Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Nashville TN

image287

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

image295 image297

Ribs & Pork ‘Que Combo – Southern Belle Sauce, Potato Salad, Hushpuppies, Cornbread Hoe Cake, Texas Toast

image305 image304

Pecan Pie

image308 image311

Goo-Goo Cluster

image288 image289

Acknowledging that I’d be back in Las Vegas just twelve hours later, and therefore without a proper place for Barbeque within one hundred miles, it was at pitmaster Patrick Martin’s eponymous BBQ joint that my penultimate meal in Nashville would take place, and proudly pronouncing that no freezers or shortcuts are used in a space where everything is made fresh each day it was clearly evident that these folks were serious about their craft from the moment we walked in, as a man walked from the back with a whole hog over-shoulder before depositing it in a pit and preceding to break it down and add seasoning in plain view of anyone willing to watch.

image290 image294

At this point a bit of a chain, now with locations creeping out of the state, but still adhering to long-held traditions felt essential to the craft, the menu at Martin’s reads like many similar places in the State of Tennessee and although the ‘Redneck Tacos’ and tamales both intrigued me a little the best bet seemed a more simplistic approach, the Ribs and Pork combo with sides served up within moments along with a gifted Goo-Goo cluster from the server who ‘couldn’t believe’ I’d never tried one plus a slice of even gooier candied pecan pie.

image293 image292

Slightly more pricey than other ‘cue stops around Nashville, but undoubtedly using a higher grade of meat than most, it was perhaps no surprise that both the fall-from-the-bone ribs as well as the smoke imbued shoulder were a perfect pairing of protein admixed with melted fat and although many suggest the Alabama White sauce as Martin’s go-to sauce based on novelty alone everyone at the table agreed that the Southern Belle was a significant upgrade on that which is found at Peg Leg Porker or Jack’s, though the sides perhaps need a bit of work as both the hoe cake and hushpuppies were quite heavy and largely lacking in flavor while potato salad was merely towing the status quo.

image301 image307

http://martinsbbqjoint.com

Click to add a blog post for Martin's BBQ Joint on Zomato

Posted in Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Martin's, Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, Martin's BBQ Joint, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

Olive and Sinclair, Nashville TN

image265

Olive and Sinclair

image272

Duck Fat Caramels

image273

Sea Salt and Vinegar Caramels

image269

Smoked Nib Brittle

image286

Bourbon Nib Brittle

image275

Mexican-Style Cinnamon Chili Chocolate Bar

image267

Sea Salt Chocolate Bar

image268

Coffee Chocolate Bar / Salt and Pepper Buttermilk White Chocolate Bar

image266 image271

Having seen the words Olive and Sinclair, or O+S, on almost every menu in Nashville over the course of more desserts than most would dare to try in just a five day span, it was at the Chocolatiers factory that Saturday afternoon found us and with the admission fee easily reimbursed on items in the giftstore where samples of no less than five chocolates were offered in limitless quantity one would be hard pressed to name a better way to spend an hour, let alone five bucks.

image274 image277

Originally a bean-to-bar outfit, but recently making its name with brittles and caramels oft named amongst the nations ‘best-of,’ Olive and Sinclair is a far smaller operation than their Whole Foods reach would make one guess yet at the same time certainly larger than spots like Dandelion or Tcho, let alone the newly hatched HeXX back home in Nevada.

image279 image280

Utilizing old stone grinders, admittedly for show according the owner Scott Witherow, before proper milling, blending, tempering, and more the tour at O+S takes the visitor literally from bean to bar and allowing for tastes of dried cacao, black liquor, and the milkfat white chocolate in their purest forms a sense of passion is clearly perceived, the final station showing off Brittle made of smoked cocoa from nearby purveyors of cured meats.

image281 image283

Clearly playing on Southern themes with bars that include everything from buttermilk to bourbon it warrants mention that Olive and Sinclair’s chocolates are not the typical flavors one would associate with purity, region, or terroir, yet with flavors that pop and smoothness almost incomparable in the market the decision of which is ‘best’ largely becomes one of personal preference – the dark sea salt a bit too ‘fruity’ for my preferences while the cinnamon chili was admittedly a shocker in its subtleties, both brittles pleasant in their slowly evolving flavor profiles beneath bold topnotes while a duo of caramels rivaled the best on this side of the Atlantic, the acidic finish likely not to everyone’s taste but lightly reminiscent to that of a Chess Pie and all the better for it in my eyes.

image284 image285

http://www.oliveandsinclair.com/our-factory/

Posted in Coffee, Dessert, Food, Nashville, Olive and Sinclair, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

Tavern, Nashville TN

image230

Tavern

image246 image248

White Trash Hash – bacon / cheese / potatoes / chives

image254 image256

Kaya Toast – warm coconut jam / Texas toast / fried egg / sweet soy

image258 image259

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits – chorizo gravy

image260 image261

Pretzel Pancakes – white chocolate mousse / dulce de leche

image262 image264

Blueberry Cornmeal Waffle – cinnamon molasses / whipped mascarpone

image249 image253

Maple Fondue – cardamom-scented / fresh fruit / red velvet waffle / blueberry cornmeal waffle / grilled sausages / frosted flake pain perdu

image231

Again exiting the conference for an extended break as the City of Nashville’s humidity finally gave way to rain, it was perhaps an oversight of Vanderbilt’s love of a boozy brunch that saw us arrive at Tavern to the tune of a 90-minute wait, the time largely spent wandering nearby Centennial Park beneath umbrellas until a text called us forth from the Pantheon to be seated amongst a mass of humanity with well lubricated co-eds screaming to be heard above the loud tunes echoing from high ceilings overhead.

image232

Dining with a pair of ladies from the era which several of the restaurant’s 1960s tunes were sourced, and thus clearly not of a demographic common during the hour of our meal, suffice it to say that the ninety minute wait was further compromised by overstretched service that saw our table ignored until a manager was flagged down fifteen minutes later, the kitchen itself equally stressed but trying to make good by sending out four scoops of luke-warm “White Trash Hash” as the wait-time for plates was extended another twenty-five minutes after the order was eventually placed.

image250

Already aware that my memory of the experience would be marred by the aforementioned events no matter how good the cuisine, it was unsurprising that when all items were brought out at once there was evidence of a good bit of heat-lamp treatment to found and although the Kaya Toast was actually quite impressive in its balance of textures as well as flavors despite the unnecessary decorative hot sauce, the biscuits were leaden and far too soggy, the supposed cheddar almost undetectable beneath gravy that tasted little of spice and closer to oversalted ham.

image241 image244

Unable to pass on sweets, but unaware that the “fondue” featured both Red Velvet and Blueberry waffles since the later was not amongst the menu items listed, it was with an unnecessary plate of the crispy cornmeal checkerboard that the meal progressed and faring far better than the doughy red velvet iteration which lacked any semblance of coco suffice it to say that any suggestion of ‘cardamom’ in the ‘maple’ syrup was so faint as to be imperceptible, the snappy spiced sausage and cornflake crusted French Toast saving the otherwise lackluster shared plate.

