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Posts from the ‘Nashville’ Category

First Taste: Barista Parlor

Today, we checked out Barista Parlor, a great brand new artisan coffee shop in East Nashville.  Although they are just having a soft opening this weekend we instantly loved the space, decor, vibe as well as the coffee.  The site used to be a transmission center and they have done a wonderful job in converting the space. It has a large open layout with a central barista station surrounded by long reclaimed wood tables and a wall with three large garage doors. The look of place reminded us of Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco.  A nice unique feature is that their table and bar area are full service with a coffee menu describing the various coffee tasting notes.

They have carefully selected beans from a few esteemed roasters throughout the country including coffee from Intelligentsia (Chicago), Counter Culture (Durham), Slayer (Seattle), Madcap (Grand Rapids), and Sightglass (San Francisco). Baristas prepare espresso drinks and coffee is prepared using pour over brewing methods. They also sell artisan chocolates, coffee beans and coffee brewing tools. Sounds like breakfast food options may be coming soon as well as sandwiches supplied by Porter Road Butcher.  We anticipate this place will be an instant hit.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About It! Nashville Made the Papes.

We have been singing the praises of Nashville to our family and friends for quite some time now. Practically each month, it seems, something new comes along that only adds to what we have felt for some time – that Nashville is a great city and only getting better. Check out some of the fantastic recent press that Nashville has been getting from some great sources.

Happy New Year! Best of 2011

We have been blessed this year to be able to have enjoyed many wonderful meals both here in Nashville and in our travels. We were able to visit Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, OR this year and thought that it would be fun to put together our own year-end list of our favorites of 2011. Despite our travels we were pleasantly surprised to say that our two favorite meals came in Nashville this year (one from a Nashville restaurant and one from a visiting S.C. chef). There were many memorable moments, dishes and restaurants and here are a few of our favorites this year.  Happy New Year and best wishes for a wonderful 2012!!


Overall Best Meal 2011:

(TIE) Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN (10/17/11) – The expectations were high in Nashville for this concept restaurant from The Patterson House team of Ben/Max Goldberg and we can verify that they exceeded these expectations. A small U-shaped restaurant perched above the Patterson House that only seats 30 people and consists of two chefs preparing prix fixe meals right in front of you is not something that you would expect to find in Nashville. However, when we sat down and had our first bite of our appetizer – a trio plate consisting of dehydrated porcini mushrooms surrounding a parmesan cream in the appearance of an Oreo, a baby radish with uni butter and a chicken skin dusted with hot powder and Wonder Bread puree – we knew that this was going to be a special meal. Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson brought out dish after dish of brilliantly creative and wonderfully flavorful dishes using a variety of proteins (chicken, haddock, lamb, beef) and the drink pairings from Jane Lopes were equally tasty and creative (sake, Belgian beer, wine from Lebanon). Everything worked and we are looking forward to returning this Spring to see what they come up with next. Expect James Beard award nominations for this gem.

(TIE) Husk Restaurant at City House, Nashville,TN (9/6/11) – this Charleston, SC restaurant from Chef/Owner Sean Brock hit the road this year to support the Southern Foodways Alliance and we were fortunate to be able to attend when he was guest chef at City House in Nashville. Chef Brock brought some his best dishes from his restaurant which was named the Best New Restaurant in America. this year by Bon Appetit. What we got was about 12 courses of some of the best Southern cuisine we’ve ever had and left fuller than we’d been in years. Pig ears, beef rinds, chicken skins (see below), pork ribs, cornmeal dusted catfish, and peanut butter pie were some of the highlights in this non-stop procession of food. That, coupled with communal moonshine (in grape, mango, and strawberry flavors) and the wonderful vibrant mood of City House made this a meal to remember.



