Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

November 20, 2007

I'll be Bach

The Symphony Cafe
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
One Symphony Place
Nashville, TN
10 am - 2 pm M-F and
2 hrs before evening performances

Schermerhorn Symphony Center Courtyard

It was last Friday, it was 1 pm, and I was plugging away at work. I was getting into a funk, and decided I really needed lunch, and I was going to treat myself to a really nice lunch. But where? So, I got up, and started walking towards downtown. I thought to myself, great dining is a full body experience, and it includes great surroundings, great traditions, and great service on top of great food. It is possible to have such great food and traditions, that surroundings and service are secondary, and sometimes inconsequential. I mean, most excellent Chinese restaurants in NYC are hole in the walls, would not want to use the bathroom, no atmosphere kind of places, but the food just blows you out of the water, and you go back for more. Is it possible to have mediocre food and service, and want to go back because of the great surroundings and traditions? It may be a rarity at best, but I think I found a place in Nashville with average food, but the surroundings and traditions just beckon me to come again.

Front of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

On Friday, I found myself walking into the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and I heard there was a little Symphony Cafe in the building. On my approach to the front of the building, I notices really nice architecture in a European, old world style, and a really nice fountain. For a moment, I was transported to France in my mind, hoping for a great baguette sandwich made with air dried cured meats and a soft cheese. My anticipation grew.

Backside of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center

I walked into the door, and asked the ticket desk folks where the cafe was. They pointed me down a marble lined hallway that led to the main atrium lobby. The hallway was lovely, and it was just an access hallway from the ticket desk. The hallway had giant windows facing the courtyard, so bright light streamed in to the space which reminded me walking through a French castle, like Fountainebleau, with a grand ballroom with a wall of large door/windows that overlook the gardens out back. On the inside wall of the hallway were photos, framed art and framed posters that were perfectly picked to provide a real privileged and cultured feel. I was kind of pinching myself because I am just a working stiff looking for lunch, yet I felt like I was transported to the lap of luxury, wealth and privilege.

So, I found the little Cafe counter. It run by a food service group out of Texas, and is owned by the Nashville Symphony. The food, well, it is suspiciously like pre-made food distributor food that gets served at large convention centers or at the generic food counters at the airport. The offerings are tuna, turkey, cheese or ham sandwiches, and salads including fruit, chicken, macaroni and potato salad. Coffee offered is from Seattle's Best Coffee company. I opted for a 3 salad combo, and I got macaroni, chicken and fruit on a handful of bagged iceburg lettuce mix. Ok, I was underwhelmed with the food, but I just needed the calories at this point.

What I decided about this meal was that it wasn't going to be about the food, it was going to be about the surroundings and traditions. I took my plastic plate out to the courtyard, and enjoyed the fountain, the statues, and the sunshine. No one was sitting in the courtyard but me. I took in the beautiful building named after our late great Nashville Symphony Music Director Maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn. The building was obviously designed with care to honor the memory of Kenneth Schermerhorn, and I really felt that sitting there. The building and surroundings suspended me in another place for just the few moments I sat in the courtyard with my plate. That place was a romantic, quiet, beautiful place with fragrant flowers and fruit, and cordial people who are living in the present and appreciating the beauty around them.

When it was time for me to go, I picked up may plate of food, and walked out of the courtyard through the open gate, and onto 4th Ave So. I felt like Chance Gardener, as he took his first steps out of the Old Man's house onto the mean streets of Washington D.C. After each step I took further away from the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the rude awaking of reality grew. I will be Bach Schermerhorn Symphony Center, so you can take me away to that lovely place, be it only a few minutes at a time.

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