image242

Informed that desserts are only offered at dinner, and as such going even sweeter than usual with mains, it was finally the restaurant’s thinly poured flapjacks that crossed our lips and although a better effort could have been made than a topping of pretzels straight from a bag it would be difficult to find any other fault in the buttermilk triplet, the sticky-sweet caramel finding an unexpectedly willing dancing partner in light chocolate mousse that produced a flavor not unlike that of tres leches as it soaked the pancakes straight down to the plate.

http://mstreetnashville.com/restaurants/tavern

Click to add a blog post for Tavern on Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Nashville, Pancakes, Pork, Tavern, Tennessee, Vacation, Waffles

Biscuit Love Brunch, Nashville TN

image205

Biscuit Love Brunch

image211 image210

Bonuts – Fried Biscuit Dough, Lemon Mascarpone, Blueberry Compote

image215 image216

East Nasty – Biscuit, Fried Chicken Thigh, Aged Cheddar, Sausage Gravy

image217 image219

Gertie – Biscuit, Chocolate Gravy, Peanut Butter, Caramelized Banana Jam, Pretzel Crunch

image221 image223

Lily – Biscuit French Toast, Lemon Mascarpone, Blueberry Compote, House Syrup

image224 image225

Cheese Grits

image228

Hoping to literally “save the best for last” by visiting Biscuit Love Brunch as our last breakfast in Music City it was just after 7:30am that parking was allocated in front of the space on Saturday, and although the crowd would soon grow to near capacity it was to a line of only two persons that I stepped up after quickly perusing the menu – a trio of ‘biscuits,’ one side, and the restaurant’s signature item arriving hot from the kitchen after a mere ten minute wait.

image227 image207

Considered by some to trend a bit too hip to be taken seriously while fans suggest that Biscuit Love may serve the best buttermilk rounds in the Volunteer State suffice it to say that anything the risen golden circles may lack is more than made up for in creativity as a menu of cleverly named concoctions meet with well sourced and housemade accoutrements, any thoughts of items being overwrought proven mere myths as a surprising degree of dexterity is found amidst even the most decadently topped bites.

image206 image226

Able to sample a taste of plain biscuit by way of the open-faced presentation of East Nasty, the base of all that Biscuit Love has accomplished is certainly a bit different than the more hefty iterations offered at Loveless, Puckett’s, or even Barista Parlor yet taking into account the golden shell atop wispy crumb the batter makes sense when utilized as diversely as the kitchen opts, both the Chicken and Cheddar iteration with Sausage Gravy as well as the version topped more sweetly in chocolate and jam proving absolutely delicious without being the belly bomb that their descriptions may cause one to fear.

image214

Moving next to more novel uses of the dough alongside a small bowl of grits rich with sticky, aged cheese, Lily was the sort of dish that played strongly to my predilections and with the aforementioned lightness of crumb more than happy to soak up custard the steamy French Toast was very well complimented with vibrant lemon and bursting blueberries cooked down in syrup, the same citrus mascarpone packing the cavity of fried biscuit bites entitled ‘bonuts’ that seemed omnipresent at tables throughout the dining room, the lightness of each almost defying logic and proving the sort of thing you may want more than one order of as sharing may induce a later sense of regret.

image212

http://www.biscuitlovebrunch.com

Click to add a blog post for Biscuit Love Brunch on Zomato

Posted in Biscuit Love Brunch, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

City House, Nashville TN

image308image307

City House

image320 image319

Frico: Buttermilk Cheddar, Sweet Potato, Chilies, Scallion, Cider Vinegar

image314 image322

Belly Ham Pizza: Mozzarella, Grana Padano, Oregano, Chilies, Egg

image316 image317

Cornbread Gnocchi: Chard, Tomato, Tesa, Chilies, GMRS

image326 image327

Conchiglie: Mushrooms, Parmesan Fonduta, Garlic, Lemon, Parsley

image330 image331

Rice Grits: Chicken Sausage, Greens, Red Onion, Garum, Grit Crumbs

image323 image325

Sausage: Rhubarb, Orange, Vidalia, Peanuts, Celery

image332 image329

Yellow Corn Grits, Turnip Greens, Pot Liquor

image343 image345

Strawberry Ice Box Pie: Preserves + Braccheto Jelly, Vanilla Malt Snickerdoodle Crumbs, Mascarpone Crema

image340 image342

Cookies + Cream Panna Cotta: Sipping Cream Caramel, Chocolate Toffee Meringue Crumbs, Mascarpone Crema

image338 image339

Tennessee Waltz Cake: Chocolate Buttermilk Praline, Bourbon Zabaglione, Coffee Butterscotch

image336 image337

Almond Ricotta Pound Cake: Lemon Marmalade, Lemon Ricotta Gelato

image311

Frequently named amongst the best restaurants in Nashville, and yet another in the long list of places proudly promoting a seasonal menu focused on Italian accented Southern fare, it was at City House that the trip’s final dinner with family would be enjoyed and although some aspects of the night were marred by an exceedingly loud group of bachelorettes and service that seemed far more interested in tables to whom he could push expensive bottles of wine the food itself was mostly quite good, a few significant highs and the rest at least well enough prepared to let the quality of well sourced ingredients show.

image309

Situated in an old home with seating spread amidst a large downstairs and two rooms comprising the space above, it was at first that our seating in a small former bedroom seemed a bit unfortunate but once the bridesmaids became well lubricated even the warm, stagnant air was preferable to the shrieks and shouts echoing off high ceilings – our server more than once pulled to assist another young man that appeared to be an overwhelmed trainee as thirty minutes passed between ordering and first courses that never once saw our party checked in on at all.

image310

Eventually mentioning the lack of attention to our server, a confronting attitude offered where an apology would have been far better made, it was thankfully here that appetizers arrived, the crisply fried cheese and vegetables offering a slight bit of heat amidst hefty aromatics while the lightly charred pizza featured a crust robust enough to stand up to several unctuous toppings, the signature cornbread dumplings dotted in pancetta, tomatoes, and greens certainly as hefty a plate as would be expected, a dish best shared to be sure as a half-portion would serve smaller appetites as a meal in itself.

image315 image334

Onward to entrees, at this point visibly seeing patrons in the larger room wince at the behavior exhibited from the party of twelve, it was another large bowl of pasta that proved the best of three plates for as good as each sausage was the accoutrements leaned heavily on the use of onions with the chicken version all the more confounded by what seemed like nothing more than raw lettuce, an odd choice to say the least, though certainly not as unpalatable as the side of corn grits that was so bracingly bitter than it went almost untouched, a ‘your mileage may vary’ plate to say the very least.

