36hrs (or so) of eating / Food Travel America / The South

(More than) 36 hours of eating and drinking in Nashville

I am fortunate to be able to travel a lot. People wonder “how”?  But it’s because I take opportunities and use them as excuses to book trips. After having an amazing September in Vancouver with cousin Alex, I knew I wanted to get back down to Nashville as soon as I could. So why not use Ben’s birthday as an excuse to get down to Music City? An idea bantered about with our mutual good buddy Paul,  turned into a booked surprise weekend only a few hours after the idea sprung. Like I said, when I see an opportunity, I pounce on it.

Some people look at me strangely when I tell them about my enthusiasm for Nashville, Tennessee. I’m sure their perception is Honky-tonk and Hee Haw, but what most don’t know is that Nashville is a great eating and drinking city. So great in fact that even before touching down on Friday night for a weekend, I knew I wasn’t going to get to half of the places on my list. When I’d been to Nashville 2 1/2 years ago, so many of the places I wanted to go to were closed because of the 4th of July holidays, so even though it was my second visit to Nasvhille, there was still so much I wanted to try.  Luckily, I had Alex’s assistance in focusing my weekend on the best possible eating and drinking experience.

Friday evening:  Coming in late , we dropped our bags and met Alex and her bf James at Urban Cowboy Public House for a pre-dinner drink. We walked into what felt like a backyard bonfire and into the cozy bar area to get our drinks.

urban-cowboy-public-house-nashville

The best thing about hanging out with Alex is she knows what I like and I don’t have to think about ordering!

Being famished, but not wanting to ruin dinner, we ordered a few things. The beef fat olives (it was too dark to take photos) are worth your time. Trust me. I loved the atmosphere at the Public House. The juxtaposition of drinking fine cocktails in front of a bon fire was just something that I would never experience at home. It’s for moments like this that I travel.

urban-cowboy-public-house-fire

I wanted to stay at the Public House longer, (especially because the kitchen is supposed to be killing it), but we had a reservation at Rolf and Daughters to get to.

On my last visit to Nashville, Alex lived right behind Rolf and she couldn’t speak highly enough about the place. “The pastas, and the chicken, oh yes and the cocktails are great too”. Paul, who usually doesn’t go near a carb at home, was ordered to throw out any food restrictions for the trip and especially for our dinner at Rolf.

Rolf Daughters Nashville cocktail

*69 cocktail with mezcal and beet shrub.

rolf daughters bread

Sourdough bread with seaweed butter – Paul declared this to be his favorite taste of the weekend, but maybe because it was the first piece of bread he’s eaten in a long time.

Rolf Daughters Nashville cabbage

Red cabbage, cured beef, apple, dill and creme fraiche

rolf daughters chicken liver

Crostini, chicken liver, carrots, sumac and currents.

rolf daughters nashville tartare

Dry aged beef tartare, turnip, radishes, lettuce

rolf daughters chicken

Pastured chicken, preserved lemon, garlic confit – I’ve had what I thought was “the best” version of this dish in Vancouver until I tried this, a completely superior dish.

rolf daughters lamb

Cavatelli pasta e fagioli, green peanut, lamb polpette and pecorino

rolf-daughters-nashville-garganelli

Garganelli verde with heritage pork ragu – This and the maitake malfade pasta (no photo) were my favorites of the night.

Friday late evening: After Rolf & Daughters, we made our way over to Dino’s, Cousin Alex’s dive bar. I was so excited to finally get to check it out!

dinos-nashville-2

We started out with “a shot and a pony” and then hopped next door to Bar No. 308 which was having a 90’s night. We lit up the dance floor for a bit and then headed back to Dino’s to end our night. Needing some grease to soak up all the liquor, I took home an Animal-style fries, or Redneck Poutine as Sean Brock on the Nashville episode of Parts Unknown coined it as, when they were featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”.

Dinos Nashville hot fries

Greasy, cheesy with a little bit of spicy heat, this was the perfect thing to end my evening off with!

Saturday Morning: We were all slow to get up on Saturday, but decided it was probably better that we didn’t adjust to the 2 hour time difference. The morning was beautiful, so we decided to take a walk around Nashville to try to work the cobwebs out.

john-seigenthaler-bridge

john-seigenthaler-bridge-nashville

Saturday noon: For brunch/lunch we were back at Dino’s where I had 2 of my favourite things from the trip. The Damn sandwich was amazing, as was the best darn Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted.

