When Angel asked me to review my next restaurant, she reminded me that this would be Wilson Living’s annual bridal issue, and I immediately knew that I would not have to go far to find the perfect place.
The Cuckoo’s Nest is a great place that I love for breakfast or lunch. But what made it the perfect place for me to write about for this month’s issue is that The Cuckoo’s Nest plays host to everything from bridal showers, bridal luncheons and rehearsal dinners to the reception. And the thing that excites me the most is that it is almost walking distance (or as I prefer, a short car ride) from my office.
Debbie Harden opened The Cuckoo’s Nest over 12 years ago. Before bringing her great restaurant to Lebanon, she spent 20 years with a food company catering in Nashville. Being a native of Middle Tennessee, Debbie got her idea to own and operate a restaurant at an early age. Years ago, her mother managed a small restaurant in the old Castner Knott store in Donelson called ‘The Kettle’.
Debbie’s restaurant resides in a beautifully restored, charming 1930’s “Craftsman Bungalow” style home located just off West Main Street at 120 North Greenwood Street. Almost everything on Debbie’s menu, which changes daily AND weekly, is made from scratch, starting with the homemade bread that is placed in front of you as soon as you sit down. The homemade orange-honey butter is the perfect accompaniment to it. Debbie strives to use the freshest ingredients she can, obtaining (when possible) fresh fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market and Mennonites. One thing I learned as I talked with Debbie, that she made perfectly clear, is that her place is NOT a tearoom. “I would call my place a restaurant with upscale Southern food. It’s good food in an elegant, relaxed and peaceful atmosphere,” Debbie explained. And calling her food “good” is an understatement in my humble dining opinion!
I have eaten at Debbie’s restaurant many times, though a large percentage of her patrons tend to be the fairer sex … come on guys, real men do eat quiche! As I stated before, this is no tearoom (though she does have the best fruit tea I have ever had). Even though her faithful patrons that have been frequenting her place from the very beginning got hooked on her homemade chicken salad and her famous strawberry salad with the unique pretzel crust, she started her “hot menu” two years later, and the hits just keep on coming as she strives to keep a wonderful variety of menu offerings. Prime rib roast with bourbon sauce, herb-crusted chicken with parmesan cream sauce, baked rigatoni with Italian sausage and tomato sauce and rainbow trout fillet with lemon caper sauce are just the tips of the iceberg of her delicious and creative offerings. On a recent visit
I had the “Hot Brown”, which is a sandwich with a very Southern heritage. It is an openface sandwich consisting of turkey, ham and bacon, all covered in a mornay sauce and broiled until the sauce starts to bubble or “brown”. It was first invented and served at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in 1926. It was created as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers, and it became an instant classic in Kentucky and beyond. Debbie’s breakfast fare is the best-kept secret in town. And I recently took my staff there for lunch. Debbie loves it when someone compliments her restaurant as the first place they have ever eaten a particular food. That happened with us when my I let my Optician, Mitzi Blair, try some of my spinach/gnocchi soup. She had never in her life had soup! Only kidding … she had never had gnocchi before. One bite and she was hooked!
If you like eating good Southern food in a very pleasant atmosphere, then you should certainly give The Cuckoo’s Nest a try. Don’t forget about sampling her fresh and delicious breakfast offerings as well. And brides, don’t forget that she handles private parties at her place for up to 50-60 people comfortably. And she has catered events for upwards of 250 people. She also makes custom ordered desserts and wedding cakes.
The Cuckoo’s Nest, located at 120 N. Greenwood St., is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Nest, located at 120 N. Greenwood St., is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.