image312 image313

Having heard many positives of the City House dessert program, enough so that the meal would culminate in an order most easily stated as “one of each, please,” it was here that I was glad none of the entrees compelled me to overeat for as much as the prices of some savories seemed a tad excessive the $8 sweets were portioned exceedingly generous, the lightly set panna cotta most certainly the lightest of the quartet despite its bold flavors while the strawberry tart melded cream and fruit flawlessly, both cakes far more decadent with the poundcake potentially containing as much as a stick of butter per slice and the layered Tennessee Waltz just boozy enough to tantalize the tastebuds up front before dissipating into notes of coffee and caramel competing for top billing amidst a buttermilk tinge.

image348 image347

http://cityhousenashville.com/

Click to add a blog post for City House on Zomato

Posted in Breakfast, City House, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, Italian, Nashville, Pizza, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

Crema, Nashville TN

image306

Crema

image291 image292

Japanese Method Iced Coffee – Kunjin Papua New Guinea

image299 image300

Maple Praline Coffee Cake

image296 image298 image301

Blueberry Muffin

image294 image295

Black Cherry Cornmeal Scone

image288

Going above and beyond Barista Palor by not only roasting its own beans on premises, but also in offering a more pleasant and intimate experience conducive to lounging and feeling at ease, Nashville’s Crema takes a page straight out of the Pacific Northwest while offering the sort of Southern hospitality rarely associated with hip and trendy Coffee Houses, a best of both worlds sort of experience well worth investing some time to sip, savor, and relax.

image289 image302

Independently owned, with a hefty wood décor and outdoor deck overlooking the ever evolving Music City landscape, arrival at Crema found the café approximately half-full at half-past four and with several options available from espresso to pourover it was largely an effect of the sunny outdoors that saw us order two iced coffees and one cup of tea, the late day bakery discount unable to be resisted despite dinner plans just a few hours away.

image303 image305

Spending a few moments browsing the beans and brewing paraphernalia while drinks were poured and pastries plated it was soon in comfy leather chairs that each of us sat, the coldbrew nutty and smooth in body with virtually no acidity while both the muffin and scone were moist yet toothsome and chock-full of berries, the coffee cake an all time ‘best of’ contender as buttery batter tinged in maple found balance with candied bits of nuts strewn liberally throughout.

image287

http://www.crema-coffee.com/

Click to add a blog post for Crema on Zomato

Posted in Coffee, Crema, Dessert, Food, Nashville, Tennessee, Vacation

DeSano Pizza Bakery, Nashville TN

image248

DeSano Pizza Bakery

image274 image275 image280

Margherita DOP – San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Basil, Garlic, Scamorza, Mozzarella di Bufala, Pecorino Romano

image273 image276 image277

Bianca – Garlic, Mozzarella di Bufala, Scamorza, Ricotta, Pecorino Romano

image253 image266 image268

Cannoli Tradizionale

image250 image252 image254

Considered by most to be Nashville’s best pizza, and undeniably the most authentic Neapolitan Pizzeria in town, it was for a second lunch that DeSano Pizza Bakery was visited and with a triple stone oven format as well as a proper dough room similar to that of Atlanta’s Rustica the experience unfolds quite similarly, a condescending youngster sporting a flock of seagulls haircut at the counter the lone fault in what was otherwise a very impressive place to purchase a pie.

image251 image256 image282

Now part of a small chain, with locations as far west as Los Angeles extending all the way to Charleston South Carolina, the idea behind DeSano is a simple one with focus on tradition and imported ingredients, but with prices comparable to places as yet not using authentic bufala mozzarella and San Marzanos, let alone flour transported from Italy, the value for the dollar here is well worth consideration – even the refusal to add additional ingredients to the Bianca showing an adherence to old world rules with flavor and texture to match.

image255 image257 image259

Obviously not a place to cut corners or lack for lines around lunch, but one that was found mostly deserted just after noontime rush, it was at the aforementioned front counter that orders were placed and taking a seat at one of several communal tables it was a mere five minutes before pizza was delivered with cheese still bubbling, a light bit of char conferred by the mere sixty seconds spent adjacent to the wood fueled fire.

image260 image265 image281

Treated to the sounds of Italian Opera as we tucked in, it was also a $5.25 Traditional Cannoli that was tasted, and although freshly filled with creamy ricotta at a small station to the left of the ovens neither the size nor the flavor remotely justified the pricetag, a bit of a shame as the pizzas themselves were a shade over double the price with soft stretch amidst light yeasty notes and the sort of natural-yet-perfect flavors that let you know exactly how much effort goes into their creation, the Margherita as fresh and zesty as can be found anywhere in America while the Bianca was the very picture of creaminess amidst garlic and just the lightest hints of smoke.

image264 image263 image262

http://www.desanopizza.it/

Click to add a blog post for DeSano Pizza Bakery on Zomato

Posted in DeSano Pizza Bakery, Dessert, Food, Italian, Nashville, Pizza, Tennessee, Vacation

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Nashville TN

image227

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

image238 image239

Mild Breast Quarter with Bread and Pickles

image241 image240

Medium Leg Quarter with Bread and Pickles

image233 image236

Hummingbird Cake

image247 image245

Caramel Cake

image243 image244

Chess Pie

image229

Again granted a two-hour lunch it was with good fortune that family had stuck close to downtown after breakfast, and driving Northwest from Music City Center it would not be long before the car was parked before Prince’s Hot Chicken, a restaurant revered by locals and tourists alike for serving some of the best fried bird and boldest spice profiles around.

image230

Certainly with its “charms” as relates to location and décor, essentially tucked away in a strip-mall with a simple sign and painted glass that could use a fresh coat while the interior features a cash-only window plus a few tables and booths, it should come as no surprise that Prince’s is the sort of place prone to comments about questionable cleanliness, but with staff as friendly and attentive as the vast majority of Southern spots the room was actually quite tidy, just a little bit run-down.

image231

Chuckling at the broken water fountain, something that almost seems intentional to push $1.50 bottles of water in a space known to offer blistering sauces ranging from mild to ‘xxxhot,’ it was after only a moment of indecision that an order was placed, and waiting mere moments before our ticket number as called a tray and two plates were soon in hand, a trio of desserts later purchased from an elderly African American woman who brings in her house baked goods every day just prior to noon.

image228

Opting to take it easy on spices after the effects of Hot Chicken in Memphis it was with one plate of mild and another of medium that the meal began and first tasting the lightly spiced breast my initial reaction was one of wonder as to how they managed to make the batter so crisp while the flesh was so moist, the next bites of leg and thigh raising the bar even higher with just a light bit of burn tickling the back of the throat and base of the tongue.

image232 image242

Amused that my dining partners found even the mild to be a bit too heated for their tongues, and taking the opportunity to gladly finish off the wing as well as saucy bread beneath, it was onward to desserts that we moved and although roughly packed in plastic clamshells for easy portability the flavor of each selection more than made up for any lack of showmanship, the Hummingbird amongst the most pineapple-studded I’ve sampled to date beneath a lacquer of rich icing while the chess was pleasantly tangy and smooth, a best bite found from the buttery yellow caramel iteration with glistening tan frosting and plenty of sweetness to spare.

