OMG its OMBI!
The other day, two of my friends took me out for my birthday for dinner. They had already lavished me with gifts, and dinner was just going to be gravy, figuratively, and in a way, literally as well. One suggested Ombi, and I said, "Sure thing! I have been wanting to try this place for a long time!" As we approached Ombi, I was taken aback by how cool the place is to look at, and I was imagining how expensive it would be as the the entryway would suggest. To my surprise, as we were seated, the menu has more than 60% of the menu under $10, 25% of the menu under $20, and the few items (like rack of lamb) are under $28. Most of the menu is quite reasonable in price, but high on quality, uniqueness, preparation, and whimsy.
All of the small plates, soup and salads are under $6, and include gravlax, pate, chicken livers with homemade tomato jam, fresh grilled sardines (what a treat!), arugula salad, and grilled oysters on the 1/2 shell. Mixing and matching three of these, for example, one small plate, a bowl of soup and a salad, including tax, you are still under $20. Believe me, this is enough food to make me waddle out of Ombi stuffed and happy.
I usually don't talk about price, but I was blown away at the fresh, local, and organic options that were offered with a reasonable price. For example a fois gras and beef burger large plate is only $15, but on the weekend late night it is only $7.50. To go with that burger and the rest of the menu are innovative libations made up by the bar manager. I did not partake in a mixed cocktail, but I think I need to do that because the saffron pearl onions and the maraschino cherries are made in house! Can you imagine having a Gibson having the aroma and flavor of a saffron onion? Cool!
3 artisan cheeses and flat bread
To start my birthday odyssey, we started off with three small plates of fun food to help us think about what we wanted for dinner. We started off with truffled popcorn, pommes frites, and an artisan cheese plate with dried apricots, spicy mustard and baby spicy gurkens. We just could not stop eating these treats. We were like game show contestants on the TV show Survivor on day 37 when faced with a food reward challenge and winning. It was cheese, fries and popcorn flying into our mouths, as if were ravenously starving. All we could say was, "This stuff is so good! OMG, I think I need to order 2 of these and take them home!" Not until each plate became depleted, did we come up for air and discuss what we wanted for our main meal.
I decided to do a traditional soup and salad for dinner, as well as one friend taking in a salad for dinner, and the other friend opted for the duck confit special. I got a traditional French onion soup and applewood bacon sald with cheve and a red wine shallot vinaigrette. My salad was dressed perfectly, not to heavy, and it let the cheve and baby greens and arugula flavors come through. My onion soup was great because it was not overly salty! I generally do not get French onion soup because it has all that cheese, but it was my birthday dinner, and it was worth every last sip.
I also dove into my friends duck confit dish too. I love shitakes and peas to begin with, and the duck was terrific. It is hard to find a good duck in Nashville. Laura, the chef did a great job with controlling the temperature while cooking the duck because it was soft, moist, and rich. Others in town have claimed to make a confit, but the others just made dry and stringy messes that were more about being quickly deep fried than slow cooked. Ombi's Chef Laura kept the temperature down over a long time, and the duck cooking in the fat never "boiled" and never released the moisture within it, leaving a smooth and melted in my mouth dish.
I have to mention the room, which is lovely. There are three distinct areas, the bar, the dining room and the chef's bar. I think I would like to go back when Chef Laura is cooking, and sit at the chef's bar to watch. The architecture of the room is very much like what you might find in a slick Philadelphia restaurant, like Morimotos, and the room is really well done.
I have one regret, and that is that I have not tried this place sooner. In the beginning, Ombi opened at night, while during the morning Le Peep was open in the same space. It was a strange thing to have a restaurant space do double duty. After a year or more of sharing the space, Le Peep is gone, and only Ombi remains. My former and pre-conceived notion about Ombi was that was just an extension of Le Peep. I really don't care for Le Peep because the food has really deteriorated down to skillet egg dishes that remind me of Bob Evan's breakfast skillets made with food service frozen cubed potatoes, cubed onions and peppers and waxy cheese, and some high school kid in the back putting no care in constructing the dish. Was I all wrong about Ombi, and I am so so happy to be set straight. I am sorry to have had such baseless thoughts about Ombi, and I am sorry it took me so long to try Ombi. Ombi is quite fantastic, and you better believe I will be back to bask in the food.
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Labels: Nashville Eats