Finally, date night was here. Our plans included seeing the latest movie of Chevy Chase's "Vacation" series at the new Spring Hill movie theater with dinner afterward at the recently opened Homestead Manor, located in Thompson Station. With the girls safely settled down with their babysitter, we were ready to head out the door.
Having grown up watching Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's “Vacation” series, Joe and I were anxious to see if the 2015 version would measure up. Unfortunately, the movie was as much or as little to be expected -- disappointing, overall. While funny at times, it mostly relied on being loud, with a barrage of constant noise and base humor that definitely leaned toward the gross. A sad cameo was made by Chevy Chase who, to be frank, has not aged well.
Joe and I drove in silence from Cool Springs to Thompson Station, trying to come down from the stimulation that had just been thrown at us by the entire movie experience. The arrival in and of itself to the 50-acre setting of Homestead Manor was a respite from the jarring movie and the busyness of the new movie theater complex.
Homestead Manor is a farm-to-table concept restaurant situated in a restored pre-civil war antebellum home (circa 1819), located off Highway 31. It is the latest project by restaurateur Andy Marshall who is responsible for the Puckett’s chain. In this new endeavor, he brings to the Middle Tennessee area his vision of using local, homegrown produce and meat whenever possible.
We were seated in an upstairs room with three other tables, surrounded by Andy Marshall’s personal guitar collection, which we were invited by our waiter to play, if we felt so moved. The room was dimly lit and quiet, and finally we could breathe again. Thankfully for us, none of the other patrons chose to show off their guitar skills.
Above: Some of Andy Marshall's guitars from his personal collection on display in the front room.
Joe ordered the trout, which he devoured. The skin was crisp on the edges, and the flesh captured the flavor of the lemon and fresh herbs it was stuffed with, perfectly complemented by fresh pasta. I ordered the chicken, which came with a side of couscous and vegetables from the farm. My drink was the sangria of the day, which featured produce picked just outside the restaurant. Joe chose a Southern Sidecar that was both bracing and refreshing, a strong drink to bring him back to his senses.
Above: Each room has its own unique decor and atmosphere.
Above: Homestead Manor's Executive Chef Carlos Garcia
Above: A bicycle vignette over the mantle.
On the recommendation of the waiter, we shared the Panna Cotta for dessert. This custard dish tasted a bit more like yogurt than the rich crème brulee we were expecting, but we had heard great things about their homemade gelato. We asked several questions about the house and the farm, and our waiter graciously offered to give us a tour.
Above: The solerium style bar has an organic and chic atmosphere.
The bar, a newly-built structure behind the house, is not to be missed. It feels like a greenhouse, albeit a fancy one, and is surrounded by raised beds of herbs, most of which are used in the drinks. Joe was most impressed by the kitchen, another free-standing structure, which features an Argentinian grill where most of the meats are cooked, including lamb from Columbia's Glendale Farm.
Above: An artist-created chandelier in the bar.
Outside the bar is an herb garden from which fresh herbs are used in food and drinks.
Our experience with Homestead Manor was a good one. Having come from the bright, big-box commercial area of Cool Springs (not to mention the particular movie we chose to see), Homestead Manor offered us the authenticity of food and atmosphere that we craved and is often so hard to find.
In the scope of things, it certainly made up for the beginning of the night by turning date night around. Next date night, we'll skip the movie and, instead, head to Homestead Manor.
Joe Evans is pastor of 1st Presbyterian Church in Columbia, TN. His wife, Sara, recently left her position as executive director of Columbia's childrens museum to pursue a career in mediation. Among many other things, Joe and Sara share a passion for good food and atmosphere.