Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Wonderful Friday Evening (A Wonderful Life)

The hub came home early, early enough to go out for happy hour. Wow. It's been a long time since we've been able to do that! I had been thinking earlier in the week it would be nice for the two of us (as in alone) to go out and have some quiet time. I knew just the place. A couple of weeks ago, when my friend and neighbor was moving, a bunch of her friends got togther to "drink" her away. We all met at Criallo's. I had heard of the place and had even driven by it, but I had never been inside. What a treat.

Criallo's is that local bar/small intimate restuarant that is frequented by the local 40s+ crowd. A piano bar is on the left as you walk in and about 15 tables or so on the other half. I didn't see a kid in the place. I guess I'm getting older (shhh, don't tell anyone), because I have come to appreciate this rare breed of an establishment. Don't get me wrong, I love taking the kids with us, and we really do take them every where we go; but it's nice to know there are places where adults can be adults when need be, ya know? I mean, we all like to dance naked on tables every once in a while, right?

Of course, we had just missed happy hour along with the tapas menu. (Tapas in Nashville??? Yea, boy-eee) Oh well. We sat back and enjoyed a couple of drinks while listening to the pianist. Oh so grown up. It was very nice. I always get the munchies after a couple madrases, so we looked on the menu and ordered a couple of appetizers--the Calamari a la Criallo and the Oysters Rockefeller. In the meantime, they brought out, compliments of the chef (oohlala) a plate of homemade breads. Yum. It included a small halved banana nut muffin, two slices of their pumpkin bread and a little piece of their foccacia. I'm a major bread fiend, so I was already in heaven--the munchies had definately set in. We were in for a further delight when the calamari was presented. The batter was so light and flakey with just a hint of curry. It was served with two kinds of sauces. One was a kind of sweet and sour sauce--not your normal Chinese carry-out thick sweet and sour. Oh no. This was really tasty and not sugary sweet. The second sauce was a chunky tomato/pepper sauce. Both were equally good for dippin'. It was tender and fresh and, I have to say, the best calamari I have ever had.

We were also quite pleased when they brought the oysters out. I'm not a big fan of the stuff, so I just ate the delicious topping off a few and let the hub eat the oysters. We're so compatible, aren't we? The topping included fresh spinach drizzled with garlic oil and a little cheese (I suspect parmigiano reggiano) broiled just until the spinach was limp but still juicy and the cheese slightly melted. We sat and listened to the lovely music for a while and just enjoyed each other's company. After we ate and drank and relaxed, we decided we better get home to the kid, which we did. (The teenager had his own plans for Friday night, of course. This included going to the local all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant with about 15 of his buddies. I'm sure the owners loved seeing them walk though the door--NOT!)

We waited a couple of hours before heading out to dinner. It's always a Friday ritual to drive around with the kid (and sometimes the teenager) going from restaurant to restaurant to see who has the least wait time. Since we had waited until after 8 to go out, we thought there would be a good chance of getting into a restaurant without having to wait for a table. Wrong. We all three then decided, unanimously (which is a feat in itself), that we would drive to downtown Franklin to see what was shaking down there. Franklin is a quaint little town with a few nice restaurants. It's mostly shopping though. We hadn't been in a while, so we thought maybe something new had opened up. We were lucky. It was our night! The little Italian place that had closed down last year--no big loss--had reopened into another little Italian place. Me and the kid had Italian on the brain, so this was perfect.

From the moment we walked into Palazzolos, we knew we were going to like it. The new setting has quite the "little neighborhood Italian place" ambience. Very cozy, yet enough room to get to your table without bumping into someone elses. The other place was so tight, you could ask what your "neighbor" was having and reach over to take a taste of it. Yep, a little too close for my liking. The menu is limited but very traditional with a nice variety. Since I was still full from "happy hour," I decided on the "Risotto with Shrimp" appetizer and a side salad. The hub ordered the special of the night "Pasta with Bolognese Sauce," the kid, his usual "Fettucine Alfredo with Grilled Shrimp." Any Italian restaurant that offers risotto is A-ok in my book. I had never even heard of the stuff until I married the half-Italian hub. Lord, what I was missin'!

When the entrees came out, we were truly in for a treat. The risotto was perfectly cooked, nice and creamy with just enough cheese to make it slightly gooey, with fresh baby peas. The four shrimp were grilled to perfection with enough flavor to stand on their own. The hub's bolognese sauce was to die for. I had tasted this good only once before. (In Virginia, my neighbor's mother made us a big batch one Christmas. Helen was the daughter of a professional Italian/French chef, so I want to say that this stuff was authentic. It took a couple of days to prepare it. She told me once all that went into making it--she told me too much--whole pieces of meat with the bones to get the marrow, etc. Too much information, ew. Anyway, the finished sauce was absolutey heavenly.) So when the hub's sauce came in even close to Helen's, I had to say "wow," out loud. The kid's alfredo was good, can't go wrong there. The shrimp, again grilled to perfection. We all were as happy as pigs in mud. The hub and I had found two local places that were out of the ordinary--in one night. How 'bout that? When chef Chris came over to our table to see how everything was, we expressed our enthusiasm for the quality of his dishes. He was, no doubt, pleased.

You know, it's hard to try new places with kids. Both of mine like their run-of-the-mill chain restaurants and don't like to wander off that radar too often. It's going to have to be up to me and the hub to get out once in a while to check out the local fare--the local adult fare, that is. We enjoyed ourselves so much Friday night!

P.S. I'm going to have to start taking my camera with me to get some pics, like every one else does (famous last words). These are all stock photos.


Bud said...

You sure know how to make a person hungry. My sister use to live in Leapers Fork. They now live in Chapel Hill, south of Franklin, but still go to Franklin to do their shopping/banking/church etc.

Rosa said...

It's really pretty in Leipers Fork--all the stars are moving out there. Spring Hill is pretty too. The building boom keeps moving south of the city.

Cool Springs Fine Dining said...

Criallo's closed down recently :( No word on if and when it will reopen.



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