You may recall my excitement a few weeks back after attending a press conference for the inaugural Music City Eats Festival happening here in Nashville September 21st-22nd. Missed that post? Well check it out now for the scoop.
I’m fortunate to be working with Music City Eats as a local ambassador, sharing with them my food experiences and helping to spread the word about the event.
Last month on their blog, I offered up my picks for whiskeys/bourbons that would make great Father’s Day gifts. This month, I’m talking about the spots where you can typically find me eating brunch here in Nashville. At the end of this post, be sure to click the link taking you to the rest of my picks on the Music City Eats blog!
Brunch at Fido in Hillsboro Village
Over the years, Fido has been mentioned here on the blog several times, but usually it’s to announce a special event or dinner they’re having. I haven’t really ever just talked about going there on a normal Saturday morning and having breakfast. Or brunch on a Sunday. Or lunch on a Tuesday. And that’s weird because I do that a lot. Like, in comparison to other places, a whole whole lot.
Sometimes the places that have been around the longest and I frequent the most often are taken for granted and that’s not fair, so today I’m giving this Hillsboro Village gem the attention it deserves!
Fido’s grilled salmon, spicy kale, stewed tomatoes, cheese grits, crispy onion and feta
Upon entry to Fido, you can’t miss the delicious aroma of locally roasted Bongo Java coffee, and while some people might think of Fido as just a coffee shop, it’s sooooo much more than that. While I pretty much always order one of their delicious coffee drinks, it’s the food that truly keeps me coming back time and time again.
Since the focus of this post is brunch, it’s probably a good idea that I let you know their breakfast menu is served all day long, every day, 7 days a week! And the breakfast menu options are extensive – egg scrambles, tortas, pancakes, bagel sandwiches, huevos rancheros & cubanos, just to name a few.
But as great as the menu is, I like to steer people toward the Daily Specials chalkboard that looms above the front counter, because in my opinion, that’s where magic happens. One delicious customer favorite that shows up quite often on the board is the Sweet Potato French Toast, served with maple, powdered sugar, caramel, pecans and whipped cream. For this one, you might want to get there fairly early (before 10?) because it can – and does – sell out.
Fido’s Green Chile Mac & Cheese
with sauteed local spinach, poblano sauce, jalapeno, feta, roasted red pepper
If you’re more of a savory brunch person, the grilled salmon on cheese grits is a personal fave that pops up on the board from time to time. Or, there’s always the burger.
A mixture of ground beef and lamb, topped with cheddar, caramelized fennel, fig aioli, fried onion, pickle and lettuce, Fido’s Local Burger is the best of the best. It got its start on that specials board, but has now been added to the permanent menu and is now served any time one’s heart desires it! (and for me, that’s often!)
1812 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212
Open 7 days a week – 7am
Pineapple Sage Mimosa at The Stone Fox
While Fido has been around for many years, The Stone Fox is a relative newcomer on the Nashville dining scene. And actually, it’s not just a dining and drinking establishment – it’s also an awesome live music venue.
This little West Nashville establishment was started by the creative brother and sister team William (a full time musician) and Elise Tyler (founder of Halcyon Bike Shop and film producer). Their goal was to create a homey gathering space for friends and neighbors, and they’ve done just that.
The funky decor of retro tables, mismatched dining chairs, velvet paintings, gold tinsel, and garlands of twinkle lights sets a playful tone and immediately puts one at ease.
Savory “Weekend Waffle” at The Stone Fox - prosciutto, mozzarella, bolognese, fresh herbs
While most music venues in town don’t put a lot of focus on their food, that’s certainly not the case at The Stone Fox. Here they utilize as many local ingredients as possible, and just one glance at the menu lets you know the dishes have been well thought out. It’s also nice to see that there is a good balance between healthy and some not-so-healthy breakfast dishes.
From fried chicken and waffles to the King Rabbit – a sauteed hash of seasonal vegetables, kale, sweet potatoes, onions and jalapenos – the regular menu boasts interesting options for the carnivore and vegetarian alike. Be sure to check out the specials as well, as there’s always some interesting dishes to be found there, like the savory weekend waffle pictured above.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out The Stone Fox yet, grab a friend and do so soon!
The Stone Fox
712 51st Ave N
Nashville, TN 37209
Saturday & Sunday 11am-3pm
Now hop over to the Music City Eats blog to see the rest of my brunch go-tos!
