A cross country move followed by two best friends’ weddings and a series of small trips can seriously damage a routine blogging schedule, as you all know. And while life has settled slightly since I’ve arrived in San Francisco, and I have had a handful of amazing blog-worthy meals, I knew I needed something epic to report about to motivate me to start back up again. So praise be to Nashville.
While my primary purpose of taking the compulsory 6+ hour, 1-stop minimum flight from SF to visit Nashville was to see my long lost friend Lauren and her fiancé Sam, the trip quickly turned into a food tour of every spot that came recommended to me by either fellow foodies or recent visitors. And fortunately for me, Nasvhille is relatively small, so limited stomach-space aside, checking places off my list was fairly masterable.
And boy are there great places! I started off touring the 12-South neighborhood in search of a coffee, and found the Frothy Monkey (recommended by Lauren), a quintessential college-town hangout that looked like a Berkeley transplant. Despite the many affordable, delicious bagel sandwich options, Coffee and a raisin bran muffin was all I needed to tide me over until lunch, which I found at another stand-up-and-order college-town eatery, Fido. Fido is located on the restaurant lined 21st street in Hilsboro village, just blocks from Vanderbilt, so as expected, it has a hearty list of $10 or less sandwich and salad options to choose from. I went for the chopped salad, which while not quite enough for lunch, was the perfect healthy mix of cabbage, avocado, golden raisins, feta, peppers, and tangy lemon dressing to keep me only slightly satiated before an amazing dinner at City House in Germantown.
City House is a great name for the restaurant, which appears as a random white house with brightly lit windows on a somewhat deserted, tree-lined street. Escaping a cold dark night and entering this warm atmosphere gets you even more excited to be a part of the crew that was able to score a reservation. The place itself is minimalistic, but the lighting, approachable menu and flowing cocktails create a homey and familiar atmosphere. After a few grapefruit cocktails, Sam, Lauren and I split a kale salad, an incredible charred brick oven belly-ham pizza, a roast chicken to die for and a local trout with crispy skin and peanuts. Everything was mouthwatering, but an often-doubtful chicken eater (me) was made dumbfounded by this moist, intensely smokey dark meat with crackling skin. I might even say it was better than Barbuto’s. Dessert of chocolate panna cotta and a pecan tart rounded the meal out perfectly. There wasn’t one thing I would have changed!
My satisfying City House experience only motivated me to continue on the food journey the next day, and thankfully, Lauren was up for it. We had a list and there was nothing but cold weather holding us back. We started off with a biscuit at Puckett Grocery‘s downtown (which would have been great for a hearty breakfast if there hadn’t been a wait), a cortado with house-made almond-coconut milk at world-renowned Crema Coffee. Then we stumbled upon Marché Artisan Foods, a recommended brunch spot with loads of homemade baked goods and an adorable Mediterranean style, floor-to-ceiling window setting. I knew I had many meals head of me so I ordered a prosciutto and gruyere omelet to act as the base (and soak up the City House cocktails from hours earlier). Lauren’s frittata with asparagus and romesco sauce intrigued me more than my own order, but it was still a solid brunch in a great location. Next time I’m definitely getting a piece of zucchini cake to go.
After roaming by car around East Nashville, otherwise known as the Brooklyn of Nashville, we headed to Jeni’s, an adorable artisan ice cream shops known for its inventive flavors based in Columbus Ohio. With the store to ourselves on the cold fall day, the sweet and passionate ice cream scooper gave us tastes, accompanied by short histories, of almost every flavor. After sampling everything from burnt sweet potato and marshmallow, cheese curd and raspberry, cayenne, pumpkin, salted caramel, and a rich and inventive toasted coconut and roasted banana combo, I fell in love with the Buckeye – a roasted salty peanut and dark chocolate flavor that was sweet, savory, and mind blowing. Stuffed from our breakfast and ice cream samples, I walked out only with a bag of almond brittle and a newfound obsession for Jeni’s ice cream.
Enough time (15 minutes) had passed to re-ignite the hunger for something salty, so we decided it was time to check off my Southern BBQ experience at Edley’s in 12 South. I had very little desire to eat, but knew I had to do my food tour justice. I have no regrets about the smokey thick-carved turkey sandwich I ordered, and the sides of mac & cheese and green beans helped me survive an afternoon hunger surge.
Hours of lounging on the couch led us to motivate to honor our reservation at Holland House Bar and Refuge, a restaurant chock full of quaint details including a 360 degree bar, a fire place, and eclectic, wooden dining furniture. Our bartender Nate was so friendly that we decided to have our meal at the bar. The good? His undivided attention for cocktail making (which ranged from strawberry tequila drinks to vodka martinis), the beautiful low-lit vibe, and the cod brandade with whole grain mustard and pickled asparagus. The not so good? The over-salted braised greens (which we exchanged for the brussels sprouts), and the over-cooked burger (which we sent back for a more accurate interpretation of “rare”). The end result of a tender patty, caramelized onions and blue cheese reminiscent of Spotted Pig’s was obviously amazing.
I was honestly relieved to end the food tour there, but we somehow ended up at Walgreens (after failing at Piggley Wiggley’s, yes, that really exists), to buy ingredients for a festive Halloween rice crispy treat.. We whipped up a batch, which was just enough activity to put us to bed at a decent hour.
From the list of meals I had in Nashville, one might think I had been there for a week. And that makes me feel very accomplished! Nashville, you’re all the quirkiness, culture and beauty that everyone described.