Best Restaurant Atmosphere 2011:

Big Star, Chicago, IL – this cash only Taqueria-meets-Whiskey bar in Wicker Park is by no means the fanciest spot we hit all year but it was the one that we loved the most….and the one we wish was right down the street from where we live! The simple design is spot-on with an outside patio filled with bright yellow chairs surrounding metallic tables and a converted garage inside where you perch up next to the bar and listen so some Honkey Tonk playing on the record player behind the bar. The menu consists of a small selection of fantastic tacos, a good selection of quality beer on tap and one of the better selections of whiskey outside of TN/KY. On a sunny day, with it’s doors open and outside patio filled it is the place we would want to be this year.

Honorable Mentions:

Gjelina, Venice, CA

Olympic Provisions, Portland, OR

Walrus and the Carpenter, Seattle, WA

Haddingtons, Austin, TX

Girl and the Goat, Chicago, IL

GT Fish and Oyster, Chicago, IL

Dish of the Year:

Aged Pekin Duck Breast with green garbanzos, tequila braised radish, watermelon and white sesame – Blackbird, Chicago, IL – We love duck and have tried it at many a restaurant….no duck we have ever had before even comes close to this one. We aren’t sure how they did it – maybe the aging of the breast? – but the duck was perfectly cooked, tender and meaty with a wonderful crisp skin. The seemingly disparate ingredients effortlessly complemented the duck and left us in awe. We can still imagine the taste of that duck and Blackbird may have ruined us – for we know that any other duck we will have won’t likely compare.

Honorable Mentions:

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings – Pok Pok, Portland, OR

Brisket and Pork Ribs – Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX

Fine Hand Cut Egg Pasta with ragu – Spinasse, Seattle, WA

Springer Mountain Half Chicken with Sweet Potato Soffritto, Dried Plums and Bread Crumbs – City House, Nashville, TN

Fried Deviled Eggs with Arugula and Caper Berries and Charred Cauliflower with Toasted Breadcrumbs – The Purple Pig, Chicago, IL

Bite of the Year:

Southern Fried Chicken Skins with Husk Hot Sauce and SC Honey – Husk Restaurant at City House, Nashville, TN – This sinful standout was our favorite from our co-meal of the year. It sounded scary at first…fried chicken skins??…but we couldn’t believe how good they tasted. The skins were perfectly crisp with just the right amount of sweetness and heat and we had a hard time wanting to pass the dish around to others at our table.

Honorable Mentions:

Brick Oven Pretzel with Sour Cream and Crispy Onion Dip – Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle, WA

Plain Glazed Doughnut – Voodoo Doughnut, Portland, OR

“Faux Reos” and Hot Chicken Skins with Wonder Bread Puree – Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN

Crispy Pig Ears – Husk Restaurant at City House, Nashville, TN

Sandwich of the Year:

Midnight Cuban Press – Paseo, Seattle, WA –  There are good sandwiches and there are great sandwiches and there are good sandwich shops and there are great sandwich shops. The Midnight Cuban Press is a truly great sandwich and Paseo is a truly great sandwich shop. As the shop opens in Fremont – and artsy hippie-ish part of Seattle – lines start to form, and they form fast. I suspect that several of their sandwiches could have topped our list this year but for the winner we picked this one – a huge sandwich filled with ridiculously juicy and tender roast Cuban pork, sweet banana peppers, caramelized onions, smoked ham and swiss cheese inside of a lightly pressed baguette. If we are ever in Seattle again a return trip here would be considered a must.

Honorable Mentions:

B.L.T. with Benton’s Bacon – Mitchell Delicatessen, Nashville, TN

Pork Belly Bahn Mi – Bunk Sandwiches, Portland, OR

The Bunk Sandwich – Evoe, Portland, OR

Salami Sandwich – Olympic Provisions, Portland, OR

Dessert of the Year:

Key Lime Pie – GT Fish and Oyster, Chicago, IL – This deconstructed and then reconstructed version of the traditional key lime pie. Arriving in a Mason jar it consists of a deliciously tart lemon-lime curd under a layer of gingersnap crumble and topped with a lightly torched meringue. Simple yet perfect.