Duck and Pho Spiced Dumplings at Urbanbelly
Yes, there is a Part 2 to Monday’s Chicago post. That’s because I had two back-to-back trips to the Windy City, one in late May and the other in early June. Work turned me into a traveling fiend for a few weeks (including my trip to Atlanta for Food & Wine Festival), and although it was exhausting, I’m definitely not complaining about all of the incredible food I got to experience!
Urbanbelly Short Ribs with Scallions
Karl and Sarah of Nashville’s Biscuit Love truck are a bit addicted to Chicago’s Urbanbelly and for over a year, on each trip I took there, they recommended that I add it to my eating itinerary. Unfortunately, each time, it just never worked out.
But on my last visit, I arrived into the city early on a Sunday afternoon with a couple of hours to kill before I needed to be somewhere, so I decided it was time. I summoned Uber, and in the car on the way, tweeted to Karl asking him exactly what I needed to order. His response: #4, #9, #13, #16, #18.
Um, that’s sounds like a lot of food for one person! Sure enough, when I arrived at my destination and looked at the menu, it was more than I thought I’d be able to handle, so I narrowed it down to 3 of the 5.
Urbanbelly Wrinkle Beans
A few minutes later, as I was waiting for my order to arrive at my table, my server brought me a bowl of short ribs, courtesy of the kitchen. Apparently someone at Urbanbelly figured I could handle 4 dishes instead of 3. They seem to know me better than I know myself, because I had no trouble polishing it all off!
Urbanbelly Rice Noodle: Hominy, Kimchi, and Spicy Pork Broth
I totally get why Karl and Sarah hit this spot every time they visit Chicago. In addition to the incredible food, they also have an awesome staff. If you find yourself at Urbanbelly any time in the near future, ask for Will and tell him that Beth from Nashville sent you!
3053 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Girl and the Goat’s Squash Blossom Rangoon with crab, chive yogurt, toasted almonds
Another restaurant I’ve had good intentions of visiting for ages is Girl and the Goat. For as much as I loved Stephanie Izard during her season of Top Chef and for as many times as I’ve been to Chicago since the Girl and the Goat opened, you’d think I would have dined there by now. It really wasn’t for lack of trying. I’d attempted to get reservations on several occasions, but the only times available always seemed to be 5 pm or 11 pm. So each time, I just said, “oh well! I’ll try again on the next trip”. And then I would, and the same thing would happen.
Finally I decided to just take a chance on walking in the door without a reservation. I knew they allowed for some walk-ins, but had heard that the wait could be up to a couple of hours. Note: I’m not a person that likes to wait that long. However, because I had such a fantastic (and late in the day) lunch at Urbanbelly, I wasn’t dying of hunger, so figured I could tough it out.
Wild King Salmon with braised peanuts, strawberry chimichurri, spiced beef, and shallot yogurt at Girl and the Goat
As luck would have it, we were able to get a seat in less time than it took us to finish even half of a cocktail!
After eating outrageous amounts of really oustanding food – wood grilled broccoli with smokey blue cheese, chickpea fritters with trumpet mushrooms, kona kampachi crudo (crispy pork belly with chili aioli & caperberries), squash blossom rangoon with crab & chive yogurt, wild king salmon with braised peanuts & strawberry chimichurri, and pig face (yes, you read that correctly) – I am kicking myself for not making more of an attempt to get there before now.
Lesson learned. I will now risk a long wait and be a walk-in diner at super popular establishments, particularly this one. Long or short, it’s worth the wait.
(PS – sorry these pics aren’t better. Again a case of bad lighting that even Photoshop couldn’t fix!)
809 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
I cannot believe I haven’t blogged about my last couple of trips to Chicago. It’s shameful really.
This beautiful meal at Acadia was my very special Chicago birthday dinner courtesy of my lovely friend Libby. Yes, my birthday was in MAY. And yes, that was two months ago. But, no matter. Even if a year had passed, I would still make sure I shared this with you. This 5-course prixe fixe menu was too good not to share!
Asparagus, yolk gel, morels, truffle vinaigrette, watercress
While we went the prixe fixe route, it’s good to note that there is also a la carte ordering, which is a nice option for those that may not want to splurge quite so much.
That said, the entire menu, both prixe fixe and a la carte, is an incredible value. I know there are a couple of other restaurants (who shall remain nameless) in Chicago that are very similar in both food quality and experience that are significantly more expensive.
