The MaD PLaTTeR has been a staple in the Nashville dining scene for over 25 years. With a commitment to local, sustainable foods prepared in the most delicious manner, The MaD PLaTTeR has won legions of fans in Nashville and other cities while thriving in the city's historic Germantown neighborhood. Always owner-operated and chef-driven, it is a mix of formal, casual, down-home and upscale dining. The menus change a little bit daily, but the staples are more than enough to bring you back time and time again. Whether joining The MaD PLaTTeR for lunch, stopping by for dinner or hiring them to cater your next event (big or small), you can be sure that your food will be delicious and experience will be exemplary.
Wonderful new review about the restaurant!
Marcia in Wonderland: The story of the MaD PLaTTeR restaurant
by By Jenny Cupero, For 12th & Broad
There is a distinct magic about the MaD PLaTTeR restaurant in historic Germantown. Appropriately named in homage to the fairy tale Alice in Wonderland, the MaD PLaTTeR has been enchanting Nashvillians since 1989 with its transporting atmosphere and delicious food.
Owner Marcia Jervis invited me for a lovely Sunday brunch to introduce the best of the menu and narrate the MaD PLaTTeR story — one of a passionate food connoisseur who met her Prince Charming, opened a restaurant in an otherworldly neighborhood and is now living her dream in her own culinary wonderland.
The tale begins down a rabbit hole called The Jacksons' Victory Tour. Craig and Marcia Jervis met in Knoxville in 1984 while Craig was traveling as a chef on Michael Jackson's reunion tour with his brothers. "I was helping with the local catering and my boss, Craig, liked me well enough to take me on the road and marry me a year later!" Marcia recalled with a laugh.
After the tour was over, Craig and Marcia moved to the northeast, where they worked in entertainment catering for a couple of years before moving to Nashville. "We had become established caterers and decided to find a permanent space from which to work. The minute we saw the building in historic Germantown, we knew, just knew, this was home."
Historic Germantown, once known as "Butchertown" because of its abundance of meat markets, was developed in 1840. Named for its strong German community that dwelled there until World War II, Germantown is the oldest residential neighborhood in Nashville today.
Staking a claim
In 1889, a two-story brick and terracotta retail structure was built at the corner of Sixth and Monroe. The building went through a series of owners, and at one time was even abandoned, until 100 years later, Craig and Marcia came across the space and staked a claim for their catering business. Germantown has since grown into a thriving Music City community, defined by pioneering shops and restaurants like the MaD PLaTTeR.
The Mad Platter in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. File / The Tennessean
"We have been on this little corner for 25 years, witness to the revitalization of Germantown. Through our plate-glass windows, we have lived and worked in the snow globe that is our restaurant."
Enamored by the neighborhood, the couple moved into a house across the street from the restaurant, and to this day, consider the PLaTTeR dining room their own.
"I love that we have community history and that over the years we have been part of the memories. We've hosted neighborhood board meetings, baby showers, bridal luncheons, book clubs, costume parties and, every other year, our family Thanksgiving! Our dining room is our dining room!"
While enjoying a meal at the PLaTTeR, it is impossible not to feel the same — and yet the décor (inspired by Marcia's upbringing overseas) creates a charismatic, ethereal atmosphere.
"I spent my early years in a small village in France, where my father was stationed in the military. My mother and I experienced everything about the culture. I ate croissants, baguettes, saucisson, escargot, foie gras, brie, Perrier, Dijon and bouillabaisse before I ever had a hamburger!"
Marcia laced the European philosophy for food into the foundation of the MaD PLaTTeR's environment and spirit. "There is a unique belief in Europe that everyone is working just so they can get off work, gather around the table for hours, eating, drinking, talking and creating memories! The table is where life begins, and we definitely celebrate that mentality."
