Nashville Eating Report (3~4 Days)
Hello everyone. I just got back from an extended weekend in Nashville (I live in San Francisco) and want to say how GOOD Nashville food is. On to a lengthy (sorry) report.
We landed ~10 am Friday morning and checked into the Hutton Hotel. The Hutton was very nice, but since we didn't rent a car, it was a bit far from all the "action" and I felt guilty making the courtesy shuttle take us everywhere. A car is very important in Nashville! The staff, accomodations, the free hot cider in the afternoons were all fantastic though.
We started off by catching lunch at Arnold's. I love this place, I want this place in SF, though I feel its charm derives a lot from Southern hospitality. From the Friday menu, I opted for meatloaf, mashed potatoes & gravy, collard greens, and fried green tomatoes. Fried green tomatoes = Amazing! Travel partner got the chicken fried steak (a special, not on the printed menu), mac & cheese, green beans, and mashed potatoes & gravy. The steak came with a blue cheese sauce, delicious and better than my meatloaf (which was good, but not "special"). The collard greens were tasty, the green beans were not, and the mac & cheese was nice and buttery. The whole Arnold's experience was great with one of the counter guys coming around saying hello to everyone. Welcoming atmosphere with folks sitting next to friendly strangers.
Friday dinner was at Holland House. We had a house salad (very fresh and more interesting ingredients than regular "house" salads), chicken livers (great when hot, less so when cold), Kentucky catfish, and hangar steak. The catfish was too bready in some parts, but otherwise good, and the hangar steak was pretty solid. Everything tasted fresh. Most patrons (20s and early 30s, I'm guessing) seemed to be there just for drinking and hanging out in the very dimly lit place, which is fine by me.
The next day we stumbled into McDougals to chase our hangovers away with chicken fingers. Prince's was my first choice, but being car-less we opted for something closer. In our state, we each got the five chicken tenders basket. Ummm....way too much food! The chicken was delicious: moist and flavorful with just enough crust on the outside. The parts touching the bottom of the basket were unfortunately soggy, but we couldn't finish them anyway. The highlight were the fries: just thin enough, crispy, flavorful, hands-down good. Sauces were great (got the honey and gold) and the free ice cream was a nice touch too.
We hung out at the Broadway Brewhouse in Downtown before dinner and it was great to sit at the long bar facing the 77 or 99 taps (or however many) drinking beers and watching sports. The bartender was nice enough to give us tastes of beers we didn't know. Dinner was at Merchants Hotel in the upstairs area and started off with a very nice complimentary amuse bouche of some sort of gougere. We had the shrimp and grits, duck(?) risotto, pheasant, and short rib. Shrimp and grits = Absolutely amazing! A little smoky bacon, the most delicately cooked shrimp, buttery grits....heaven! The risotto was alright, the short rib was flavor and tender, the pheasant came out in 4 or 5 breast pieces and was a bit lukewarm. The highlight of the meal was the soft chocolate dessert. BLEW my mind! A long twisted piece of malty tasting chocolate with a lush mint ice cream and balsamic sauce. The atmosphere was a bit subdued for my tastes and I'd probably opt for the more casual, livelier downstairs next time.
The third day (sorry, so long-winded), after some pastries from the hotel's java bar we headed over to Germantown but unfortunately weren't hungry enough to eat at Germantown Cafe. We did however snag four cupcakes from the Cupcake Collection. We couldn't believe these delicious morsels were only $1.50/each (so cheap compared to SF). We had sweet potato, red velvet, strawberry, and banana nut caramel. All were good, but the sweet potato and red velvet were SO moist, SO delicious. Just a sweet little family-run shop.
As a midday snack/meal, we ate at the downtown Broadway Brewhouse and I was pleasantly surprised. We had Texas tacos (brisket in taco shells) and the Texas melt (brisket on Texas toast). Never had tacos with BBQ beef brisket and liked them. The melt was a solid, good-tasting sandwich. We later headed to Patterson House, which had superinventive cocktails with flavor combinations I've never experienced (and SF has plenty of artisan cocktail places). Incredible array of house-made bitters. The bartender sent out some donuts for us when he found out we were celebrating a birthday. Some of the best donuts I've had! Hot round balls (that sounded weird), not too big, sweet and a little salty, perfect texture.
We later got a 10" pizza at Station Inn. Not the most gourmet thing, but with four or five toppings, it was only $12. Super crispy and reminded me of the Tony's frozen sausage pizzas I used to eat (and love) growing up.
So this was way too long, but I just wanted to share in detail all the wonderful food we had in this city! Thanks for reading!
Arnold's Country Kitchen
605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203
402 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN
The Patterson House
1711 Division Street, Nashville, TN
1213 6th Ave, Nashville, TN
McDougal's Village Coop
2115 Belcourt Ave, Nashville, TN 37212
Broadway Brewhouse Downtown
317 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201
401 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Glad you had a good time and hit up some places outside the usual tourist grind. Too bad you didn't have a chance to eat at Germantown Cafe, that's one of my favorites.
I'm an old-fashioned guy with a very old-fashioned definition of what a martini is (gotta be gin, vermouth must be an actual ingredient) and tend to be snobby about it. Patterson House fed me their house version, and it was the best one I've ever tasted. The three people I was with each got something different, we tasted around the table, and they were all stunningly good. Nashville has had its ups and downs in the ten years since we lived there, but food and drink possibilities have expanded wonderfully, and apparently not at the expense of the best of the old stand-bys, such as Arnold's.
The Patterson House
1711 Division Street, Nashville, TN