Lotta Sweet Love at the Loveless Café
The Loveless Café has long been known for their secret biscuit recipe. It is still a secret. However, there is a new cookbook, Desserts from the famous Loveless Café, offering readers plenty of tips to make the Loveless desserts. The cookbook was written and prepared by Alisha Huntsman, a chef trained at the Culinary Institute. Ms. Huntsman was brought aboard to expand the dessert menu when the restaurant had their big re-opening in 2004. Despite some changes this landmark Nashville restaurant is as local and original as Tootsie’s or Ernest Tubb’s Record Store.
-reviewed by Janie Whitlock
Evolution from Tea Room to Landmark
Originally known as the Harpeth Valley Tea Room, the Loveless motel and café first started offering its famous fried chicken and biscuits in 1951. Lon and Annie Loveless sold their food from their front door to travelers on Hwy. 100. Soon they converted the rooms of the home into dining areas.
Over time the restaurant came to be owned by Charles and Donna McCabe. Their son, George, grew up at the Loveless. He was responsible for establishing the Loveless brand. All of the buildings were converted to the catalogue business in 1985. By 2003 the nearly century-old building was unable to contain all the customers. The business was sold once again to a group of Nashvillians committed to the restaurant’s unique history and delicious food.
In 2004 the café closed for renovations. The new owners wanted to enlarge the menu – especially the desserts offered.
From Pies to Puddings
Ms. Huntsman’s cookbook, Desserts from the famous Loveless Café, contains more than 100 recipes for slap-yo-mama favorites and Loveless specialty desserts. We are talking Muddy Fudge pie, Root Beer Float cake and any fruit you can cobbler. The recipes are well organized. The color photos throughout lovingly photographed.
These are solid recipes for the beginner pastry chef – down home recipes that don’t involve a lot of technique despite the author being trained at the culinary institute. The audience for this book is the home cook. Most recipes don’t require a lot of specialty bake ware, tools or advanced skills. Most recipes consist of 5 steps or less. Beyond the recipes themselves there is great information for the beginner chef – tips on making pie shells easily and rolling out cookie dough. The Sources page was helpful for finding ingredients such as rose water or vanilla beans online.
While many recipes are classics with the Loveless spin, others are specialty pies like the Loveless Steeplechase pie. Made with pecans and Jack Daniels, it is served most often celebrating Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase. The race is held a week after the Kentucky Derby. Just one of the simple Southern recipes from the book is the recipe for Red Velvet cake which will bake up beautifully for all those upcoming holidays.
Tradition meets Modernity
Check out this cookbook for some local flavor. This dessert cookbook has done very well on QVC and was touted on Martha Stewart’s radio program. My one quibble was for more stories featuring our famous musical neighbors who frequent the restaurant. I’ll happily settle for sharing a piece of pie with a neighbor.