PWI–Parenting While Intoxicated

…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work

Gray’s on Main – Or, the rest of Franklin, you’re doing it wrong…

No drugs... probably

No drugs… probably

Something really bothered me about this place as I started checking Yelp soon after eating there.  It seemed like most of my Yelp Elite pals really dug this place, but that there were a ton of negative reviews from newer reviewers and locals.

It was like there was a conspiracy against this place, and after my meal there, I can’t help but wonder if one of two things were true from those negative viewpoints:

Conspiracy?

Conspiracy?

1. The reviewers were in villainous league with some other local restaurant –  Seems legit, right?

Pieces of flair included

Pieces of flair included

2. The locals were perhaps more aligned with the TGIO’Crapplebees set – I get it.  They don’t have microwaved chicken tenders and High Fructose-arita-tinis.  It’s scary when a place invades your space that provides delicious brandy-based cocktails and beautiful non-commissary foods.

So, where to begin?  From the street, with no research, I thought this place was perhaps a lunch counter-type joint.  When I entered, I was greeted with a hostess stand, a beautiful wood and brick ambiance, and a cool old bar.  They quickly whisked me all the way to the back of the building, to a hallway where I felt I was going to end up in the kitchen washing dishes.  PSYCH.  Next thing I knew they took me up a flight of stairs to the second floor where there was a nice dining area, a bar and a cool stage.

Food, booze and potentially musics

Food, booze and potentially musics

The cocktail program is ridiculous. When the server compared it to Patterson House, I think I scoffed out loud, but after seeing the menu and trying out a drink or two, I can honestly say that they are doing some amazing stuff in the craft cocktail sphere, and they beat the shit out of any other place in town, certainly Red Pony; they give a bunch of places in Nashville a run for the money. They focus very much on brandies, which is something I love, and looking through their selections of cognacs, armagnacs, calvados, you name it – these guys have a very well-curated list including Pierre Ferrand Cognac and Dry Curaçao (I’ve been using their stuff for a few years, but I’ve never before seen it on a menu in town). It should be no surprise that the crew of PourTaste was behind the menu design. I was explaining to my fellow guests how back in the day, most of the US used brandy instead of whiskey – so that Mint Julep or Old Fashioned you love was originally made with cognac instead of bourbon. Our server, Brock, was very well educated and made some outstanding cocktail suggestions, in addition to filling us in on the history of the building.  I didn’t get to try their “French Press Cocktails” but have been messing with a hot cocktail infusion siphon for the past few months. So while I get the concept, I am amazed that someone is trying it in a commercial setting, and again, like nothing else anyone is doing in town. Which may anger the denizens of Franklin in Spring Hill because it isn’t some shitty cocktail made with vodka that is flavored from a chemical factory in New Jersey. Or shitty draft beer. Whatever the hell it is that the mouth-breathers feel doesn’t make this place “Country Mc Fried and Stuffed Buffet” or whatever else it is they are accustomed to.

Preservationist - Calvados, amaro, bourbon, orange/fig shrub and lemon

Preservationist – Calvados, amaro, bourbon, orange/fig shrub and lemon

While Brock steered me hard toward the “Burnt Brandy and Peach” cocktail, something just sucked me into the “Preservationist” and one of my dining companions opted for their version of a Moscow Mule, the “Mae Love Mule”, and it was tasty and served in a perfect mule cup, see below.  The Preservationist was awesome – calvados is just perfect for the colder months and I loved how all of the different flavors played of the slight bitterness of the shrub.

Batavia arrack, pear brandy, lime and ginger beer

Batavia arrack, pear brandy, lime and ginger beer – in a perfect copper mug that I tried my best to steal…

Oh yes, we came there to eat food.  How did that go down?

Fried pimento cheese with moonshine pepper jelly

Fried pimento cheese with moonshine pepper jelly

The server aimed us toward the fried pimento cheese balls and this was not a mistake, because this is what happens after you cut into them:

Fried gold

Fried gold

Absolutely delicious, perfectly fried and the pepper jelly was a great touch – none were left behind…
Someone ordered the truffled fries because you kind of have to.

Fries + KC's hand

Fries + KC’s hand

They were great too, and clearly fresh.  By this point we were considering our options for the main courses and I was able to sneak in some corn bacon chowder because it was colder than you could imagine outside, and I needed some more saturated fat to stick to my bones – here’s what they delivered:

Presentation was fantastic

Presentation was fantastic!

