#My500Words: January 12, 2014


Review: Saint Añejo http://mstreetnashville.com/restaurants/saint-anejo/details


Last night I met Kathy and Neil and a few others at Saint Añejo, the new Mexican restaurant in the Gulch by the M Street group. They have six restaurants, all on the hip, happening, high end and most in the Gulch. Saint A is Mexican and has a premium tequila and mezcal menu of over 120 labels and does tequila tastings and tequila flights. I'd been there before Christmas for dinner and found it fine. The bar will be fun in the nice weather since they have large “garage door” type windows that will open up to the outside. There are also a number of big screen TVs showing sports.


We started with drinks and they have a number of signature libations and margaritas (hibiscus; ginger/rosemary; cucumber/habanero/lime). I'd had one of the margaritas the first visit and wasn't too impressed (should have went with a normal one), so last night I had a Negra Modelo. The beer list is good, with many Mexican beers on it. The do have pitchers of margaritas, but it doesn't seem that they will do a pitcher of normal margaritas. Bad idea. There is also a wine list, sangria (will have that in warm weather!), and for the non-imbibers, Jarritos and Horchata. Neil got one of the signature libations which tasted like a cigarette and he had to send it back for a beer and they were good about taking it off the bill. Stick to the regular margaritas or beer.


They didn't automatically bring out chips and salsa and since two of us had been there before, we asked about the chips and trios of salsas that we'd had before. They brought some of that for the table. I forgot to look at the bill and see if those were a charge or not. The chips were okay and the salsas were all fine. One tasted like pure crushed tomatoes, another had mango in it with a lime kick, and the third was a little smokey. None had heat. A major fail in my book! I'm one of those who keeps a Costco-sized bottle of Tabasco and a bottle of Sriracha next to the stove at all times!


If you look at the menu online and then go to the restaurant, you will find that they are different. So please, if you change your menu, update your website!! There are a few appetizers, quesadillas, tacos (3 small ones to an order), nachos, salads, a number of different entrees, a couple desserts and a couple of daily specials. I ended up ordering the special chimichanga which was really good and big enough that I gave Kathy some of it. It came with some rice which was pretty bland. One of the sides they have is chorizo mac and cheese which got raves. In my first visit, we'd had the Mexican street corn and that was amazing.


One change between my first visit and last night is in the tacos. Previously, you could order tacos by the taco so you could mix and match. Now you can only order them by the platter of three and they will all be the same. With a few people you could order a few and then share. The tequila lime chicken was really good. Others that sound good are the grilled shrimp with Chipotle-Lime Mayo, and the Salt + Pepper Beef (Ground Round/Mex Cheese/Shaved Jalapeños). There is also a veggie option, Mahi-Mahi and a few others.


At the table, someone had the chicken tamales and said they were very good. The grilled chicken got raves as being moist and quite good. Desserts were churros, a flan and something else that I forget, but we all passed on dessert. Since we had 9 people, gratuity was automatically added to everyone's bill. Mine came to $25, so not cheap. On my Mexican rating scale, it rates towards the bottom. Give me authentic Mexican food, salsa with heat and a couple of Negra Modelos and I'm happy. But the company was A+!


As someone mentioned last night, Nashville is turning into a city for people with money. They aren't too far off. I've said it from my first trip here – except for buying a house (and in some areas, that isn't even true anymore), it's not that much cheaper here and more expensive in some ways, compared to California. But that's for another post.


#My500Words: January 11, 2014


Review: Pinewood Social http://pinewoodsocial.com


Co-worker Vince and I needed a break from so much work, so we left at 5:15 PM (so early!) last night and went to check out the new Pinewood Social in the Rutledge Hill area. Reading the Yelp reviews, people either really liked it or hated it, so we weren't sure what to expect.


Since we got there so early, we didn't have to worry about waiting, though the front desk (“INFO”) was less than overly welcoming. One gal was on the phone, the second said, “Hello”, but then nothing and the third took her sweet time in greeting us. An immediate minus.


We said we wanted drinks and probably some food (versus being there specifically for dinner), so eventually we were taken to two seats at the bar. The guy who took us there was MUCH more friendly than any of the three gals at the INFO desk. Thing were looking up.


The bar is in the middle of the room and is quite large and square with seating around 3 sides of the square. The drink list is lengthy and interesting. This is a cocktail place so if you plan on drinking beer, you'll be disappointed (but then, there are lots of places with very excellent beer lists). The first bartender who waited on us was pretty matter of fact and didn't offer much in the way of suggestions and went off and made our drinks, which were good, albeit pricey $12 per drink).


But then bartender Lee took over and things were very much on the upswing! Lee asked if we wanted to order food and the two ladies sitting kitty-corner from us had suggested the fried broccoli appetizer, so we ordered that and cheeseburgers. The broccoli was amazing! Next time I would order that for myself and not share. The broccoli florets are flash-fried (not deep-fried) and then lemon zest and sea salt are sprinkled on it and they come with a dipping sauce, but really, you don't need that. $6 for the broccoli.


