With thanks to Chris Chamberlain of Bites, I got a sneak preview last week of a new restaurant in West Nashville—The Wild Hare. It’s located in that little cottage on White Bridge Road across from Sprintz that’s been empty for years so I was excited when I saw the coming soon sign. And just as I’d hoped, it offers high quality food with lots of vegetarian (and vegan) options and is family-friendly. But it is NOT exclusively vegetarian and should not be confused with The Wild Cow. Plenty of choices for omnivores! This is great news for those of us in the neighborhood who’ve been looking for another place to have good food with the kids.
There’s a large selection of salads and starters (starting at $4), specialty pizzas (cooked in a wood-fired oven), sandwiches, and entrees. And a huge list of side items that includes everything from fries and macaroni and cheese to caramelized Brussels sprouts and summer succotash. All at reasonable prices.
We decided to start with the deviled eggs. These aren’t your grandma’s deviled eggs—they have a bit of smoked jalapeno in the mix (but not too much) and are topped with a thin slice of smoked gouda. Delicious. And even though I am not a fan of okra, I actually liked the accompanying okra pickles. A nice pickle flavor (side note: the regular pickles do have a little too much jalapeno kick to them for my taste but I expect that most people will really like them; Chris liked them enough to take a box of them with him).
Next up, we got The Wild Hare pizza (minus the Benton’s bacon). I loved the caramelized onions and the crust was perfectly charred. The middle was a tiny bit flimsy but not soggy.
We also decided to try a couple of side dishes (and Chris had the catfish, but you’ll have to check with him to find out about that). I had to have the macaroni and cheese and Chris wanted to put the Brussels sprouts to the test. The smoked gouda used in the macaroni and cheese is so rich and smoky (in a good way) that I had to double check that it did not have bacon in it (it doesn’t!).
The Brussels sprouts were quite good (I make them this way at home), but I’d prefer a little more color on mine. Great taste though.
I really, really wanted to try dessert, but after just two eggs, two slices of pizza and less than half of the side dishes, I was about to burst. But I am very much looking forward to the flourless chocolate torte.
On a second visit with my friend, Tabitha, we got the tempura fried vegetables as a starter (yay—no chunk of onion or big broccoli like in most Japanese restaurants) and the smoked jalapeno gouda sauce to accompany it. Note: the sauce comes in a mini cast iron pot to keep it warm and it’s delicious (we also dipped fries in it). Bring a container to take it home with you (or have to sheepishly ask for a to-go cup like I did).
For lunch, I got the wedge salad. It’s got a yummy little disc of fried goat cheese with it which is one of my favorite things. I had mine with Green Goddess dressing (love that this is an option).
I also ordered a small four bean salad for Baby Eats and another order of the smoked gouda mac and cheese. I wanted to branch out, but I just had to have it again. It’s that good. The four bean salad wasn’t quite what I was expecting (I’m thinking of one with a lot more oil and seasoning, but this one was healthier) but a good option for Baby Eats. Though she ended up being most excited over a juice box.
I expect we’ll become regulars as I’m determined to get used to dining out with the kid as she marches toward the terrible twos (The Wild Hare has tile floors and a patient and friendly staff, thank goodness). It helps that there are thoughtful touches aside from the veg-friendly menu—the tap water served is filtered, the high chairs are from Ikea (just like the one we have at home), the booths are large and roomy, and there’s a side room with a long bench that would be great for large parties (and a large family-style table in the main room as well). I also like that it’s an open space with no carpet (as previously noted), so there’s a pleasant din of noise that ensures that the occasional squeal or fuss from Baby Eats won’t be too embarrassing. And there’s a chalkboard wall to entertain older kids. The owners have kids (including a toddler), so I assume that a number of the menu items have been kid-tested (and approved) despite being designed and appropriate for adult tastes.
The owners eventually plan to add a bike rack, a bar, and some outside seating. They’re currently just open for lunch but will be open for dinner soon. Keep up with them on Twitter or Facebook for the latest info (as well as daily specials). And be sure to read Chris's early review on the Bites blog too.