April 30, 2012

In the Catbird Seat of Nashville's dining scene

One of the highlights of our trip to Nashville last weekend was our dinner at Catbird Seat. Embarrassingly enough, I had to have Lance romance explain the name to me. The first literary reference dates back to a short story by James Thurbur in 1942. Basically, it's where everyone should want to be. Wikipedia explain it as having three strikes with no balls. 

Upon entry, guests find themselves in the smallest of lobbies and do have to go up an elevator to get to the dining experience. You walk into a very white room. With thirty some seats surrounding and open kitchen.
It's sort of like a dining bar. Everyone must sit at the bar save two tables at the back of the room that can fit up to four.

There are no servers per se. Your nine courses are served by the chefs who will explain their inspiration for each dish, and mention any seasonal ingredients incorporated.  Jane, the lovely and most knowledgeable sommelier, will offer you a variety of beverage options. You can do a n/a pairing for $20 ( I was very curious what this entailed), the standard for $30, or reserve pairings for $75.  I think most people did the standard during our visit. You can also order wine by the glass, and by the bottle.

And nine courses is the only option.  But there wasn't one that "I could live without," nor one that was just "ok."
It is a tasting menu for a rather reasonable $100. They will cater to allergies and dietary preferences. There was a pescetarian sitting kitty-corner to us.  The chef duo, Eric Anderson and Josh Habiger had just been named two of Food and Wine's top 12 new chefs of the year three weeks prior. The acknowledgement didn't inflate their egos in the slightest. Their dual-resume includes French Laundry, Alinea, England's Fat Duck and more.

Before I get into some glamorshots - let me reiterate just how nice these talented men are. Let us not forget that we were in Music City. So it's not your run-of-the-mill dinner jazz here. It's roots rock, americana, alternative country, etc...

Reservations are typically made at least a month out. Plan on about three hours for you experience. Then plan on talking about it for years to come.

Amouse Bouche
 Northern Cross Oyster with yuzu and cucumber,
Cornbread with bacon pudding,
and the chefs' take on local favorite "Hot Chicken with spices, dill and wonderbread puree
Beverage: Anna de Codorniu Brut Rose with Quince vinegar and honey syrup

Beef Tartar with capers, mustard, greens, shallots, chiles, and egg

Ramp Vicheysoisse with Grilled Pork Belly, watercrewss, violets, creme de violet foam
Beverage: Montinore 09 Gewurtztraminer, Williamette Valley

Alaskan Halibut with smears of Tarragon, Fennel, Lemon and Beet
Beverage: 2011 Chateau St. Evalie Rose Minervois, France

Pigeon with Hay yogurt, white asparagus, and black trumpets
Beverage: 2008 Clos de la Briderie Taraine Route, Loire Valley

Rabbit with snap peas, morels and a spring garlic cream sauce
Beverage: 2010 Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato

Brillat-Savarin- french Cow cheese with rhubarb and walnut accompaniments. Puffed Wild rice added for texture
Beverage: BEER! Triple Karmeliet

WOW- Cucumber lime semifreddo with toasted rice, thai basil 
Beverage House-made gin cordial with Manna Espumante

Another Wow- Maple Bacon Egg- think custard inside shell with layer of pale syrup
 garnished with a slice of bacon . 

Of course you need three desserts....Vanilla Cake served with Pineapple gelee, cherry crips oak ice cream and
Beverage: 2009 Royal Tokaji Co. "Mad Cuvee," Hungary, Glass first rinsed with 
Black Maple Hill 

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