Halibut Cheek at Acadia
Corned Smoked Beef Tongue, Confit Yukon, Truffle Emulsion, Trumpet Mushroom, Lenten Espagnole, Sea Froth
Acadia received its first Michelin star this year, and has been named both Best New Restaurant and Best Fine Dining in Chicago. On top of that, they have amazing cocktails. You know me- gotta have good cocktails to be named one of the best of the best in my book!
Acadia’s Heavenly Little Biscuits
(not their official name, but gotta call them what they are!)
Somehow I managed to lose the photo of probably my favorite dish of the meal, the English Pea Agnolotti. (How in the world I managed to lose 1 photo out of all of these photos, I have no idea. Thus is my life these days.) With pea tendrils and oyster mushrooms, it was not only delicious, but one of the prettiest dishes! Oh well.
Swan Creek Rabbit at Acadia
Cherry Bacon, Rabbit Sausage, Sicilian Pistachio, Sunchoke Puree, Garlic Custard, Spring Onion
If in Chicago and looking to celebrate something special, check out Acadia. Heck, even if you aren’t celebrating something special, check it out. Simply celebrate good food and service and treat yourself to an amazing evening!
1639 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
Caviar Service at GT Fish & Oyster
This next meal was equally incredible, yet a very different experience. Where Acadia was refined and quiet, the space at GT Fish & Oyster was energetic and lively.
GT Fish & Oyster Oysters
We went a little crazy ordering, but that’s what’s so great about this menu. It’s meant to be shared, and there are so many options that there is surely something for everyone. As you can see above, we started with caviar – a splurge, but so fun! – and oysters.
(Please forgive the grainy photos. I so wish they were better, but alas, the room was pretty dark and I was using my iphone, so they’re not the greatest.)
Baja Shrimp Bruschetta at GT Fish & Oyster
shrimp, avocado, toasted pistachio, grapefruit, cilantro
Next up was the shrimp bruschetta, which I was dying over. And Oyster Po’ Boy Sliders with kimchi and peanuts. And the Octopus. Love, love, love. I wish I had some of all three right here, right now.
Octopus at GT Fish & Oyster
Octopus, beer mustard wasabi, purple potatoes, jicama, pickled mushroom
If you like seafood, I really, truly, cannot encourage you enough — you must go to GT Fish & Oyster when in Chicago. If this place was in Nashville, I’d probably drop in once a week. It is that good!
531 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
Husk Nashville’s Chilled Tomato Soup with Georgia Olive Oil and Radishes
My answer is now: YES.
The question: Have you eaten at Husk Nashville yet?
For weeks it seems like almost everyone I’ve come in contact with has asked me this question. After saying “no, not yet” several dozen times, I was finally able to answer “yes” last week!
Besides the fact that I was traveling a lot in May (when it opened) and June, I also wasn’t in a huge rush to get in there. I was pretty certain it would be a great meal because I’ve been to the one in Charleston and it was wonderful. Maybe that’s part of the reason I wasn’t in a big hurry– I knew what to expect. It wasn’t going to be any big surprise that the food and service were solid.
I’d read a ton of articles about the opening before it even happened. I had followed their blog to see the progress of the restaurant design as it came together. Maybe it was all just a little too much (too much hype turns me off), and that’s why I took my slow sweet time getting in there.
Smoked Chicken Wings with Scallion BBQ Sauce and Peanuts at Husk Nashville
Whatever it was that kept me from foaming at the mouth to get in the door the minute it opened, I will say, by the time I was walking out the door, I was truly thrilled with every aspect of the experience.
My friends and I chose to have a leisurely lunch on a Friday. We were seated right next to the expansive set of windows overlooking the garden. We ordered a bottle of sparkly. We chatted with our server (who, by the way, couldn’t have been more perfect for our group. He knew his stuff, but he was also fun. Amusing. I get so annoyed when my server has zero personality).
Fried Green Tomatoes with Heirloom Cape Bean Hummus at Husk Nashville
A little background on Husk (in case, unlike me, you haven’t already read umpteen articles on it): they source locally and use seasonal products, which means the menu changes constantly based on what is available each day. Some dishes might stay somewhat the same from day to day, but for the most part, you shouldn’t expect to go in there tomorrow and order anything you see here today.
