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Posts from the ‘Seattle’ 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.

If You Build It…

…They Will Come.

We know that it takes time for cities to grow and develop. We love Nashville and have been thrilled to see so many great changes in the last 5 years. Here are some examples that we have found in our travels that we feel could help make Nashville even better.

Type of Spot: High Quality Taqueria and Dive Bar

Example: Big Star, Chicago, IL

Why: This spot in Wicker Park in Chicago was created by one of the country’s top chefs, Paul Kahan, as a cash-only place to come and grab a beer/whiskey/cocktail and a few high quality tacos. It has great outdoor seating and updated garage-type feel to the inside. Old Country music plays on a record player and the vibe is laid-back and hip. The food, though, is fantastic and despite its simple menu you want more of their chips/guac, tacos al pastor and fish tacos. Truly one of the coolest places we’ve been to in our recent travels and affordable to everyone. We know of a perfect spot for it in 12South…hint hint…the corner of Kirkwood and 12th.

Who Could Do It: Teresa Mason, mas tacos por favor with Alexis Stoler, No. 308

Type of Spot: Killer Boutique Hotel

Example: Ace Hotel, Portland and Hotel San Jose, Austin

Why: When we asked ourselves the question, “Where would we want to stay if we didn’t live here and came to visit?” and we honestly couldn’t answer. Staying Downtown is where most folks go when they visit, but really, how much do locals really go down there on a nightly basis? Even so, where would you stay? It would be a chain hotel. Hutton Hotel seems cool but its location seems neither here nor there, not really close enough to be able to navigate on foot. Two places that would be primed for a boutique hotel would be the 12South neighborhood or 5 Points in East Nashville. Somewhere where you could come if you were just visiting or if you were a hip musician and wanted a unique stay with interesting decor to hang around a cool neighborhood to get a real taste of Nashville.  It could even have a great outside bar and pool like Hotel San Jose. There is nothing here like that and both of the places listed above are hot spots that are cool and add a lot of character to their cities. It would be perfect here, especially with the number of musicians that visit our city for extended periods of time to record.

Who Could Do It: Liz Lambert, Hotel San Jose, Austin

Type of Spot: A Great Place to Run By the Water

Example: Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Austin, Seattle, Portland, Tampa…basically most every other city

Why: A place where people can run/walk/bike by the water would be one of the things highest on this list. In our city you can run at Percy Warner or Edwin Warner Park (very nice but hilly), Centennial Park (pretty during the day but only a 1 mile loop), Vandy Loop (mostly traffic lights and cars), Shelby Bottoms Park (a bit isolated and honestly doesn’t feel the safest), or with East Nastys (fantastic but it involves running through East Nashville neighborhoods/streets). If you go to any of those cities listed above the water is a focal point for their cities and the water is where there is so much beauty and where locals run on their paths and trails. We have the Cumberland River, which nothing Downtown actually faces, and which is basically used for nothing. It could be used for a trail like this – somewhere where you could explore the city whether you lived here or were visiting. It would make a huge difference in our city.

Who Could Do It: The Mayor

Type of Spot: Great NY Style Pizza and Hot Spot

Example: Home Slice Pizza, Austin, TX

Why: Nashville has several restaurants with great pizzas – City House and Margot Cafe – but these are gourmet wood fired pizzas rather than thin crust NY style. We really do not have great NY style pizza here in our opinion. Mafiaoza’s is more of a 2 for 1 Tuesday bar scene. Pizza Perfect is fine but not spectacular. Five Points Pizza is closer to the right idea but the pizza is not quite there. In Austin, on South Congress, Home Slice Pizza sits with a fun, funky vibe, fantastic NY style pizza, local beer on tap and is a great hot spot for foodies, hipsters and families. The restaurant even closes briefly each year so the staff can go to NYC to sample the pizzas there.

