First Taste: Primrose Table brings the world to Murfreesboro

Nancy Vienneau
Special to Nashville Tennessean, USA TODAY NETWORK newsrooms in Tennessee
Jason and Nevada Matheson of Primrose Table

Chef Jason Matheson initially had no plans to open a full service restaurant in Murfreesboro, but his wife Nevada convinced him of the wisdom of the move. He’s grateful he heeded her words. Primrose Table has been well received by the community, filling a need for chef-driven, non-chain eateries.  There’s a bar, a sizeable dining room, alfresco dining patio and private dining space. Their general manager presides over the bar program, which includes specialty cocktails and a vast selection of bourbons.

Full disclosure: Years ago, I worked with chef Matheson at Second Harvest’s First Harvest Café, and watched as he developed his style and what would become some of his signature dishes. He introduced his Cornbread Panzanella on a Friday lunch service there. Matheson continues to support the food bank. Every time you order his Korean BBQ stuffed Potato Skins, a flavor-packed starter cupping slow-roasted pork, kimchi queso, chimichurri slaw, green onion, Fresno chilis, sweet pepper aioli and Korean barbecue sauce, you are providing four meals for the food insecure.

Behind the Plate: Chef Matheson creates approachable fine dining experience

The menu offers many globally inspired dishes, yet options abound for less adventurous diners. Many are gluten-free and dairy-free. There’s a kid’s menu to boot.

For our first taste, we chose a couple of appetizers, a couple of entrees and a dessert.

Following will give you an idea of the variety and creativity.

Pork Tempura in sweet-tangy pepper sauce, scallions, sesame seeds over lettuce

Tempura Pork: a generous plate of tender pork nuggets are encased in a light crunchy batter that stands up to the coating of sweet-sour pepper sauce. These are nice bites to go with a cold brew, or a small-batch bourbon.

We love lamb, and Matheson’s succulent char-grilled petite chops (aka lollipops) are gratifying to eat. This presentation trends Middle Eastern, the medium-rare cooked chops dusted with pistachios and served on a swipe of labna sidled by a disc of crispy eggplant.

Char-Grilled Lamb Chops over labna with chimichurri, pistachios, crispy eggplant

You could make a meal out of either of these starters paired with a salad or side.

For their bread service, Matheson sources from the local bakery, Simply Pure Sweets, and the selection can include sourdough, ciabatta, and semolina sesame.

Bread service includes ciabatta and whipped butter.

We enjoyed the Shrimp & Linguine entrée. Plump Gulf shrimp and petite pear tomatoes enlace the pasta, cloaked in Vermouth cream sauce. Matheson adds a hint of passionfruit puree, which imparts a pleasing citrusy undercurrent in the cream.

The Woodford Steak Tips has become a menu mainstay, and no wonder. Ladled over garlicky mashed potatoes is a mélange of beef tenderloin tips, wild mushrooms and cipollini onions in a rich brown sauce. Matheson uses an unsparing amount of Woodford Reserve bourbon in the reduction, and rounds out the plate with charred asparagus spears.

Shrimp & Linguine in Vermouth Cream has Gulf shrimp, pear tomato, passionfruit Vermouth, cream.
Woodford Steak Tips features beef tenderloin, wild mushrooms, cipiollini onions, Woodword reserve demi-cream sauce, grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes.
Strawberries and Cream is poached and fresh berries, whipped mascarpone, macadamia phyllo.

Save room for dessert. We ordered Strawberries and Cream, a marvelous construction of  fresh and poached berries, whipped mascarpone, shortbread crumb and white chocolate pearls layering crispy wafers of macadamia phyllo. Garnished with fresh dianthus flowers, the eye-appealing presentation tastes as good as it looks. The dessert hits all the right notes: sweet and tangy, smooth and crunchy. As strawberry season ends, Matheson imagines the dessert will work well with peaches. We agree.

Primrose Table 

1650 Memorial Blvd., Murfreesboro, Tenn.


Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sunday Brunch

Reservations: Accepted

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Alcohol: Full bar

Food: Contemporary American

Cost: Starters: $9-$15, greens: $8-$13, burgers: $11-$14, entrees: $16-$40, sides: $5, desserts: $9

Parking: on site lot

Kids menu: Yes