I awoke Saturday morning and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I hadn't died during the previous evening's shenanigans. Looking around, however, I did notice the yellow mustard stain on my pants, which had been hastily discarded on the floor some eight hours earlier. More than anything, it was a reminder that I'd had a pretty solid hot dog after our miniature bar crawl the night before.
It took some doing, but we got out of bed, made ourselves semi-presentable, and headed out the door to find some brunch. About fifteen minutes later, we had driven into The Gulch, an urban neighborhood of Nashville situated between downtown and Music Row. On a recommendation from a friend, we were headed for Biscuit Love, a hopping breakfast spot that had a line nearly to the corner at 12:45 p.m.
Once we'd been served our S.E.C. (sausage, egg, cheddar) biscuits and I got my hands on some coffee, it wasn't hard to see why the place was so popular. The portion might not have been that generous, but the biscuit was delicious. Halfway through eating, I found myself wishing I'd ordered two of them instead of getting a mimosa to accompany the one I had ordered. I suppose that's why they call it living and learning.
Because I'm a fan of thesauruses everywhere, please allow me to describe our subsequent tour of The Gulch as a Lilliputian one (think Gulliver's Travels). We only stayed long enough to duck into Two Old Hippies, a somewhat pricey clothing and general bric-a-brac store located on 12th Avenue, and Urban Outfitters right next door. Though I suppose the minute or two that we took to look inside The Frye Company, a fancier-than-thou boot, shoe and leather goods outfit on 11th Avenue, merits a mention, as well.
Of course, we didn't look into The Chef and I on Ninth, Arnold's Country Kitchen, Burger Republic, or any of the other fine establishments located in The Gulch during our short time there. The limited sampling we did receive of the area — which actually doesn't even cover one quarter of a square mile, if we're really getting technical — was still enough to convince me that it was a pretty nifty neighborhood, though.
Getting Historical With It
After goofing around in The Gulch, it was time for a history lesson at the Bicentennial Mall. Besides being filled with natural open space, views of the State Capitol up on the hill, and some thoughtfully-placed Cherry Blossoms, the mall is also home to a wall filled with an historical timeline of the great state of Tennessee.
As the 16th state admitted to the Union in 1796 and the only state to host major battles or skirmishes in every single county during the Civil War, you can imagine the tale of Tennessee takes up a lot of wall. Strolling along, the things that caught my eye were mention of my guy Abraham Lincoln and, for some reason, the founding dates of many a major educational institution in the state, such as Middle Tennessee State University, for example. (Maybe that one sticks with me because of a certain upset that occurred during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament?)
Moments after my walk down the historical highway (it's just a path, but the h's sound nice together), I was assailed by the string of a kite being flown erratically by a small humanoid while sitting in the grass. So that was fun.
The afternoon would not have been complete without a stop at Centennial Park and its centerpiece: a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, the ancient building in Athens, Greece, that epitomizes the height of classical architecture. It was a mere $6 per person to get inside the building itself, but we opted against that, deciding instead to appreciate its elegance from the exterior while meandering around the park.
The place was certainly abuzz with people, many simply walking and talking like ourselves, but also others playing catch or what have you, and, as we wound our way around Lake Watauga, I even spied a couple of Michigan Wolverines fans. I mention this, of course, as a not-so-subtle segue into the next portion of our Saturday in Nashville: a come-from-behind-but-ultimately-victorious few hours at The Slider House.
'Wolverine Country' Comes to Nashville
To give credit where credit is due, my traveling companion had the bright idea of looking up where the Nashville University of Michigan Alumni Club might be watching Michigan take on Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four. It took me about 2.6 seconds to locate their Facebook page and in a matter of moments we had swung the car in the direction of The Slider House, a self-described "modern day 'juke joint,' known for creating sliders so flavorful they will literally blow your mind."
Watching Michigan trail for about half the game while sitting on the corner of the bar was enough to make my head explode alone, but I tried some sliders, too, just for the hell of it. À la carte, their sliders are $4 a pop, but you can also mix and match two of the classics and a side for $8.99, which is what I opted to do. Pair that with any one of the myriad beers available at The Slider House and you're sitting pretty.
From the final minutes of the first half through a majority of the second half, the Michigan men's basketball team was not sitting so pretty. But that was okay because I had fellow alumni Jason, a middle-aged regular at The Slider House, by my side to share stories and laughs with. We were just two of many, many U-M alumni (or fans, at least) filling up the place during the game, in fact. There were maybe 55-60 in total.
We all know how the game ended (and, unfortunately, how Monday's final against Villanova went), so I'll spare you any more sports talk. Besides, if I keep rambling on about that, we won't have any time to get to...
Broadway, Round Two
Just like Friday night, Saturday night saw us travel to two bars/clubs, one on Broadway and the other very nearby. First up was Nudie's Honky Tonk, a multi-level roadhouse-style hangout with live music on the first floor and the ever-attractive rooftop bar up top, which was where we spent practically all of our time while we were there. (And before you ask: no, the name of the establishment does not have any R-rated implications.)
We sort of, kind of made some new friends at Nudie's — the kind of people you meet and never talk to or see again in your life — one of whom suffered the great misfortune of having an adult beverage spilled on her lap, another of whom seemed intent on getting the security dude's phone number, and the last of whom kept randomly grinding on individuals, be they male or female, who were dancing nearby.
Intent on checking out another bar before the night was through, we said bon voyage to the Nudie's crew around 1:30 a.m. or so and made way for Florida Georgia Line House on 3rd Avenue. I would say FGL House was easily the largest bar we visited while in Nashville. It, again, had the multiple-floor thing going on, with a spacious rooftop bar and a large, adjoining indoor space where a DJ was spinning country-infused dance mixes.
Toward the end of the night, I'd found my way up onto one of the raised platforms making up part of the dance floor. I got to jam out for a little while up there, but 3 a.m. came quicker than I would have liked and our second day in Music City officially came to a close.