Who Could Do It: Chef Tandy Wilson, City House and we hear rumors of the delicious Antico Pizza from Atlanta expanding to Nashville

Type of Spot: The Modern Diner

Example: 24 Diner, Austin, TX

Why: A growing dining trend in larger cities is the concept of the “Modern Diner”. These places are using local and sustainable ingredients in a farm-to-table approach and making chef inspired creative comfort food. We have legendary greasy spoons and Meat-and-Threes but these places can certainly be supplemented with something more updated and eclectic/unique. A place where you could get a roasted banana and brown sugar milkshake or a well prepared Sazerac or a Brooklyn Lager on tap.

Who Could Do It: Chef John Stephenson, Fido

Type of Spot: Upper Echelon Bakery

Example: Huckleberry Cafe, Santa Monica, CA and Tartine Bakery, San Francisco, CA

Why: These spots make amazing pastries and breads for local restaurants as well at their cafes. They also brew high quality local coffee and serve fantastic breakfasts and brunches. They have lines out of the door and national attention. We have nothing even close to this.

Who Could Do It: Chef Margot McCormack, Margot Cafe and Marche or Silke’s Old World Breads

Type of Spot: Casual Counter Restaurant featuring High Quality Local Ingredients

Example: Evoe, Portland, OR

Why: This counter cafe is located within a fantastic gourmet small grocery called Pastaworks. It features a wonderful chef, Kevin Gibson, using the freshest seasonal local ingredients. His menu is written on a large chalkboard wall and changes frequently. The key here is that he lets the quality ingredients shine and keeps his dishes simple. Pristine Deviled Eggs, salads and sandwiches that aren’t over or under done. A deft touch and great ingredients is all that he needs. We love the Silly Goose but we feel that a spot where “less is more” with a simpler approach to dishes would be fantastic.

Who Could Do It: Chef Margot McCormack, Margot Cafe and Marche or Chef John Stephenson, Fido

Type of Spot: Excellent New Tavern or Gastropub

Example: The Publican, Chicago or Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle

Why: In Nashville there aren’t that many places to go to get a really good beer on tap. 12South Taproom has a good selection of predominantly Southern microbrews but its vibe is definitely casual and more of a place to get a beer outside than a place to find high quality chef driven food. Flying Saucer is a chain and until recently was a smokestack. Yazoo Brewery is a fantastic spot for a Yazoo, but naturally, that is all that they have.  We have Whiskey Kitchen, which is more of a whiskey lounge with pub food and not the easiest place to get in and out of in the Gulch and Tavern which has a more creative menu but a very limited beer selection. The Publican is a European style pub with an amazing list of European beers – mostly Belgian – and a wonderful menu with mussels, frites and creative uses of pig. The Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle is a more laid back and casual spot and has a great list of local Northwest beers on tap, unreal pretzels and great quality pub food from one of the top chefs in Seattle, Tom Douglas. It also is a great spot to throw darts or play shuffleboard and has ample seating. A spot where folks who love a great selection of some of the world’s best beers and can also have even better quality food would do great here.

Who Could Do It: The Goldberg Brothers, The Patterson House and The Catbird Seat

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

Seattle

While jogging around town one morning, our iPhone appropriately played, what we deemed the anthem for Seattle citizens; “Can You Stand the Rain” by New Edition.  Apparently August is their ONLY nice month! Thankfully, we were blessed with many sunny days on our trip to enjoy this beautiful city.

Sunny days- everybody loves them.

Tell me, baby, can you stand the rain?

Storms will come, this we know for sure.

Can you stand the rain?

-New Edition

Coffee Shops-

Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Co. – in the land of coffee giants Starbucks and Seattle’s Best, this local coffee shop is considered by many to have the best coffee and espresso in town.  Good – but nowhere near the quality of Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters which now has a shop in Seattle.

Breakfast/Brunch/Bakeries-

Dahlia Workshop :  outstanding biscuit-centric breakfast spot in South Lake Union area from Tom Douglas.  The Zach (a biscuit with fried chicken, bacon and egg) and the biscuit with fried green tomato with remoulade, egg, and bacon were every bit as good (and filling) as they sound.

