Nashville/Memphis/Chattanooga trip report/Vegetarian options
Just got back from a 10 day driving holiday in the southern States, ending up in these three cities.
I mostly culled my restaurant recommendations from lurking on this board, so this is more by way of saying thanks than telling you all anything you don't already know. I will mention, for the benefit of future searchers, that my wife and I were travelling with two vegetarians (no meat or fish, eggs and dairy ok) and found it surprisingly easy to get good, southern food for them with a little bit of prior research.
Dinner at St John's Meeting Place. Good beer (our first Fat Tires of the trip), great, enthusiastic service. A (huge) portion of upscale fried chicken and biscuit was great, the duck dog pretty good, the accompanying chow chow slaw good enough that I'm going to try to make it myself. The vegetarians loved a mac and cheese and ramp and porcini dish. Big, big "small plates" for the money. Really good pick.
Lynchburg: We tried the barbecue/pizza place on the corner in the main street. Surprisingly ok `cue, nothing special otherwise.
Cocktails at Holland House were pretty great, though poured a bit too large. Make then two thirds the size and charge $10...
Dinner at the catbird seat was pretty spectacular, well worth getting up at 5am London time to make the reservations. I've eaten at a bunch of "modernist" places, including quite a few Michelin stars, and this better than many and up there with the best. Great, creative use of local ingredients, great incorporation of game meats (my wife won't usually touch pigeon), great, creative and insanely well-priced drinks matches, great vegetarian options for our friends. Certainly the meal of the trip, and one of the top few of my life so far, and just great, great value.
Lunch at Arnolds Country Kitchen: Pretty great way to try some home style cooking after a bit of an overdose of fine dining. Chicken and dumplings was good, unspectacular comfort food, but the vegetable options really shone, especially the turnip tops and fresh fried green tomatoes. Again, great quality and quantity for the money.
Dinner at Pepperfire chicken: Having had catbird seat's play on East Nashville fried chicken we though we should try the original. Agonised between this and Princes, and obviously can't report whether we made the right choice, but the venue was cool (in a seedy way) service was friendly, the chicken-style grilled cheese a great alternative for our vegetarian friends and the chicken itself (dark meat quarter done mild) tasty and memorable. Let me know if we made a bad choice.
Lunch at the Bar-B-Q Shop: I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but, having eaten a lot of Texas barbecue (Lockhart, Lulling, Hill Country, etc) I couldn't rank this as better than ok. Maybe it's a style/taste thing, maybe an off day, but I just wasn't blown away. Ribs, both wet and dry, had good flavor but were just a little dry for my tastes, and the brisket was good, but not great. Solid vegetarian options, solid beers and sides, friendly waiter, but just nothing special.