The Loveless Cafe, attached to the Loveless Motel on the highway west of Nashville, is true country: wood-paneled walls, red-checked tablecloths, waitresses with sweet mountain accents, and out-of-this-world downhome vittles.
For many years it was a favorite haunt of Grand Ol’ Opry performers, whose pictures line the walls, and whose tour buses frequently could be seen parked towards the back of the lot. Since we first wrote about it several decades ago, the Loveless has gotten reams of media attention; but we are happy to say that national renown has not spoiled it. Yes, there are Loveless souvenirs to buy, including a fancy print of the cafe and motel (suitable for framing); but here you still will find some of the best fried chicken and country ham for miles around, plus dreamy peach, blackberry, and strawberry preserves.
Those preserves (which are available by mail) are reason enough to celebrate the Loveless. Peach is the color of a summer sunset, sweet and deeply fruity, just perfect in conjunction with a faintly sour biscuit. The blackberry is more tart: wonderful on biscuits or toast or waffles, or on ice cream, or (we confess) spooned straight from the jar.
Ham is the pride of the Loveless kitchen: It is country ham, slow cured and salty, fried on a griddle until its rim of fat turns translucent amber and the coral pink meat gets speckled sandy brown. It comes sandwiched into biscuits or on a plate with red-eye gravy for dipping, cream gravy, sorghum molasses, honey, and bowls full of each of the preserves. What delirious fun it is to permutate all these good things: dip the biscuits, spread the sorghum, make little sandwiches with ham. Best of all are the secret-recipe buttermilk biscuits — fresh, warm, flavorful, and the perfect companion for any country meal.
Now under new ownership, the Loveless is better than ever. All the traditional dishes remain; and to them have been added a fuller menu that includes barbecue and smoked pork, a green-tomato BLT, and a stupendous dessert menu.