If you're on any social media at all, you won't be surprised to know that after months of planning, building, and red tape, a locally owned steakhouse open in Nashville late last month.
Woodfire MJ officially opened July 29. Tonight, Mike and I joined my parents to try it out and to belatedly celebrate my mom's birthday.
I've been reading reviews all week to get an idea of what to expect. I'm happy to report that my experience was nothing but positive.
A few concerns I had read: parking lot filled up quickly; dining room was too hot; dining room was too loud; tables were too close together/not enough privacy; sides were cold; steaks were fatty or not not cooked to requested temp; and service was slow.
We had no such experience. We met Mom there, and neither of us had any problem parking in the paved area. The temperature was very comfortable inside (and I usually run hot, so this is saying something). I didn't find the dining room to be any louder or crowded than any other restaurant we've been to. And the service was wonderful...our server was attentive without being too much in our business.
But perhaps the most important part: the food.
Dinner starts with complimentary zucchini bread, served warm with cinnamon honey butter. The bread had a excellent crusty outside with a light, fluffy inside.
We also decided to try an order of the fried green tomatoes (only one of which is photographed because we each snatched one up and tried it before I remembered to take snap a shot. You could tell they were fresh, nice and hot. The sauce on the bottom had a bit of a kick, but the spice was less noticeable when you ate it with the tomatoes and added a nice, smoky flavor. Breading was crispy but not too heavy.
|Fried Green |
For the main course, dad ordered the shrimp and grits, He didn't say much to the rest of us after it came, and before we knew it, it was gone. He said it was very good, though, with plenty of shrimp that was cooked well. He also loved the country ham bits they use.
|Shrimp and Grits|
Mike and Mom both ordered the Beef Tenderloin, which is served with mashed potatoes and asparagus with pickled hollandaise. Mike ordered medium rare, and it spot-on...warm throughout but still nice and red. Mom ordered well done and was equally pleased (though we may have convinced her to try medium-well next time.) They both polished off their sides and said they paired perfectly with the steak.
I ordered the Nashville Strip Steak (medium-rare), topped with crispy onions and served with truffle tots and grilled green beans. On my...everything was so tasty. My steak was also cooked as I ordered. The tots were wonderfully crisp on the outside, and the green beans were delicious. I will admit, my first bite of the steak had a mild bitter taste, like maybe it got a little too much char on it, but every other bite was delicious. I was hesitant about barbecue sauce on a steak, but it wasn't overwhelming...just enough to add a little flavor, without the saltiness that rubs sometimes add. All of us finished nearly every bite of our dinners, but we were there to celebarte, and so…
|Nashville Strip Steak|
|Nashville Stacked Pie|
Despite the fact that were all full, we ordered the Nashville Stacked Pie for dessert, a 100-year-old recipe from The Pie Lady. A word of warning: Do not order this for yourself. It's so good, but so, so rich. My favorite part was the marshmallow fluff (which, truth be told, I could eat straight up on the graham cracker crust). It worked out well for us, though, because Mom's not a huge marshmallow fan and preferred the chocolate bit (even she admitted to liking the fluff more than most, though.)
All told, we all agreed we'd go back again. I know have some have said it's too pricey, and I guess that would depend on what you're expecting. If you're expecting steakhouse food for Applebee's prices, you're probably going to think it's too expensive. If you can recognize that the food is elevated (though not pretentious at all — I felt totally comfortable dining in jeans) and coming fresh to your table, the price seems right in line with what you get. Entrees range from $15-$30, apps between $6 and $12 and desserts at $7. They have a short, but nice enough wine list ($9-$12/glass), but they also offer house wines for $6. In other words, this could be a decadent splurge-worthy night out, but you can also keep it reasonable if that's what your looking for. (And for all you non-meat eaters out there, they had several vegetarian options available that looked good even to me.)
Let me know when you want to try it … I'd be happy to tag along!