That said, I won’t go too crazy telling you how amazing each dish was, because then you might be really jealous and a bit sad that you aren’t able to taste it on your visit ;-)
I will say that all three of our starters- chilled tomato soup, chicken wings, and fried green tomatoes with hummus- were excellent. I’d never even thought of putting hummus with fried green tomatoes, but that combo was a winner!
Husk Nashville’s Shrimp and Grits, Preserved Tomato Broth, Shiitakes, Poached Egg
Of the entrees on the menu, I was first drawn to the shrimp & grits, because, when they’re done well, I absolutely love them.
However, my friend Sherri was certain that’s what she wanted, so I decided to choose something else. I’ve learned my lesson in the past- when dining with friends that are willing to share, never order two of the same dishes at a table unless you’ve had it before and are absolutely positive that it is to-die-for. Since none of us had been before, and, as I’ve mentioned, the menu changes daily, we each chose a different dish.
Husk Nashville’s Catfish, roasted over embers, Anson Mills Farro, Mustard Greens, Tomato Gravy
And I am so, so, so happy about that decision. While Sherri loved the shrimp & grits, I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite entree. In fact, of the three we had, it came in third place.
My friend Charmaine ordered catfish, something she said she would never typically order but the server highly recommended it — and for good reason. This may have been the best catfish preparation I’ve ever had.
Bear Creek Beef with Bells Bend Garlic Scapes, Roast Cauliflower and Herb Dressing at Husk Nashville
But the dish that really got me? My own. It’s such a great feeling to hit the ordering jackpot!
The Bear Creek Beef was incredibly tender and delicious, but the best part was the roasted cauliflower and puree. I wanted to lick my dish. Okay, maybe I did kind of lick my dish. No one was looking, I promise.
Bear Creak Beef at Husk Nashville (full description above)
Because this was my favorite of the meal, I decided it deserved two photos. Just so you clearly understand how good it was.
Peach Buttermilk Pie at Husk Nashville
And last, but certainly not least, was the amazing Peach Buttermilk Pie made by Husk’s pastry chef, Lisa Donovan. My buddy Karl from Biscuit Love tweeted a pic of it earlier that week, so it had been on my mind ever since. Now, after eating it, it will probably be on my mind for years to come. Serious yum factor.
Something to keep in mind if you’d like to dine at Husk – if you want to go for dinner, you need to plan well in advance, as it can be a bit difficult to reserve a table for a decent hour (but if you want to do early bird dining or late night, you should be fine). However, if you’re really dying to go asap, and you have a schedule that will allow for lunch, those are definitely much easier reservations to score.
Any of you out there been yet? If so, what did you have and what are your thoughts?
37 Rutledge Street
Nashville, TN 37210
Lunch 11am-2pm Mon-Fri
Brunch 10am-2pm Sat and Sun
Dinner 5-10 Sun-Thurs
Dinner 5-11 Fri-Sat
Last week I told you guys about our new toy, the Mastbuilt Smoker, and I mentioned that I was going to attempt smoking a cabbage in it.
Well, I did, and OH MY.
Dare I say that it is now tied with Cabbage Au Gratin as my favorite cabbage dish? Maybe it even beats the au gratin?? In addition to the sheer deliciousness of it, it gets extra points for being so darn easy to throw together. In addition, the smoking gives it an almost meaty flavor, so even a carnivore like me didn’t miss having meat at my meal(s).
Wow. I’m seriously already thinking about making it again this week!
Smoked Stuffed Cabbage
Serves 4. Adapted from the Dadgum That's Good cookbook
1/2 cup diced tomato (from can, drained)
3 Tbsp chopped onion
3 Tbsp diced green chiles
2 Tbsp shredded sharp cheddar
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick), softened
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 head of green cabbage
Load the wood tray of your smoker with one small handful of wood chips (I used hickory chips) and preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix diced tomatoes, chopped onion, green chiles, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Core cabbage, cutting out a good-sized cavity. (Make sure you don't core the base; leave the cabbage open only at one end.) Place the tomato mixture in the cavity and wrap cabbage with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place cabbage in smoker, cored end up*, and smoke for 5 to 6 hours at 225 degrees.
Remove cabbage, cut into wedges and serve.
*Be sure you keep the top side up so the toppings don't run out!
Riffs Supper Jam
Saturday, July 13th
5 pm and 8 pm Seatings
Second Harvest Food Bank
331 Great Circle Rd
Nashville, TN 37228
$85/person with cocktail pairings
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I pretty much love just about everything the guys from Riffs create. From the food truck to their private catering and pop ups, I always leave a happy (and very full-bellied) girl.