Macrina Bakery : popular bakery and cafe in the Belltown area that supplies a lot of the bread used in local restaurants.

High 5 Pie : coffee and pie shop in the Capitol Hill area with a vintage meets modern vibe.  Named by Bon Appetit as a Top 10 Best Places for Pie.  Serves locally roasted Fuel Coffee.  Try the Lemon Blueberry Flipside – which is kind of like a moist and flaky turnover.

Casual Dining-

Pike Street Fish Fry – tiny fish and chips dive in the Capitol Hill area.  The fish selection changes daily with whatever is fresh, but locals say the cod is always a great way to go.  Get several of their yummy dipping sauces like the housemade tartar and lemon ailoi.

Serious Pie – gourmet Downtown pizza shop from Seattle chef and restauranteur Tom Douglas.  The clam pizza with pancetta, lemon, and parmesan cheese and chocolate budino with olive oil and sea salt were the standout dishes.

Salumi Artisan Cured Meats – legendary sandwich shop in Pioneer Square where locals and tourists alike line up single file for Armandino Batali’s (Mario’s father) cured meats.

Paseo – who would think that perhaps the most tasty spot in Seattle would be a Caribbean sandwich shop located in the quirky neighborhood of Fremont? Hop in line with the lunchtime crowd and get ready because these messy sandwiches are amazing. The Midnight Cuban Press and the Grilled Prawn Sandwich will not disappoint.

Le Pichet – Parisian bistro located Downtown that truly achieves the European cafe vibe.  Try the crispy chickpea fritters served on a salad of tomatoes. Open for lunch and dinner.

Brave Horse Tavern – A pretzel and a beer.  But this is no ordinary pretzel and no ordinary beer.  This is the best pretzel you have ever eaten – fresh hearth baked in a wood fire oven with sour cream and crispy onion dipping sauce.  And the beer – 24 on tap (local or hard to find) and all delicious.  So, get a pretzel and a beer (we loved the sour brown ale – La Folie from New Belgium Brewing) but don’t forget to order their fantastic burger with crispy iceberg lettuce and heirloom tomato on a Dahlia Workshop bun.

Contemporary Dining-

Staple + Fancy – one of several restaurants in the Seattle area from Ethan Stowell – one of Food and Wine’s 2008 Winners of “Best New Chefs in America”. You can either order a la carte and get “staples” or you can get “fancy” and let the chef create a unique multi-course meal just for the table.

the Walrus and the Carpenter – this fantastic oyster bar in the Ballard neighborhood is one of the hottest restaurants in the country – making multiple national Best New Restaurants lists.  The oysters were pristine and fresh/clean in the way that only Northwest oysters are and we were pleasantly surprised by the wonderful and simple veggie dishes (Heirloom Tomatoes with Sea Salt, Olive Oil and Vanilla).  The interior is intimate, rustic and hip with white subway tiles, butcher block and retro metal chairs. Try their Baked Oysters with Bread Crumbs as well as sampling their Raw Bar selections along with one of their creative cocktails. Press: GQ, Bon Appetit

Spinasse – the fresh handmade egg noodle pasta (Tajarin) at this wonderful Italian restaurant in the Capitol Hill area is so good it is worth a trip just to try.  You can even see the pasta being made fresh in their open kitchen.  Order it both ways – butter and sage as well as with their rich ragu sauce – and enjoy the sensation of light, delicate pasta perfectly cooked melting in your mouth.  The decor is beautifully rustic and we also loved the duck breast special and their rabbit meatballs.  Named by Bon Appetit as a Top 10 Best Places for Pasta.

Desserts-

Bluebird Microcreamery – relaxed and artsy ice cream shop in the Capitol Hill area with creative flavors as well as 8 rotating local beers on tap.  Even though Molly Moon’s Ice Cream is the more popular of the two, we found Bluebird to be far superior.  The Snickerdoodle was excellent.

Places we tried, but didn’t quite make the list-

Zig Zag Cafe

Essential Bakery

Yellow Dot Cafe

Chocolate Box

Molly Moon Ice Cream

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