The Mad Platter, in the historic Germantown neighborhood, has been open since 1995. File / The Tennessean
The restaurant's main dining room seats 85, similar to a café you would find in the Mediterranean, extending to a cozy open-air patio that seats an additional 25. Marcia's mother loved mixing fine linens and silver pieces with everyday china. This "everyday fine dining" style is illustrated throughout the space, starting with the café tables topped with white linen napkins, bordered by a minibar area with an animated chalkboard of specials and bookshelves adorned with knickknacks and pictures chronicling the history of the restaurant. The unexpected accent of the painted blue ceiling, inspired by the Adriatic Sea, is yet another quality that makes the space enthralling.
But the real heart of the MaD PLaTTeR beats in the kitchen.
When Marcia and Craig moved to Nashville in 1987, the food scene in the area was limited, which is hard to imagine given the city's vast selection today. At that time, the only "fine dining" options were Mario's, Julian's and Arthur's. There were also a lot of Southern-themed "meat and threes," as well as chain restaurants.
"When The MaD PLaTTeR opened, we were perceived as groundbreaking because we cooked the only way we knew how — using fresh, seasonal products with a devotion to chef creativity. The amusing thing is what was new and creative then seems more like comfort food today! Good seasonal food, prepared simply but perfectly…that's what I want my comfort food to be."
Executive Chef Craig Jervis grew up in Connecticut and brings a New England sensibility to Marcia's European fare. His roots inspire his passion for fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. "He is an incredible soup master," Marcia said. "Think clam chowder, vichyssoise, curried autumn bisque, seafood bisque and gumbo. His standards are incredibly high and his combinations are wonderful!"
On the changing daily menu you can expect to see a variety of options, from shrimp and grits to grilled rack of lamb and pan-seared duck. Craig's fresh and creative spin on classic entrees can now be experienced in an array of brunch menu options, which was my introduction to the PLaTTeR's offerings.
The biscuits and gravy are savory and addicting, uniquely flavored with a subtle hint of rosemary. The Caesar salad, with sun-dried tomatoes tossed in an ample serving of flavorful dressing, is mouth-watering. I was already impressed before the arrival of the main course — poached eggs Oscar topped with hollandaise and a side of hash browns. Each bite was better than the last. And if you like your brunch with a little bubbly, the Sunday morning drink menu takes welcome liberties on classics sure to tickle your fancy. I guarantee you, all the history and hype is unequivocally substantiated by quality cuisine that you will crave for years to come.
A place for memories
The MaD PLaTTeR continues to offer the catering services that propelled its inception, and even rents out the space for private events.
"I love the private events held in the dining room. Not having children, one of the things I missed the most was the opportunity to host a rehearsal dinner or wedding. But because of the PLaTTeR, Craig and I have the privilege of having many rehearsal dinners. In turn, we get to be a part of the lifelong memories of the families that come together in our dining room to celebrate."
Naturally, the couple's first love will always be the MaD PLaTTeR, but they are equally passionate about the evolving and growing food landscape in Music City.
"One of our favorite places around town is Koto Sushi restaurant, now on Union Street. I also just had a delicious meal at Etch and I still think Deb Paquette is the most talented chef in Nashville (besides my husband, of course!). But usually when Craig and I eat out, we head to little places like Miss Saigon, the taco truck on Charlotte, Awash for Ethiopian food and Thai Phooket. We also have a very special place in our hearts for our neighbors, Off the Bone, Rolf & Daughters, City House, Monells and Legato Gelato, among others."
Come the end of the day, the moral of the MaD PLaTTeR story is not that it should be your favorite place to eat, but rather that coming together with others and breaking bread — wherever that may be — is the true fairy tale of life.
"Did I fail to say I opened a restaurant because I wanted to eat?! Food is my ultimate passion and I think it has the power to change the world. Sharing food and wine breaks down barriers and allows for the free flow of uninhibited conversation. Commonalities are found between strangers and love is professed easily. I only wish we lived in a world where everyone could not only enjoy food, but be guaranteed food."
Now that would truly be Wonderland!
If you go
MaD PLaTTeR Restaurant & Catering
1239 Sixth Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37208
Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Wednesday-Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m., Sunday, 5-9 p.m.
Sunday brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thirsty Thursday happy hour, 4-7 p.m