The entire list is intriguing, including a Voltaggio brother at the top, a trendy new Nashville gem in the middle, and an Austin hot spot on the bottom.
The cuter/younger Voltaggio, Michael, tops the list with his new INK. You may recall that he and his big brother Bryan competed together on Top Chef Season 6. Hunky Foodies/world class chefs top my list of must see things in any city. Sign me up.
I put “Odd Duck Farm to Table” on my list of must hits on my Austin Truck list, I guess this explains why it was never open… it’s now Barley Swine, and number 10 on the list. Guess where we’re going when I get home Mom & Dad?
Oh, and if you’re coming back to visit me, I hope your platinum card is ready. I still desperately want a Catbird Seat :)
It’s that time again :) RESTAURANT WEEK!
Beware, some restaurant week menus aren’t really a deal at all. And if you and your dining companion have completely opposing tastes the limited menu can be more hassle than its worth.
My friend Nick talked me into escaping the office to finally get my hands on The Local Burger. Nick is launching an awesome bow tie company, and I’d been dying to learn more. The food could have tasted of cardboard and I’d have still enjoyed myself. Check it out, Brier and Moss has some really exciting things coming.
Fido is doing 2 lunch specials and 2 desserts for $20.12 this week. Our plan was to see if the specials looked good and do that, otherwise we’d get The Local Burger.
Lucky us, the burger is on the special board! Actually all of the specials sounded delicious, but the time had finally come for that burger.
I’m proud to report that the hype holds true, the Local Burger is divine. It may not be my favorite burger in town, but it was definitely delicious.
The specials this week
The burger comes with a side salad, kettle chips or the soup of the day.
I lucked out because the soup of the day was very appealing as well. Roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, and gruyere in a creamy warming concoction perfect for the complete downpour we waded through en route.
It was well seasoned and herbaceous. I’d go back for a big bowl with some crusty bread.
Burger purists need not apply. This is definitely a gourmet burger laden with layered flavors. I feel some of it gets muddled as I didn’t taste the fig or much fennel and I had trouble discerning much over the pickles and fried onion. The meat was delectable and the top bun was great. The bottom just wasn’t up to the challenge of collecting the runoff from the incredibly juicy burger. Maybe the solution is to eat it upside down next time ;)
I found myself wishing for some freshness after the burger and creamy soup.
Unfortunately the smore’s cheesecake didn’t really fit the bill. I’ve saved it for later but it looks delicious.
For me, The Local Burger was a great one time meal. It was good, but I think I’ll have to satisfy my burger craving elsewhere. I’d gladly go back to try any of the lunch specials for the week, they all sounded fabulous.
I have a confession to make-
I’ve been a major food funk. I have liked almost nothing I’ve come in contact with the last few months. I’ve been disappointed by just about everything I’ve encountered and the blog went on the back burner. There have been a few good things here and there, but nothing that ignited the kind of passion required for a full post. Old favorites like Riffs (holy jesus the Buffalo Mac & Cheese) and Jonbalaya (yay parfait!) gave me a glimmer of hope. A few dishes at Cha Chah even sparked an interest. I was beyond due for a rock your socks off meal.
If it’s confession Tuesday, I’ve got a few more….
2) I have a little foodie crush on Arnold Myint.
I have another confession to make-
3) I usually leave his restaurants underwhelmed. I want to love it, I try so hard… but I usually leave a little sad I stepped outside my price range for what I wind up getting. No offense to Arnold, I’m just broke… and if I’m going to spend that much I want to rave about it.
4) Cha Chah BLEW MY MIND on Friday night. I thought I knew what to expect, but I didn’t have any idea. Are you ready for this?
It was perfect timing that the invitation to come try Cha Chah’s new menu items popped up about the same time the boyfriend’s mother’s 50th birthday popped on my radar. I woke up anxious every morning thinking about dinner. Would it finally break my food funk? Chef Francesco Vito had me cautiously optimistic after our last visit. I was SO ready to get there.
I apologize for the photos, I have NEVER been able to take a decent food shot in Cha Chah.
These fried tomatillo pickles ($6) rocked my world. I love vinegar. I love pickles. I LOVE fried pickles. I genuinely adored every bite of these delicious nuggets. I tend to think they let the fry go too dark at Cha Chah, but the smokey nutty flavor really enhanced this dish. The aioli was delightfully paired.
While the bacon and bleu cheese stuffed dates ($6) slightly resemble something Andrew Zimmerman chases… they were perfectly balanced. The sweet date was the perfect vehicle for the savory/creamy/salty filling.
The ginger crab cakes ($11) with homemade chow chow and Harissa aioli were a completely fresh take on my standard go-to dish. The pickled mustard seeds served up the perfect pucker atop the breaded sweet crab meat.
