I had dinner with my dad, his colleague, and his colleague’s wife at Red Pony in Franklin, Tennessee the other night and it was quite fabulous. I’m always complaining about how there’s not much food choice out here, and of the choices, the quality just does not compare to L.A. or New York. I know that may be an unfair comparison, but c’mon, there’s something not right about being served canned green beans whether you’re dining at an upscale restaurant or Cracker Barrel.
Anyways, back to Red Pony. First, who doesn’t want to dine at a place called Red Pony. I love the color red. And I love ponies. As soon as you step through the front doors, you leave the quaint and charming Main Street of downtown Franklin, and into a chic, low light, urban atmosphere. The paintings on the wall are very cool and vibrant. They complement the restaurant’s modern southern urbana feel. I think I just made that word up, but hopefully you catch my drift.
I immediately had great expectations for this place, because I quite enjoyed the mini jalapeno corn muffins and the rosemary (?) bread. I can’t remember exactly what the other bread was. There may have even been mini biscuits. But in any case, I quite enjoyed it, and I have a habit of judging a restaurant based on the bread they bring out.
I was delightfully surprised by the fusion flavor of their menu. We started with appetizers—a most fabulous guacamole made with just the right amount of lime to give it a nice kick, and garnished with slices of jicama; and the lobster roll which was a tempura fried sushi with lobster meat on top, not a New England style lobster roll as I had assumed. I’m not a big sushi person, but I’d say it was roll to please the fusion inclined taste buds.
For our second course, my dad and I split a kale salad with pickled onions, goat cheese, mushrooms, toasted almonds, and dressed with bacon dressing. I’m not a huge fan of pickled onions and I think the combination of them with the goat cheese, another strong flavor, was just a bit overpowering. However, that may be a personal preference thing.
As for the main course I ordered what appeared to be a house favorite, the shrimp and grits. The cheese grits were fabulously creamy, and everything tasted wonderful. My only reservation about it though, was that it was extremely rich with the creamy grits and powerfully seasoned shrimp, plus the apple bacon and the mushrooms—true to southern cooking though. What would Paula Dean say? “You can never have enough butter!” Wrong, Paula! Wrong! You can have enough butter! My dad ordered the Red Pony B.L.T., which was bacon, lobster, and tomato served over Yukon Gold Ravioli and Truffled Corn Cream. Again, massively flavourful, but after a few bites it becomes a bit much. Of course, this is to be expected when it comes to southern cooking, so if you’re not used to it, I’m giving you the heads up.
Before dessert came out, they brought out a little palate cleaner of thinly sliced green apples topped with thin slices of parmesan cheese, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette glaze. This I quite enjoyed. I think I could’ve done without the vinaigrette, but it looked nice and gave it a different kick. I enjoyed it.
Then the most important course of the meal came—dessert. The four of us shared the crème brulee and some kind of chocolate pie sprinkled with Goo Goo Clusters. The crème brulee was perfect. I mean, I have yet to have a crème brulee that I do not like, but yeah, I thought this one was just lovely. The chocolate pie felt like it was made out of a giant chocolate bar. You have to be careful when trying to break off a piece, because it’s quite hard. And as terrible as they are for you, I do love Goo Goo Clusters. It was the perfect southern touch to this chocolaty explosion. This was definitely one for the chocolate lovers.
Red Pony is a great place for out of towners, a date, or just a good night out. And downtown Franklin is just so darn cute.
BIG LOVE & HUGS