Honorable Mentions:

Brioche Bread with PB & Nutella – Huckleberry Cafe, Los Angeles, CA

Lemon Curd Drop Biscuit – Little T American Baker, Portland, OR

Peanut Butter Pie with Antebellum Oats, Olive and Sinclair Chocolate + Cocoa Nibs smoked by Alan Benton – Husk Restaurant at City House, Nashville, TN

Drink of the Year:

La Folie – New Belgium Brewing – on tap at Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle, WA – We first had a sour beer (Monk’s Cafe) at our good friend’s apartment in Boston last year and we instantly became obsessed with this style of beer. Every restaurant and bar we went to became a potential chance to find a sour beer. When we first tasted this beer at Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle we knew we would have to find it when we got back to Nashville. Fortunately, we were able to find it bottled as well at specialty beer stores and Whole Foods. Unfortunately, they are all out now. Its red-brown color belies its refreshing and sharp sour apple tart taste but it also has a richness provided by the 1-3 years of French Oak Barrel aging. We’re looking forward to next year’s batch already.

Honorable Mentions:

Strawberry Sour Ale – Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Portland, OR

The Khing and I (Thai Mekhong Whiskey and ginger syrup and lime) – Whiskey Soda Lounge, Portland, OR

Breve and Cafe Americano – Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Portland, OR

Oak Barrel Aged Negroni – Clyde Common, Portland, OR
Mango Moonshine, Husk Restaurant at City House, Nashville, TN

Food/Drink Obsessions 2011:


Lemon Curd/Tarts

Sour Ales

Updates: Austin, Atlanta and Nashville

We have been so busy here in Nashville, that we have not traveled very much in the past two months! However, that does not mean that we haven’t been eating! Nashville has a couple new restaurants that we can’t wait to share as well as some that we have just now experienced ourselves. We got around to visiting Atlanta again in October and came back with some great recommendations. Our post from Austin and ACL is long overdue, but we are still happy to report on a few of the great places we tried!

Austin

The Mighty Cone – “We Don’t Say Fried… We Say Deep Saute” is the slogan on the side of this food trailer started as a way for the Hudson on the Bend team to bring their flavors to the crowds of the Austin City Limits Festival. The specialty of this trailer is crunchy chicken wrapped in a tortilla and served in a cone. Try the tasty Chicken-Avocado cone.

Contigo Austin – outdoor beer garden in East Austin featuring charcuterie and creative small plates (think oxtail sliders).

Walton’s Fancy and Staple – wonderful new endeavor on West 6th from Sandra Bullock and her team that is a combo coffee/sandwich/flower shop. The decor is beautifully rustic industrial and the sandwiches were quite good as well.

Juan Pelota – tiny coffee bar located within Lance Armstrong’s Downtown/Warehouse District bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, now pulling espressos with coffee beans from Portland’s fantastic Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Royal Blue Grocery – new concept of the hip modern grocery/corner store with 3 locations in Downtown Austin with a small but well chosen selection of sandwiches, beer/wine, as well as bare necessities.

uncommon OBJECTS – large selection of “antiques.oddities.curious goods” in this great unique spot on South Congress. Definitely worth a walk around inside if you are hanging out on South Congress.

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer – food truck from Chef Bryce Gilmore with a rotating menu of critically acclaimed unique bites. The pork belly slider is fantastic and a constant on the menu. Open for dinner only.

Opa! – fun coffee and wine bar on South Lamar with nice outdoor seating and Mediterranean small plates.

Star Bar – newly and nicely remodeled cocktail bar on West 6th with food from taco/slider truck The Peached Tortilla.

Progress Coffee – coffee shop and coffee roaster on the East Side with a warehouse vibe that was named one of Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Best Boutique Coffee Shops

Bows + Arrows – clothing boutique (with sister-store Spartan) on South Lamar featuring brands like Band of Outsiders, BillyKirk, and Woolrich.

Spartan – eclectic and unique small selection of home decor items, local art and knickknacks on South Lamar attached to Bows + Arrows.

Coming Soon/Places to Try:

Elizabeth Street Cafe – French street cafe serving Vietnamese food from the team that brought Perla’s and Lambert’s that due to open before 2012.  Look forward to giving their banh mi and Vietnamese drip coffee (with beans from Stumptown) a try.

