Lockeland Table1520 Woodland St. East Nashville lockelandtable.com MENU Reviewed By Clay Dined 2/13/13 & 6/15/13
Lockeland Table is just a couple of blocks from my house, forcing me to drive by daily as the space was being renovated into a new corner restaurant. I was anxious for the restaurant to open, excitedly anticipating the new addition to the neighborhood. They had been open for awhile when we finally had the chance to give them a try for a pre-Valentine’s day dinner. That has been a few months, and I have since been back for a second visit. This review is based on my experiences during both visits.
On the first visit we started with cocktails and appetizers. The cocktails were creative and adventurous, and while they were tasty, they weren’t as good as the cocktails at The Holland House, where we had recently dined as well. For appetizers we went with the skillet cornbread and the special, fried pork tails. The cornbread was served in a mini cast iron skillet and was very moist, but somewhat sour until buttered. It wasn’t bad but I’ve certainly had better. I would skip this and try another of the more interesting appetizers next time. I have to admit that not only had I never eaten fried pork tails before, I’d also never heard of them, so we decided to try something new. They were served over a bed of pulled pork and slaw. The skin was crunchy and surrounded some very fatty, very tender meat with decent flavor. However, the tails were awkward to eat. They seemed to be well prepared, but were not my favorite. I’d rather have had more of the pulled pork shoulder.
For dinner we went with the Niman Ranch bone-in pork loin and the Carolina mountain trout. The pork was served with smoked cheddar mac & cheese, braised greens, and a vidalia onion jam. The greens were excellent! The pork itself was good but not amazing. We’ve had better at other places nearby. The trout was also good, but a tad bland. The sauce helped, but I found myself pulling the meat away from the crispy skin. Trout is one of my favorite types of fish, but I have a habit of comparing every trout entree to the trout at The Village Tavern, which while maybe not the “best ever” is definitely my favorite. The trout at Lockeland Table was good, but not great.
For dessert we had the sweet ricotta doughnuts with homemade jelly filling. These were fantastic! They were served in a white paper bag and were covered in powdered sugar. They were my favorite part of the meal.
On the second visit we had a group of four and were seated at a cozy table tucked into an alcove at the back of the restaurant; near the kitchen, bathrooms, and bar. Fortunately that proximity wasn’t a negative because of the way the space had been designed to create privacy.
This time we started with a bottle of wine and the pork and shrimp dumplings with ninja sauce. These Asian style dumplings were delicious! The dumplings themselves were soft and tender without being overly thick. The filling was fantastic, and so was the sauce. I could have easily eaten a dozen of those!
The grilled Hereford NY strip was my entree of choice. Served atop green beans, sweet tomato and almond sauté, and chimichurri, it not only sounded delicious but looked absolutely delectable when it came out of the kitchen. The flavors all came together beautifully, the veggies and sauce had wonderful flavors that perfectly complimented each other and the steak which was excellently seasoned. Unfortunately, the steak was a little undercooked, and also tough and chewy. There wasn’t a visible ring or vein of fat, but practically every bite was just too tough and difficult to chew. It really ruined an otherwise amazing steak. This steak could have been perfect if it didn’t require so much work to eat. I would love to try this again, and maybe it was simply a poor cut of meat, but I’m concerned that it might be too chewy to enjoy.
Two of our four ordered the local spaghetti and housemade meatballs. This came recommended and sounded delicious, though I’m often hesitant to order something that I could seemingly make at home. I’m glad we got it, the meatballs were definitely better than any that I could make at home. This was really good, but not quite as good as I was expecting for spaghetti and meatballs at Lockeland Table. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it didn’t quite get there. While at $18 this is the cheapest entree on the menu, it’s in a no-man’s-land of pricing. If it were $16 it would fee like a steal, at $18 it’s not really expensive, but still feels slightly overpriced for what you get. In all honesty, this dish was very good, and I would order it again. It is probably the best entree of the three that I’ve tried at Lockeland Table.
The fourth member of our party had the wood fired pork belly pizza. The thin crust was topped with cauliflower, sweet & sour onions, Kenny’s white cheddar, oregano and chili oil. To quote my dining companion:
I enjoyed the pork belly pizza. It was nicely done and surprisingly not too heavy considering the ingredients. My only complaint is that the sweetness of the caramelized onions was a bit overpowering and cut the flavor of the pork belly too much.
After such a delicious dessert on my first visit, I was looking forward to ending the meal with another sweet treat. We decided to share the Olive & Sinclair chocolate chip skillet. It. Was. Amazing. It was kind of like a personal pan chocolate chip cookie, served warm and melty. Delicious. Much like the first visit, the dessert was the best part (the appetizers were a close second on this visit).
The service on both visits was extremely friendly, but a bit casual, and actually a bit clumsy on the second visit. This isn’t to say that the service was poor, just not quite as professional as some slightly higher priced establishments.
Lockeland Table has received much praise since opening, even being named one of the Best New Restaurants of 2013 by the James Beard Foundation. While I have certainly enjoyed both of my meals there, neither has lived up to the expectations, and none of the entrees has blown me away. Perhaps I have been unlucky or ordered poorly, but consistency is key, and in my opinion while Lockeland Table is good, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
One thing that I must mention, although it is easy to forget are the very reasonable entree and pizza prices at Lockeland Table. Entrees range from $18 – $24 and pizzas are $11 – $14. Of course a three course meal with wine or cocktails can still easily exceed $50 per person, the prices are lower than many similar restaurants, and that is appreciated.