Wholly Chow Does Down-Home Right



Odds are, you've never accidentally driven past Wholly Chow, a fairly new restaurant tucked into the industrial area behind the 100 Oaks Mall/Vanderbilt complex, at 2948 Sidco Drive. Beer aficionados might recognize that address as being right next door to Black Abbey Brewing Company. In reality, both establishments are only about a minute off of I-65 at the Armory Drive exit, so they're easily accessible.

Wholly Chow is the project of Jeff and Margot Hunter, who previously ran a food marketing research business in the same building. Since there was already an industrial kitchen installed to prepare food for their focus groups, it wasn't too much of a stretch to convert the building into a restaurant. Drawing on years of restaurant experience and a background in the food of the Mississippi Delta, the Hunters have created a menu of traditional Louisiana and Mississippi regional recipes available for breakfast, brunch and lunch.

Decorated with primitive murals of Nashville, New Orleans and Delta locales, the dining room at Wholly Chow is unpretentious and comfortable, which also describes their food. A separate dining room is available for larger parties or for private event rental.

Wholly Chow serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 7 to 10:30 a.m. and until 3 p.m. on weekends. The menu features hearty hangover-helper fare, highlighted by a Red-Eye Breakfast of two eggs, buttermilk biscuit and sawmill gravy served with Tennessee smoked ham, hickory smoked bacon, link and patty sausage, a side of pancakes and fresh seasonal fruit. (Yeah, that fruit's gonna make it healthy.) Other good breakfast dishes include omelets and Benedict items, many of them featuring shrimp, crawfish and lots of cheese.

Lunch also features Southern classics like some truly decadent Crawfish Mac n' Cheese; chicken and dumplings; baked, blackened or breaded catfish and an array of sandwiches and po'boys. Lighter options include soups and salads, but it would be hard to resist the luxurious Southern dishes that you would probably never make in your own kitchen if you knew how much butter and cream were in the recipes. (Which is a major reason why we dine out ... ) Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and quick "grab and go" items are put out throughout the day for a breakfast or lunch on the run.

While the industrial locale is not especially trip-worthy, the food is. Convenient to the interstate, Wholly Chow is another interesting option especially for breakfast and brunch, two meals that are still underrepresented in Nashville's dining vernacular. Check them out and report back.

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