Easy Tiger – this bake shop and beer garden on East 6th from 24Diner’s team should be opening by the end of 2011 and be open from morning to late night.

Lick Ice Creams – new ice cream shop on South Lamar that’s attempting to put a dent in the Amy’s Ice Cream’s stronghold on the Austin ice cream scene with more creative offerings – think Cilantro Lime, Breakfast Bacon, and Goat Cheese with Thyme & Honey.

Atlanta

Holeman & Finch Public House – named by GQ as one of the Best Cocktail Bars in America. Famous for their burger which they only serve 24 a night at 10pm. If you want one you have to get there early and put your order in. May want to get a table seat if you can rather than squeeze into the crowded bar area.

Star Provisions – great market and sandwich shop by the Bacchanalia team with separate markets inside for cheese, meats, seafood, coffee, sandwiches and kitchen wares.

Taqueria del Sol – popular casual Mexican joint with a small selection of tasty tacos several sites in the Atlanta area. Give the Brisket and Carnitas tacos a try.

Antico Pizza – bring a bottle of wine (BYOB), step in, step up and order one of these fantastic pizzas and then head back and find a seat in the fun free-for all dining room and watch your pies getting made in several large ovens. The San Gennaro with salsiccia and sweet red peppers was amazing.

Octane Coffee – this award winning coffee shop in Midtown brews Counter Culture beans in an exposed brick warehouse vibe  – now with a new location in Grant Park.

Sid Mashburn – excellent men’s clothing store (with a women’s store, Ann Mashburn next door) with it’s own line of high quality dress shirts, shoes and suits as well as a nice selection of clothes and goods from companies like Barbour and Filson.

Nashville

The Catbird Seat:  Instantly one of the best restaurants in Nashville, if not the entire South. There are just 30 seats in this small restaurant atop of The Patterson House where you interact with and watch the amazingly skilled Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson prepare your food around a U-shaped bar. The restaurant is owned by brothers Benjamin and Max Goldberg, who also own The Patterson House downstairs. There is no menu and the chefs prepare 7-8 courses often sourcing local ingredients in preparing their truly unique and delicious meals (one appetizer is dubbed “faux-reo” – dehydrated porcini mushrooms around a parmesan cream resembling an Oreo). Though it is not cheap ($100/person with $30 for drink pairing) – it is well worth it for the experience and truly award winning quality food. We’d be surprised if they aren’t nominated for James Beard awards in 2012. Reservations must be obtained from their website and plan ahead, we hear that they can be booked up for several months.

Mitchell Delicatessen – the only thing we didn’t like about this fantastic sandwich shop in the Riverside Village area was how long it took to get there (think East Nashville and then keep going). They use local ingredients like Benton’s Bacon and Silke’s Old World Breads to make one of the best B.L.T.’s we’ve tasted.  Their take on the Banh Mi was also great as were the prices (most sandwiches around $6).

Chuy’s – an Austin original known for it’s fun and unique take on Tex-Mex now has 2 spots in Nashville – one in Cool Springs and spot in Midtown that opened October 2011.  Eclectic decor is the rule with one room with hubcaps on the ceiling and another dedicated to cheesy Elvis memorabilia. Great food value with unlimited free chips and salsa. The creamy jalapeno is downright addictive. Their tortilla soup and chile relleno are some of their best dishes and the New Mexican Martini is their take on a margarita with a jalapeno infused tequila kick.

Tavern – upscale gastropub/sports bar in Midtown area with creative takes on bar food and cocktails. Though their drink list is notably short on both quality and quantity of beers, they have a good list of seasonally changing cocktails. The train station meets library decor (all with a hint of Restoration Hardware vibe) works well and makes it stand out from other sports bars in the area. Most everything they make is good but we’ve particulary enjoyed their nachos, Belgian fries, Hack of Chicken, Tavern burger and the Brown Bag Special (grilled bologna on white bread with yellow cheese). They also have a good weekend brunch menu.

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