If Eat It, Tennessee ratings were based on atmosphere, this place would be AT LEAST 4 stars. It is comfortable, quaint, welcoming, and fun. The decor is a cross between hipster chic and 50s diner… actually that probably isn’t doing it justice, but it is fun, approachable, and welcoming- you just need to experience it for yourself!
The Family Wash is probably best known for two things: live music every night, and “Pint and Pie Night” on Tuesdays when you can get a Shepard’s Pie and a beer for only $10. This is a great value, as the Shepard’s Pie usually goes for around $10 by itself.
We had 7pm reservations on a Friday evening, the same time as the first of two musical acts that night. Having never been to The Wash before, I was curious what the music would be like. I had visions of loud, energetic music distracting from the dining experience and drowning out conversation. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. The music on this night was soft, mellow, and fun- but not so loud as to detract from the food or the company, even at a table right in front of the stage. The music was provided by Los Delgados, a small band of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Spanish influence. They were friendly and skilled and complemented our dinner wonderfully. I really enjoyed the music, almost all of which (including their last number, a cover of Frank Sinatra) had lyrics in Spanish.
Ok ok, enough about the atmosphere and the music, what about the FOOD!?
I’ve heard a lot about The Wash’s Shepherd’s Pie, so even though it wasn’t Pint & Pie night, I had to go with the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. My wife went with meatloaf. Two hearty dinner’s for a cool winter night. Aside from these two staples, they also offer pizzas, several sandwiches, other adaptations of the traditional Shepherds Pie, and a few other entrees- a relatively small menu, but that’s not necessarily bad, and not unexpected for a small place like this.
The food came out quickly, and I was immediately surprised to see the Shepherd’s Pie served in a deep dish aluminum pan. It was the same kind of pan that some places use for takeout, almost resembling a bigger frozen chicken pot pie pan. It seemed a little cheap, but I’m sure it’s an easier way to cook and serve Shepherd’s Pie than using a “fancy” dish. I wouldn’t hold this against the food, but unfortunately the Pie failed to surpass the standards of its vessel. I was hoping for rich, meaty flavor and savory vegetables. The pie was mostly potatoes and cheese- not necessarily bad, but it was definitely more bland than I expected. I realize that this may be a somewhat authentic rendition of Shepherd’s pie, but I was hoping for a little more flavor (and meat) from an entree that is so well known at The Wash. The meatloaf on the other hand was fantastic. I definitely had food envy! Luckily for me, my wife grew up with siblings and knows how to share (and has a smaller appetite than me). The meatloaf was tender, juicy and loaded with flavor. It had a rich, gravy-like sauce and really hit the spot. Its tough to identify all the specific ingredients in meatloaf, but suffice to say, this one was very good.
I really enjoyed my night at The Family Wash, and I definitely plan to return. However, I did leave feeling a little bit disappointed. Its such a cool place, with awesome atmosphere, great music, friendly staff, and a welcoming vibe. But the Shepherd’s Pie just let me down. If I return on Pint & Pie night, I’ll probably give the Pie one more try (tough to turn down that deal) but if I’m back on another night I’ll try a different entree, or go with the meatloaf. I’d definitely encourage you to give The Family Wash a try for a relaxing meal or a cold beer accompanied by great music. I can’t recommend the Shepherd’s Pie, but you won’t be disappointed with the meatloaf, and several other options looked appetizing.