Dino's Nashville bloody mary

I’ve always thought the Canadian Caesar was superior to the Bloody Mary until this drink. And to think it didn’t even come adorned with anything flashy, just a lime. That’s all it needed.

Dinos nashville brunch

The “Damn sandwich” + a bloody Mary + Cards Against Humanity = best way to spend a hungover morning.

dinos-2

Saturday late afternoon: Next up on the agenda was a tour of the Nelson Greenbrier distillery where I learned about the process of making bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.

nelson-greenbrier-still

The big copper still where all the magic happens.

nelson greenbrier whiskey

The charred barrels with bourbon inside waiting patiently to age.

nelson greenbrier bourbon

We sampled 1 Tennessee whiskey and 3 bourbons. My favorite all-round was the Belle Meade 9 year blend.

Saturday evening: I’d originally booked the boys to go to see the Grand Ol’ Opry at the Ryman while I went to a “blow-out” dinner with Alex, but it turned out that my dinner reservation was late that I could do it all! I’d been to the Opry the last time I was in Nashville but saw it at the megamall Opryland. While I’m not a huge country lover, I do appreciate a good show, and the Grand Ol’ Opry is good entertainment. And any night that has Bo Duke and Deacon Claybourne on the same stage is a fun one in my books. The Ryman is such a special place to see a show. I will definitely keep an eye on the schedule for my next excuse to visit Nashville.

Opry Ryman theatre

John Schneider aka “Bo Duke”

opry-ryman-deacon

If you’re a fan of the tv show “Nashville” you’d recognize Deacon (Charles Esten).

Saturday late evening: Ever since I started talking to Alex last fall about returning to Nashville, she’s been mentioning Bastion as a “must”. I knew it was going to be a multi-course extravaganza, something not everyone can appreciate. But Alex is the perfect eating date as she’s always IN for a good time, and that we had.

We met up at the bar side of Bastion, and before I knew it, I had a smoky (and delicious) mezcal drink in my hand. We were quickly ushered from the busy bar to another behind a metal door. Entering into the back bar, I felt like we were part of a secret club. I started to get giddy for the experience.

 We then moved to the kitchen counter bar to and made our choices for the evening.

Bastion Nashville menu

We were thoughtful about our choices and didn’t want to over-order but in the end even though we didn’t check the box, we were served “One of Each”.

Bastion Nashville carrots

Carrots + yogurt

Bastion Nashville spot prawn

Spot prawn + Buddha’s hand

Bastion Nasvhille Habiger oysters

Oysters + Ham

Bastion Nashville tacos

Celery Root + Black Garlic = tiny tacos

Bastion Nashville Josh Habiger

The counter seats at Bastion are amazing because it allows for interaction between the kitchen and diner.

Bastion Nashville Josh Habiger

Lobster + Beef = a raw and completely unique take on surf & turf

Bastion Nashville Habiger monkfish

Monkfish (liver) + Salsify – What’s salsify? I learned that evening that it is a root vegetable with an oyster-y taste when cooked.

 

bastion nashville

Boudin + Cabbage

bastion nashville

Escarole + Pistachios

Bastion Nashville

Cod cheeks + Kale

Bastion Nashville duck

Duck + Apple – but the star on this plate were the crispy fried balls of sweet potato 

Bastion Nashville

Veal + Hazelnut

And just when I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, the desserts hit the counter.

dsc00679-2

bastion-butternut

Butternut (squash) + Pecan pie

Bastion Nashville dessert

Dancing Fern + Pear

Bastion Nashville dessert

Sunchoke (ice cream)+ Foie gras (caramel)

It was an epic meal, and I could do little more that evening than go home to rest (pass out) and recuperate only to wake up and start the eating all over again.

Sunday Late Morning (aka early afternoon): Slow to rise again, Paul and I fed our Starbucks obsession by driving 10 minutes to the closest Starbucks (there are none in East Nashville) and then hitting the Turnip Truck grocery store by our place for other provisions. A few hours later and we were eating again.

On my last trip to the South, I went to Husk Charleston & Nashville. I loved both of them so much, and just found the food to be so unique and special that I just had to return.

