Last visit: December 2008
Web site: monellsdining.ypguides.net
We first visited Monell's about 10 years ago on the basis of a tiny ad in a newspaper for passengers at the Nashville airport: all-you-could-eat for $11. This proposition sounds attractive to a hungry traveler independent of the quality of the food. But Monell's turned out to be an outstanding experience. The restaurant is located in a restored 1880s house in the old German section of town. Guests are served at communal tables and served family style. The food is excellent; the family-style service helps them serve extremely fresh portions. I would never say that a restaurant is as good as my mom's cooking because it wouldn't be true and such a statement would endanger my safety, but Monell's has mastered Southern home cooking. Their fried chicken is outstanding; they always serve a selection of meats at every meal. Their dressing is more corn-based than the typical dressing, which suits my taste. The communal service adds to the enjoyment, particularly for travelers who are ready for companionship. The house is marvelously restored.
Since our first visit, prices have gone up, all the way to $16.95, but nothing else has changed. On our last visit, we drove into town and promptly arrived for dinner: fried chicken, pork, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and corn pudding. After checking out of the hotel, we drove directly to Monell's for breakfast before hitting the road. The guests at the table were new but the staff greeted us warmly, not surprised that we would show up again so soon. The food was both plentiful and wondeful: pancakes, cheese grits, thick bacon, and (of course for a true Southern breakfast) fried chicken. If I have to fault them on anything, their gravy is a little thin for my taste. I believe that gravy should spackle one's innards to last through a hard day's work. As we were eating, a fire truck pulled up, two firemen came in, and left with take-out breakfast.