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Trip Report: Nashville

Gonzo70 | Mar 3, 201509:35 PM

Recently back from a three night road trip to Nashville from Chicago; had such a fun time in Nashville last year during a road trip that we decided to come back for more.

Husk: We arrived around noon on Friday and went right to Husk. Had a wonderful time at Husk last year (both a brunch and a special dinner at Husk's stables with Chef Brock and another chef from Charleston - B.J. Dennis - featuring gullah/geechee cuisine) that we actually booked a lunch, dinner and brunch this time through. Overall the food was mostly excellent and we love the charming space (so unlike any restaurant in Chicago) but service was not nearly as warm as during our visit last year. Despite dining here for a meal three days in a row there was not even a "welcome back" the third visit, so unlike the wonderful hospitality we received there last year. Seems like there was just a bit of "Celebrity Chef" arrogance that we did not experience last trip. The most fun of the three visits this trip was the dinner where we sat up to the bar; beautiful room and the bartenders were far more lively and friendly than the servers during the other meals.

Crema: My wife and I are big coffee drinkers; we really liked the coffee at Husk and were happy to learn that their coffee came from a venue just a couple minute walk away. Wandered there after our brunch and picked up some coffee beans to bring home; really enjoyed the pot I brewed today. Nice looking cafe too and they definitely seem to know their coffee - reminded me a bit of my favorite coffee roaster in Chicago, Sparrow.

Catbird Seat: My dinner here last year was one of the best meals I consumed in 2014 and was the main reason for our return to Nashville. Somehow Catbird Seat managed to be even better this time through - definitely a top ten all-time meal for me. The food was phenomenal; interesting ingredients, fresh & high quality, whimsical presentations, perfectly executed and so delicious tasting from the amuse through desserts. The 1-2-3 in the heart of the meal of beef tartare, potato soup and duck blew me away. Great wine/beer pairings too, such incredibly friendly and genuine staff and can't beat the view of the kitchen while dining. This meal alone was worth the special journey from Chicago and already has us seriously contemplating another trip this fall - one of the best restaurants in the country IMHO.

Hattie B's: Another repeat from last trip; on the prior visit I managed to consume the Damn Hot (second highest heat level) chicken without blinking so decided to go big or go home and try the Shut the Cluck Up heat level. What a difference between that and the Damn Hot. My lips and nose were burning just from the aroma before even taking my first bite! I managed to polish off the entire order (two piece white) and am glad to have done that once, but would never order it again. I loved the taste of the actual chicken during my prior visit, but the Shut the Cluck Up heat overwhelms everything and I was not really able to enjoy the chicken; and it took a while to recover as well (I understand the line about frozen TP now I saw in a Sean Brock video about hot chicken).

Amari: New speakeasy cocktail lounge that was in soft open; had noticed an article in Eater just before my trip and saw that it was in walking distance of our hotel; since my wife and I have recently become amaro fans I figured we'd drop in for before dinner cocktails. The space is hidden away but rather nice (cool bathroom to boot). Our initial impression was poor; the menus we were handed had run-of-the-mill classic cocktails (absolutely no amaro emphasis - even had a tiki style cocktail and it was just all over the place and not interesting). Furthermore the bartenders were still busy doing prep work (they had just opened a few minutes earlier) and mostly ignored us for a while. However things quickly improved; the bartenders ended up being extremely friendly once they settled in and for our second drink upon request poured us amaro flights. The bar has an excellent collection of spirits and the we loved some of the selections we were poured (and tried a bunch of amaros we had not previously consumed). This venue has strong potential but definitely is still a work in progress (i.e. there is an upscale vibe and the cocktail glasses are expensive looking but water is served in souvenir type pint glasses). Only three other people came in while we were there, so they certainly do not have much buzz yet. Might come by next visit to see how they have evolved. Apparently the person who was to be head bartender and create the cocktail list left shortly before they had been planning on opening, so that helps explain some of the lack of readiness for prime time (what will beccome the actual cocktail list is still being worked on) - but I am pulling for them.

Patterson House: We met up here with friends from Chicago who had moved to Nashville last fall to escape the Chicago winter (yes, Nashville has had a crazy winter too this year, but still better than Chicago). Love the vibe here and quaffed down a couple fantastic cocktails and nice bar bites to tie us over for a late dinner (we had Opry tickets that night between Patterson House and Husk).

Rolf & Daughters: First time dining here and definitely will not be the last! A recommendation from the Chef at Catbird Seat that a couple chefs we know in Chicago had also spoken highly about. Loved the decor and vibe from the moment we entered. Such a fantastic menu - food and cocktails; it was tough to narrow down our choices as nearly everything sounded enticing. Really phenomenal food and friendly service. Only miss was the dessert. Wish I could pack up this venue and bring it back to Chicago with me; I would definitely be a regular!

All in all a wonderful three days and we can't wait to come back to Nashville, hopefully for a longer stay next time.

The Catbird Seat,
Hattie B's Hot Chicken - West Nashville, TN,
The Patterson House,
Opry Backstage Grill,
Rolf and Daughters
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