High Brow Brew [Franklin, TN]

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High Brow Brew is located in Franklin, Tennessee, a southern suburb of Nashville. But when you think you've gotten to Franklin, keep going. No really, like, keep driving south. Just keep on driving. Okay, now you're -- wait, no -- okay, now you're there.

We have yet to really branch out into the suburbs, but we've heard great things about this shop and the owners asked us to review it. *We should note we were not paid for this review, even in lattes, because we wanted to remain objective and therefore did not tell the owners we were coming. Surprise!

It is a little in the middle of nowhere, but it has its own little community that pops up amid the farmland. It's in a strip with other civilized businesses like Oscar's Taco Shop (recommended), and it's adjacent to a subdivision. The neighborhood is reminiscent of one of those beach resort towns where people winter and then rent out their homes in the summer for tourists who ride bikes everywhere. It's vacation-y. 

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Atmosphere

We went just as the sun was setting, so the fact that HB is located across the street from a lake, complete with ducks swimming on the surface, gave it extra points in our atmosphere book. If it weren't 18 degrees outside, it would be a great place to sit on the front porch and contemplate your future or have a small group meeting or whatever.

The shop itself is smaller than we anticipated. There's one large group table in the center with metal stools and metal bar tables around the sides. No two-tops or four-tops, so if you're on a date, maybe either sit outside or get it to go.

The decor is pretty fantastic. Definitely fancy-industrial. Nearly everything is covered in (assumedly) reclaimed wood, there are mason jar and basket lights, and the lightbulb letters (is that what they're called?) are a nice touch. Their logo and menus also have dreamy typography.

The epitome of Fancy Industrial™

The epitome of Fancy Industrial™

Laura arrived first (not typical), and walked in to essentially complete silence. There was one woman at the bar seating and two women sitting together at the large table, but no one was talking and the music must have been in transition to a new playlist. 

The barista was right in front of her, so photos were not an option, but she tried to look confident and approached the bar anyway. They serve a lot of sweets, including ice cream, which is a plus for a coffee shop. (We didn't try it. Did we mention we've had a snow week?) They also serve food, which includes "mini egg pies." We assume these are quiches, which Elizabeth pointed out is pretty low brow to call quiches "mini egg pies" but we're not here to judge. (Actually, we are. But. Moving on.)

Elizabeth took this shortly before realizing the barista was working crouched behind the counter the entire time. 

Elizabeth took this shortly before realizing the barista was working crouched behind the counter the entire time. 

While looking over the menu, the aforementioned woman came up to Laura and said "are you Megan?", when Laura responded she was not, the woman replied, laughing, "oh sorry! I'm waiting for someone and you looked lost so..." and walked away.

So. Laura looked lost. Great start.

There's randomly a TV above the refrigerator holding various juices and baked goods. It was not on, but we brainstormed a bit about coffee-shop appropriate TV viewing. We came up with the following list:

  • The Fireplace Channel.
  • Latte Art Competitions.
  • Slideshows of Coffee Shop Art.

Elizabeth's favorite part of the shop was this Tea Wall. 

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Had she known of its existence before ordering, it probably would have taken her 30 more minutes to determine her order. Two "smelling stations" (Elizabeth's term. We're obvi high brow around here. #puns) flanked the wall. Each had five teas in little dishes so you could sample with a smell before buying. The wall also has local honey and your usual coffee accessories. 

Taste

E: I got the chai latte. It was creamy with just the right amount of cinnamon. They poured the chai from a fancy-coffee looking contraption, so I'm assuming it's homemade and I wholeheartedly approve of their recipe. 

Tea Taste Rating: 9

L: I ordered a vanilla latte (homemade 'raw vanilla' syrup, I think) and a piece of their organic banana bread, mostly because there were a lot of pastry options and I caved under pressure. But she said it was a good choice so I felt confident about it. 

Latte Taste Rating: 8. Not too sweet, good quality.

Banana Bread Taste Rating: 8. It was really good and had a sort of shortbread-ish crumbly topping.

Presentation/Service 

Latte Art Grade: 9. They're solid here at High Brow. Fun fact: we actually heard about the shop because some of their baristas competed in the last latte art throwdown we went to.

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The barista was very nice, and even serenaded Laura by singing along to the very-John-Mayer-heavy soundtrack. This time, "Daughters."

Y'all. They put latte art in Elizabeth's chai. That never happens. Chai is especially tricky to do latte art in because [insert scientific explanation using terms like "density" and "surface tension" and "froth."] so most baristas don't even attempt it. But not Ahnna. They don't go to latte art competitions for funsies at High Brow. 

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Ratings Roundup

Level of uncomfortableness upon walking in: for Laura, 7. Someone told her she looked lost, so obviously she felt some sort of uncomfortable. For Elizabeth, maybe a 3. 

Fedora/Newsboy Hat/Knit Beanie Count: 1. It was the barista. 

A really old American flag, just hanging in the hall like it's not a museum artifact. (At first we thought it might be the original, but Elizabeth astutely noted it has too many stars.

A really old American flag, just hanging in the hall like it's not a museum artifact. (At first we thought it might be the original, but Elizabeth astutely noted it has too many stars.

Level of pretentiousness: 5. The baristas were nice, the shop was cozy, but the reclaimed wood, ornate logo and the gluten-free pastries give them a couple of notches on the scale. (Not that we're complaining.) Plus, it's called 'High Brow.' So.

Parking: 9. We were both able to find spots, either parallel on the street or behind the building.

P. S. We almost forgot! In the bathroom there was a book that looked like one of those "ancient" family Bibles. 

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Because she is insanely curious/a journalist, Elizabeth had to check it out. She quickly discovered the book to be fake, and opened it to reveal:

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Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. So. Take from that what you will. 

Have you been to High Brow? What do you think a coffee shop should show on TV? 

Posted on February 19, 2015 and filed under coffee, Nashville, Shop Review, tea.