I had a quick girl’s weekend with my favorite Pilates instructor the other day—she has moved to North Carolina and we decided Nashville was a good sort of halfway point to meet up. So many great restaurants for me. And she likes to try out new exercise places (she’s so weird).
The first day, I drove in in the morning and we met for lunch at Biscuit Love (h/t @tokenwhitedude). There was quite a long line out the door, but we were happy to catch up with each other, and the line actually moved very quickly—only took about 15 minutes. It’s a place where you order at the register and they bring you your food. I knew I had to have the East Nasty ($10) based on @tokenwhitedude’s twitter picture he had sent me. It’s one of their homemade biscuits topped with a large fried boneless chicken thigh, white cheddar cheese and sausage gravy. Ok, not the healthiest thing I have ever eaten, but dang, it was so good. The biscuits were super fluffy and large—the chicken was so so crisp that it held up even to the gravy, which had a lot of sausage bits in it. That sandwich was totally worth the calories.
At my friend’s request, we also shared the “bonuts” ($7) which are donuts made from fried biscuit dough, rolled in sugar and sitting on top of blueberry compote. There is a dollop of lemon mascarpone on top as well. Ok, this is not something I would typically order, but my friend has a bigger sweet tooth. Man, were they good though. That lemon mascarpone was killer and took away some of the pure sweetness of the dish. It was tart from the lemon and tangy from the cheese. My friend also had the “southern benny” and it was really delicious too. She was trying to convince me it was healthier because it didn’t have fried chicken on it. Ha! It was biscuits topped with country ham, sausage gravy, and two fried eggs. I would be hard-pressed to say which of the savory dishes I liked better. On the way out my friend said, “this trip is already awesome because of that meal!” And I will just go ahead and tell you now, when I had to cancel our brunch reservation at Husk (major sad face) that we had for Sunday because we needed to leave earlier than we thought, we ended up back at Biscuit Love for an early breakfast on our way out of town. She ordered exactly the same thing (bonuts and benny) but I tried the “SEC” which was a sausage patty sandwich with an egg and more of that delicious gravy. Also delicious. This place is a must stop. You have to have breakfast or lunch here when you’re in Nashville. Seriously.
For dinner that night we ate at a place called 404 Kitchen. It’s a cool place—small and dark and totally packed with young people when we were there. Ok, we were not super hungry after that biscuit fest earlier in the day, so we ate a little on the light side. The first thing we shared was an appetizer of the gulf rock shrimp ($19). Oh. My. This dish was so good. I mean we were really tempted to just order another one instantly. There were pieces of the rock shrimp and similarly sized pieces of roasted cauliflower. The sauce, though, that sauce. It was made with brown butter and I’m thinking some lemon and there was also a winter greens pesto drizzled on top and then a dusting of crumbs made from marcona almonds. It was almost cruel that they didn’t give you any bread with this dish to sop up every single drop. It was a perfect dish. Sadly though, the rest of the meal, while fine, was nowhere near as good. I had the trout with arugula, ramps, duck egg, nutritional yeast and breadcrumbs. It was an interesting dish, but just a little meh. As far as the egg part, it seemed like there was just a bit of yolk under everything, it was hard to find. The fish was just ok, a little overcooked maybe, although it was very thin. The greens had a little too much of a bitter edge, but were probably the best part of the dish. My friend’s ricotta gnudi with lamb sugo ($18) was good—those gnudi were tender and nice with the very rich meat sauce. It was very rich. The biggest disappointment was the little skillet of cornbread with sorghum butter. The bread had a burnt grainy flavor and after a couple of bites, we just gave up on it. On the bright side, my friend discovered a wonderful cocktail made with Strega, an herbal liquor, and couldn’t stop talking about it.
The next day for lunch we hit up Hattie B’s—it’s one of the Nashville hot chicken places and was a short walk from our hotel. Since I posted some pictures from that meal, a lot of people have told me their favorite hot chicken places, so please feel free and share yours for the next time.
The line at Hattie B’s looked just a little longer than the one we saw at Biscuit Love, but it took way way longer. We waited for probably an hour, which was a little rough in the hot sun after a very, very late night. But we finally got in there and ordered. I had the small dark meat plate ($8.50). It comes with a thigh and leg combo and two sides. I got the potato salad and the pimento mac and cheese. I got my chicken mild and my friend actually just got hers southern style—without any hot sauce at all. She had cole slaw and baked beans. The chicken itself was very good. I sort of wished it was a little meatier, but it tasted good. The mild was very mild; I would definitely go hotter next time. Or just stick with the fried chicken the way my friend had it—without any sauce. Honestly, I really think overall I prefer my fried chicken crispy and adding the sauce takes away from that.
My favorite side was the potato salad, it was red skinned potatoes and mayo-based. I would have seasoned it a bit more myself (and I did), but it was the best. I was excited by the idea of pimento mac and cheese, but honestly, it was very bland and disappointing. I didn’t eat much of it. The chicken was definitely the highlight. Was it worth waiting in line for an hour? Ehhhh…. Probably not. I will say, the people are very nice there, and you will see people from all over in there eating because it is on so many “best of” lists. So, don’t forget, I need to hear your recommendations for another place to try on my next trip.
Our last night we had dinner at Lockeland Table in East Nashville. This is a cool, hip and buzzy place in a more neighborhoody part of town. I loved the energy of the place—sadly the service was a little off and not nearly as friendly as nearly everywhere else in Nashville. Anyway, again, we weren’t starving so we decided to go with a bunch of appetizers/small plates. Our favorites were the lobster roll tacos ($14.50) and the crab and corn fritters ($11). Both of these were the dishes with the most nuanced flavors—the fritters came with a tangy vinegar slaw underneath and some remoulade sauce. The tacos were so interesting because they used brown butter breadcrumbs on top, giving that taste of the bread that you get when you eat a lobster roll sandwich. They put the lobster on top of guacamole, which had a bit of lime, keeping the whole dish from turning into something that was too one dimensional. The empanadas were also good ($9.50), especially with that tangy chimichurri sauce. They were filled with braised beef and the pastry was nice and crisp, but with just a touch of chewiness. The pork and shrimp dumplings with “ninja” sauce ($10) were the big disappointment of the night. I guess I should have asked what ninja sauce was, but it turned out it was a sappy sweet chile sauce and I was not a fan of it. Unfortunately the dumplings were sitting in it, so it was hard to escape. It’s a cool spot though, and we enjoyed ourselves.
Nashville is a great City. I haven’t been there since I was a kid and I am so glad I have gotten back there. It’s easy to reach from Indy (4 ½ hours in the car) and there are so many food options, that it’s almost overwhelming. And any city that has their own fried chicken named after it is ok in my book. On the whole, the people in Nashville could not be more friendly and are always looking to help—when I was shopping in a gift shop, a shop clerk pulled out a list of her favorite restaurants to share with me (I just seem to draw people to me to talk about food). I can’t wait to go back, so please share all your favorite places.