There is a down and dirty diner in the Nashville, and it is the Hermitage. It is not to be confused with The Hermitage, or The Hermitage Hotel, it is the Hermitage Cafe. The Hermitage Cafe (really a diner) old institution is the quintessential diner with a nice butter flavor to all that is fried on the griddle.
I lived in Phila, PA for about a decade, and Phila and Southeast PA were the home of the diner and diner food. When I lived in Phila, me and my friends often turned to the diner for comfort foods, for late night food, and for the scrapple offer to the out of town guest. Oh, the diner, the greasy spoon, the chuck wagon, how I have missed you. It seemed that the PA diner food was always reliable, you knew what you were getting, and I could count on it time and again. There doesn't seem to be that tradition here in Nashville. Nashville may be famous for the Meat and Three, but it is not necessarily a substitute for a good greasy spoon. That is why I am very happy that I finally tried the Hermitage Cafe, a true diner.
As mentioned above, this is a down and dirty place. Well, maybe not dirty, but a very well worn diner. As I imagine the Hermitage Cafe over all the years, the floor is well worn by many happy late night revelers walking in looking for a breakfast meal to sop up some of the revelry beverages they partook in on 2nd Ave. The seats and tables are well worn by hard working 2nd and 3rd shift employees looking for some comfort food before heading home or heading to start their shift. The counter is well worn by hungry music row support staff working to help singer and song writer wannabes make it big. The cook and the waitress have been around for a long time, and they have seen it all. The waitress and cook who are on at 10:30 pm know their regulars, and the cook gets the eggs and toast going, and the waitress gets the coffee and juice beverages on the table just as her regulars sit down. The cook and waitress are the stuff of lore, you just cannot make up these people. They are larger than life. They make my local diner, the Hermitage Cafe, what it is.
As I age, I have become more of a homebody. When I get home from work and the gym, I am more likely to stay home. But, one night recently, even though tomorrows work day was creeping ever closer, I decided to go meet up with some 2nd shift friends, and regulars at the Hermitage Cafe. The waitress was glad to see them, knew their beverage of choice, and knew the plates they normally order. They gave me the lay of the land. I opted for the special breakfast plate. The special breakfast came with hash browns, 2 eggs, 2 meats (sausage or bacon), 2 biscuits and a bowl of white gravy all for less than $6. They got an omelette with bacon, and pancakes and bacon. Everything came out cooked to order by the seasoned short order cook. I commend the cook because it does take talent to make a nice over easy egg. For me, a non-short order cook, I would say I break yolks about 50% of the time when I try to make an over easy egg. It is amazing that this cook makes over easy eggs with out breaking the yolk nearly 100% of the time. My whole meal had this butter flavor that seems to be synonymous with the grease used on the griddle at a typical diner.
It was nice to visit with friends I don't get to see because they are working when I am off from work, and they are getting ready to socialize when I am turning in for bed. It was nice to have that old home town diner experience I long for. It was very comforting to be at this diner.