The thoughtful menu, careful preparations, and intimate atmosphere at the Mad Platter (1239 6th Ave. N., 615/242-2563, Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Wed.–Sat. 5:30–11 p.m., Sun. 5–11 p.m., $18–29) have made it one of Nashville’s  favorite “nice” restaurants for years. Located among restored townhouses in the tiny Germantown neighborhood just north of the Bicentennial Mall , the Mad Platter is the work of Craig and Marcia Jervis, two chefs who met while catering the mid-1980s Michael Jackson’s Victory tour. The Jervises married and opened the Mad Hatter, where they demonstrate their love for food, and each other, every day.
Signature entrées include the Mad Platter rack of lamb, which is tender and juicy, and the porcini-dusted shrimp. For a special occasion, or just to enjoy one of the city’s best dining deals, choose the five-course special. Add $20 to your favorite entrée and you’ll get soup, appetizer, salad, and dessert, too. Talk about a meal to remember! Lunch features sandwiches, pasta, and salads for $7–13. The chicken salad is sweet and tangy, and comes with fresh banana bread. Reservations are advisable at dinner; for lunch, come early to head off the business crowd.
Rub elbows with legislators, lobbyists, and other members of the jet set at the Capitol Grill (23 6th Ave. N., 615/345-7116, daily 6:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m., $16–47). Located in the ground floor of the elegant Hermitage Hotel and set a stone’s throw from the Tennessee State Capitol , this is the sort of restaurant where marriages are proposed and deals are done. The menu is fine dining at its best: choice cuts of meat prepared with exacting care. Dinner features rack of elk, sea bass, and pork chops; the provenience of each is noted on the menu. The lunch menu is more modest, including the Capitol Grill burger, a grilled pimento cheese sandwich, and meat entrées for $11–18. The business lunch offers a lunch entrée and your choice of soup or salad for $20. Breakfast ($4–16) may be the most decadent of all, with cinnamon-swirl French toast, eggs Benedict, lobster and shirred eggs, and an array of fresh pastries and fruit. The Sunday Brunch features the best of the grill’s lunch and breakfast menus, and is consistently popular.
Adjacent to the Capitol Grill is the Oak Bar, a wood-paneled and intimate bar for pre- or post-dinner drinks and conversation.