The South Central Chapter meeting of the American Musicological Society was held in March at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and the trip gave me an opportunity to spend a Friday evening in Nashville, as I was not scheduled to give a presentation until Saturday.
So after checking into my hotel in Murfreesboro, I drove up to Nashville to go to my favorite pizza place, Emmy Squared, which specializes in Detroit style pizza. But as I arrived in The Gulch district where it is located, it began raining, and I had to walk through showers to make my way to the restaurant. The place was crowded, and I had to wait nearly an hour, but the pizza was just as good as I had remembered from my first visit several years ago.
After dinner, I decided to go to Rudy’s Jazz Room, which is the new jazz club in the Nashville area, after the venerable F. Scott’s closed some years ago. I had not heard of the jazz pianist who was playing, but he was quite good, and I enjoyed the entire experience. Rudy’s Jazz Room is in fact a room for listening, and despite the place being crowded indeed, I was able to be seated comfortably and to hear the music. Low lighting and the ambiance of a living room characterized the club.
Afterwards, I wanted to grab a dessert, and fortunately Nashville has a branch of Atlanta’s great Cafe Intermezzo. Although it closes earlier than the original location in Atlanta, I was able to get in and to enjoy a piece of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake and a Viennese coffee. It was a great way to end a fun night in Nashville before driving back to Murfreesboro and to bed.
I drove up to Nashville on a Thursday night so that I could spend Friday in the Tennessee State Archives doing research for my masters’ thesis, but the weather was a complete wash-out, with rain that would not stop all the way from Memphis to Nashville.
Tennessee’s capital is in the middle of an unprecedented growth spurt, and its downtown in particular is becoming a city that I hardly recognize anymore. The rain was making things particularly difficult, but I recalled reading about a place that served Detroit-style pizza in Nashville, so I looked it up on my phone, and found it. The little bar was in a neighborhood called the Gulch, and was called Emmy Squared. It proved to be a Nashville branch of a New York City chain, and although I was wet and chilled after running from the parking garage to the bar, the interior was cozy, warm and inviting. The pizza proved to be quite expensive, but very delicious, and worth the cost.
Afterwards, I wanted dessert, and to my surprise, I saw on my phone that Nashville has gotten a location of Cafe Intermezzo, my favorite dessert place in Atlanta. Getting there was difficult to say the least, but after running in the rain, I came to a place with a huge Lavazza Coffee sign, but that turned out to be a completely different place, a late-night eatery called The Diner, which looked inviting. The Nashville location of Intermezzo turned out to be in the next block of Demonbreun Street, and was slightly smaller than its Atlanta counterparts, but it had the same excellent desserts and coffees. Being a huge Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup fan, I chose a chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake, and had a chocolate peanut butter latte as well! It was the perfect follow-up to my dinner. Then, with the rain continuing, I headed back to my Air BnB to call it a night. This is certainly not the Nashville I knew in my younger days!
When the jazz band had finished playing on the rooftop at The Reserve, I walked back down to Noni’s Village and caught the shuttle back to the Melia Hotel, intending to head to the Quad, which was trending. But A$AP Ferg was performing there, and 2 Chains had tweeted that he intended to perform there, despite not being on the schedule, and the crowds that showed up resulted in hundreds of people milling around the Spring and 4th Complex entrance, and six Atlanta police cars parked out front as well. So I changed my mind and drove to Cafe Intermezzo for a late night cup of coffee and slice of dessert. With the weather so pleasant, I was able to sit out on the sidewalk promenade, and one of the improvements at the new location is the extensive amount of front outdoor seating. There’s really no better way to end a day in Atlanta.
I was not at all thrilled when I heard last November that Atlanta’s Cafe Intermezzo would be moving from its long-time location in upper Midtown on Peachtree to a location in a hotel closer to downtown. Ostensibly, the move had something to do with lack of parking at the traditional location, but I imagined that parking would be even more cramped (or expensive) in the area near Peachtree and 10th they were moving to. After visiting the new location last weekend, I have to be honest and admit that there are some things I like about the new spot. They validate parking, so parking is free for the first two hours (but it is $20 afterwards, so beware!). The new location doesn’t seem quite as cramped, and while there is no back patio, there is plenty of outdoor seating in true European coffeehouse style. The dessert case seems smaller at the new location, and there seem to be fewer dessert choices, but the drink menu hasn’t changed a bit, and while the new location seems more crowded (the popular Vanquish nightclub is across the street from it), the atmosphere is pretty much the Intermezzo I’ve always known. So while I will always miss the original, I’m not as disappointed with the new location as I expected to be. As always, Intermezzo is a must-visit when in Atlanta, and is open until 3 AM on weekends.
Cafe Intermezzo (@CafeIntermezzo) is a not-to-be-missed experience in Midtown Atlanta. It’s great coffee, fabulous desserts, a small food menu and liquor of course, but more than that, it’s an experience, with its old-world ambiance, chill-out, jazz or classical music playing in the background, and its diverse crowd of late-night hipsters. Open until 2 AM (3 AM on weekends), the whole world seems to come to Intermezzo sooner or later. Now, if only they would put one in Midtown Memphis!
It was another beautiful sunny morning when I awoke, and checking out of the Carousel Inn was not particularly a happy occasion. I would have liked to have stayed for another day or two, but I had a room booked in Atlanta for the night, so I checked out, and again headed south to Lover’s Key and Bonita Beach for one last time. In Bonita Springs, there was a Mel’s Diner, and I stopped there for a breakfast, and then headed on to I-75. Still hoping to find something by A-Lee, the new Fort Myers rapper, I used my iPhone to call TJ’s CD’s in Port Charlotte, but while the owner said he had a lot of mixtapes, he didn’t have anything by A-Lee, nor had he heard of him. The drive to Gainesville took longer than I had expected, and it was nearly 3 PM by the time I arrived. C. Wakeley met me at Calico Jack’s, and we ate lunch there before I headed further north, stopping for a breve latte in Lake City. Crossing over into Georgia in the early evening, I could see the smoke from several fires far off into the distance, but I wasn’t sure whether they were wildfires, or if they had been set to burn farm fields. Beyond Macon I called my friend Fort Knox, Willie Joe’s manager, and he agreed to meet me at Hudson’s, An American Grill in the Perimeter Mall area, since the Piebar had closed back in December. It was about 10 PM when I finally got to the Hudson’s, and Fort Knox and one of his partners arrived soon afterwards. The restaurant served food until 2 AM, so I had no problem in getting dinner, and then Knox had a meeting, and I headed across the street to Cafe Intermezzo for a dessert and coffee. My room was at the Hyatt Regency downtown, so I headed back down 75/85, exiting at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and heading to the hotel on Peachtree. I discovered that parking was valet only, and $25 per night, but I didn’t have much choice, so I turned my car over to the valet and checked in. My room was very small, but sleek and modernistic, with a city view. Before I got to bed, though, the phone rang, and it was the valet saying that he couldn’t start my car, so I had to explain to him that the ignition key was the one with the logo on it, and then I went to bed.