Click to add a blog post for Prince's Hot Chicken Shack on Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Nashville, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Tennessee, Vacation

417 Union, Nashville TN

image205

417 Union

image214 image213

Half Dozen Buttermilk Biscuits with Housemade Blackberry Jam

image218 image220

French Toast New Orleans Style with Vanilla Maple Syrup and Caramelized Bananas

image217

Pancakes with Strawberries and Cream

image221

Chicken & Waffles – Belgian waffle, boneless fried chicken, vanilla maple syrup, whipped butter, fresh fruit

image206 image209

Again planning an early breakfast before attending the morning sessions of AACE 2015 it was to local’s joint 417 Union that we pointed the GPS and arriving just moments after opening to find a few folks already seated it was to down-home service and surprisingly excellent fare that we were treated – the outdated online menu a lone disappointment as I was denied s Snickerdoodle some sources feel to be beyond compare.

image207 image210

Named and decorated to celebrate Southern heritage and the men and women serving the armed forces both now as well as in the past, 417 Union features scratch-made breakfasts and lunches made from mostly locally sourced ingredients and although prices may appear low when perusing the a menu full of favorites the portions prove to be anything but, two-entrees and a shared appetizer plus biscuits almost overburdening the four-top at which three of us sat.

image208 image211

Making the kitchen aware that we wished to dine within an hour, and as such served plates just as soon as they were ready from the kitchen, it was indeed the aforementioned biscuits that first arrived and with ample notes of buttermilk amidst the fluffy risen crumb one couldn’t help but be excited for all the things to come.

image216 image215

Listening to a news program playing on a television near the bar it was just as the first biscuit was to be slathered with housemade jam that the rest of the order was brought, and rearranging real estate to fit it all in a veritable smorgasbord of shared plates began, the pancakes with strawberries every bit as well crafted a batter as the biscuits while deep fried French toast topped in molten bananas and caramel was perhaps the very definition of crispy decadence, a light waffle topped in slightly tough chicken but upgraded substantially by housemade vanilla syrup proving the only item short of exemplary, though still a worthy rendition of a classic that now seems to be omnipresent on breakfast menus from coast-to-coast and north-to-south.

http://www.417union.com/

Click to add a blog post for 417 Union on Zomato

Posted in 417 Union, Bread Basket, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Nashville, Pancakes, Tennessee, Vacation, Waffles

HUSK, Nashville TN

image364

Husk

image371

Benne Seed Rolls with Butter

image373 image372

HUSK Charcuterie Plate, Dijonnaise, Cheddar Biscuits, Pickled Green Tomatoes – Fried Pork Rillette, Cotechino Sausage, Coppa, Pancetta di Testa, Fennel Salami, Ham Hock Terrine with Coffee and Sorghum

image380 image381

Carolina Rice Griddle Cakes (c.1875) with HUSK Pimento Cheese, Chipped Beef

image378 image379

Cheerwine Glazed Belly Ham, Soft Rolls, Pickled Onion and Cucumber, Smoked Duke’s

image374 image376

Grilled FL Asparagus, Potato, Egg, Bottarga, Crispy Pig Ear

image383 image389

Pit Roasted Wedge Oak Farm Chicken, Lightly Fermented Turnip, Mustard Jus

image388

Hot Water Cornbread, Sliced Cucumbers and Raw Onion, for the Table

image387

Bear Creek Farm Beef, Barbecued Cauliflower, Brassicas, Sauce Chausser, Szechuan Peppercorn

image384

NC Catfish, Green Garlic Dressing, Smoked Potatoes, Nettles, Toasted Buckwheat Groats

image394 image393

O&S Chocolate Pie – Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Brown Butter Caramel

image396

White Chocolate Parfait – Florida Strawberries, Buckwheat Streusel, Sorrel

image395 image397

Double Chocolate Cake – Hickory Ice Cream, Toasted Marshmallow, Graham Cracker

image363

Floored by McCrady’s, but a bit less enthusiastic about a meal at HUSK in Charleston, it was with two friends that I decided to dine at Sean Brock’s second ‘homage to southern ingredients,’ and once again finding the restaurant housed in a renovated historic home the experience was unsurprisingly not dissimilar, the friendly service and lively setting bolstered by an ever evolving menus where high prices and small portions spoke to the quality of the sourcing, if not the creativity utilized in the kitchen.

image367

Undeniably a beautiful space, the two-story home built into a hill with bar downstairs and open kitchen at ground level, it was in passing by several tables and room of aging meats that I found my friends seated on high stools and finishing their cocktails it was back upstairs we wandered, a tidy fourtop just left of the hostess stand our seat for the next 140 minutes during which the din of the dining room occasionally reached unexpected peaks while creaky floors and high ceilings acting to amplify the sound.

image398 image401

Quickly offered water along with a folded bill of fare that had changed only slightly from what was offered the night prior it was with great indecisions that options were weighed, a trio of buttery rolls soon joined by a stump of cured meats, pickles, and fluffy cheddar biscuits from which the fried rillettes and smoky cotechino particularly shined, though in reality not a single uninspired bite was to be found.

image368

Continuing a trend of strong starters, round two featured stellar belly bacon atop soft rolls that would make almost any upscale bao hang its head in shame and although neither of my Southern dwelling pals appreciated the Pimento Cheese with rice cakes as much as I did suffice it to say HUSK’s “caviar of the South” is about as sharp as it gets, the asparagus in bright green broth proving a bit less bold than would be expected in the presence of pigs ears and bottarga, though certainly not lacking for vegetal flavors in any conceivable way.

image400 image399

At this point feeling confident that the combination of old friends and good food would make this visit to HUSK more memorable than the last it was unfortunately in entrees that the meal fell from grace, the meaty catfish recommended by our server a lone standout amidst bitter nettles and nutty groats while the sauce Chausser and peppercorns absolutely buried the beef, an overcooked breast of chicken only propped up by a bed of stewed dark meat hidden beneath a blanket of turnips lightly tinged in brine.

image392

Entirely unamused by ‘hot water’ cornbread that likened a wet sponge both in texture as well as taste it was with hope for a reprieve that sweets were selected, and although the lauded Grit Pudding is apparently only available at lunch it was with good fortune that all three desserts proved as delicious as those found in South Carolina, the Chocolate Chess beneath peanut butter and caramel every bit as decadent as its ingredients would suggest while a square parfait was silk amidst strawberries and sorrel granita, the chocolate cake topped with smoky ice cream and toasted meringue serving up the flavor of S’mores without the campfire and mosquitoes, just the way I’ve always wished it could be.

image365 image366

http://www.husknashville.com/

Click to add a blog post for Husk on Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, HUSK, Ice Cream, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

