Saffire restaurant is one of those restaurants one can but shouldn’t forget about. Located in the Factory at Franklin in Williamson County, Saffire is not a place one drives by and remembers. Even if you pass the Factory every day, which I do, it’s located in the back which means unless someone is shouting out about the Saffire, it can easily go off the radar.
Allow me to point you back to Williamson County, which has very few independent restaurants to choose from when compared to the hipster food scene in East Nashville and all the new places popping up all over Music City. I understand the mad rush out to try everything new because I’m like that too, but there’s something about an old consistent flame that deserves a revisit, especially one with such charming vintage ambiance and really good food.
The Saffire is owned by Tom Morales, founder of the TomKats Group, which originated 25 years ago as a backstage catering company, and who also owns the Southern. I wrote very favorably about the Southern last year. The difference between the two places is that Southern will see a zillion tourists coming to downtown Nashville and, while I love the place, it will never feel like my neighborhood. The Southern has the glitz, glamour and star sightings, but twenty minutes away in historic Franklin, Saffire belongs to us locals and remains our very own upscale neighborhood eatery, where we can be known by name and rely on consistently good food and friendly service.
On the night I ate dinner at Saffire, I dined with Lisa from Wine with Lisa, another Nashville food blogger. Of course it goes without saying that when bloggers go out together, we are looking for a place we can eat well, and talk. We bloggers spend too much time alone and when we get together, we’ll be looking at the food and service with an extra critical eye, but most importantly, we just want an all around good time. Her talented photographer daughter, Layla, came with us and we had so much fun gushing over the food, and talking Pinterest, Photography, and future food events, all in a relaxed atmosphere.
Saffire is one of the few local places in Franklin that has a happy hour. Wine is $6, draft beer is $4, but try the Saffire Martini for $5 which is normally $9. Tuesday and Sunday evening is half price wine bottle night (under $80). Our lunch visit was a Tuesday and we were pleasantly surprised by this, and, of course, we went for it.
SAFFIRE MARTINI | 9 pinnacle vodka / cranberry / lime / blueberry syrup (This is $5 during happy hour and it’s very good).
Chef Vinny Tardo’s favorite place on earth is Italy. Mine too, and when someone says this, I know the big part of that love means the food and how important that is to them.
Lunch or Dinner will not disappoint, especially if you start off with the fried oysters over mashed turnips, which are presented individually and make an easy starter to share. I love my raw oysters which they also have, but these are a real treat, served with a tomato cream base, and greens and apples in the center. The combination of the crispy oyster with the mashed and the flavors of the sauce combine to make that perfect bite.
FAVORITE FRIED OYSTERS | apalachicola selects, tomato crawfish butter, chayote salad, turnip mash and saffire hot sauces
GRILLED SALMON SALAD | hickory grilled filet of salmon on baby spinach with toasted almonds, dried cranberries and tender wheatberries, dressed with a refreshing lemon oregano vinaigrette. Normally, I find spinach salads boring, but not this one).
The Shrimp & Grits full of flavor. Usually I don’t like grit cakes, but here I take exception. Once you fork into it, it’s creamy and sops up the wonderful sauce.
CREOLE SHRIMP & GRITS | sautéed shrimp in a creole tomato sauce and served over
There have been two times in my life where I remember the Caesar salad for it’s unique interpretation and this is one of them. This is a must order. I think it’s the blackstrap molasses that gives it that special something.
NEW SOUTH CAESAR | romaine lettuce, country ham, buttermilk caesar dressing, farm cheese crostini drizzled with blackstrap molasses
The chicken fried chicken has been on the menu since they opened, one of their most popular dishes, served with macaroni and cheese.
LEGENDARY CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN | panko-crusted chicken breast served with Vermont white cheddar-n-mac and topped with country ham gravy
It’s rare for me to choose a chicken dish in a restaurant, but the Tennessee Spring Chicken came highly recommended and I wasn’t sorry. It’s all about the sauce for this dish, served with a corn succotash and instead of carrots I asked for greens and they were happy to accommodate. It was enough for dinner and and lunch the next day.
TENNESSEE SPRING CHICKEN | pan roasted all natural organic chicken breast topped with a whole grain mustard cream sauce and served with corn succotash and heirloom baby carrots
On this night I dined with another food blogger, Lisa from Wine with Lisa. She had the pork chop which she ate every bite of, another staple that is always on their menu. She and I agreed that our night at Saffire was fun on enjoyable on many levels, starting with our cocktails
Of course, at either lunch or dinner, there’s always biscuits at Saffire.
We didn’t order dessert, but I noticed that they have buttermilk pie on the menu. That’s one of my personal signature desserts and the next time I have to try it, as they use Hatcher Dairy Buttermilk and there is a difference!
Saffire can be cozy, and your favorite neighborhood eatery. It can also be the place in Franklin that you take your out of town guests, for either brunch, lunch, or maybe just a cocktail. I’m a huge shrimp and grits fan and Saffire is one of my favorite places for that. It has jumped to the top of my list again because the last two times I not only experienced great food, I had a good time, good service and an all over feel good experience.
One of the things I love about local restaurants is how they treat their employees like family. When I remarked about a painting on the wall that I fell in love with, Ali told me it was her very own photograph and it was for sale. This kind of support can’t happen in a corporate chain. This photograph might be adorning my own walls very soon. You can see her work at Grove Aesthetic Photography. It’s gorgeous.
Saffire is one of the Nashville Originals, an alliance dedicated to sustaining local eateries by combining efforts. Not only do I support buying local, but eating local, which helps create, develop and sustain Nashville’s food culture.
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