We didn’t know if we should order the flat bread, how could we possibly eat this many starters and still tackle our dinners? Our server assured us the rabbit confit ($11) was not to be missed. The heirloom potatoes quickly became my number one shopping obsession. I have GOT to get my hands on some of these babies to play around with. Not typically a fig fan, the boyfriend plucked every spare fig he could off the table. They were perfect. When Chef Vito came to visit at the end of our meal, he gleefully informed us that he even makes the ricotta in house. What a busy man! They cure their own meats, bake their own bread, they even make their own cheese? Did I hear that right?
Twitter informed me that the Mushroom Crock Pot ($9) was a must have! Farm house egg, house made bacon, delicious house baked bread… it was a perfect bite when shared 3 ways. No one was upset that the boyfriend detests mushrooms. More for us!
I loathed brussels sprouts as a child, but as an adult I cannot pass them up.I’ve ordered the sprouts on all but one of my visits. The one time I gave them up in favor of trying other things I left feeling bereft. To the standard diner, they may over do it on the smoked vinegar a hair, but I delight in the tangy broken buds with Marcona almonds. They have revamped my stock Cha Chah favorite with the addition of Thai chili, red onion, and a sprinkle of shaved parm. I rarely share, that night I just had to. If that’s not love… no really, did you LOOK at the amount of food on our table? We haven’t even gotten to the entrees!
Usually I talk the boyfriend into ordering whatever second entree it was that I was dying to try. I did him a solid this trip and backed up his order with the meatloaf ($17). I grew up in a no-meatloaf household, and I’m far from a connoisseur. Even with my limited bank of meatloaf expertise, I couldn’t help but wonder… Lamb? Bacon? Duck Jus? These are things that aren’t found in even the most adventurous Mama’s meatloaf. Good thing we have Arnold and Vito to introduce us to such culinary genius. While I’d have preferred a shallower slice with more crusty surface area, it was a delicious hunk o’ meat. A savvy vegetarian might ask for an entree of just the parsnip puree and roasted carrots as they were my favorite savory bites of the night. Lucky for the vegetarians, they were serving a vegetarian meatloaf option that night.
I love pig… I really do. I NEVER order pork. Ever. I somehow always seem to glaze over it on the menu. I know I read “Ginger Tea Pork Loin ($17) Bok Choy, Sesame Soy Reduction Heirloom Potato-Mushroom Hash,” but it didn’t register. Good thing our companion, Michelle, noticed it. That plate stole the show. It was delightful in its simplicity. The sides were fantastic, but that pork was perfectly amazing.
We loved the Elk Osso Bucco ($19) so much last time, the boyfriend had already decided on a repeat performance before I’d even reserved our table.
The rosemary polenta outshone its previous iteration and the spaghetti squash made more sense this time around. The Chinese broccoli was a welcome addition to the plate. Do I really need to say more than ELK OSSO BUCCO? Where else are you going to get that? Just a hint of gaminess and a mouthful of well developed flavor.
I almost ordered the Cornish Game Hen ($16) last time just to get the my grubby mitts on the sweet potato gnocchi. I was glad Boyfriend’s Mama decided to give it a whirl. The hen was juicy and tender, but the plate was a wealth of soft brown. I was hoping for some crispy skin or perhaps more char on the veggies. On any other night the plate could have curled my toes, but everything else on our overladen table outshone the hen. So Lesley may be right in this case. Hens are friends, not food.
Aren’t they cute? Give her a great birthday gift and check out her charming lifestyle blog here. I wish I looked that good now, forget ringing in 50.
We made a HUGE dent in that menu. I need to go back with seafood lovers. I was anxious to try the paella and the arctic char.
I was about 30 seconds from a food coma by the time dessert came out. This was a delicious warm spiced apple confection with walnut ice cream.
The chocolate parade with house made marshmallows, hot chocolate… smore something, chocolate torte something.. I don’t know, I couldnt focus. I could barely keep from just putting my face directly into this next one.
The clouds parted and angels sang when this landed in front of me. For real, how lucky am I? The Salted Caramel Panna Cotta with toffee knocked my world off it’s axis. I thought Vito had rendered me speechless with his spicy pumpkin ice cream… I literally lost my power of speech after my first bite. My molars might have been fused together with the salty sticky heaven, but I was so happy! Very happy. I was painfully full by the time these came out, but it just may have hurt me more to leave half of it on the table. 4 of us barely made a dent. Ive seriously considered coming back and asking for parsnip puree for dinner and then going right to this and calling it a night.
Vito came to visit with a tray of rosemary ice cream. It was even better than the last batch. I told him my companions didn’t believe me that his spicy pumpkin beat Jeni’s ice cream for me. So he dug around his freezer until he found us some.
If I hadn’t just eaten my face off, I’d have sat there until all of this ice cream got taken down. I’m not even a dessert person. I take salty over sweet any day, but I really could not get enough of these confections.
