant the world to us.

6 months ago we had no idea we were related to a whiskey baron who gave Jack Daniel’s a run for their money.

3 days ago I stood in the yards and driveways of homes where my grandmother grew up and listened to her Southern accent come right back as if it never left.

2 days ago I’d won my first trifecta bet and stood on Millionaires Row while sharing mint juleps with ladies I love.

1 day ago I stood in the spot where my great-great-great grandfather started his business from nothing.

Earlier in the day, I’d seen my grandmother meet her aunt (even if they are only 7 years apart!) for the first time.

And at that very moment I was sharing a meal with new life long friends.

I want my world to be comprised of memories, smiles, and laughs; with an appreciation for family and where I come from, coupled with new friends and bright futures.

This trip and the people in it mean the world to me.

Park Cafe

4403 Murphy Road

Nashville, TN 37209


Filed under: Memorable Meals


Writer of recipes. Storyteller with a food twist. Sarcasm/humor served on the side.

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