Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Treehouse: Late Night Playspace

All photos ©2014 Mary Brace all rights reserved
At first, it's difficult what to make of Nashville restaurant The Treehouse: the building has a decades-long history with a well-known musical family in Nashville. When the house was undergoing the transformation from fiddle wizard Buddy Spicher's living quarters to nephew Matt's late-night fine fare, there was a lot of excitement generated for the coming East Nashville opening.

Opening in the fall of 2013, The Treehouse restaurant has now had several months to work out its kinks and establish itself as the East Nashville equivalent to Firefly Grille in Green Hills: a place where many creative people will feel right at home in its funky surroundings. The interior is mostly reclaimed wood, floors and tables both. Lighting is low and warm; seating is a mix of small and large, communal dining, with a few chairs left at the bar which separates the kitchen from the diners. There's also a back patio that I didn't get a good look at because of a passing storm.

My understanding is The Treehouse started as a mostly tapas-style restaurant, so it's no wonder the opening course was the favorite for both myself and my companion. I went for the Home Fries, while she chose Plantains. I'm not a huge potato fan because of texture-to-starch issues or something, meaning, more often than not, potatoes in whatever softish form - french fries, baked, mashed, etc - don't feel good in my mouth. But these potatoes did and whomever hit on this particular formula for prep and cooking deserves applause, and that's not even about the additional seasonings.
The Plantains were also a winner. Prepared with black beans, crema and, hot sauce the bowl had a lot going on, sweet and hot, spice and mild.

From there, though, things went downhill. At the left is fried chicken served with summer veggies and pepper jam. The best thing about it was that the chicken had a perfectly golden, crispy skin. The flavor was just okay, and the overall impression I had, as an eater, was that this was a  rushed dish. In fact, for both myself and my dining companion, who was unimpressed by the Ratatouille, it was worth noting that the entrees came out within about 10 minutes of ordering. I don't expect freshly-made Ratatouille to come out for every order, no, but the veggies in the chicken dish were still hard, and not very flavorful.

For dessert I ordered a tray of marinated cheese that offered parmesan chunks in a light coating of citrus and spice, with Marcona almonds. The cheese was intriguing at first, but after 3 or 4 pieces it seemed less like dessert and more like someone's kitchen experiment.

My companion went back to the snacks menu and had molasses-covered pineapple that was tasty.

Overall impression is this: people who go to The Treehouse for the cool vibe and stick to the tapas-type fare are going to come away thrilled. People whose idea of fine dining includes a full meal, at prices that match the quality, will be dissatisfied.

 $$-$$$ 1011 Clearview Avenue Nashville, TN

The Treehouse on Urbanspoon

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