The cheeseburgers ($13) come as two thin patties with cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle, mayo and mustard and the bun was pretty good too. This comes with home fries and a little cup of cornichons. I couldn't finish it all, leaving some of the home fries and about a quarter of the burger. I'd get it again for sure.


We got chatting with Lee, who is from Charleston and went to The Citadel, and we let him make our second drink, whatever he wanted, after us telling him what we do and don't like. I have no idea what I had except that it was not sweet (my request) and had mint and ginger syrup in it. Vince liked both of his drinks. They make all of their syrups and everything they use in-house and it was fun to watch the guy making different syrups during the evening. And with the “gatekeepers” at the front door, you don't have people walking in and standing at the bar. This is actually one big gripe in the Yelp reviews.


There are also a number of banquets along the windows and tables were you can have dinner, then there are the couches and small tables and chairs like someone's living room. And a long raised table where people were working on their computers. I'd like to go back with a group and get one of the two private rooms, or, get a group and hit the old time bowling alley. There are 6 lanes in the back with retro bowling lanes and equipment, but at $40 per hour, you need a group!


One thing we did note is that except for Lee and one other busboy, every single bartender and waiter had dark hair and facial hair. Not that I'm complaining! That is definitely my favorite look!! And the crowd was quite eclectic – a few grey-haired patrons, preppy types, some hipsters, tourists, downtown workers, pretty much a little of everything.


Pinewood Social is open all day, with breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu looks good so I'll check that out. When we left at 8:30 PM, there were probably 20 people waiting in the front, but they all had drinks in their hands, so the other major complaint on Yelp of not being able to get a drink while you wait seems to be fixed. The other big minus in the Yelp reviews was on the food, but our broccoli and cheeseburgers and fries were very good, so maybe the kitchen has improved. I'll definitely go back, but it won't be a regular thing since I'm not so keen on dropping $50 a whack. It's San Francisco prices for sure!


One thing that Vince and I talked about is that if all these new places had been here in November 2011 when we came on the “recruiting” visit (and if they had taken us to them), then it wouldn't have been such a cultural shock to move. In the past year, the bar and restaurant scene here has exploded, which is a very good thing.


And if you're wondering, did I skip my 500 words for the past couple of days, rest assured that I did not. I wrote +500 words Thursday and Friday, just not for public review. So I'm 11 for 11 on this goal.

6 to 8 Weeks

That's what the doctor said before my surgery. "You'll be back full training in 6-8 weeks."  Tomorrow will be 13 weeks, so I guess that was way off the mark. Of course, that was before she got in there and saw how #*@*ed my knee was. "I don't know how you functioned with it that bad." Well, you suck it up and go. Plus, it never did hurt to ride the bike. In fact, riding made it feel better. But honestly, right now I'm not so happy about the whole thing and I wish I'd never had the surgery. It doesn't hurt now to ride or with basic walking around, but the physical therapists (yes, more than one as I am frustrated and got a second and third opinion) are counseling a very conservative rehab. Those who know me know that patience is definitely not my best feature.

So there's really not a lot new to tell. I've only ridden outdoors a handful of times and nothing over 90 minutes. One time on the track for about 30 minutes in a small, warm-up gear. That felt great! The rest of the time it's been trainer or roller riding, no more than 30-40 minutes, plus some upper body weights and some quad exercises with the muscle electrical stim machine that the second PT has me doing. I can feel my fitness sailing away and it's especially frustrating when everyone else is out riding 3, 4, 5 hours or racing cyclocross and I'm not. But I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And I've been working on cadence on the bike. I've been able to get up to 135-139 a few times for a few seconds. Now I just need to hold that longer. 

But, in the past 10 days, I've decided that I need to get walking more and since I was in Arizona for IM AZ last weekend, a lot of walking was necessary. That was a fun short vacation as I got to watch friends race and I ended up working one of the penalty tents which was a fun and sometimes frenzied way to watch the bike part of the race. Being there rekindled that Ironman bug and like Kenny and Scott both told me, never say never. 

I've also been traveling a lot for work. Usually we spread out the travel over the year, but due to the surgery, some of the trips got postponed and in October I was in Los Angeles twice and in November it was Orange County (1 day), Silicon Valley (1 day), Houston (2 days), Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia (4 days), Arizona (5 days) and finally New York (4 days). In fact, I'm writing this on United #5, wireless internet in the air! It makes the JFK-SFO trip so much more fun. I'll have been gone 17 days in November. I'm ready to stick around SF for awhile!

Here are a few photos from NYC. Thanksgiving is a great time to go as everything is so festive. I went and saw the show "Burn the Floor"....really good, very high energy, full of dancing and music. And Maks and Kym from "Dancing With the Stars" were in it. Really fun time. My co-worker Germán and I went out to a Brasilian restaurant and the food was great! Impanema Restaurant on 46th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue. Very highly recommended and not expensive.