Alex recommended we go for brunch, so we could order the hamburger. I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get a good sampling of the menu at brunch. Who was I kidding, with Alex there’s always more than enough. It turned out we received more than double what we ordered, but it was a wonderful way to taste all of the amazing dishes that Husk has to offer.

Husk Nashville rolls

Warm Parker House rolls with honey lard butter.

Husk Nashville brunch

24 month Bob Woods Country ham, sweet potato doughnuts with bourbon caramel, deviled ham deviled eggs, biscuits, pimento cheese with benne wafers.

Husk Nashville shrimp grits

I’ve been dreaming about Husk’s shrimp & grits since I had them over 2 years ago in Charleston. These were a different version, and unfortunately not at all as beautiful as the ones in my memory…

Husk Nashville hamburger

My disappointment about the shrimp& grits was overshadowed with the #1 burger in Nashville according to Thrillest, (Dino’s is #4). This double patty delight (with the addition of ground bacon) topped with American cheese and a tangy pickles and mustard is a burger masterpiece.

Husk Nashville soft serve

Not that we needed it, but we ended with one brown butter soft serve with caramel, and 5 spoons.

Sunday Afternoon: There’s no better way to work off a huge brunch than by bowling a few frames down at Pinewood Social!

Pinewood Social Nashville Alex Wendkos

Unbeknownst to any of us, Alex is a bit of a bowling expert!

Sunday evening: I’d originally chosen Rolf & Daughters over City House for this trip, but Alex insisted I needed to try both, especially because they were serving their Sunday Supper. I’m glad I did because the food was amazing. I was happy to see some green vegetables during that evening, but the star of the evening was definitely the broccoli pizza.

City House Nashville popcorn

Popcorn with chicken fat and cheese –  I couldn’t stop eating this by the handful.

City House brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts with parmesan, chiles, garlic, lemon and bread.

City House Nashville broccoli

Broccoli, Carrot, Cauliflower, Citrus Shrub, Parsley, Cilantro, Sunflower Seeds

City House Nashville pizza

Cauliflower, Ricotta, Parm, Garlic, Lemon, Parsley pizza

City House Nashville pizza

Broccoli, Tomato Mayo, Parm pizza – tomato mayo? On a pizza? Yup, and it worked!

City House Nashville dessert

Coffee Cream Soda Cake Sorghum Graham + Toffee, Espresso Caramel – Not that we needed dessert (again), I’m so glad we ordered this delicious cake.

Sunday Late Night: We returned to the bar at Bastion where it was quiet on a Sunday night. James was working for the night and prepared some delicious cocktails for us as we  took turns playing table arcade games.

Bastion Bar Nashville

Monday before leaving: One last stop on the eating itinerary before flying home. All my body was craving was a big salad, but we had a monster, (or rather whole pig) to end the trip.

I’d been to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint on my last trip to Nashville, but not the new space downtown complete with a huge outdoor patio and games. This would be a top recommendation for downtown Nashville. The BBQ is amazing, and if you’re lucky you’ll see them cooking up a whole hog like we did.

Martins ba-b-que Nashville wings

Memphis dry rub wings with a side of Alabama white sauce for dipping

Martins Nashville bbq

It seemed fitting to bring “BBQ Ben” to Martin’s for his birthday with his bestie.

Martins bar-b-que nashville bologna

I know the bbq is what I was supposed to get, but I just couldn’t leave Nashville without having a fried bologna sandwich!

And with that, we zipped off to the airport for the long journey home. Diets & detox for the YVR crew after our weekend of indulgence!

Dinos Nashville Alex Wendkos Susy Bando

Thanks to the gang (&James) for making a weekend in Nashville one to remember! A special thanks to Alex for just being Alex! 🙂

Urban Cowboy Public House : 103 N 16th St, Nashville

Rolf & Daughters :700 Taylor St, Nashville

Dino’s : 411 Gallatin Ave, Nashville

No.308 : 407 Gallatin Ave, Nashville

Nelson Greenbrier Distillery : 1414 Clinton St, Nashville

Bastion : 434 Houston St, Nashville

Husk : 37 Rutledge St, Nashville

Pinewood Social : 33 Peabody St, Nashville

City House : 1222 4th Ave North, Nashville

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint : 410 4th Ave South, Nashville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s