Café Monell's: Tiger Tiger (Food) Burning Bright

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It's nice when people keep a sense of history about Nashville restaurants, including dishes from days of yore. Like the Library of Congress archiving audio recordings for generations to come, we are lucky that some chefs carry their recipes from place to place. Rick Bolsom, partner in the soon to be missed Mirror and Zola, has promised that some of their patrons' favorite dishes will be added to the menu at his restaurant Tin Angel, and he has already brought Laura Wilson of Ombi back to offer her culinary contributions to Tin Angel's kitchen. Chef Deb Paquette may also make periodic field trips back home to help out at Tin Angel as well.

I had a chance recently to take a trip through the food Way Back machine during a visit to Café Monell's on Bransford Avenue. Owner Michael King has resurrected a favorite from his days working at the Slice of Life: their famous Tiger Food. A healthy helping of brown rice, grilled vegetables, nutritional yeast, tofu topped with tamari sauce and white cheese this dish is definitely a stick-to-your-ribs winner.

The tofu was the perfect consistency for a carnivore like myself. Rather than pretending to be a meat substitute, it stands out on its own by adding texture to what would otherwise be a potentially gummy mess. Not that I'm complaining about how much cheese covered the plate. I was a little creeped out by a carmelized onion that happened to look exactly like a caterpillar on top of my meal, but he was delicious.

The portion was large enough to provide a full meal on the day I ordered it, as well as reheating admirably as a side dish with dinner the next night. The last bit in the styrofoam tray still held up as a base for a rock shrimp appetizer even later in the week. Tasty, versatile, sort of healthy...that's a great combination if you ask me and a bargain at $7.27.

Drop by Café Monell's at 2826 Bransford Avenue for a blast from the past.

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