experience nashville

your insider guide for a local perspective on Nashville, Tennessee.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Local Adventure 1 - A Night in Downtown Nashville

escape game nashville desanos nashville bar sovereign nashville date night local

Well hey y'all!

I wanted to start posting thoughts I have here and there so fellow locals (and non-locals) can have a few ideas of what to do for night out on the town with friends. I, for one, oftentimes struggle coming up with eventful ideas so as they happen in my world -- I'll jot them down for you.

Let's start with what we did last Saturday eve.

Escape Experience Nashville

I've heard rumblings over the past year or two of Escape Games happening in Nashville -- yet never had the lovely opportunity to try it out for myself. Thankfully, that changed last week and my goodness y'all -- this is awesome. Choose between breaking out of prison in C-Block or solving clues to earn your part of your crazy Uncle's Will in The Inheritance.

Strategy, word problems, secret passageways (!), and investigation work combined for one of the most fun hours I've spent in quite some time. There is so much thought and effort that goes into these games and the spaces they occupy, you must check it out ASAP. Future rooms to include surviving a disease which wipes out 90% of the world's population in Vaccine, preventing a World War in The Bunker, and more.

501 Union Street, Nashville, TN 37219

DeSanos Pizza

All of the brainpower you use to escape can conjure up quite the appetite. Just down the street is one of my fave pizza joints in town: DeSanos. They offer authentic, drool-worthy Italian-style pizza (so Italian, their ovens and ingredients come from the motherland themselves). A recent addition gives you plenty more room to sit and enjoy your pizza, and BONUS -- you can BYOW (bring your own wine).

115 16th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203

Bar Sovereign

After-dinner cocktail time (obvs.) There's a new bar in town and you MUST give them a try. Again an overdue experience for me to take in, Bar Sovereign is pure bad-assery -- so don't make the same mistake. Fabulous cocktails, service, and killer atmosphere. I love the subtle entrance (very speak-easy) and the overall vibe is killer. Very much looking forward to making this a regular watering hole.

514 5th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Want to be Healthy and Social in Nashville? Erin Oprea, personal trainer to Carrie Underwood, explains how.

erin oprea carrie underwood personal trainer 4 x 4 diet

I sat down to chat with fabulous local trainer to the stars (ahem. Carrie Underwood), Erin Oprea, who recently released her first book The 4x4 Diet. Outlining her diet, exercises (most of which you can do on-the-go), meal plans and recipes -- the book is a perfect solution for anyone looking to streamline their waistline + lifestyle. 

Our chat covers Erin's personal faves of how you can be social and still be healthy in Nashy. Want legs like Ms. Underwood? Read on. 

What inspired you to go into personal training?

There are quite a few reasons actually. Let me list them!

-I have a love for fitness
-I have a love for movement
-I am hyper but it is slowly abating as I grow older. Not gone yet.
-My father was an active man and got me addicted to soccer early on that transitioned into all kinds of healthy activities like long distance biking.
-I am at my happiest when my clients get a good workout and start seeing results. Mentally and physically. Their happiness and self confidence increases dramatically.

Why Nashville?

This is where I was living when it all started and I have been witness to the great rise of this fantastic city.

I want legs like Carrie. Where do I start?

Consistency and diet are key. One of the main drives I had to put The 4x4 Diet out into the world is to make sure that people understand how important nutrition is in combination with movement to develop that strong lean body. Carrie understands this and works very hard to get herself where she wants to be. She is not the only one allowed to have a smokin' body, so are you! Go get it (my book and the legs)! My book will help you get the healthiest version of you.

4 x 4 diet -- why is this method the best? How did you come up with?

This is the best way to combine healthy eating and working out without compromising the fun to be had in life. Don't give up what you love, cut back on the portions that don't allow you to be the healthiest version. Don't have an hour for the gym? Do a couple Tabatas before work, 1 at lunch and a couple more when you hit home. You have four minutes, you have to put time in for your own health and happiness. 

I constantly am watching and researching ways to work out. For my clients, yes, but mainly for myself! I love challenging my own routines and will take any idea and craft it into a workout that is safe and effective. This goes for meals as well. All the recipes in The 4x4 Diet are from years of experimenting and adjusting so that it meets my own standards. I still do it to this day and even adjust the book's recipes to my current taste with different spices and portions!

So I'm social. And always busy with work. 4x4 diet seems like it can accommodate this lifestyle -- is it true?