The Farm House, Nashville TN

image318

The Farm House

image334 image335

Coffee Cured Duck, Lamb Rillette, Bresaola, Beef Jelly, Blue Cheese Crumble, Pickled Green Strawberries, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Biscuit

image331 image333

Pimento Cheese Beignet with Harissa and Onion Ash

image340

Baby Iceberg, Chow Chow, Boiled Peanuts, Corn Nuts, Chorizo Ranch

image349 image350

Strawberry & Beets, Watercress, Rhubarb, Almond

image342 image343

2x potato, cheese, bacon, onion, truffle, soured cream

image339 image352

Cornbread, Steen’s butter

image347 image345

Pork Belly Poptart, jam, walnut, lemon

image353 image355

Coconut Cake – White Chocolate Crunch, Coconut Sorbet, Meringue

image360 image358

Baked Alaska – Ricotta Ice Cream, Chocolate, Meringue, Caramel Sauce

image324 image325

Seemingly taking notes from Sean Brock in presenting “reimagined farm-fresh Southern classics…in a hip space,” The Farm House seemed an inspired place to grab a few bites with family before meeting friends for dinner at Husk, and although Tennessee native Trey Cioccia may not have garnered the accolades of his South Carolina based competition the cuisine that rolled out of the kitchen during our 90-minute meal was not only more interesting, but undeniably more delicious than anything experienced at 37 Rutledge Street later that night.

image323 image322

Promoting a list of local purveyors for everything from meats and produce to brews and décor while the soundtrack trends mid-90s Pacific Northwest rather than “down-South” the menu at The Farmhouse is one of daily changes and with entrees ignored in place of several small plates this method of ordering proved fortuitous as generous portions were found at prices far less outlandish than other local upscale locales despite everything from charcuterie to ice creams being made in house.

image329 image330

Starting with the aforementioned cured meats, along with two buttermilk biscuits served piping hot from the oven, one would be hard pressed to name a flavor more dynamic than that of the coffee-cured duck while both the gamey rillette and dried beef were also quite pleasant – a lone ‘oddity’ found in gelatinous beef jelly with the sapor of bone marrow that admittedly did not go over like a lead balloon.

image362

Requesting items be expedited as they were readied from the kitchen, largely on account of time, it was merely fifteen minutes before an opening trio arrived and with both salads prone to wow by both texture and taste it was unsurprisingly the molten pimento cheese beignets that provided the most dynamic early bites, a pocket of buttery brioche and ‘caviar of the south’ made all the more impactful through the addition of pepper paste and ash.

image320

Opting next for three heavier plates, dessert soon joining the mix as a large party had slightly set back the savory half of the kitchen, both the signature pork-belly ‘poptart’ and texturally compelling ‘2x’ potato were whimsical yet elegant as rich flavors of swine and cheese were reined in by acid and earthy aromatics, the steamy cast-iron cornbread topped in creamy cow’s butter competing bite-for-bite for top billing while sweets showed even better – a tiny baked Alaska bruleed in the kitchen proving toasty and smooth atop a thick chocolate base while a sphere of soft coconut cake perched atop a pile of sorbet was as beautiful as it was delicious, the chocolate crumbs and spiky ring of meringue lending just enough sweetness to make more subtle flavors really come forth.

http://thefarmhousetn.com

Click to add a blog post for The Farm House on Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, The Farm House, Truffle, Vacation

Jack’s Bar-B-Que, Nashville TN

image266

Jack’s BBQ

image281 image283

Combo Plate – Brisket, Shoulder, St. Louis Style Ribs, Creamed Corn, Mac n’ Cheese

image275 image276

Cornbread

image279 image280

Chocolate Chess Pie

image277 image278

Chess Pie

image267 image287

Exceedingly unimpressed with Barista Parlor, but with more than an hour to kill before the conference resumed, it was to Broadway that I turned and with reviews of Jack’s BBQ ranging from ‘tourist trap’ to ‘Best BBQ in Nashville” I decided to take a chance, the answer found somewhere in between as not only the cuisine but the experience was worthwhile, if not particularly worth writing home about.

image285 image286

A staple of Nashville’s entertainment alley long before the city’s recent wave of growth, and since spawning additional locations where waiting is rarely an issue, it was to a short line that I entered the three-story property and quickly entering the queue it was with only a few seconds to decide that I approached the wordless server, a combo plate quickly slapped together and handed to me on a tray with cornbread – two pieces of pie added en route to the cashiers who did little more than collect $20 before sending me off to find a table.

image288 image270

Opting to eschew upstairs seating and instead occupying a teensy two-top near the front door it was amidst a décor of sports, pork, and country regalia that I partook in my ‘cue and immediately finding the wet “St. Louis Style” ribs meager in meat and overly sugared a transition to the brisket and shoulder proved far more competent, both versions juicy and moist with a good bit of smoke complimented by light sauce, while both creamed corn and macaroni n’ cheese were on par with the environs, the former none too sweet and far more creamy than that from a can.

image271

Moving to desserts, but remiss to not mention slabs of toothsome cornbread that reminded me of the savory stuff down in North Carolina, it was admittedly a bit of a surprise when I popped open clamshells to realize I’d selected two versions of Chess rather than what looked to be Pecan, but never one to quibble a good piece of pie one would be hard pressed to name a better slice of either in the city of Nashville, the vinegar notes peaking through the sugar at all the right times in the traditional version while the chocolate was far more rich despite a mouthfeel closer to that of pudding.

image268 image269

http://jacksbarbque.com/

Click to add a blog post for Jack's Bar-B-Que on Zomato

Posted in Bread Basket, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Jack's Bar-B-Que, Jack's BBQ, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

Barista Parlor, Nashville TN

image261

Barista Parlor

image245

Cold Brew from Sightglass

image241 image244

Cinnamon Sugar Donut / Strawberry Donut

image247 image249

Almond Buttercream Macaron

image246 image252

PB Chocolate with Caramel Pretzel Drizzle Pop’s tart

image253 image260

Biscuit

image256 image259

Pop’s Strawberry Waffle – Strawberries, Cream Cheese Stuffing, Powdered Sugar

image263 image262 image264

Considered by some to be the best coffee shop in the city, but a bit disappointing to me as they opt to outsource their beans to purveyors such as Stumptown, Four Barrel, Sightglass, and Intelligentsia instead of roasting in-house like nearby Crema, it was for the first part of a two-part lunch that I stopped by Barista Parlor and as much as the sprawling space inhabited by Nashville’s hip and trendy is remarkable in its open layout little of what was experienced within its confines was otherwise memorable, a buttery scratch-made biscuit with impressive rise the lone exception to the rule.

image234 image235

Featuring all sorts of coffee apparatus, along with beans by the bag and an area equipped with a roaster that makes me wonder exactly what its purpose is, if not to roast, it was on approaching the counter that a hirsuit young man greeted me and opting for four pastries, a coldbrew, and two kitchen-prepped items a long wait while browsing WiFi would ensue – the baked donuts proving doughy at best beneath their repective toppings while the Macaron was fairly decent with a crisp break and creamy filling, the “Pop’s Tart” a total dud reminiscent of Toaster Strudel without warmth, flakiness, or much caramel flavor at all.

