During our late summer vacation earlier this year, we spent a couple nights in the Nashville area. We stayed down in Brentwood on the south side of the city and spent some time in the quaint little city of Franklin. Looking for a place for breakfast one morning we came across an interesting looking place by the name of J. Christopher's. Here's what we encountered.
It turns out that J. Christopher's is a regional chain based out of Atlanta. In the mid-90's, partners Jay McCann and Chris Brogdon came up with a restaurant concept that would feature breakfasts and lunches made with natural and healthy ingredients with interesting twists on traditional foods. Combining their first two names, they named their restaurant J. Christopher's opening the first location in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta in early 1997. Today, there are nearly two dozen J. Christopher's, primarily throughout the Atlanta area with two in the greater Nashville area.
The J. Christopher's in Franklin is located in a small shopping complex not far from the corner of Mallory Lane and Cool Springs Road. (see map) The lot they share with other businesses in the area was sort of full when we got there around 9:30 that particular morning, but we were able to find a spot not far from the restaurant.
The inside of the restaurant was well lit from both the natural light coming in the east side windows, but from the ceiling lights interspersed throughout the place. One of the noticeable features of the restaurant were the number of pop culture and famous people prints that were hanging on the walls. Many of these pictures - perhaps all of them - were painted by Lee Bivens, an Atlanta artist has been commissioned over the years by both corporate and private interests for his murals and portraits. We lingered after breakfast to take a closer look at some of the paintings.
We were seated in a booth along the wall with Elton John looking down on us. After we got our menus, we were greeted by Jillian, our server that morning, and the restaurant's manager Kenny Henck. He announced to us that not only was it Jillian's first day, but we were going to be her first customers! I don't know if he told us that to warn us or to make us feel sorry for her so we should cut her some slack if she fouled up. Cutting to the chase, it was all for naught - she did a great job and if we hadn't been told it was her first day, we wouldn't have known.
The menu featured quick items for those on the go and well as healthy choices including turkey bacon or sausage, egg white dishes and a South Beach Phase 2 diet plate. They also have a number of omelets, skillet dishes, waffles, "crunch" cakes - basically pancakes with granola, and challah French toast. J. Christopher's is definitely not your average breakfast place.
One of the new things they were trying out was something they called the wren's nest - poached eggs, sundried tomatoes and spinach leaves in a bread bowl. Cindy thought it was interesting and she ended up ordering that. It came with a hollandaise sauce over the top with sprinkles of paprika.
I had the Eggs Benedict with a side of grits and a side of corned beef hash. The Eggs Benedict were your basic kind of E.B.'s, thick hollandaise sauce cover the top of the poached eggs on top of Canadian bacon and a half of an English muffin. They were good, but nothing special. The grits were also fine, not the best I've had, but all right. The corned beef hash looked to have been made in-house and was pretty tasty. The only problem was that it was a pretty small side for corned beef hash. Four or five forkfuls and it was gone.
The manager, Kenny Henck, came over to check on us wanting to know how Jillian was working out (she was doing fine - she had to have some previous waitressing experience, I'm guessing), and he also wanted to know how Cindy liked her Wren's Nest breakfast. "We just put that on the menu and we're giving it a try," he told us. She told him that it was fine, but it was lacking something in flavor. She said that something like - maybe - avocado slices might liven up the taste. And she thought it was too much bread - but she doesn't eat a lot of bread, anyhow. He appreciated the feedback and thought the avocado slices would be a nice addition.
The one thing about J. Christopher's - be prepared to spend a lot of money. I thought our breakfast was on the high-end of the price of what a normal breakfast should be. Still, they had some unique items and it was definitely more upscale of a breakfast place than your usual chain places. Jillian - even for her first day - did a fine job for us. It was nice that the manager came over to check on us a couple of times. Other than being a little expensive, we thought our breakfast at J. Christopher's was fine.