Absolutely! The key is a little planning. My prep day is imperative to the meals I eat throughout the week. When people eat poorly it is usually becasue they lack the time to prepare a long winded recipe. However, if most of the main pieces are ready then it makes it SO much easier to just grab and go! Just baking a bunch of well-seasoned chicken allows you to grab it quickly for meals or even a snack. Plus you can get a Tabata done in the time it takes to reheat your prep foods! Try to get out of that one!

Keeping the 4x4 diet in mind (for the most part)... let's talk Nashville recs.

Date Night 

Date night for my husband and I usually revolves around walking in between restaurants. Steps while digesting small plates puts you in the 4x4 wheelhouse! Kale salad at St. Anejo with salmon added (light to no cheese and dressing on the side). Walk to The Farm House for some great seasonal vegetables and head to Germantown for City House's for some broccoli salad. If it's my indulgence meal I will definitely hit up their Bellyham pizza. One of our favorites. You can get up 15-20,000 steps in a night like that. Romantic!

Happy Hour

The healthiest drink option is my own! Grab the Rosarita at Mason's Bar inside Loews Vanderbilt. They have collaborated with me to not only create a delicious, low sugar cocktail but also some absolutely yummy dishes. Look for the barbell on the menu so you KNOW it's Erin Oprea approved!


This is tricky territory. For a special night that is not 4x4 Diet approved yet still magical, you have to go try the Apple Fritter Bread Pudding topped with ice cream and salted caramel at M Restaurant inside Cummins Station. Please don't eat all of it, it is NOT healthy :).

Casual Meal out on the Town 

I love Bricktops. Often after work engagements downtown I'll join my husband to finish off the workday by sitting at the bar and having the Ahi Tuna Salad with the dressing on the side. Make sure to ask for extra greens because I love my greens. Don't tell them I told you to do that, they'll hate me :).

Place to Work Out (Outdoors)

Yes Please! Behind the Capitol building is a large sweeping set of stairs that is really fun to run up and down. A big plaza at the top of them allows for an area to do an entire workout. Don't know what to do? Stick around for 5 minutes and you'll see someone there getting their fitness on and steal their ideas. Better yet, bring my book and make the most of your time!

Any Other Fun Ideas for Exercise in Nashville 

The Percy Warner loops are fantastic to run and hike through. Not only will you meet some great dogs but there is that fantastic set of steps to hit up for a good lung burner.  

Thanks, Erin! You can pick up your very own copy of The 4x4 Diet here!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Steadfast Commons - The Newest (+ fab) Downtown Nashville Restaurant/Coffee Destination

photos: Mikaela Hamilton Steinwedell

A beautiful new addition to the Nashville dining/culinary/coffee/drinking scene, Steadfast Commons -- a fabulously unique and beautifully executed spot -- should be immediately added to any local foodie's list of ‘go-tos’ when finding thy-selves downtown. The gentlemen behind the uber-popular coffee shop Steadfast in Germantown quietly opened the doors to this newest venture in January.

Commons features Steadfast roasts, teas, homemade pastries and lunch items during the day (yum), and transitions to a dinner and cocktail-focused menu in the evening. And y’all, I for one am SO excited to have a new option downtown to hit before shows. So, yay.

Now, for the dirty (and quite important) deets. The team have again enlisted acclaimed chef Julia Sullivan (Per Se, Blue Hill, Pinewood Social) to create the market-driven food menu, which expands upon the culinary program she created for Steadfast in Germantown. Sullivan is joined in the kitchen by chef Megan Jay (Silly Goose, Dinner Lab).

Cocktail specialist Troy Sidle (a veteran of Pouring Ribbons and The Violet Hour and founder of Canvas Bar Design) has created a cocktail menu exclusively for Steadfast Commons. To capitalize on the excellent coffee program, created by co-founder Nathanael Mehrens, many of the drinks utilize Steadfast flash chilled espresso in bitters, liqueurs, syrups and sodas (and let me tell you, are all incredible). Wine and beer will also be available.

Next time you find yourself downtown, I’d recommend popping in to take a peek. Because coffee. And good food. And dranks.

299 Demonbruen Street
Nashville, TN 37201
Hours: 7am - 3pm and 5pm - 12am.

More pics below.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Skyville Live Presents Cyndi Lauper, Kelsea Ballerini, and Ingrid Michaelson


Ya'll. The show was incredible

Lauper opened with her take on the 1959 classic "Heartaches by the Number," and continued the night with hits "Time after Time" and "True Colors". Ingrid's cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love"was certainly one of the most epic musical moments I've experienced in town. Ballerini killed the country-classic ballad "Make the World Go Away," a song written by the legendary Eddy Arnold (and previously covered by Martina McBride). Several duets and number ones later, the ladies closed the night with "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".