image236 image237

Sipping the coffee while awaiting my entrée, suffice it to say that the aforementioned biscuit was without a doubt the only item worth waiting for because as much the quality fluffy yet crisp waffle was appreciated the meager sidecar of strawberry compote was absolutely no match for the heavy slathering of cream cheese that was so sour I actually questioned whether it had spoiled, the majority of it scraped off and discarded along with half of the pop-tart and any desire to recommend the space, let alone to return.

image238 image239 image240

https://www.facebook.com/BaristaParlor/

Click to add a blog post for Barista Parlor on Zomato

Posted in Barista Parlor, Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, Macaroon, Nashville, Tennessee, Vacation, Waffles

Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant, Nashville TN

image001 (2) image001 (3)

Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant

image001 (17) image001 (19)

Sausage Biscuit, Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit, Chicken Biscuit

image001 (15) image001 (16)

The “King’s” French Toast – Egg Dipped and Pan Fried Brioche, Bananas, and Peanut Butter topped with Powdered Sugar and Served with Syrup and Fruit

image001 (21) image001 (20)

Southern Stack – Slow-smoked pulled pork over sweet potato pancakes and fried apples, topped with a fried egg, and served with a side of our home fries

image001 (24) image001 (26)

Maple Pecan Pie

image001 (3pp) image001 (39)

Deep Fried Brownie Sundae – Brownie batter mixed with triple treat cookie dough, battered and fired, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and candied bacon

image001 (33) image001 (37)

Andy’s Triple Treat Cookie – chocolate, peanut butter, & butterscotch chips mixed with pecans and topped with Vanilla Ice Cream

image001 (6) image001 (4) image001 (9)

With the conference set to begin at 8am it was an early alarm followed by a long run, shower, and quick drive that saw us arrive at Puckett’s mere moments after doors were unlocked, and opting for excessively priced parking next door as a matter of convenience it was almost immediately on entering that we were seated – the service given every chance in the world to be timely given the absolute lack of patrons but excessively delayed as our waitress stood sipping her Starbucks and kibitzing with the kitchen.

image001 (1) image001 (10) image001 (11)

Eventually acknowledged, and placing an order in an expedited manner after being informed that desserts are not offered until 11:00, it was perhaps twenty minutes of waiting that followed before plates were delivered and with the space approximately 1/4 full by that time the noise level remained relatively tame, a later return around noon showing the scene to be entirely different as a 1-hour wait for a two-top was quoted over sounds that likely challenged a rock concert in decibels.

image001 (7) image001 (12) image001 (13)

Soon receiving our plates, though water refills were decidedly hard to come by, it should seem obvious that Puckett’s targets the tourist population, but at the same time doing things right with regard to sourcing and preparing most items in house the cuisine itself was actually quite competent – the French Toast presenting a lone disappointment as it was still somewhat doughy in the center with too little topping while the biscuits fluffy and golden surrounding quality proteins, the sweet potato pancake beneath a pile of pulled pork and a fried egg undoubtedly the most interesting of the options with great flavor to the smoked shoulder that makes me wonder if other meats fare as well.

image001 (29) image001 (30) image001 (2112)

Having previously mentioned the lack of sweets available at breakfast, it was only later that I returned solo to sample a few of Puckett’s signature skillets, and bellying up to a bar during lunch to find service surprisingly even less attentive than what was offered earlier it was with good fortune that the both the award winning deep fried brownie and Triple Treat cookie were every bit worth the annoyance and accolades, the former a chewy bit of decadence wrapped in crunchy cookie dough beneath ice cream and candied bacon while the later arrived just browned at the edges with a soft set center chockablock full of melting morsels equally crowned with ice cream and caramel, the piece of Maple Pecan Pie taken to go also quite pleasant but certainly not reaching the high standard set by other versions in the city, let alone the items served just short of molten noted above.

image001 (14) image001 (31) image001 (40)

https://www.puckettsgrocery.com/nashville/

Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Ice Cream, Nashville, Pancakes, Pork, Puckett’s Grocery, Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant, Puckett’s Restaurant, Tennessee, Vacation

The 404 Kitchen, Nashville TN

image380

The 404 Kitchen

image388

Flight 404 – Martin Miller’s gin, Crème de Violette, Luxardo, lemon

image392 image393

Pig Plate – Woodlands back bacon, coppa di testa, 14 month Benton’s, goldrush apple butter, whiskey apple butter, sourdough

image395 image397

Wedge Oak Farm Duck Egg – wild mushrooms, Anson Mills farro, egg yolk, herbs

image398 image400

Fava Beans – rock shrimp, orange, honey, pecorino

image405 image407

Glendale Farm Chicken – Anson Mills dirty porridge, lacinato kale, button mushrooms

image403 image401

Ponce Inlet Bay Scallops – cauliflower, brown butter, paddlefish caviar, white truffle

image410 image411

Anson Mills Skillet Cornbread – Kentucky bourbon barrel sorghum butter

image415 image417

Lemon Curd – Medjool dates, cashew, Italian meringue

image421 image422

Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Budino – almond, port, cherries, crisps

image419 image418

Saffron Ice Cream – strawberries, shortcake, Marcona almonds

image381

Small in size, and difficult to locate in an area currently high in construction, Matt Bolus’ The 404 Kitchen was the finishing piece to a large puzzle of dinner decisions in Nashville and featuring more ‘farm to table’ cooking inside of what was once a shipping container the cuisine proved every bit as good as highly praised spots like Josephine, Husk, and City House while the setting and service were perhaps even better – the small size and tongue-in-cheek humor providing an excellent experience spread over the course of two hours.

image389

Described as ‘uncomplicated’ by the chef, with a menu that varies almost day-to-day, our arrival at The 404 Kitchen found a four-top ready in waiting despite a late arrival due to difficulties finding the space around orange barrels and joking about how much the city had changed in the last 12 months, not to mention the dozen years past since our last visit, it was almost an immediate connection with the staff that was established – the conversation free-flowing and full of recommendations not only for food and drink, but things to see and do in the area.

image394

Eventually deciding on a four-course order to begin with a plate of locally sourced charcuterie paired to housemade preserves and warm sourdough brought in from a local baker it was much to our surprise just how enjoyable the whisky apple butter was alongside the more briny bites of pork and slathering the bread thick with Goldrush Apple compote while sipping a mighty fine spin on the classic Aviation it was with the restaurant quickly filling to capacity that appetizers arrived, the duck egg and faro dish presenting an earthy aromatic bowl of creamy porridge while the fava bean soup was the very definition of vibrant – a fresh seasonal expression that saw every ingredient utilized to the utmost potential for texture, flavor, and balance.

image414

Progressing to entrees, and taking into account the amount of eating already done that day, it was in two plates that we invested along with a side of skillet cornbread that easily proved to be the best in the city when soaked in smoky-sweet butter, and although the “jellybeans of the sea” scallops were indeed quite sweet amidst their rich accoutrements both the small size and use of truffle oil were offputting considering the $32 pricetag, a far better appropriation of funds invested in the pan roasted bird atop liver-rich porridge balanced out by the tender mushrooms and kale.

