Thistle Stop Cafe is located on the corner of Charlotte and 52nd Ave. It's nestled in with all the great thrift stores. It's a part of the Thistle Farms family, which is a social enterprise from Magdalene, a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms provides work and business experience for the women and they produce handmade natural bath and body products like lotion, candles, chapstick, etc. which they sell at Thistle Stop (along with more than 200 stores in Tennessee, according to the website). Thistle Stop Cafe is staffed by women from the Magdalene program.
The decor is definitely shabby chic, with vintage tea cups hanging from the ceiling and lining the walls. It's kind of like your grandmother's house but in the best way -- old wood, piano in the corner, floral china -- all the good parts and no mothballs.
All the tables are antique and unmatched. There were several six-tops, a few four-tops, and a couple two-tops. There was also an area with a few armchairs, a cool table made out of a door, a piano, and a large teacup chandelier. We're fans of the look, even if the teacup chandeliers make Laura a little nervous. [THOSE THINGS ARE LITERALLY HANGING BY A THREAD. How is that sturdy? What if the A/C comes on and they start clinking together or someone bumps their head or something and one shatters on top of someone? I'm just saying it seems risky. - L]
The atmosphere is perfect for ladies having lunch meetings and we saw many of them. Thistle Stop knows this and they even have a menu item that's basically tiny sandwiches and fancy tea accouterments for the whole table.
Overheard from the ladies' lunch meeting behind us: "He also managed Wynonna."
[Sidenote: Do people outside of Nashville always ask, "Wynonna who?" Because the whole town seems to be on a first-name basis with her. We're not complaining.]
There were also a handful of men. Just so you know.
At the end of the room, there is a sort of stage area (or at least, there's a cool wall with some sound equipment). They do have shows there occasionally, according to their website. This is opposite of the piano, so we're guessing the whole room could really function as a venue in the round sort of thing, if need be.
Thistle Stop has a breakfast and lunch menu. The breakfast menu is pretty simple, but they serve it all day. The lunch menu includes soup, salad, and sandwiches. They also have a Cream Tea item which includes scones and your choice of tea. Elizabeth would like to go back and try that sometime.
E: I got The Shelley, which was tuna salad, lettuce, tomato, and onion in a spinach wrap. It was good, but impossible to eat because the wrap was so large. Laura graciously watched me wrestle with it for several minutes before I gave up. It also had a sort of vinegary taste, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but can see why other people would like it. I just got mine with chips.
Food taste rating: 5
For my drink, I got the Mint Tea Lemonade. It was refreshing, which was what I was going for.
Tea taste rating: 7
L: I got The Optimist. It was grilled chicken, feta, roasted red peppers and pesto on flatbread. The good news was despite the ordering faux pas (see below), the food was delivered to me successfully and was delicious. I got chips as well. Lunch rush was not the time to be high maintenance.
Food taste rating: 9
I also got an iced double latte (no vanilla this time). It was okay, not bad but not great.
Latte taste rating: 5
The baristas were having a bad day. There was something going on with the whole group and we think it made them all upset. We are told this is not normal and usually they are more friendly, so we won't hold it against them. We all have our days.
The ordering system was confusing. The food menus were on clipboards by the door, but there wasn't a sign or anything. So Laura went to order at the bar, realized the food menu was not on the chalkboard, asked what the protocol was, and had to walk back to the door to grab a menu. For the record, the protocol is: Grab a menu when you walk in. Sit down and claim a table. REMEMBER YOUR TABLE NUMBER. This is key. Then walk up and order and tell the barista what your table number is.
Laura went through her whole order with the barista, who you may remember was having an off day, then realized she had told her the wrong table number and had to awkwardly go back and apologize and tell her the right number which meant she had to go tell the kitchen of Laura's blunder. Moral of the story: FOLLOW THE PROTOCOL.
The woman in line in front of Elizabeth didn't have a menu and turned around and said, "I don't know the rules." We're all just making this up as we go, guys.
The food was presented on antique and thrifted glass plates, which was a nice touch. They didn't match, and neither did the silverware, but they didn't match on purpose and it was charming. Pulling. It. Off.
We both got iced drinks, so there wasn't anything too special about their look.
Ratings Round Up:
Parking: 8 There's a small lot behind, and some parallel parking on the street beside the shop. We went at lunch and both found spots, but they were the last spots.
Level of uncomfortableness upon walking in: 1, then we saw an uptick to a 7 (ordering protocol confusion), then back to a 2 as we sat down to wait.
Level of pretentiousness: absolute zero. No ironic mustaches, no fancy brewing techniques, no Fleet Floxes and no faking it around here.
Location: 7 It's kind of out west a bit, but near the fun thrift shops. A fun Saturday would be thrift shopping and then tea at the Thistle Stop. Just planning your day. NBD.
Um, we didn't see any hats. Or really anything too interesting. Just ladies that COULD be in the red hat society but weren't wearing hats.
Overall we enjoyed the food and atmosphere of Thistle Stop despite the service and we would definitely go back again.
Have you ever been to Thistle Stop Cafe? What was your experience like? Did a teacup fall on your head?