To fill in the weeks between pop-ups and to give some insight into food-place inspirations I take from, I'll be documenting my trips and memorable meals here!
I'm always partial to the South, having spent some formative years there as a wee child. Its food envelops you the same way the heat does. Nashville is the perfect Yooeating?! town, replete with comfort food, snacks, and whiskey.
Getting in late night meant there was just enough time for us to hit up a local bar. Sutler Saloon is an aptly named bar/restaurant/venue in South Nashville. There was a band covering everything from "At Last" to "The Yodeling Song", with rotating guest singers and a badass trombone player.
These Hot Nuggets were truly mind-blowing and tongue-numbing. I'll be adapting these for next month's Hot Sauce Burlesque! They were a great pairing with the Potted Smoke, a jar of 24 hour smoked brisket and pork butt confit.
Pinewood Social is a restaurant/bowling alley/coffee shop (lots of slashes in this town) with amazing decor (and free parking!). I got the Reuben Benedict for breakfast, since I'm always a fan of corned beef for breakfast. Here, it was a well-cooked corned beef tongue with a good bite, paired with a sauerkraut coleslaw and a great poached egg. The fried broccoli that we got to share had an amazing crispy crunch, but needed to be eaten quick before it drowned itself in its oil. The Crema coffee, Nashville's own, was a much-needed kickstart to the early morning.
Robert's Western World, a classic honky tonk, was just a few blocks away, and it was nice to take in the main tourist stretch of Broadway early in the morning before the place got overrun with bachelorettes on Pedal Wagons (so, so many bachelorettes). I couldn't pass up the Recession Special: $5 for a PBR, fried bologna sandwich, and chips. It tasted like a really awesome school lunch sandwich (in a good way!) but I wish the bologna had been a thick cut instead of a stack of thin cuts.
Barista Parlor is a must-go coffee shop in East Nashville, with lots of pretty people lounging around talking about their pet pigs (not kidding). Housed in a converted garage, they sell coffee brands from across the country as well as this UH-MAZING housemade sausage biscuit with pepper jelly. Pepper jelly is one of my favorite finds from this area (I first had it in Knoxville and couldn't get enough) because the heat and the sweet balance the salt of sausage and biscuit. Try getting your next sausage/bacon egg & cheese with some jelly on it (your hangover will thank me).
A few blocks down we stumbled upon a crawfish truck, where I picked up some frozen crawfish boudin and pork boudin to take home. Boudin is traditionally a French pork and liver sausage, often also found in Cajun cuisine. Epicerie Boulud is the only place I can reliably find it in New York, so this was a happy souvenir for me.
Nashville is home to a lot of breweries and distilleries (being close to the national home of bourbon, of course). Yazoo Brewery is one of the bigger ones, and we went on a tour of their brewery while sampling a mix of their beers. My favorite was "A Beer Named Sue", after the Johnny Cash song.
With some time to kill before our dinner reservation, we checked out the Patterson House, a perfect Southern speakeasy. Their cocktail list was organized by level of booziness, helpful for us alcohol-fanatics. My Bacon Old Fashioned featured Benton's bacon-infused Four Roses bourbon with coffee pecan bitters, which somehow perfectly captured that smell and taste of Benton's smokehouse (I know because it stuck to my clothes for a week when I visited).
Husk is Sean Brock's restaurant, which I had been wanting to visit since seeing him wax philosophical on low country cooking on PBS's The Mind of a Chef. The menu changes daily based on seasonal ingredients. Some of the dishes were a little overwrought in presentation, like this actual burning ember on the bed of ash under the smoked bone marrow that made it harder to eat an already challenging-to-navigate dish. But the aged beef tartare with soured peanut milk we ordered off the cuff was surprising and tasty in its lightly Thai-inspired flavors.
After a quick drop in at Frothy Monkey in the 12 South neighborhood for a cowboy cookie, we brunched with tacos at Edley's BBQ. Barbeque is pretty plentiful around here, and I've had a lot in my life, but these tacos were extremely unique in their toppings. Pork or brisket (the latter only available for lunch) are piled onto crispy grilled flour tortillas, which melt the cheese, pico de gallo, and fried onion straws (for the pork) / fried jalapenos (for the brisket) and take on a quesadilla-like quality once you fold it up to eat. The banana pudding we got as a side was a pleasant meal finisher. (And by pleasant, I mean OH DEAR GOD IM TOO FULL TO FINISH THIS BUT IT'S SO GOOD...)
