blvd: Belmont’s Newest Foodie Destination

Today, StyleBlueprint welcomes back Kay West and we are drooling over this review of {blvd nashville}. The carb fast may be over!



Cha-cha-cha-cha-changes are what greeted slightly nervous devotees of Arnold Myint’s chic Belmont Boulevard restaurant Cha Chah when he re-opened it as {blvd nashville} over a short set of family-and-friends nights the last week of January.

Patti Myint—aka Mama Myint to all who have dined at her International Market across the street—and Papa Winn Myint provided the family ties, holding court in a corner and beaming proudly. Friends—many of whom call 37212 home and have a vested interest in what occupies 2013 Belmont Blvd. in 2013—all looked as relieved as parents on graduation day.


And why not? Giving the people what they want was the idea behind Arnold closing Cha Chah and opening {blvd}. “I had three years to establish myself creatively and play, but I had to make a business decision to pay attention to my wallet as well as my passion.” The Season Seven Top Chef contender re-tooled the concept with the help of his clientele and in response to suggestions from the neighborhood.

(SB note about today’s photos: most are from Kay or her daughter, Joy, but a few are from Snap Widget, which captures photos tagged from Instagram. If the account posting the image was not {blvd}, we have highlighted the Instagram account of the person who posted it when they tagged #blvdnashville.)

Who doesn't find a sidewalk sign inviting?

Who doesn’t find a sidewalk sign inviting?

I count myself in both groups and was among those a little sad about Cha Chah closing. I live within walking distance, a big bonus after a couple glasses of wine or, now, {blvd}’s new signature cocktail, the Pinky Lee, a sweet-tart  concoction of fresh ruby red grapefruit juice and either vodka, gin or tequila in a kaffir salt and sugar dust-rimmed glass named for Margaret and Fred Ellis’s elegant whippet Pinky.



Since Cha Cha’s opened in late 2008, it has been the easy, tasty and affordable go-to place for my daughter and me to take regular breathers from my office and her school, catch up and get a bite to eat. Also vital to my mental health and social connectivity are the weekly gatherings of a lively group of politically active and community engaged women around the long high-top table between patio and dining room.

We were characteristically vocal in “urging” that our home base remain in position, and it has, though the white surface has been replaced with a dark brown. (The other difference being that we now have to reserve the table in advance!)

The {blvd} reveal revealed a much warmer interior—linens gone, casual yet refined picnic-style tables replacing the smaller four-tops in the dining room and colder aluminum set-ups on the enclosed patio. If we weren’t so attached to our big table, we would be just as happy on the plush sofa and upholstered armchairs in the cozy little lounge that claimed one part of the patio.


Photo from @notcarlawithak on Snap Widget.

My daughter and I have relocated from the main dining room to the bar or a small high-top. I’ve been very clear in my  disapproval of televisions in restaurants (future post on the topic!) and am not crazy about the flat screen mounted on one wall of the main dining room, though I understand the reasoning behind it, and am relieved to know I will not be driven mad by jumbo-sized March Madness; so far as I’ve seen, this TV is tuned to black-and-white movies and vintage cartoons, which has a calming effect on young children.

Wherever you sit, you’ll be welcomed with something sure to make carb-deniers’ heads spin and everyone else delirious. The bread basket delivers two equally irresistible choices: a big salt-studded soft pretzel and super-sized triangles of crispy cornmeal-based waffles, served with house made apricot grain mustard for the former and sweet butter to lather on the latter.


The AM mustard, as well as hickory smoked salt, smoked vinegar, Mama Myint’s Hot Sauce and other selections are displayed on newly-installed shelving and sold by the jar and bottle. They make terrific, local-flavor hostess gifts.


But for me, all of that plays second fiddle to the food item that Arnold points to as most representative of the spirit of {blvd}: French fries. Or, as the menu describes them “Le French Fries.” He laughs as he explains, “At least half of your diners want to order things they know and can say. If we called them pommes frites, some people wouldn’t order them because they’d be afraid to mispronounce it, or not sure what they are. Call them “Le French Fries” and everyone thinks it’s funny, and who doesn’t love French fries?”

For a brief and worrisome period in her toddlerhood, my daughter—my own flesh and blood—rejected French fries entirely. If not for the undeniable physical resemblance, I would have suspected she had been switched at birth. Thankfully she has made a full recovery and joins me in my love for a beautifully-executed French fry. One of my must-go stops every visit to NY is, a narrow slip of a space on Second Avenue downtown. I’m a purist, so I don’t bother with the two dozen sauces, but I dive face first into one of their classic paper cones stuffed with authentic twice-fried Belgian fries.

Likewise, I am similarly inclined to the Hickory Salt and Pepper fries on the {blvd} menu, which is served in a shallow white china crock and accompanied with a tray of fry condiments.


But  if variety is your spice of life, there are five other ‘flavors’ to choose from: Truffle Oil & Chive, Spicy Habanero, Herbs de Provence, Pine Nut Pesto and Madras Spiced Curry.


Photo from @amy_donovan on Snap Widget.

French fries also inspired the whimsical art on the walls of {blvd}. Arnold said that “Toulouse Lautrec can can dancers seemed so cliché. Then I googled French fry art and there was a surprising amount. It just makes everyone smile.”


And far more appealing than paintings of Brussels sprouts, though the real thing happily remains the staple of the busy kitchen via the smoky-spicy-cheesy Warm Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

They can be found in the salad section of the lunch side of the one-sheet, two-sided menu, along with a farm egg-topped Caesar and a Mediterranean wedge, soups and sandwiches. Lunch is available through closing; the dinner side of the menu begins at 5 and features larger Bistro Plates—-Walnut Gnocchi, Salmon n’ Grits, Duck Cassoulet and Shepherd’s Pie among them— all under $20.

Good news for the Saturday night party crowd who want to sleep in is [blvd]’s all-day Sunday Brunch menu, from 11 am to 11 pm. This Farm Egg Skillet makes breakfast for dinner any time.


Photo from @notcarlawithak on Snap Widget.

Warmer temperatures will raise the windows on the patio and no doubt fill up the darling, sunny egg-yolk yellow café tables on the sidewalk. I’m looking forward to seeing what Arnold, his chef de Cuisine Francesco Vito and his bar staff have in store for the neighborhood this spring. All are welcome!


Thanks, Kay! We’ll be raising a french fry to you in the next few days! To learn more about {blvd} visit the restaurant’s Facebook page:

To read more posts by Kay on StyleBlueprint, click here.