She ate


As someone who grew up in REO Town, few things thrill me more than seeing the revitalization of that area of the city. But I’m guilty of going to the same places time after time — or letting weeks pass without patronizing any restaurant at all because life gets busy. One of the biggest perks of writing this column is the built-in reason to try new favorite restaurants I would have never tried otherwise, like Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine and Naing Myanmar Family Restaurant. Along with that are necessary visits to places I know I will like but haven’t made an effort to try, which is the case with Ellison Brewery and Spirits. The REO Town location, to be specific.

To be honest, I didn’t even have a firm grasp on whether the place was open. It is, and it’s gorgeous. A 30-year friend and I both left our downtown offices one recent weekday and hopped in his truck for the short drive to Ellison, and we were happy to have our orders taken quickly and to receive attentive service. Upon a recommendation from our server, I chose the Nashville Hot Yardbird sandwich ($15) with truffle fries.

After my recent experience with the fried chicken sandwich at the Jolly Pumpkin, I have a newfound affinity for them. Ellison’s is slathered with hot honey, which is perfectly spicy and sweet. The chicken is juicy and not overbreaded, and the bun is lightly crispy.

But the fries. Oh baby, the fries. Shatteringly crispy. Perfectly salted. Fragrant with the scent of truffle. I’ve eaten a lot of low-rent fries in my life, but these dwell in the penthouse.

During a weekend visit, Mr. She Ate and I loaded up the babies and met my dad and his wife for evening pizza. Contrary to the kind of mother I thought I would be, I don’t bring my children to fine-dining establishments and expect them to sit silently, screen-free, as they eat their Caesar salad and salmon. My children would never eat those things, they know how to use the iPad themselves, and we only allow them to go to places where they will not be the loudest people present.

Ellison is a perfect restaurant for the whole family — it’s cavernous, my son loved the beanbag-toss game he could play with Papa while we waited for our food, and my daughter loved that we were sitting on a couch where she could comfortably play with the Barbies that I recently purchased for her after falling in love with the movie.

Can we talk about that movie for a moment? I haven’t seen a movie in five years, but I knew I had to see this one. On a weeknight, we put the kids to bed and went to a 9:30 p.m. show. I was sleepwalking for the rest of the week, but it was worth it. I cried within the first five minutes, starting when Lawyer Barbie said, “This makes me emotional, and I’m expressing it. I have no difficulty holding both logic and emotion at the same time, and it does not diminish my powers. It expands them.” Imagine what this country would look like if that were accepted for the truth it is.  

Let’s turn our attention to the pizza. We ordered a veritable buffet of pies to try. Of the Four Cheese ($14), Double Pepperoni, Goat Hallow and Doner Kabob pizzas (all $16), my favorite is the Goat Hallow. The pie is topped with goat cheese, figs, prosciutto, caramelized onions, arugula and a balsamic vinegar drizzle, and that combination of savory and sweet is very much on brand for me. I hesitantly tried the Doner Kabob pizza, but any hesitation on my part was unnecessary. It’s essentially a differently presented gyro, and if you like gyros, you will like this.

My daughter gobbled up several breadsticks ($9) while her brother inhaled an entire order of fries ($3). The adults enjoyed the fried pickle appetizer ($9), an item that always makes me remember the first time I had them at a long-defunct restaurant and bar called Enzo’s that was open for a short time near Chandler Crossings during my undergraduate years.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I am preparing for an open-water swim event with a girlfriend of mine in a few weeks, and Mr. She Ate and I recently headed to my family cottage for the day so I could swim across the lake and back in preparation. I called in a takeout order for breakfast before we left town, and after we got the children where they needed to be, we hit the highway and opened our containers.

I chose the Speed Wagon Breakfast Sandwich ($10), which includes a fried egg, arugula, sliced red onion, sliced tomato, avocado and goat cheese on an English muffin. I ate it because I was about to swim a few miles, but the sandwich is basically flavorless.

Mr. She Ate chose the QD Donut Sandwich ($13), which consists of sausage, cheese and a fried egg on a sliced glazed donut. I’m afraid of what something like this would do to my GI tract, so I only sampled a bite, but this combination is slammin’. The breakfast sandwiches also come with home fries, which appear nowhere on the menu but are worth mentioning.

If you’re looking for a new pizza to try, check out Ellison. The space is beautiful, and the outdoor seating can be enjoyed for a few more months.


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