image420

Inspired by dessert descriptions, at least enough to order one of each, it was once again here that Tennessee surprised my generally citrus-averse palate, for as good as both the thick port-infused chocolate pudding and innovative take on strawberry shortcake were neither even came close to the mason jar parfait of creamy lemon curd decorated by meringue with roughly chopped dates and cashews, a dish that in many ways supported the Chef’s vision of simplicity while still presenting as quite sophisticated, much like the experience as a whole.

image424

http://the404nashville.com/kitchen/

The 404 Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Posted in 404 Kitchen, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, The 404 Kitchen, Truffle, Vacation

Monell’s Restaurant, Nashville TN

image305 image308

Monell’s Restaurant

image336 image338

Biscuits, Cornbread, Rolls

image341 image340

Port Poached Pears

image311 image320

Cinnamon Apples

image312

Coleslaw

image315

Pasta Salad

image316

Corn Pudding

image317

Green Beans

image318

Country Gravy

image322

Mashed Potatoes

image324image326

Mac n’ Cheese

image327

Sage Stuffing

image330

Baked Chicken

image333

Fried Pork Chop

image334

Pan Fried Chicken

image313

Banana Pudding

image310 image319

Serving Nashville residents and tourists the best in home cooked Southern cuisine for over thirty years, and having now spawned two other locations, it was almost a requirement of a trip to the Tennessee capitol to visit Monell’s, and opting to visit the original location just after 1:00pm on a Tuesday our party of three found the oft-packed 19th century building with just four seats available, a prompt seating seeing food placed before us no less than 60-seconds later with plate after plate soon to follow.

image303 image306 image307

Originally opened as a sort of boarding house, the Monell family serving downhome cooking to persons staying in the residence, the space has since been converted to a one-price all you can eat experience open for lunch and dinner plus weekend brunch, and with some parties opting for a made-to-order meat-and-three option the true ‘experience’ is most certainly found at a communal table with shared plates passed amongst new friends and travelers, the food every bit as good or better than rumors have it with a pricepoint that really cannot be beat.

image347image344image309

Beginning first with several passed sides, though some tables may begin with breads or proteins depending on what the kitchen has most recently prepared fresh, it was with attention to the fact that much more was to come that small portions of items such as green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pasta salad were sampled and first deciding to go all-in on cinnamon apples followed by corn pudding both items proved to be absolutely delightful, the biscuits and country gravy also quite impressive while cornbread proved just a bit drier than one would hope, a situation augmented admirably by butter and honey, or poached pears that are also available by the jar to take home.

image342 image348 image349

Moving on, much like the sides Monell’s offers a regularly changing list of entrees and joining ever-present fried chicken that features light batter and minimal grease overlying a lean bird that could have arguably used a bit more brine or seasoning was actually the baked bird that was the best protein available, a nice spice profile overlying skin almost as crisp as that of the fried version, the pork faring far less favorably and quite tough even when taken bite for bite with cinnamon apples, most of mine remaining on the plate to allow for a second helping of corn pudding, the lone dessert of banana pudding proving a competent, if not particularly compelling, iteration with a touch to much sog to the wafers.

image345 image350 image352

http://monellstn.com/

Monell's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Cornbread, Dessert, Food, Monell’s, Monell’s Restaurant, Monnell’s, Monnell’s Restaurant, Nashville, Pork, Tasting Menu, Tennessee, Vacation

Pied Piper Eatery, Nashville TN

image250

Pied Piper Eatery

image277 image281

Monty “Python” Cristo – Ham, Turkey, Cheese on Texas Toast, Hand Battered and Fried with Raspberry Sauce and Powdered Sugar

image282 image283

White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese

image284 image285

I’m Goin’ to Graceland (half) – Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey on White Bread, Hand Battered and Deep Fried with Powdered Sugar, served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

image269 image270

Pecan Pie

image276 image275

Chess Pie

image273 image272

Cinnamon Sugar Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

image251 image256

Continuing on despite the recent passing of its owner, Becky Piper, Pied Piper Eatery was the third stop on Tuesday’s breakfast triathlon and with Led Zeppelin followed by The Who, Doors, and Stones quickly playing on entry as tables featuring all four bands plus severeal were found throughout the dining room I knew right away that we were in for an experience, the food in some ways an effect of the concept but quite creative and tasty just the same.

image252 image253

Greeted by a young woman with ‘old-timey’ mannerisms that seemed surprisingly natural considering her age and side-job fronting a local rock band it was a clever all-day menu both in names and compositions that we investigated, the eventual order entailing one entrée, one included side, and four desserts from which only the odd custard based Pecan Pie was less impressive than the descriptions implied.

image254 image255

For all intents and purposes a locals oriented rock n’ roll diner with a small prep kitchen tucked behind a white wall with more seating than I’ d imagine is usually necessary, it was with only three other parties present that our meal at Pied Piper took place and opting to have everything delivered at once as a matter of schedule it was to quite the smorgasbord that we were treated, the white macaroni and cheese surprisingly well made with plenty of sharp cheddar balanced by buttery notes atop soft, spiral pasta while the steamy square of bread pudding, proudly touted as being without raisins, was bold with cinnamon and sweetness beneath a melting ball of creamy vanilla ice cream.

image267 image266

Having already mentioned the pecan pie, it was the seemingly the exact same pie minus pecans that served as Pied Piper’s take on Chess and although far better here than with the nuts the flavor was still somewhat ‘off’ compared to others in the area, the far better investment being a pair of deep-fried specialties including the Presley inspired “I’m Goin’ to Graceland” with honey, bananas, and peanut butter and far too infrequently seen legitimate Monty Cristo, a hand battered stack of ham, turkey, and cheese on Texas toast given a quick bath in hot oil before being patted dry and paired with housemade raspberry puree for a taste both sweet and savory that by itself more than justifies a visit to Pied Piper…in this case, the concept most definitely secondary to the cuisine.

image286 image287

http://piedpipereatery.com/

Pied Piper Eatery on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Nashville, Pied Piper Eatery, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation

Yeast, Nashville TN

image231

Yeast

image243 image247

Blueberry Kolache

image245 image246

Cinnamon Roll

image241 image242

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip French Toast Casserole

image249 image232

Unapologetically targeting a Breakfast triple-header since later days would largely see my mornings absorbed by the conference for which I was in town, stop two on Tuesday was at East Nashville’s Yeast and known to be the local home of the Kolache I was pleased to find at least a half-dozen takes on the regionally celebrated interpretation of a Czech/Slovak specialty, the eventual order settling on a sticky blueberry circle that was still warm to touch with stewed blueberries sitting at the center of a yeasty, lightly sweet rim.

image233 image237

Featuring an open kitchen set amidst a small row of buildings housing several local businesses Yeast is without a doubt a mom n’ pop place with a reputation built largely on word of mouth, and with two young ladies providing top-notch service with a smile to a steady stream of traffic it was much to my delight that in addition to the Kolaches two of my other personal favorites were being offered that morning, the ‘casserole’ a substantial upgrade on any savory amalgam of meat and eggs instead featuring bread soaked in custard overnight with ample pockets of chocolate and a light bit of cinnamon that lingered on with each bite.