I don’t remember what we were laughing at to make this photo so awkward, but there was nothing funny about how incredible our dinner was. Chef Vito, Arnold, and the entire Cha Chah family did an absolutely fantastic job.
If you would have asked me if I’d recommend Cha Cha for a special occasion before, I’d have been hesitant. I’d readily throw it into the mix for a happy hour pitcher of sangria and a few tapas. For a special occasion I’d have probably directed you elsewhere. Nothing on the menu tops $20, but if you’re as epicurious as we are it really racks up! I can say with absolutely no reservation that our meal on Friday was one of my top 5 favorites in the states. (I’m a carb-aholic, nothing competes with 10 days in Italy…)
We ate so well Friday night, we didn’t eat until almost 10 PM the following day. I don’t usually over indulge, but I could NOT force my fork down on Friday. We couldn’t stop gushing to anyone who visited our table about how delighted we were about the whole thing. I’ll continue to sing Cha Chah’s praises, and I’ll have one eye on the bank balance until its comfortably high enough to go back ;) The brunch menu had a bunch of interesting selections, we’re tackling that next.
RUN to Cha Chah for a nice warm plate of comfort and camaraderie. The space is lovely and this menu is divine.
Reason #476 why you should hit Cha Chah:
Diners Drive Ins & Dives visited Savarino’s last year and I’ve been meaning to get back and give it another go. I think I just ordered a stinker on my first visit a few years ago, but it had the markings of a great neighborhood Italian place. Now I have the perfect excuse with Living Social’s 1/2 off deal. Taps and Tapas next door uses their bread, which I do enjoy. My entire office loves it, maybe I just missed something.
Do you like Savarino’s? Do you have any recommendations?
2121 Belcourt Ave.
Nashville TN 37212
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
“Mama said ‘Never eat anything bigger than your head’ - but I think we’re approaching Giada DeLaurentis territory” Anthony Bourdain- No Reservations San Francisco.
He’s the king of one liners (as logged here) and ridiculous drunken banter… but my favorite part of this episode was the visit to Chris Cosentino’s Incanto. Bonus for getting to hear the Cosentino Chuckle.
Nashville’s local and green initiatives are relatively new, and blossoming nicely. But outside of ethnic cuisine, is anyone on board with offal? Cosentino practices what he preaches, and I’m not sure I’m ready to join his congregation. I’m terrifically phobic when it comes to food textures, and my experience with inards and entrails has left me gun shy. If he prepares it, is it magically better? That Iberico ham fried in duck fat looks divine.
Any local recommendations on giving it a another whirl? I mean, I may think it’s funny to serve up calf brains and calf fries and call it “Big Brain/Little Brain” but am I really going to eat it? Any sage words of wisdom?
Morgan Levy is my hero.
Have I mentioned that yet?
Morgan is a fellow Belmont alum and music business drone. We bring home approx. zero dollars and love local dining, shopping, and events.
Morgan is just cooler because she’s been running Nashvillest with her friend Christy for several years now. Not only does their blog keep you tuned in to local happenings, free fun, special events, Predators recaps, and community news… but they love our city and its food just as much as I do!
Case in point, this terrific Farmers Market Round Up detailing each neighborhood’s contribution to the local food movement.
So you can love Morgan too
without having to pull multiple all-nighters for a ridiculous class project by visiting her over at Nashvillest.
(via Nashville Scene)
Yelp Drink Week is May 9th-15th. Celebrate with several local eateries with discounted cocktails to help combat The Daily Beast’s proclamation that Nashville’s the soberest city in America.
So far, the list is rather enticing! Arnold Myint, get ready to take my money.
Drink #1 Jack Daniels Honey Old-Fashioned - $3.50
Drink #2 Jack Daniels Honey & Coke - $3.25
Drink #3 Yazoo Gerst Pint - $2.50
Drink #1 Honey Myint Julep - $5.50
Drink #2 Sangria Pitcher - $9
Drink #3 Blackberry Mimosa - $4.50
Drink #1 Bottle of Arrington Vineyard -$19
Drink #2 glass of Little Black Dress - $4
Drink #3 Lucky Bucket Brewing Co. - $3
Drink #1 Honey Myint Julep - $5.50
Drink #2 Coconut Martini - $5.50
Drink#3 Passionfruit Sangria- $4.50
Suzy Wong’s House Of Yum
Drink #1 Honey Myint Julep - $5.50
Drink #2 Passionfruit Sangria - $4
Drink #3 Skedka Lemongrass Lemonade - $4.50
Tin Roof (Demonbreun location)
Drink #1 Yazoo Dos Peros - $2
Drink #2 shot of Jack Daniels - $3.50
Drink #3 Jack Daniels Honey Mixer - $3.50
Tin Roof 2 (Cool Springs location)
Drink #1 Yazoo Dos Peros - $2
Drink #2 Jack Daniels Honey Mixer - $3.50
Drink #3 Margarita - $3.50
Village Pub & Beer Garden
Drink #1 The Original Moscow Mule - $2.50
Drink #2 The English Ass - $2.50
Drink #3 The Tennessee Mule - $2.50
HEAVEN ON EARTH.
