Best Link Among National Restaurant Chains

J. Alexander's Restaurant

While no one would mistake the 180-seat J. Alexander's for a cozy neighborhood hideout, the corporate gurus of the Nashville-based business get high marks for infusing the restaurant (one of 22 nationwide) with style and sophistication. Plenty of polished wood, brick, and natural stone give the place a warm, lodge-like feel; white cloth napkins, black-garbed servers, and candlelight add class. And while the restaurant can get noisy on busy evenings, broad aisles, high-backed booths, and a circular floor plan foster a sense of intimacy. As for the food, the kitchen takes surprisingly few shortcuts, turning out savory, slow-roasted prime rib; dainty, freshly baked croissants; and exceptionally tender breaded calamari, as well as crisp salads, inventive side dishes, and good homemade desserts. And somehow, this all happens at moderate prices, with nary a gimmick or a gift shop in sight.