Another really interesting chef-driven restaurant opened quietly last week. After a few practice nights, Miel officially welcomed diners Sept. 9 in Sylvan Park.
Miel is owned by chef Jimmy Phillips and his wife, Seema Prasad-Phillips. He's a hugely accomplished chef who worked at some of Chicago's best restaurants (Charlie Trotter's, MK and Gordon) before returning to his hometown of Nashville.
Phillips worked at Wild Boar and did a stint as executive chef at Midtown Cafe. A few years ago he took a hiatus from the restaurant world, working as a private chef.
During that time he did a lot of traveling, and even spent time at Britain's famous Fat Duck, which is widely considered to be one of the world's best restaurants.
After a few years hunting for the right spot for their own restaurant, the couple selected the former Johnson's Meat Market building on 53rd Avenue behind Bobbie's Dairy Dip.
"Miel" means honey in French and Spanish, and Prasad-Phillips says the restaurant draws on French, Spanish and Italian cuisine. At the same time, "It's an American restaurant," she says. "It's a new American bistro steeped in classic French technique."
Yes, this is the kind of place with a frog legs and escargot appetizer ($11) for the adventurous. But many of the entrees are very simple, showcasing fresh ingredients and local produce. An example is pan-seared red snapper with butter-poached vegetables ($26). Entrees are $19-$36.
The old storefront has been gutted, creating a hip, comfortable dining spot. A new patio is sure to be popular this fall.
Miel, 343 53rd Ave. N., 298-3663, www.mielrestaurant.com. Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
OLD FRIEND'S NEW FACE
Tabouli's, the 20-year-old Mediterranean spot on Belmont Boulevard, has reopened with a new owner, new menu and a completely renovated space, including a 50-seat covered patio surrounded by garage doors.
They've also added a full bar.
The new owner is Amer Massad. He bought the business and hired restaurant veteran David Mullins as a consultant. Mullins is the head chef but will transition to catering manager in a couple months.
Mullins describes the menu as Greek, Middle Eastern and Italian. All the familiar favorites are there, including kebabs, gyros, grape leaves and hummus, and some Italian basics such as chicken Parmesan.
He claims the food is a huge improvement over the old Tabouli's, with many items made from scratch.
Mullins says the business aims to cater to the neighbors, including families and students. At 10 p.m. nightly, Tabouli's switches to a late-night menu and offers hookahs for smoking on the patio.
Tabouli's, 2015 Belmont Blvd., 386-0106. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.
NO PIZZA FOR YOU
By the time you read this, Christopher Pizza (1528 Demonbreun St., 742-7464), one of the older restaurants on the Demonbreun restaurant strip, will have closed.
The bar and its lineup of live music will continue to operate through the end of December, when the lease is up.
Owner Christopher Rioux announced a couple weeks ago that he'd be shutting down the pizzeria as soon as he could. He wasn't available for an interview, but waitress/publicist Jill Garrett pointed us to his blog at www.christopherpizza.com. There Rioux cited the economic downturn, rising rent and food costs, plus concerns about future of the parking lot across the street, which his business relies on. Ultimately, though, he said he wanted to spend more time with his two young children.
Christopher Pizza opened in May 2003, part of what the "roundabout revival."
MORE DOORS CLOSED
Here's a little coda: We've heard word of two more restaurant closings. Zipporah Banyay shut down Z's Five Points Deli in East Nashville last weekend. In an e-mail she said she would be concentrating on her catering business and her band, Z Soul.
Meanwhile, Crescent Cafe and Oyster Bar, 416 21st Avenue S., closed a couple of weeks ago. We hear there's a new owner who will reopen the spot across from Vanderbilt soon, with a new concept. We'll keep you posted.