image235 image239

Already impressed, but happy to seek a recommendation from servers who seemed to really enjoy what they do, I was told by both ladies that although unauthentic the Cinnamon Roll made from the same dough as the Kolache was perhaps the small bakery’s best item and although the item was saved until later given our extensive eating agenda a gentle rewarming to melt the frosting showed the staff opinions to be true, the pillowy base formed into a gentle curl around butter and cinnamon with frosting that was of the more tangy variety, yet still sweet enough to let you know that what you’re eating is about as indulgent as it comes.

http://www.yeastnashville.com/

Yeast Nashville on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Pudding, Breakfast, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Nashville, Tennessee, Vacation, Yeast

Sky Blue Café, Nashville TN

image205

Sky Blue Café

image210 image209

Drew’s Brews Coffee

image218 image220

Croque Madame – Ham, Swiss, French Toast, Hollandaise, Sunny Side Egg

image216 image217

Brie French Toast – Drizzled with Honey

image226 image224

PB&J Stuffed French Toast Pancakes

image207

Unamused by almost every aspect of Pancake Pantry on Monday it was a bit off the grid that breakfasts ventured the following day, and heading to trendy East Nashville where a small corner spot in a residential neighborhood houses Sky Blue Café the experience was a veritable one-eighty from all the hype, a down homey spot full of creativity with great coffee in endless quantity from a local vendor known simply as Drew’s Brews.

image211 image214

Certainly catering to the growing hipster and wannabe musician population inhabiting much of the area, Sky Blue Café is the sort of place where local artists decorate the walls while community events such as Cornhole tournaments are advertised alongside boardgames it was just seconds after seating that a young man who looked fresh-from-bed greeted us with stubble and an Iggy Pop T-Shirt, orders soon taken and delivered directly from the kitchen by a woman with a huge crown of braids who joked that we’d likely bitten off more than we could chew.

image221

Dimly lit on the interior, but bathed with sunlight from a lovely day outdoors, it was with great gusto that we tucked in after a long morning run, and starting savory before moving onward to sweets the Americanized take on Croque Madame with French Toast and buttery Hollandaise was inauthentic yet excellent, the Tennessee ham particularly briny but well balanced by cheese, sauce, and egg.

image227 image229

Refilled with coffee for the umpteenth time, never once requiring a request, it was next the French Toast sandwich stuffed with Brie that caught our attention and although the cheese itself was expectedly mild the addition of honey brought out some of the more creamy notes, no such subtlety necessary or found in the French Toast Pancakes that literally saw two slices of eggy French Toast stuffed with peanut butter and jelly lodged between two pillowy buttermilk pancakes, a meta-food that from my perspective puts the Turducken to shame.

http://skybluecoffee.com/

Sky Blue Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Dessert, Food, French Toast, Nashville, Pancakes, Pork, Sky Blue Café, Tennessee, Vacation

Josephine, Nashville TN

image312

Josephine

image329

Pretzel Bread, House Mustard, Butter

image322 image323

Charred Snap Peas, Goat Cheese, Radish, Spring Herbs, Bread Crumbs, Honey Lavender

image324 image326

Bibb Lettuce, Bacon, Croutons, Radishes, Herb Buttermilk Dressing

image331 image333

Scrapple, Compressed Strawberries, Balsamic Vinegar

image334 image336

Mustard Dumpling, Pork, Mushrooms, Spring Herbs, Peas

image346 image349

Spring Pea Agnolotti, Candied Carrot Sauce

image339 image341

Risotto, Duck, Asparagus, Crimini Mushroom, Lemon

image342 image344

Housemade Pappardelle, Assorted Mushrooms, Pecorino

image355 image353

Chocolate and Salty Caramel Tart with Opal Basil, Orange Zest, Meyer Lemon, Chocolate Crunch

image319

Considered to be one of Nashville’s most inspired kitchens it was somewhat unfortunate that a seat at Josephine’s newly launched 10-by-10 dinner could not be found during my stay, but taking the opportunity to instead dine with my mother and aunt it was just after 7:00pm that we were seated in the restaurant’s front left corner, the unforgiving chairs and pillowed banquets not exactly an ideal arrangement for a long meal, but better than being crowded around the excessively loud bar.

image313

Admittedly far louder than one might expect for a restaurant considered by some to be ‘fine dining,’ the service at Josephine was perhaps equally surprising with a young staff that was not only a bit less refined than I’d expected, but also a bit discombobulated when it came to describing plates and presenting a bill that nearly doubled the price of a pre-ordered “Large Format” dessert I’d been quoted a price of $35 for when securing it with a credit card just two days before.

image320

Taking a sort of pan-European approach to Southern ingredients with an ingredient steeped in seasonality and local produce it was with a few questions answered that an order was assembled, the $7 loaf of steaming hot pretzel bread arriving in a matter of minutes along with two salads including lightly charred snap peas with goat cheese and honey from which not a single unimpressive taste or texture would be found.

image338

Onward with small plates, course two featured a pair of the more interesting plates offered on a menu with no lack of creativity and intrigue, and as much as the description of scrapple may turn some people off it can only be said the version served at Josephine is a whole different ballgame, the compressed meat treated to a light breadcrumb coating and served with elegance amidst greens and balsamic to reign in the natural sapor without burying it, a similar degree of subtlety discovered in poorly named ‘mustard dumplings’ that instead presented like pan-seared Parisian gnocchi with only a hint of the ingredient amidst a rich stew of pork, mushrooms, and peas.

image350

Having discovered the housemade pastas in the Volunteer State to be almost universally on par with some of the best throughout the United States it was in two plus a plate of creamy risotto that savories would culminate after an unexplained thirty minute delay and although the crispy skinned duck was rosy and rich atop risotto that was marred by too much citrus both the ribbons of al dente pappardelle and tender agnolotti were picture perfect, the morels atop the former a very pleasant surprise while the sweet carrot reduction was as boldly flavored as it was colored, each bite leaving me to wonder if a better spin on peas and carrots has ever been prepared.

image361

Having already mentioned the pricing issue related to dessert, it was equally perplexing that the already prepared tart was presented in whole tableside before being returned to the kitchen where it took nearly twenty minutes to cut, but setting aside these issues one would be hard pressed to find fault in a single aspect of the dish, a large number of discrepant ingredients coming together to form a flavor profile that ran the gamut from bitter ganache to milk chocolate rocks atop a lacquer of salty caramel while light sours from Meyer Lemon and orange zest melded seamlessly beneath the aromatics of freshly cut opal basil that lingered on the palate, if only for a moment, following each bite.

image359

www.josephineon12th.com/

Josephine on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bread Basket, Dessert, Food, Josephine, Josephine on 12th, Nashville, Pork, Tennessee, Vacation