And that chowder was exactly what the doctor ordered – warm, rich and savory.  The bacon was a great touch.
For the main courses, I opted for the Chicken Pot Pie (again, sticking to the comfort food motif), she ordered the shrimp and grits (with a secret ramekin on the side), and he went for the burger – let’s see who won:

Mine - Chicken pot pie in filo with haricot verts

Mine – Chicken pot pie in filo with haricot verts

Hers - Shrimp served atop cheddar grit cakes and greens

Hers – Shrimp served atop cheddar grit cakes and greens

His - Duke Burger with country ham, house made pickles and pimento cheese

His – Duke Burger with country ham, house made pickles and pimento cheese

I mean, while all of us clearly made excellent choices, I won.  But at least they tried.  The chicken pot pie was encased in its own filo dough bowl and it was just the perfect creamy taste of home I was looking for.

I finished my meal which was made even better with great company, and struggled out into the cold, hateful world outside and realized it was up to me to tell everyone I could about what a great place this joint is.  And for the poor sorry schmucks who can’t appreciate this place, I will gladly take it in my part of town any time.  Props to our server Brock who was attentive, well-informed and expedient and the half-dozen people that checked on us during the meal really wanted to make sure we were taken care of.

Great food, great service, and badass cocktails all served in a venue that is loaded down with character;  I can’t wait to get back here.

Gray's on Main on Urbanspoon

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About Sparky

Sparky is a salaryman for an unspecified Fortune 200 company. But more importantly, he has a smoking jacket and entertains fellow bon vivants in his secret lair, The Manitarium. He believes in booze, charcuterie, bbq, bourbon, villainy, craft cocktails, ascots, the Oxford comma, and freedom. He is married to a beautiful attorney who is a life-long vegetarian and was raised as an experiment by her meddling nutrition scientist parents. He can be found trying to save his kids from a life of vegetables...

8 comments on “Gray’s on Main – Or, the rest of Franklin, you’re doing it wrong…

  1. CAC
    January 24, 2014

    This looks delicious. Chicken Pot Pie with filo dough? YES PLEASE!

    Here’s a third theory for you on the negative yelp reviews: locals also love this place, but they don’t want the unwashed city folk from Nashville invading their pristine Franklin, so they are purposely sabotaging them with Negative reviews in order to keep Gray’s On Main to themselves.

    • Sparky
      January 24, 2014

      Clay – your guess could be correct. I’m all about wacky conspiracy theories…

    • Ondrea
      January 24, 2014

      Wow, I agree with everything you said about Gray’s food and cocktails, however, I think you were a bit harsh on the locals. We are not all mouth breathers who like chain restaurants. Just sayin…. Plus, I thought it was widely known that Yelp is about as accurate as Wikipedia when it comes to “fact gathering”. I know lots of spots in downtown Franklin (not just food) that have been trashed on Yelp for various dubious reasons, all related to our own conspiracy theories.

      • Sparky
        January 24, 2014

        The fine denizens of Franklin are good in my book. Just not the ones who don’t appreciate the good things in life. Like the peeps who trashed this joint. God bless Murica!

    • jantodd
      January 25, 2014

      I love this theory!

  2. Laurie
    January 24, 2014

    We live in Chicago so food and drink is something we take quite seriously. Gray’s knows their stuff and is our first stop while in Nashville! Next time try the chicken and waffles – it is truly life changing!

  3. Munka
    January 25, 2014

    Red Pony is horrible and needs new bartenders that know their place. Grays rules!

  4. Aubrey
    January 27, 2014

    I live in Franklin, and I love Gray’s! I’ve been to a private event there, been to events that they’ve catered, and been the restaurant on my own. I love their cocktails, very unique!

    To me, as more recent transplant to the area, it seems if something really great opens locally (especially with the fanfare Gray’s received) it is preferred to downplay how great it is so *you* don’t have to wait too long for a table. 🙂 On weekends when the downtown Franklin area is teeming with tourists, the locals can get a little annoyed by the traffic and wait times. That said, downtown Franklin couldn’t thrive without those tourists, so it’s a Catch-22.

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2014 by in Where Are We Eating? and tagged , , , , , , , .
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