Red Pony

The husband treated me to dinner tonight at Red Pony restaurant in History Downtown Franklin. Kudos to him for being imaginative and giving us a chance to experience something other than our usual haunts (Mirror, Park Cafe...). We don't make going to Franklin a habit - the drive isn't THAT bad, but we have plenty of great restaurants in Davidson county to not always want to drive more than 10 minutes.

I wish I could say that it was a fantastic time to be had at Red Pony, but I'd be lying. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the dinner - the wait staff and the atmosphere and the quality of food we had somewhat made up for us having to wait practically an hour. The Husband made our reservations were for 9pm thinking we could avoid the dinner crowd. We arrived 5 minutes to the hour, not expecting too much of a wait. "We anticipate at least a 15 minute to half hour wait because we're an hour and a half behind in schedule."

Fine. We can wait 15 minutes.

Or... y'know... 30 minutes. I mean we're already out here...
45 minutes pass, a woman walked up to the hostess and went off at her about how she had reservations for 8:30, and it's been more than an hour and that "This happened the last time I came here who is being accountable for this mess and why does this keep happening?"

Good question. My question is, why does this woman keep coming back?! And for a restaurant that typically has a wait, they don't have a lot of seating available.

Anyway, we finally got to a table at 9:45 and as we sat, a gentleman who must have been one of the owners or managers, came by and shook our hands and apologized profusely for the wait. Apparently a very large group stayed far beyond the anticipated time (that group was about 24 people strong, they sat right by us and left, finally when WE finished) so appetizers are on the house as a thank you for our patience. Well! That was nice.

Our server was attentive, quick and great with the recommendations. And they kitchen was very quick to get our food prepared so we didn't have to wait long at all. The Husband had the monk fish with monchego mac n cheese, and I had the shrimp and grits (green onions, wine sauce, garlic cheese grits and fresh mushrooms and applewood bacon). For our appetizer, we ordered the "saganaki" which is a small block of cheese that they set ablaze and squeeze a lemon wedge over. The result is this crispy outer layer over some very yummy, creamy cheese with pita bread. Overall the dinner was lovely. The husband mentioned a review he saw on Citysearch for the restaurant where someone complained that the portions aren't big enough. Honestly? They were plenty big. We split the appetizer, we polished off our entrees and felt totally satisfied. We didn't feel like we overate at all, and it was all so tasty we knew we were paying for quality. The portion sizes there are, in fact, NORMAL. They are human sized. They're not Chili's portions by any means and seriously? That's a damn good thing.

After tonight, we decided we'd rather go to a restaurant where our reservations actually mean something. Sure, it's not their fault that the large party stayed long, but isn't that typical of larger groups for dinner? Shouldn't someone have anticipated it and not oversold their reservations? The food was really good but nothing special and but not anything anyone should have to wait 45 minutes to an hour for. And let's face it - this isn't New York or L.A. where the restaurant is so uber-fabulous that you'd put yourself on the wait list for a week just to get in. C'mon... it's downtown Franklin. It's Tennessee. We're not that fancy.

We miiiight go back, but not for a while and not on a Saturday night. It really is a nice place - the atmosphere's bustling and quite hip and not something you'd expect to see in Historic Downtown Franklin. You can have private events on their deck, and they have two bars, one on the main floor and one on the second floor where there's also a lounge. The kitchen has a huge window for you to see the cooks at work and the tables, chairs and untensils are quite art deco looking which brings a cool, modern compliment to the normally country feel of the shophouses in Franklin's main square. The people who work there are young, energetic and genuinely nice, which makes for a more pleasant experience. Nothing worse than having to wait and then deal with pissy servers all night.

So, I'm not going to write the Red Pony off. My suggestion is to go on a week night, especially if you live around the area and it's convenient. DEFINITELY make reservations (there were people who walked in and had to wait almost 2 hours. And they did.) and if you do go on a weekend, just be prepared to hang out at the bar for a while. Or just don't arrive there already starving.

In the spirit of restaurant reviews, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Red Pony Restaurant • 408 Main St, Franklin, TN • 615.595-PONY •