Restaurants

Bathroom in Tupelo, MississippiRestaurants in Tupelo, MississippiHere are two of my favorite bathrooms in Tupelo, Mississippi from two of my favorite restaurants in Tupelo, which, by the way, is much much more than merely Elvis Presley’s hometown. The photo on the left is from Fairpark Grill, http://eatwithus.com/grill, an eclectic and modern space with a super bar and a menu featuring burgers, sandwiches and shareable appetizers. Theone on the right is from the Grill’s sophisticated older sister, Park Heights, http://eatwithus.com/parkheights/ — a serenely elegant and upscale restaurant that offers rooftop dining for an unparalleled view of downtown Tupelo. Both of these are owned by the Eat With Us Group, http://eatwithus.com/mission.php, which also started the family-favorite Sweet Peppers Deli franchise. Anyway, I love these bathrooms! Although my husband detests raised-bowl sinks like the Grill’s, I adore them and so wish I could sneak them into our bathrooms at home without him noticing. And the Park Heights bathroom is so peaceful and stylish, just like the dining areas. You all know my thing about restaurant restrooms: They’re the perfect spots pampering customers and making them feel special — like a little extra “We are so glad you chose to come spend your money with us” instead of “We’re forced to offer you these facilities so here you go.” These get it right.

Shopping

Bridge Street Towne CentreShopping in Huntsville, Alabama, has taken an upturn ever Shopping in Huntsville, Alabamasince Bridge Street Town Centre opened almost two years ago. Billed as an outdoor mall and lifestyle center with a stylish European flair, Bridge Street definitely is a fun place to stroll and window shop and see and be seen. It’s beautifully landscaped and maintained and has plenty of Huntsville, Alabamaeasy-access parking. The retailers here are the usual suspects — Gap, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Bridge Street Town CentreAnthropologie and J. Crew are my favorites — but there’s also a Kate Spade, where I usually wander in, shake my head in disbelief at $525 handbags and walk back out again. Luckily, more in line with my budget are the classics of DSW, Old Navy and Barnes and Noble. But really the best part about Bridge Street is the food. This is where you’ll find the always-popular P.F. Chang’s and Maggie Moo plus the L.A.-based Dolce and Ketchup and a Melting Pot, making Bridge Street a dining as well as a shopping destination. The Monaco theater and the accompanying lounge Scene are hot spots, too. I mean, who could say no to enjoying wine and sushi in a leather recliner while watching the latest flick? Not me.

P.S. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “If Bridge Street is so popular, where are all the people in these photos, Miss SmartyPants Reporter Blogger Person?” And I say, “Good question.” And here’s the answer: I took these photos about a month ago on the day that news of swine-flu cases in Huntsville was just breaking and schools were closed and everybody was supposed to stay home and wash their hands. And so of course I thought, “This is the perfect time to go shopping.” Wouldn’t you???

Restaurants in Franklin, Tennessee

sol-archwayAs Liz Lemon says, don’t you “want to go there?” This is Sol, a funky and fun sol-waitingrestaurant on Main Street off the square in Franklin, Tennessee. My husband and I wandered in on a recent late-night meander and instantly were captivated. Only the bar was open so we plopped ourselves down and enjoyed exploring the whimsical Mexican menu — and decor. Both are sort of  casual-cool with an eclectic twist. It’s Frida Kahlo meets Iron Chef and obviously a popular gathering spot for the young and hip. We felt right at home (!) and happily devoured some deliciously fresh nachos washed down with cold beer — one of our favorite meals — and vowed to come back when we could work our way through the dinner menu: salmon wrapped in a banana-leaf, fish tacos and a poblano-potato cake especially looked good. We remember this same space when it was an upscale Italian sort of restaurant and marveled at the transition. Downtown Franklin is a happening place, worthy of a visit just to walk and eat and shop. Check out Sol at http://www.solonmain.com/ (that’s where these photos came from — it was way too dark, in a good way, for pics the night we were there) and learn more about Franklin at http://www.visitwilliamson.com/

nashville-jan-2009-038On that same trip to Franklin, we also ate at Basil Asian Bistro, on nashville-jan-2009-034Carothers Parkway across I-65 from Cool Springs Galleria. If Sol is vibrantly energetic, then Basil is calmly zen. It’s white tablecloths and quiet conversation but with the same appreciation for fresh ingredients and authentically prepared food. The extensive menu offered sushi, pad thai, curry and other classics. Luckily, we were with our friends Ted and Elayne, who had picked Basil for our lunch and steered us to their favorite dishes — and they were right.  My husband and I especially loved the inventive sushi, the crisply cooked vegetables and the strong and fragrant hot tea. Good food and good company can’t be beat. We’ll be back. Go to http://www.basilasianbistro.com for details.

Demos’ in Alabama

It’s almost here! demos-0041Training began this week at the newly finished Demos’ restaurant in Florence, demos-003Alabama. “Today (Monday) is our official first day of training. We won’t open until the end of the month,” said Felicia Demos, chief financial officer for the family business, in an e-mail. Demos’ is a middle Tennessee icon, with restaurants in Murfreesboro, Nashville, Lebanon and Hendersonville famous for offering delicious homestyle food at great value and with excellent service. My husband and I are both from middle Tennessee and we eat at Demos’ whenever we’re nearby. I cannot believe our luck in getting one practically in our own backyard. We must have been living right.  Who knew? Visit http://www.demosrestaurants.com to see the menu and learn more. And Florence folks who want a headstart can get gift certificates at the restaurant from around 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, Felicia Demos said, or order from the Web site.