Well ... since my birthday is on Monday this year, and since Monday is usually a work day,...last night was the big birthday celebration. We had 9 pm reservations for the lovely Margot Cafe, a gem of the eclectic but yet gourmet East Nashville neighborhood. Fifteen minutes after we arrived right on time, we were offered a snack since our table was still not ready. We were served the homemade potato chips (light and crispy like Lays) and the house cured olives with rosemary, orange peel, garlic, and balsalmic vinegar. Both dishes were good but nothing to write home about...(or write a review about), so onward.....
At 9: 30 we sat for dinner and ordered the mixed green lettuce salad with fresh plums and pecans- both great local ingredients, the using of which is a focus of Margot Cafe. It was nice, simple, and a good starter. We then chose the crispy thin crusted pizza with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mild Gorgonzola. It was perfectly executed, as the cheese was melted warm and flavorful and the tomatoes were plump and juicy.
For the entree I excitedly ordered the whole roasted yellow tail snapper. After the first few bites I was less excited and more happy to have at least eaten the delicious pizza and salad. The snapper itself was cooked perfectly. The skin was just charred to a crisp blackness, while the fish was flaky and moist. However, the fish was bland and the accompaniment of fresh tomato, fennel and white rice was not enough to bring me any satisfaction. Who serves white rice in these days of quinoa, risotto, wheat berries, polenta, brown rice....need I go on? The white rice made the dish appear as if the fish had taken so much effort to prepare that it left the chef too tired to think of anything else to serve with it -- a sentiment I have felt many times while cooking at home.
However, the snapper having left us unsatisfied, did nicely leave us room for dessert. We ordered the cherry frangipane tart (which arrived with a single candle in it to mark our celebration). This tart was very similar to the Italian "crostata" as it had great flaky almost cookie-like crust. The almond frangipane provided a distinct and delicious fresh almond taste. The cherries balanced everything nicely, which were naturally sweet and fruity, being perfectly in season.
We capped off the night with a glass of smooth dark herbal Amaro (the Italian digestive). Overall, while not a meal that I will be calling my mother about (my confidant for all things culinary), Cafe Margot has a distinctly sweet and charming atmosphere that can not be found elsewhere in this city of glitz and guitars. Next time you are in the neighborhood, ask for Margot.