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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing Manager at HealthTrust. Social media junkie, strategist, and app idea guy. Hockey fan, photographer, and father to 2 awesome boys.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

my alley cat review

Nashville Restaurants just got through posting a review of Alley Cat over here in East Nashville. I could not keep silent. My review (rebuttal) follows:

The food is very good, though a little confused at times (i'll get to that in a second). Most of all, i have to argue this place as "tex-mex" or a "grill". It is neither. It is more a fancy french-style restaurant's take on foods that share names in common with tex-mex foods. While excellent, very little on their menu is really tex-mex. The fajitas in particular are very mixed up. They are, strickly speaking, accurate insofar as they are beef with veggies served with tortillas. However, the beef is not marinated skirt or even flank steak, but brisket. Some of the best smoked brisket i've had outsite of central Texas mind you, but brisket none the less. Completely wrong for fajitas, and ruined as great brisket by the veggies. It turns out to be an interesting meal worth eating, but not what i'm looking for when i order fajitas.

Their greatest failure remains the value however. This is why they fit into the fancy french restaurant category as far as i'm concerned (though fail there as the atmosphere and service is inconsistent with the size of the inevitable bill). The portions are small, and - worst of all - they charge for chips and salsa. Now, this is some of the best salsa i've ever had in my life - and i'm a frequent tex-mex eater that grew up in San Antonio. This salsa is amazing. It also costs about $5 to order. Unforgivable. If they sold it by the 20oz bottle on the way out the door i might pay $20 for the stuff, but when i sit down at the table and place an order for $40-$50 worth of "tex-mex" for 2 people, i darn well expect to get chips and salsa gratis.

To give you an example of how much in the fancy-smanshy category this place is: on my first visit there i ordered the scallops. I forget exactly what they called them, but they were essentially seared scallops with a cilatro-based sauce. Excellent...all 4 of them. They were big scallops, but it took me precisely 8 bites and i had finished my meal, while my wife was just starting into her dinner.

[added, not in original comment]
However, it is not a nice restaurant. The service has always been very very slow (we've been 3 times) and the atmosphere inside borders on a dive bar. Outside on the patio (where we always sit) is nicer, but extremely casual. Like we're sitting on someone's back porch. A nice back porch if it was a neighbors, but not a nice restaurant.
[/finish add]

If this place was nicer (like, say a Trace or Eastland Cafe vibe) and quit pretending like they were a tex-mex grill, then i'd be all for it. As it is, i just can't justify it or tolerate it. Even for that oh-so-wonderful salsa.

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