…And the winner for Best Coffeehouse in the Nashville Scene’s Best of 2013 is…Frothy Monkey!
Middle Tennesseans have relied upon Frothy Monkey to serve a delicious cup of coffee and beautiful, locally sourced breakfasts and lunches for some time now. With soon to be four locations, it’s one of my first choices when someone asks for a business coffee date. Last week, I discovered that Frothy Monkey is also a great dinner destination in 12 South AND Franklin! True to their mantra, “The Breakfast Through Dinner Coffeehouse”.
Driving into charming Downtown Franklin, my friend Kathryn and I were anxious to attend Frothy Monkey’s monthly wine dinner. October was just the right time for “Chilean Wine Love” which featured The Excelsior Wine Portfolio and six seasonal courses spotlighting Chef Chase Ingalls talent. Arriving a little early, we were able to enjoy one of their house recommended wines while taking in some of the local artwork and cozy atmosphere of the downstairs of this turn of the century bungalow.
It wasn’t long before Ingalls came out of the kitchen with a huge butcher board of hor dourves enticing us up the stairs for an evening full of delicious food and wine. There was Belgian Endive stuffed with a filling that gave a nod to the classic Waldorf salad. House-Made Phyllo stuffed with crab and mango was Kathryn’s favorite. Yes, you heard me right! Ingalls makes his own phyllo! I am a sucker for deviled eggs and often will consider them as a barometer for a chef’s style. This is one chef that has creative patience. The Truffle Quail Deviled Eggs with Paddlefish Roe was undoubtedly my favorite of the appetizer course. The hint of truffle finished with the salty roe was paired with the Coastal White Blend of Chardonnay and Moscato from Concha Y Toro Casillero which had notes of honey and spice.
First dinner course was Foie Gras with a dandelion fennel salad and roasted beet puree. The earthiness of the beets and minerality of the fois gras found balance with the herbaceous dandelions and fennel. Chef Chase was bold in his presentation of Foie Gras, but by executing restraint he allowed the Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Concha Y Toro to be star of the course.
Bear Creek Farms is located just down the road from Frothy Monkey and was featured in the second course. Crispy Pork Belly with Roasted Melon Confit and Corn Anglaise was paired with the Carmaenere, Concha Y Tora Marques. At first, Kathryn and I were puzzled by Ingalls choice of melon for a fall dish. The fat of the pork with the melon tasted almost herbal. You can never go wrong with pork belly and corn, but melon? It wasn’t until the last bite that I had a moment of eureka. By combining the smokey richness of pork belly and the corn anglaise with the last taste of a season by-gone in the melon, Chase introduced a sense of reminisce.
Up next was a Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Stuffed Quail with Herbed Turnip Puree and Lemongrass-Basil Chimichurri. The basil and lemongrass were a nice touch to lead us into the fall season of quail and turnips. I tell ya, Chef has a thing for paying homage to the solstice transition. Justin Mathis of Horizon Spirits introduced the best wine pairing of the evening. He referred to the Chardonnay, Concha Y Toro Gran Reserva as the “Bad ass of the bad asses.” I tasted apples and very little oak which went perfect with the luscious quail breast.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, Concha Y Toro Marques is somewhat of the Choncha Family’s “Baby.” It certainly complemented the fourth course of Pomegranate-Braised Bison Short Ribs and Potato Lyonnaise with a Thyme Demi. Pomegranates are the Mack Daddy of fall and winter fruits. They can be stored for months which lend themselves to dishes wanting to show off during a season that is otherwise barren of fresh fruits. By now, dinner guests conversation filled the room. It tickled me to hear talk of the Franklin Farmers Market, greenhouses and supper clubs. With each clank of a wine glass being raised in a cheer, I was inspired by Frothy Monkey’s vision of community. With full bellies, Kathryn and I somehow could not stop eating those potatoes!
The dessert course of Chocolate Puff Pastry, Espresso and Almond Buttercream and Amaretto Cherries Tartare was lead baker, Jennifer Mello’s creation. It was paired with co-owner Jeff Gibb’s house made cola, fernet blanca ice cream and coffee. Frothy Monkey always has such a playful side. This course brought back childhood memories that made me smile. Chef Ingalls chuckled a bit as he said, “I didn’t do the desserts, that’s why they were the best.”
There are five partners in the Frothy Monkey family. Jeff Gibbs is all things coffee. Heather Southerland is in the front of the house with service. Chef Chase Ingalls is in the back of the house focusing on high quality food. Restaurant veteran Rich May rounds out the team by adding experience. Ryan Pruitt describes his role as “keeping the train on the tracks.” The whole team’s commitment to partnerships and relationships is a big reason why I love these folks. Frothy Monkey is way more than “Best Coffeehouse of Nashville 2013.” But don’t just take my word for it, go experience the difference for yourself!
Written by Melissa D. Corbin- Founder of Corbin In The Dell.