The Catbird Seat
Upon planning my dinner schedule in Nashville I knew this place had to be part of the repertoire. Not only was the menu by Chef Ryan Poli completely inventive and unique, the chefs also personally served each guest—thereby lifting up Southern hospitality to its most personal level. What a delight. A 20-seat communal counter surrounds the open kitchen where you can view what’s coming—though you would never guess what will appear in the dish in front of you. Our 8-course dinner went as follows:
 Slow-Cooked Butternut Squash with Fermented Butter and Roasted Kelp (the fermented butter was a tasty surprise addition)
 Sunflower Seed Risotto with Black Winter Truffles (my favorite dish of the bunch, especially since I have been avoiding carbs—flavors here are spectacular with an added bit of crunch)
 Wakame Seaweed Pasta with Scallop “Bottarga” and Yuzu Kosho (a wonderful taste of the sea, incorporated in the most clever ways: freezed dried scallops acted as an intense, flaky topping, oh my)
 Grilled Cauliflower Marinated with Sake with Cashew Puree, Poached Turnip and Black Garlic (turnip as pasta, fresh)
 Bear Creek Farm Beef in Umami Crust with Grilled Carrots in Brushed Beef Fat and BBQ Tofu (a gorgeous slab of beef treated with respect)
 Hatcher Dairy Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Lemony Olive Oil (dessert part one: silky)
 Butterscotch Custard with Burnt Caramel Ice Cream, Cookie Crumble, and Luxardo Cherries (dessert part two: salty and sweet, my favorite combo)
 Cookies in a Cookie Jar (these appeared with each dining group, we wondered what character would be chosen for us!)
This is a MUST Nashville (or anywhere) experience, plus downstairs is Patterson House, the place for inventive cocktails. Plan to wait and mingle in the vestibule with fellow imbibers.
The Catbird Seat, 1711 Division St (corner 18th Ave S) Nashville, TN, situated in what looks like a residence, you will await downstairs to be escorted up the elevator, valet parking
Also tucked away in a house, Husk feels like an authentic Southern experience. The historic mansion sits in a section of town settled by the Rutledge and Middleton families of Charleston, who were descendants of two of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The restaurant embraces Southern traditions like seed-preservation, heirloom husbandry, pickling—which is illustrated by the list of purveyors in the entryway.
We started the meal with Apple Cider Glazed Pork which was served in soft rolls with pickled onion, cucumber and smoked Duke’s—sort of a barbecue in a bite, so to speak. Here the pork arrived as bacon, which was our first surprise of the night. Phase two of the dinner arrived on a bed of salt, the Grilled Rappahannock Oysters with celery root, lemon and benne (aka sesame seeds). Though I am more of a fan of raw oysters, these guys hit the spot, as the weather was brutally cold and we were seeking comfort. For the entree we split two dishes: The Springer Mountain Farms Chicken (so flavorful and moist) served with North Georgia Candy Roaster (squash), spinach, cornbread, and sage. The second dish was a quintet of veggies, though the Southern definition of vegetables not what you would consider “light”! Sauteed greens sat next to a trio of hush puppies (deep-fried cornmeal), pickled okra, crowned by a serving of creamy grits. We did not leave hungry! Service here was tops. As a grand finale to the dinner, the Uber car that picked us up was a $125,000 Tesla with see through roof and adorable driver, who liked to drive to get out of the house.
Husk, 37 Rutledge St (betw Lea/Middleton), Nashville, TN
Imagine my dismay as I began writing this post to learn that this restaurant is now closed. What a shame. We had an absolute perfect start to our New Year’s Eve here. Part of what made our night so great was the service by Megan, who made sure to keep our glasses full! The three-course tasting menu started with a fresh Baby Beet Salad which came with radishes, pistachios, grapefruit, brown butter on a bed of frisee. Just spectacular. To contrast the salad, we also got an order of Pheasant Tart which arrived in a sweet mini fashion with flavors of wild mushroom, madeira, a parmesan topping and fresh greens. For the entrees, we went total carb: Butternut Squash Ravioli came as a hefty portion with black trumpet mushrooms, truffle, and parmesan. Lobster Risotto satisfied with charred lemon flavors and a micro celery salad. Best of all, the desserts here were the tops. We could not decide which was better: the sweet/salty Caramel Mousse wrapped in dark chocolate and served with caramel popcorn OR the little Coconut Cake served with blueberry compote, meyer lemob anglaise and basil. We did have lots of nice things to drink here too, see Hobnob’s post Nashville Drinks for the details. With our bellies full, we headed out in the sub-temperatures to finish our New Year’s Eve in style. I do hope something comes in its place, the space is too spectacluar to abandon—the high ceilings and dramatic optic lighting sculpture really made for a sexy scene.
Prima, 700 12th Ave S (corner Division St), Nashville, TN