Archive | April, 2011

The Fontanel Farmhouse Restaurant: Country Breakfast Fresh From the Farm

15 Apr The Fontanel Farmhouse

A few months ago, I was invited to enjoy breakfast at The Fontanel Farmhouse Restaurant. This isn’t somewhere I would typically venture to on my own, mainly because its address is Whites Creek, Tennessee, and that sounded really far away. Wrong. From the east side, I just cruised north (west?) on Briley, exited at Whites Creek and almost zoomed right past it. Definitely closer than Franklin or even Brentwood, and probably about as quick of a drive as going to Hillsboro Village with about 75% less traffic and none of the parking issues.

Now that I know the Fontanel isn’t out of the way, I’ve been wanting to go back there, and I will, once I use up some of my other Groupons and Living Social deals. Not that it’s expensive at all – you can get brunch and a drink for less than $15. In fact, two restaurant comparisons immediately come to mind: the Loveless Café and Cracker Barrel. And the Fontanel is better than both. (Note that I have deep-seated opinions about both: I think Loveless is overrated but will save that for another day, and I wrote a magazine-length feature on Cracker Barrel in college, during which a visit to the Lebanon store made me break out in hives.)

The Fontanel Farmhouse

The Fontanel Farmhouse is the restaurant segment of the Fontanel Mansion and Farm, which recently opened to the public. I also toured of the mansion, which Country Music Hall of Famer Barbara Mandrell designed in the 1980s, and for a while was the largest log home in America. Or something. Anyway, her closets put Carrie Bradshaw to shame, there’s an indoor pool and a helicopter pad on the front lawn, but my favorite part of the house (if you can call it a house … mansion is a much better moniker) was the shooting range.

But back to brunch. So the reason the Loveless comes to mind might have to do with the fact that they’re somehow linked by the same entity, TomKats. I don’t exactly know the specifics, but when I went I left with a Christmas tin of the Loveless Café’s bacon pecans. Cracker Barrel, my allergic reaction notwithstanding, is the gold standard of country breakfasts, at least for folks who aren’t from the South. But after you’ve tried the Sweet Potato Pancakes with pecan praline syrup and your choice of sausage or bacon ($7.50), you won’t want to go back to Momma’s Pancake Breakfast. At least, I don’t. And their biscuits and gravy, though I didn’t try them myself, has to be better than the gray slop served up by CB. And my big grievance with the Barrel is that they don’t have anything on their breakfast menu with fruit or vegetables, unless you count fried apples (which, albeit, are tasty, though not as good as my granny’s fried apples with red hots). The Fontanel’s breakfast menu includes a garden omelette with sweet corn succotash, tomatoes and goat cheese, as well as a breakfast bruschetta, featuring scrambled eggs topped with roasted tomatoes, pesto and more goat cheese – each just $9 apiece. Of course, their menu is seasonal, so don’t expect sweet corn in December. But that’s an even better reason to try this place – their produce and even their eggs come from local farmers.

In addition to enhancing Nashville’s country cuisine, the Fontanel also has brought an outdoor amphitheater back to Music City (RIP, Starwood). Steve Martin, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top and Steely Dan are among this summer’s eclectic lineup.

Overall, the Fontanel Farmhouse Restaurant is well worth the shorter-than-expected drive to the country. Think of it as Cracker Barrel with a liquor license, or the Loveless Café for folks who live in East Nashville, downtown, Madison, Bordeaux or anywhere other than Belle Meade.

Location: 4225 Whites Creek Pike, Whites Creek, TN 37189