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Jun 23, 2014 07:43 AM

Weekend in Nashville

It was my birthday and my girlfriend had booked us Etch, Husk not being available. Blech! If I was inclined to give the chef the benefit of the doubt I would imagine that someone had switched the labels on the salt and sugar containers and he was in too big a hurry to notice. Everything was sweet, way way way too sweet. The "light champagne vinaigrette" on the salad was cloyingly sweet. The butters in the butter tasting were too sweet. We were, luckily, steered clear of the venison special as the sommelier told us it was incredibly rich - AND SWEET. We had the lamb. It was, at least, an interesting and delicious cut of lamb that was perfectly cooked. It was sort of like a very thick pork chop version of a lamb chop. But the vegetables it came with were caramelized and the olive tapenade it sat on top of seemed to have sugar in it, too. Even the lemon-lime (or something like that) ice cream we had for dessert - that we were hoping might be a little tart as a palate cleanser - was too sweet. Well, the wine was great - an Amarone - and the service was excellent, but no.

Saturday we tried to go to Prince's for lunch but got there at 1pm. They open at 2pm. So instead we went to Husk to see if we could get lunch at the bar. We could and did and it was fantastic. Superb deviled eggs and a pork belly Monte Cristo sandwich that was practically revelatory it was so good. Even the bread and butter were perfect. My bloody Mary was great and the girlfriend had a hard cider that she said was possibly the best she's ever had - the Serious Cider.

Later, driving around we passed Hattie B's and though I really wanted to try Prince's we decided to stop in to sample the famous Nashville spicy fried chicken. (I have read here that Hattie B's rivals Prince's in flavor, if not atmospherically.) I was underwhelmed. Perhaps it is that I have spent too much time in Thailand, Indonesia and other such places, but while the "Damn Hot" - their spiciest - was spicy, it was hardly remarkably so. (I have had many a hot wing that was spicier.) Much more important than that, however, was that the spiciness really didn't enhance the flavor all that much and the grittiness of the rub gave the chicken a somewhat unpleasant texture. My girlfriend had the medium and I thought it had better flavor, though I was hoping for really spicy flavor. I was disappointed. In the world of fried chicken in all its varieties, Hattie B's doesn't make my top ten, maybe not even my top 20.

So, well, we couldn't resist and went back to Husk for dinner. It was fully booked, but we arrived around 8:30 and easily found seats at the bar. We like eating at bars anyhow, so that was perfect. We wanted something somewhat light so we shared the seasonal salad. It was excellent, fresh, crispy in the right ways with a light dressing that perfectly complemented the vegetables. We also shared the charcuterie plate and it was quite probably the very best pork-centric of such that we have ever had. It was a great mix of flavors and textures, served with perfectly pickled carrots and green beans and a good Dijon mustard, again with great bread.

That was it. We shall return to Nashville and shall definitely be returning to Husk.

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  1. Good review of Husk! I'm going to Nashville for the first time and had eyeballed Etch based on Yelp reviews, but something about the menu gave me pause. There was almost too much going on with each dish, as opposed to letting the food sing for itself.

    5 Replies
    1. re: dndicicco

      Even if it hadn't been too sweet, that was another problem. The old - if three ingredients are good, well then, six will be better. NOT! I tend to prefer good, fresh ingredients cooked in ways that bring out their flavors. Etch wasn't that. Husk was. Enjoy it.

      1. re: estone888

        Oh, any other recommendations while you were there?

        I saw some good reviews for the silly goose, too. The no reservation policy worries me though!

        Glad to hear that Husk has a bar, since I might be a solo diner one night and that'll make me stick out less like a sore thumb.

        1. re: dndicicco

          Those were the only places we tried. We tried to get into Fido and the Loveless Cafe for breakfast but both were so jam-packed we gave up on them. I've been told that the Pancake Pantry - which had an enormous line out front - is highly overrated. However, across the street, next to the Bookmans/Bookwomans bookstore is a very good cookware shop that also has great coffee beans.

          1. re: estone888

            I like Pancake Pantry but certainly would not stand in line for more than five minutes or so for it. Just get there early (before 8AM) and you won't have to worry about a line.

          2. re: dndicicco

            Rolf & Daughters would be my recommendation

      2. Sounds like Etch may have had an off night. They're usually considered one of the best in town.

        Hattie B's also has a version called "shut the cluck up" which imo defeats the purpose and takes away from the flavor of the chicken. The damn hot is usually what I order and I've found that the heat levels are inconsistent at best. The same can be said about most hot chicken places around town. You can get the hottest chicken one day, and something completely different the next day.

        I would also recommend Bolton's or 400 Degrees for hot chicken. Both restaurants are much more centrally located than Prince's.

        1. FYI Hattie B's has a level even hotter than "Damn Hot" - "Shut the Cluck Up" is the hottest level. I had a much better experience than you there, but it was our first "hot chicken" so do not have anything to compare.

          Glad you enjoyed Husk; we recently had multiple meals at both Husk Nashville and Husk Charleston during a road trip and had such an amazing time at Husk. Already planning to return this fall!

          1. When you get a chance, go back to Hattie B's and if you want hot order the "Shut the cluck up". "Damn Hot" is tame by comparison. I ordered tenders and wings. The wings, whole wings by the way, were unremarkable. The tenders on the other hand were down right nuclear! Not the best chicken I've ever had, but certainly the hottest!

            1. I saw that, as of this week, Husk is now on its third chef de cuisine within 15 months. Anybody have any thoughts about what is going on there? Is it still worth trying or does the dust need to settle first?