This week I ate at two places new to me. The Silly Goose in East Nashville features locally grown and organic food in its dishes; a chalkboard on the wall lists some of their suppliers and the foods they’ve supplied. The Goose’s menu is very simple and, I imagine, subject to change with the seasons. I actually ate there twice this week.

Inside The Silly Goose

The first time I had the Sparky wrap, with turkey breast, basil aioli, dried cranberries, brie, pecans, and baby greens, with a side of herbed couscous and a basil lemonade. All very tasty, and the basil  lemonade was a revelation. A touch of balsamic syrup on the couscous was just right. On the second occasion, I had the Goose Stack salad, with chopped mango and roasted red pepper, sliced avocado, goat cheese, tomato, baby greens, mint, and basil. This dish was very artfully prepared. The greens, topped with a ginger-citrus vinaigrette, were separated to one side of the plate, while, as the name indicates, the other ingredients were stacked: tomato slice on the bottom, topped with the other items. Again, very tasty, and all the ingredients were fresh. My wife and I tried the orange coriander ice cream, which was fantastic. Check out the Nashville Scene’s review of The Silly Goose here.

Cafe Bosna turned out to be in an unassuming strip mall I’d passed many times without giving it a second thought. Owner Sevala Kulovic and her husband were refugees from the Bosnian war and have now been in the States sixteen years. Her menu features a mix of American and Eastern Europe-inspired dishes; she usually has a special or two not listed on the menu. On the night we visited, it was the traditional goulash, which I couldn’t pass up. I had it over rice, with a side salad and pita bread. Delicious. The beef practically melted in my mouth. (Yes, I generally avoid meat unless I know where it comes from. So sue me. I loved every bite.) My wife had a ginger veggie wrap, which she gave a thumbs-up to. Check out The Tennessean’s recent review here.

Sevala Kulovic, owner of Cafe Bosna

In addition to the delicous food, what made dining at these places enjoyable was the friendliness of the staff and the intimacy of the spaces. The Silly Goose is practically a hole in the wall; there are only four tables and a bar with four stools for seating. Apparently they are set up to do a lot of take-out. But the staff was very friendly and helpful, and when your food arrives there’s no doubt it’s been hand-made. Cafe Bosna has a somewhat bigger space but, like The Silly Goose, its seating area and kitchen area feel very open to each other, with only a counter separating them. The night my wife and I were there, only a couple other patrons were in the restaurant, and Sevala took time to talk to us and tell us a bit of her own story. Honestly, it felt like we were visiting a Bosnian great-aunt we never knew we had. We promised we’d be back—and we will.

So, a couple of discoveries in Nashville dining this week. And the more you find places like this, the harder it is to go back to the corporate, industrialized, pseudo-hospitality dining of Chili’s, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, etc.