Opry City Stage: Country Cookin’ (And Pickin’) Comes To The Big Apple

For a long time, visitors to Times Square have wondered how this legendarily busy area could be without some great old-fashion country eats—after all, you can get every other type of cuisine around there from Italian to Peruvian to Lebanese especially if you walk west anywhere in the 40s. Well, never fear because Opry Stage is here and it is mighty authentic. It’s parent property is the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and while you can catch up and coming groups while you eat in the main dining room, the megastars get their own larger auditorium upstairs. The decor features a lot of wood paneling, high ceilings and a big screen to check out the bands playing—although every seat in both the dining room and “big room” upstairs has an unobstructed view. What makes the Opry Stage special are the country legend stage attire displays like the one I was sitting by featuring a turquoise Nudie suit worn by Porter Wagoner, an off-white formal jacket worn quite unexpectedly by Johnny Cash and a blue floral velvet skirt suit worn by Patsy Cline.

You just know that the first thing that I would have to order at a country restaurant would be the Biscuit Basket. These are truly classic hot biscuits served with homemade honey butter and you get about six per basket. It’s hard not to finish them all off before dinner starts but you have to just remind yourself that it will ruin your appetite. (I admit that I took some of these home with me in a doggie bag!)

My dining partner Gail and I then proceeded to devour a large portion of Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade, which was creamy and homemade and gave a slight kick. The crust was golden and very crispy. If you can’t get your kids to eat their veggies, you might want to try these deep-fried delights that everyone seems to like and that have become a top-seller at Opry City Stage.

Gail and I shared the Brisket “Burnt Ends” which were covered in a delicious brown BBQ sauce that was not overly sweet; it had a nice vinegary kick. The portion was sizeable; about 12 ounces and the meat was juicy. Brisket can be dry but this was really nice and moist.

We also shared the ribs. You get about six large pork ribs to a portion and like all the entrees, they come served with a huge portion of homemade coleslaw and semi sweet homemade pickle slices. All meat entrees come with the option of an added cheddar sausage link for nine bucks more—we went for it and have to say that it was darn juicy and lightly spiced. I would definitely say that was nine dollars well spent.

We tried the collard greens and they were well chopped and very tender. There were little pieces of red pepper and a light vinegar and peppery taste that we enjoyed. It does not have pieces of pork in it; this seems to be a truly vegan recipe. Portion size was about two cups and could easily be shared. I enjoyed these green beans as they seemed like a “classic Grandma recipe” that no one could resist.

The smothered green beans were cooked with red peppers, onions, olive oil, and what seemed to be a chicken stock. They were soft and flavorful and a healthy choice from a menu full of rich fare. Opry City Stage does green veggies very well and I am hoping to see them add okra in a classic tomato base in the future. I hear that the salads here are great but unfortunately was too full to have one! The Gulch Cobb is supposed to be a meal in itself and incredibly popular as it is full of black eyes peas, grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, tomato, bleu cheese and topped with ranch dressing.

The desserts are big and rich here. Does that surprise you? (I think not, LOL!) The Banana Pudding comes in a huge sundae glass that is lined with vanilla wafers and is topped with oodles of whipped cream. It is honestly enough for three or four people to share with four long spoons especially after one of the filling entrees and “openers” or sides here.

I had the Key Lime Pie which was served in an adorable mini Mason Jar. The classic golden crumb crust was on the bottom of the jar, and then it was top with four inches of creamy homemade key lime pie filling and the topped with just as much whipped cream.

Reservations are recommended but not necessary for Opry City Stage as it is as huge place (the restaurant portion has 185 seats). Openers aka appetizers run $12.50 to $14, entrees run $21 to $34, sides are $8.50 and desserts run $8 to $21 (for the Opry Stage’s popular Monkey Bread which can serve at least three people). For more info go to www.oprycitystage.com. There is huge artisanal beer and unique cocktail list that you will not find elsewhere in Manhattan—and I think that Home Away From My Mountain Home might just be the drink name of the year!

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