February 22, 2016

Sylvan Park: Nashville’s Greatest Plate Lunch Restaurant

Featured on NPR’S “Splendid Table: The Show for People Who Love to Eat”
By Jane and Michael Stern
Jane and Michael drive around America looking for good food and exploring popular culture. From the hottest restaurants to the quirkiest out-of-the-way gems, here’s where you’ll find what are, in their opinion, the best and most interesting food spots the country has to offer.
Sylvan Park is a simple little dining room that is one of Nashville’s great plate lunch restaurants. Choices of entrée include slices of fried Tennessee ham, barbecued chicken, and breaded pork chops; and the roster of side dishes, served in little bowls and on thick, unbreakable partitioned plates, is unforgettable. Every day, there are at least a dozen from which to choose, including definitive turnip greens and shockingly sweet stewed apples.

For dipping and mopping the juices and for serving as uncomplicated punctuation among the assertive flavors, Sylvan Park offers tender little biscuits with great absorbent qualities as well as tangy cornbread muffins with a rough texture that crumbles nicely over a serving of creamy white beans.

Sylvan Park is known also for its pies: chocolate, butterscotch, egg custard, sweet potato. They aren’t pretty. Cut to order in the kitchen, a slice often arrives half-fallen-apart on the plate. That’s because these pies are very, very delicate with fragile meringue on top of the creamy ones. A highly recommended alternative to pie, when available: banana pudding. Its flavor is huge, and it is made the classic southern way, with softened vanilla wafers and streaks of meringue throughout the balmy custard.