Now B.J. (Lofback, owner of Riffs) is adding yet another concept to the repertoire, ‘Riffs Supper Jam’. Each dinner will be set up with an open kitchen, offering attendees the opportunity to interact and participate in the meal experience. In addition, there will be a rotating series of culinary friends joining B.J. in the kitchen for each dinner. For the July supper, the team from Brentwood’s popular Soy Bistro will be his guests.
Tickets must be reserved in advance, and can be purchased by clicking this link. 20% of proceeds will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
Hey Bartender Opening at the Belcourt
Monday, July 15th
2102 Belcourt Ave
Nashville, TN 37212
The documentary “Hey Bartender” had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March and its theatrical release in NYC last month. Now it’s our turn.
On Monday, July 15th, Nashvillians can head over to the Belcourt, grab a drink, and watch this cool documentary about the rebirth of the bartender and the comeback of the cocktail. Sounds like the perfect date night to me!
Check out the trailer here and visit the Belcourt website to purchase tickets.
Dinner Lab Nashville
Thursday, July 18th
Central Thai cuisine
Wednesday, July 24th
Puerto Rican cuisine
Cost of Membership: $100/person
Cost of Dinners: $50/person (drinks included)
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Brian and Drew from Dinner Lab, a membership-based dinner club that holds a couple of meals a week in different non-traditional locations, announced just 24 hours before the event takes place. The guys live in New Orleans, where they first started this concept, but a while back they also expanded the club to Austin, TX. Guess what? Now they’re launching right here in Nashville!
Take a look at this short video to get a feel for the Dinner Lab experience:
The basics of how it works is this: For a membership fee of $100/year, members have access to the local calendar of events and are able to purchase an event ticket for themselves and one non-member guest for any meal. Event tickets vary in pricing based on the number of courses and complexity of the cuisine, but an average cost is $50/person. A meal is typically 5+ courses and all the drinks, tax and gratuity are already included in the price.
For the first two dinners here in Nashville, the menus can currently be viewed on the Dinner Lab site. This will be the only time that menus will be open for public viewing. After these soft launch dinners, all menus will only be accessible to members.
Visit the Dinner Lab Nashville home page for more details, to purchase your membership, and reserve your spot at one of the first meals in Nashville. I’ll be at the July 24th dinner, so let me know if you’re planning to be there too so I can say hello!
You guys, I have a new toy.
One of the major perks of having my food blog is that I get many offers to try out new products. While this is certainly an awesome thing, I often pass up opportunities presented to me. We don’t have much extra space in our house for a lot of stuff, and I just don’t have time to write much these days, so before accepting, I like to be sure we’ll definitely put it to good use.
Enter the Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smokehouse Smoker! When a representative from Masterbuilt emailed asking if I’d like to test out a smoker and some cookout cookbooks from John McLemore, the CEO and spokesperson for Masterbuilt, I was pretty darn excited.
You see, when it’s 90+ degrees outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and heat up the house, so our grill gets a lot of action in the summer. But to be honest, lately I’ve been feeling kinda bored by the grill. It seems like I’m always doing the same old things the same old way. Boredom be gone. Now I’m embarking on Adventures in Smoking!
Last weekend, while my husband seasoned and readied the smoker for its inaugural run, I was in the kitchen prepping our first test subject, a 5 pound chicken. I wanted to go fairly basic, so I followed the recipe in John’s cookbook, Dadgum That’s Good, Too!, for a smoked whole chicken rubbed with his special combination of spices and seasonings.
I think I can say without a doubt that this smoker is going to be seeing quite a bit more action than our grill in the weeks to come! It’s easy to use, brings out incredible smokey flavors, and if the chicken was any indication, leaves meats super juicy.
Today we’re planning give burgers and a head of cabbage a go, and later this week, a pork butt, all recipes from the Dadgum That’s Good cookbooks. There are also several interesting dishes I’d like to try on John’s blog, including Four Cheese Smoked Mac and Cheese. Um, yes, please!
So what about you? Do you have a smoker or have you ever done any smoking on your grill? What are your favorite things to smoke? I’d love to hear your recipes or tips as I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit obsessed with our new toy this summer!
Disclaimer: While I was given a free Masterbuilt Smoker and copies of Dadgum That’s Good! and Dadgum That’s Good Too cookbooks, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are solely mine.