I love Fido. From the hipster watching, the delicious food (Spuds McCheesy and Brie & Turkey on Focaccia please) to the sugary coffee drinks (and correspondingly sweet names) Fido wins in my book.
The parking is terrible, it’s always crowded, and somehow my food always beats my coffee to the table… but it doesn’t discount the fact that every local ingredient sourced entree makes my mouth happy. Very happy.
I went to Belmont, Bongo was a college staple. I grew up, and Fido replaced its caffeinated addiction in my heart. Move over Fido, because your little sister/neighbor, Hot & Cold, is my new BFF.
I had planned to do a post on the wonders of the Las Paletas popsicles, but we’ll do a quick visit here.
(example of the menu board, it changes based on the fresh produce found at the farmers market)
Sisters Irma and Norma Paz are the masterminds behind the traditional Mexican ice pops. At $2.50 a pop, cash only, and limited hours, it takes work and forethought to get your grubby hands on one of their cracktastic confections. Last year they moved a few doors down and acquired a sign so it is now a little easier to find them than at its previous incarnation. It got even easier to find with the arrival of Burger Up in the 12th and Paris strip. Now you just have to mow down the hoards of misguided people waiting for a sub-par burger experience at Burger Up, smile at the sticky faced kids out front, and wedge your way inside the tiny shop. If you’re as indecisive as I am, MMS a picture of the menu board to your loved ones, and try to decide what you want while all the subsequent orders come rolling in.
In 2008, their Throwdown with Bobby Flay premiered on my birthday. We celebrated with a viewing party and their winning Pineapple with Salt & Peppers Paleta.
The Food Network returned in 2010 with a Kid in a Candy Store feature.
(via Food Network)
If you can’t make the limited/constantly changing Las Paletas hours, you can always choose from a mini-selection at Baja Burrito, or any of the Bongo Java properties (Bongo Java, Fido, and now Hot & Cold.) Reason being, Irma Paz (Bernstein) is the Bongo King, Bob Bernstein’s, better half.
Irma and Bob felt that the problem with ice cream shops was that their coffee was always sub-par, and that coffee shops usually had less than stellar desserts. So they brought their worlds together for the world rocking Hot & Cold.
(Hot & Cold Paleta selection at the end of the night)
They feature a full line of creamy and fruit Paletas, while Fido next door still carries about a half dozen.
(one side of the freezer case)
They opened in December, and I am kicking myself that it took until April for me to give it a try. I truly did not think that you could improve upon the Paz Paleta, but it turns out you can with the addition of local Olive & Sinclair chocolate.
Sometimes you are just too full for a full popsicle (I know, I’m weird) so the mini is the perfect solution for me. Both the Hot Chocolate with Chili Pepper and Chai creamy paletas are delicious, but a magic shell of dark chocolate (I don’t even like dark chocolate, this stuff really IS magic!) just takes them to another level.You can also order a Bongo-leta with an espresso for dipping.
The space got a lot of work since it’s former life as a Smoothie King. It is now super mod with curved architectural details and ambient lighting.
The reclaimed barn wood gives it the touch of tasteful Southern charm every neighborhood treasure should offer.
Hot & Cold is now the only Tennessee retailer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. The friendly staff will serve you up a sample of any of the 10 flavors in their scoop case, but don’t forget to check out the cooler for any of the dozens of other flavors.
$10 for a take home pint may seem steep, but after tasting and researching the company it is more than worth it. The ice cream eats more like a gelato, and a little bit will do ya.
Jeni, her husband, and her brother make every batch with local ingredients and responsibly raised exotics in Columbus, Ohio. We loved the Olive Oil with Sea-Salted Pepitas, Riesling Poached Pear, Bourbon Buttered Pecan, and spicy Queen City Cayenne.
There is definitely something for everyone, even a wanna be Man vs Food enthusiast with the $15 (little bit of everything) Dessert.
It is going to be nothing but trouble given its proximity to my office, and now knowing how delicious their offerings are.
Know before you go: H&C accepts cash and credit, menu changes daily, more Jeni’s ice cream options in the take away cooler. Do not leave without trying some twist on the standard, either a dip in Olive & Sinclair chocolate or a shot of espresso. Parking is a nightmare, but its warming up so a nice walk wont hurt you or your calorie burning efforts.
Try it for yourself!
1804 21st Ave S (formerly Smoothie King, between Fido and Jackson’s)
615-767-5468 if you need to call ahead and see what they are serving for the day.
Monday-Friday 11 AM- 9 PM