167 Rosa Parks Blvd (formerly 8th Ave North)
The little history I know about this place, The Standard Restaurant, is that when I first moved here, was that the building was and is beautiful and has retained its 1800's architecture splendor. It was once a bed and breakfast, and lunch room when I moved here in 1997-2004. The lunch room was called the Towne House Tea Room, and there was this older woman who ran the front of the house. I wish I knew here name. She never cracked a smile, she was all business. The gig was that if you wanted to eat lunch there, you must wait at the front door until it was your turn to take a little tour of the 1st floor and both hot and cold buffet lines with the woman. She had this slow southern gentry accent when she described each buffet item in detail, and then she would finish her tour and speech with, "And you may order off the menu if you like." The food was ok back then, but the southern tradition was strong, and the routine of the tour and description of the buffet was legendary and comforting.
By the time the Tea House closed, I think the building and dining room had shown its age, wear and tear. In 2005, the Smith family bought the place and restored it to its original 1800's splendor. The dining rooms are bright with new chandeliers, the hardwood refinished, the walls painted with bright white trim, and the menu revamped to honor southern traditions in best possible ways.
I have been to the new Standard Restaurant a few times for lunch, and I would say that it is like a place where Southern women who "lunch" would go, but the menu has a wider appeal than that. There a quite a few lovely salads, hearty soups, Southern fried chicken, various substantial sandwiches like a club or French dip that would satisfy any big appetite, and the piece de resistance - The Southern Hot Brown.
The Southern Hot Brown, from what I understand was invented at the Historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY. The Brown Hotel is Louisville answer to the historic and traditional luxury hotel as the Hermitage Hotel is to Nashville. The Standard Restaurant has embraced the Hot Brown Southern tradition and made a variation that is all their own. The Standard's Hot Brown is a hot open-faced turkey and ham sandwich with an addicting cheesy cream sauce ladled over the sandwich. The Standard's plate is served with tomatoes and kettle chips.
The Smith family did a fantastic job restoring (not just renovating) this historic building in Nashville. I don't believe there is any other building in downtown Nashville that has been restored with such respect for the building and the history that lived in the building. The care and 200 years of life and people are palpable the second I step into the front door. I feel like the energy in the Smith House is guiding me to feel happy, there were a lot of happy times in the building, and that the building is special and deserves my care and respect so it may live on for another 100 years at least. It makes me feel like I am a part of making history in the Standard Restaurant at the Smith House, as well as honoring all those who have graced the grounds of this building. Eating and tasting the Southern Hot Brown sandwich that the Standard Restaurant offers just seals the deal for me that I am honoring a Southern culinary delight. Having lunch at the Standard Restaurant reminds me that Southern history, Southern food, and Southern traditions are important, are valid and should be embraced as an equal to any other tradition.
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The Standard Restaurant
Labels: Nashville Eats