by Sean Maloney
Welcome to The Road, my column in which I'm going to attempt — key word: attempt — to eat at every non-chain restaurant on Nolensville Pike between I-440 and the county line. I'll readily admit that even though I live right off Nolensville — Paragon Mills represent! — and revel in the diversity and quantity of its eateries, I have barely scratched the surface of what the strip has to offer. But now I'm going to rectify that, and hopefully you'll join for what's likely to be a wild ride.
Episode 3: Istanbul Restaurant
Address: 2361 Nolensville Pike
I swear one of these days I'm going to run into a restaurant on The Road that I don't like. But not today! Admittedly, researching this column is the highlight of my work week, the only day I allow myself a midday excursion beyond the kinda weird confines of my lonely, lonely office. Also, the principal tenets of this experiment — in my neighborhood, non-chain shops, budget friendly food — tend to put me in a good mood, so really, a restaurant would have to work at really sucking really hard to earn my ire. So it's possible, but frankly if a restaurant has survived on Nolensville for any significant amount of time, it's not terribly probable. Again, I'm just happy to be away from my crazy cat and thinking about something other than music. Especially when I get to eat lamb.
Istanbul is another one of the neighborhood's longtime staples, an anchor store of sorts and one of the top suggestions whenever I talk about this column and this project. Istanbul is homey, comfortable and delicious. The staff is friendly, the service is quick and ... um, my car smells like lamb? I got the Kuzy platter and ate too much, but still had plenty left over. Now it's all I can think about. I mean, I'm not hungry — the yogurt soup as a warm-up was great, but it definitely caused me to cry "uncle" before I devoured the rest of the that ol' sheep.
On a street with a billion-and-a-half kebab/gyro joints, Istanbul is one of the most reliable — I can't remember ever getting a bad meal there, and I've dined there a lot. My big gripe? The parking. Depth perception and peripheral vision are not my strong suits, so getting back onto Nolensville is a little hair-raising. But then again, I also enjoy parking off the strip and just walking around. Woodbine is a colorful and entertaining place to hang out; it's walkable and pretty chill. The people-watching is pretty hot, and, oh yeah, it's not swarming with hipsters, which seems to be a selling point for some folks amongst our readership.