In our quest to do something both scheduled and educational each day, we took a tour of Corsair Distillery, which is actually housed in Yazoo Brewery's original warehouse, which it outgrew. This distillery makes a lot of experimental and much-lauded spirits, many of which initially sounded cloying or kitschy but were handled with finesse. Their Vanilla Bean Vodka was not like something you'd find in a sorority house, but a well-balanced, smooth liquor that had whole, split vanilla beans steeped in it for two weeks.
Rolf and Daughters was hands down the best meal we had in Nashville. Their homemade pastas blew my mind, especially the squid ink campanelle with Florida squid and shrimp. I've usually seen squid ink pasta as linguine or spaghetti, but these little flower-like pastas were a better balance to the hearty seafood. The farro gemelli were equally eye-opening; I've never had pasta made of farro!
I'd been pumped to go to Biscuit Love ever since we booked this trip to Nashville. C'mon, biscuits of every size, meal, savory & sweet?! I was extra-excited for the ham bar, where they serve up a collection of locally produced hams, including my ole' favorite Benton's. It comes with beaten biscuits, which we didn't realize were these little biscuit crackers, but they were happy to give us some extra real(!) biscuits on the side.
I'd also been anticipating this day's scheduled educational tour (and the only non-alcoholic one) at Hatch Show Print Shop. As a design student and a printmaking enthusiast, I learned a lot about this legendary place, one of the oldest running letterpress shops in America. They're still doing everything the old-school way – with decades-old typesets, hand-carved linocuts, and prints all designed and produced manually. During the tour, they showed us the history of the shop, how they design and execute their iconic prints, and even had us make our own!
I'd really wanted to check out Prince's Hot Chicken to sample Nashville's famous hot chicken, but we weren't able to make the drive out of the city so went for Hattie B's instead. We ordered the Medium wings and chicken breast, but I'd go a stop or two hotter next time. The chicken had a mild, slightly lingering bite, but I wanted more kick out of these like I had with Sutler's hot nuggets. This is the only instance where I would recommend getting the white meat over the dark meat; the breast soaks up the hot sauce brine better and makes it unbelievably tender and juicy. The sides weren't too much to write home about.
The previous nights we've been here, we'd been so so full from all our epic Southern eating – too full to really go out and enjoy any nightlife. This night we headed out to East Nashville (Uber is incredibly cheap out here) and pointed our homing beacons towards 3 Crow Bar. They serve up "Bushwackers", a booze-laced frosty that a Nashville favorite. SO boozy and addicting, though I couldn't drink more than one.
After singing some outdoor karoake at Drifters (where, of course, everyone was a five star belter) and drinking some cocktails at No. 308, I snagged a slice of prosciutto and basil pizza at Five Points Pizza just before they closed. It addressed every problem I've had with prosciutto and basil on pizza – the proscuitto was fresh (not cooked, which can make it even tougher to bite through) and the basil was chiffonaded and sprinkled throughout (whole leaves tend to overwhelm select bites). DEFINITELY get a slice at this place.
With just a few hours to kill before our flights, we went BACK to Biscuit Love because we needed to try the "Bonuts", aka biscuit doughnuts! These tasted a lot like doughnuts I had when I was a kid: soft and flaky with granulated sugar all over. I'm not sure I could tell the difference between the biscuit dough vs. regular doughnut dough, but the fresh blackberry jam and marscapone cream it came with were beyond.
Later in the day I met up with some very exhausted friends who had just driven in from Texas at the Pancake Pantry. Located in a college town (and rightfully so), this place is a veritable mecca to old school diner pancakes. Every dish comes with a huge dollop of butter on top, with butter on the side. I only had one bite of these super-rich chocolate chip pancakes (which generally aren't my favorite), but really, can't hate on pancakes ever.
Nashville's become one of my favorite cities. Everyone was super friendly and accomodating, asking us questions about where we were from and what we were up to next. It's a vibrant city, expanding beyond its country music roots, especially with all this amazing food and killer drinks. I'll definitely be coming back for mo' biscuits.