WHO: Laura (Mom), Ian (Dad), Everett (age 8) and Ames (age 4)
WHAT: House of Cards Sunday Brunch
WHERE: House of Cards (119 Third Ave. S., Lower Level, Nashville)
WHEN: Sundays, 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
ADMISSION: $40 per person for brunch and magic show; ages 4 & younger eat free
INFO: 615-730-8326 | hocnashville.com/sundaybrunch

As parents, we are constantly trying to make our kids' lives more magical. I don’t know about you, but I have penned letters to my children from both Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy. And don’t get me started on my ability to magically make a snack appear or to kiss away an “owie.” In most cases, we make the magic for our kids, but last weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to share in a magical experience with our kids when we visited House of Cards for its Sunday Brunch.

For those that don’t know, House of Cards is an award-winning restaurant, open evenings for adults only, but now serving Sunday Brunch so all ages can get in on the fun. We made a reservation online, although walk-ins are welcome, and arrived early to check out the parking situation. House of Cards offers $8 valet parking with validation, and it is well worth the fee as the downtown Nashville parking situation can be stressful and expensive. We looked into the four closest parking lots, but all had rates of $14/hour or more. Save yourself the stress and take advantage of the valet!

The entrance to House of Cards is through The Johnny Cash Museum, where you access a “secret” door and head down a faux candlelit flight of stairs. The boys were giddy descending the staircase and encountering an enchanted book as we walked into the restaurant. The host and hostess, as well as the servers, were friendly and helpful, making sure we understood the layout of the restaurant and all the offerings.

A MAGICAL DINING EXPERIENCE

We were seated near Thurston, a piano “played by a ghost” who takes requests. This was probably the boys’ favorite feature at House of Cards. Thanks to Everett, we found Thurston can even play songs by Usher, which elicited a few grins from around the restaurant. We sampled delicious food from the well-appointed buffet while enjoying Thurston’s music. There are many food options, but for picky eaters like my guys, the highlights were house-made chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, cheese and crackers, fruit, and, of course, the waffle sundae bar, complete with sprinkles and whipped cream.

After we ate, we explored the restaurant, including a heated porch with a water feature. Make sure to take a walk around the restaurant when you get a chance as it features many curiosities; keep an eye on the artwork and check out the secret bookshelves while you’re at it.

A ticket to a magic show is included with the cost of the buffet. We arrived at 11 a.m. for brunch and had tickets for the 12 p.m. magic show. This gave us plenty of time to enjoy brunch and check out the two magicians performing within the restaurant. These magicians perform in designated areas while you eat, and you can visit their stations before and after the ticket time for the magic show.

ENTER THE CARTER THE GREAT SHOWROOM

The magic show itself is in a small theater within the restaurant called the Carter the Great showroom. A line formed outside the theater doors before the start of the show, and seating in the theater is first-come, first-served. An usher helps families to find seats together and encourages children to sit in the front rows. The theater is small enough that there are no bad seats. The magician performing during our visit did a great job making the show fun for kids and adults alike. We laughed loudly, and I really enjoyed Everett’s wide-eyes as he repeatedly said, “How did he do that?!” during the show. Ames, our 4-year-old, was a little young to understand what was going on during the magic acts, but he still seemed to get swept up in the magic of it all. There is no re-entry if you leave during the magic show, so consider your child’s ability to sit still for 20 - 30 minutes before your visit.  

DRESS CODE & RULES

If you decide to check out House of Cards, there are a few things to keep in mind. There is a dress code. Men and boys must wear khakis or pants with a dress shirt or shirt with collar. Women and girls must wear a casual dress, skirt or slacks with a dress top.

Children must be accompanied by an adult 21 or older; there is an ID check upon entry. Finally, there is no photography allowed within House of Cards, aside from the patio area. However, there is a house photographer who will take a photo of your family or group and provide you with a large complimentary copy of the photo. We loved this perk!

House of Cards gave us a great excuse to dress up and have a downtown adventure together that we could all enjoy. It was so fun to explore the restaurant, to eat delicious food together, and to share laughter and wonder as we watched the magicians. We loved the chance to experience a little of that magic that we try to create for our children each day.