Check out photos from the night and learn about upcoming shows via Skyvillelive.com.

(Side note: Lauper's country covers LP Detour drops in May.)


On January 28, prepare to have your mind. blown.

Grammy, Emmy, and Tony-award winning musical LEGEND Cyndi Lauper is performing in Nashville this Thursday with special guests (and two of my faves) Keslea Ballerini and Ingrid Michaleson. And the best part is? It's free. You too can join myself partaking in what is sure to be a most epic musical experience. Access the show by downloading the go90 mobile app on the App Store or Google Play -- it begins at 7:00PM CST.

Skyville Live is an Emmy nominated series that launched here in town back in January 15. And with pairings like this one (and their last -- Lady A, Kris Kristofferson, and Jewel), I for one can't wait to see what collabs are coming up in the future.

Whew. Because Cyndi Lauper. And Nashville. I frigging love this town.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Nashville Restaurant Week 2016

One of my favorite weeks in Nashville  is nearly upon us offering the perfect chance to try some of our best local fare for quite a reasonable price. I've compiled the list of participating restaurants and linked to menusmany of which are offering specials only available during this week. Yum.

So what are my picks? 

The East Sider in me will likely keep me on this side of the river, so, Holland House or Rumours East will probably be my go-tos. I'm also a huge fan of Yellow Porch and Tin Angel's offerings (especially for the price). And y'all, the Chicken Fried Chicken at Saffire might just be worth the hike down South... 

What is your fave spot on the list, or are you planning on trying somewhere new? 


Monday, January 4, 2016

Oh Hey Josephine.

Josephine is definitely not a newby to our ever-so-bustling restaurant scene in town, and has long held a top spot on my favorite brunches list (because, sticky buns). However, dinner service has always left me wanting a bit... more.

Until now.

Thanks to a lovely friend for gifting a Community Hospitality gift card over the holidays, we decided to venture back to Josephine on a random weekday night, and y'all. I couldn't have been more delighted. First, we did not have a reservationwhich we didn't think would be an issue as we typically love to sit at the bar, but it wasn't an option this evening as the place was packed. We checked in with the hostesses, and were promised a table in 20 minutes. One fabulous cocktail later we were seated. Perfection.

So now to the fun part: What we ordered. There were two of us, and we opted to share a few small plates and an entree, plus dessert.

To Drink:

The No Quarter, a stirred cocktail which offered ideal flavors for the season:
Apple brandy, rye, Italian vermouth, Angostura, Peychaud's, scotch rinse.

Small Plates:

The Pretzel Bread. A solid staple since opening served with their house made mustard. (And also, pictured above.) Phenom.

Rabbit  Dumplings. Quite possibly my favorite, the standout dish for the night. Incredibly rich and so flavorful.
Dumpling, rabbit, apple cider, apples, ham, sage.

Brussel Sprouts. Because, well, you have to. Josephine's are some of the best in town.
Brussels sprouts, dried cherries, orange, peanut vinaigrette, rye crumb.


Pappardelle with Lamb. Amaze. The rich, hearty pasta that was exactly what I needed on a cold winter evening. Pappardelle, Border Springs lamb, parmesan.


A rule of thumb when dining out with me: Always save room for dessert. At this point, we'd established quite a rapport with our serveras she had nailed all of her recommendations in the meal thus far. So, we decided to venture a bit outside of our comfort zone with the Angel Food Cake, but OH. It was absolute heaven. Rich, sweet, sour, so many flavors. Love, love, LOVED it.
Angel Food cake, concord grape, vanilla, white chocolate.

A perfect night accompanied by wonderful service, atmosphere, bevvys, and food. What more can one ask for?

2316 12th Ave. S
Nashville, TN 37204
Reservations recommended


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Hanging at the Symphony Ball with Miranda Lambert.

Thank you thank you, Nashville Symphony, for having me out to the 2016 Symphony Ball. Miranda Lambert, one of my most favorite artists in town, was honored with the the 2015 Harmony Award, and I had the privilege of (briefly) meeting her.

Y'all. She was stunning. "Project Runway" star Johnathan Kayne designed Miranda's striped, strapless gown for the white-tie event. The award is presented every year to an individual who exemplifies the 'harmonious spirit of the Nashville music community'.

"I just feel really ingrained in Nashville right now, like I feel really part of it," Miranda said. "And so this just solidifies everything that I've been feeling just being here for the last couple of months."

What a fabulous night.

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