There's so much to relish at The Silly Goose, it's ridiculous.
The ebullient personality and passion of culinary team Roderick Bailey and Billy D'Angelo is expressed in every aspect of the little café, from its name - a term of endearment for Bailey's young niece - to its cheery mural of goose-and-produce to its credo: "We make delicious, nourishing, wholesome food with love and care from the purest and highest quality ingredients available to us."
It's a credo well-honored and self-evident. The chalkboard on the wall by the service counter lists the roster of local purveyors. On a given day, it might be chevre from Noble Springs Dairy, Pink Lady apples from Rainbow Hill Farms, leafy greens from the Delvins and breads from Provence.
And at any given moment, from any of the four cafe tables, you can see firsthand behind that counter as Chef Bailey and flock deftly spice, grill, stack, roll, toss and swirl fresh taste combinations from a deceptively simple menu. Within its seemingly narrow focus on couscous, salads and sandwiches, you'll find a breadth of appealing, affordable dining options.
In the salad category, sample the Simple. Four good elements - organic lettuces, shaved fennel, sliced avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds - become great when tossed in the Goose's chili-grapefruit vinaigrette. Vibrant with acid and piquancy, that dressing has addictive qualities. We also enjoyed the salty pop of the pumpkin seed ($6).
The Goose Stack salad is in part assembled, in part deconstructed. The centerpiece is a lively cylinder of mango, avocado, goat cheese, roasted sweet red pepper, tomato, basil and mint. The ginger-citrus vinaigrette-dressed lettuces are placed in a separate pile on the rectangular plate, as are planks of grilled chicken breast, in their neat vertical stack ($12).
Who knew couscous could be so compelling? Their King Kong version has assertive seasonings: sesame, fresh mint, ginger, toasted cashews and coriander layered in the timbale, ringed by five large curried shrimp ($9.50). Mexico City's couscous has red chili and poblanos, tempered by goat cheese, cilantro, mango and lime.
Sandwiches and wraps exhibit the same creativity and come plated with your choice of couscous or mixed salad greens. Lyle's Surprise layers hot capicola ham, tomme (creamy, brie-like cheese), arugula pesto and fennel on savory grilled rosemary focaccia, drizzled with balsamic syrup. The slather of Bailey's basil aioli makes "Sparky" - an herbed tortilla rolled with roast turkey breast, dried cranberries, Kenny's Farmhouse brie, walnuts and baby greens - spark with flavor ($8.50).
Part of its charm - its tiny size - can be perceived as problematic, with seating limited to four tables and a bamboo counter. But The Silly Goose hours extend from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with take-out and catering available, so you won't miss the opportunity.
‘Cause the word is out. The goose is loose.
THE SILLY GOOSE
1888 Eastland Ave., Nashville 915-0757
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Payment: major credit cards accepted
Food: New American
Parking: on-site lot