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:
Bf and I gave each other admission to Bartender Bash as our anniversary gifts to each other this year. We’ve been wanting to go since Beth raved about it last year. (PS Beth, nice optimization lady, you’re the first results for Bartender Bash in a google search.)
I had a horrific cold and had one of those soul destroying days at work. I take layoffs especially hard now that I’ve experienced them on the exiting end. Smiling, making conversation, and to be honest, blogging, just seemed entirely too daunting. But the tickets weren’t about to go to waste, bad days were meant to be washed away with a cocktail. Being a vodka girl and attending a Grey Goose sponsored event… there are worse ways to end a day.
Photo Courtesy of Morgan Levy
Best. decision. ever.
(Abram Bottoms of Sperry’s mixing up some UT Vols concoction. I promise I tried it despite my disdain for the other UT)
We had an absolute ball. Everyone was so lovely. We had a great time chatting with locals that enjoy a good cocktail just as much as we do. Some drinks were much better than others and I was barely aware that there was even food. By the time we made our way through the throngs of people in the lobby there was very little left to soak up the alcohol. But lets be honest, this food blogger was in this for drinks, food was secondary to me for the first time.
I wont lie, I got blitzed. I’ve never had $25 knock me around quite like that. Those bartenders had absolutely no problem doling out heavy doses of Goose. Each $25 admission granted you 2 Grey Goose cocktail tickets, appetizers, and tastings from the 11 competing bartenders. Meet them here.
Bonnie Johnson from Cantina Laredo made a watermelon margarita and a lavender champagne cocktail. They were the first two we tasted and we knew then and there that we made a great decision in coming.
Kasey Tamkun from Prime 108 made a Gibson Flier with the Grey Goose Pear and a whimsical Root Beer Float. Two tables down and I was giddy, my bad day forgotten.
Then we got to table three and visited Charlies FIelds from Rumba. He definitely got my vote for fan favorite. The Get Behind the Mule was as refreshing and delightful as the mixologist. Photographic evidence below.
He shook up a “Jeffrey,” for the boyfriend and being good Get Him To The Greek fans, we couldn’t quell our laughter. That could have been the straight shots of Chartruse he poured me too ;)
Get Behind the Mule
1 ounce Grey Goose Original
1 ounce ginger flavored liqueur
½ ounce ginger snap liqueur
3 ounces ginger beer
Garnish with lime wedge and mint sprig
The other side of the gorgeous lobby didn’t fare as well for us, but I was intrigued by Lauren Lowry’s collection of light cocktails from Morton’s. Rumor has it she won the whole shebang. The Skinny Minnie Cosmo with Tyku Orange was light on the sugar and high on taste. The agave fueled No Blue Mortini was definitely a keeper. I’d have no trouble taking down a few of these martinis with some $5 bar bites.
No Blue Mortini
1 ½ ounce Grey Goose Original
½ ounce superfruit puree
1 ounce pomegranate
Squeeze half of a lime
And obviously my love of M Street didn’t disappoint. Jeremy Meador mixed up a Ginger Agusto, a delicious concoction of ginger, basil, and grapefruit.
So really, the only thing left to say is… Is it mid-August 2012 yet?
Get your tickets and join us next year for the seventh annual Bartender Bash!
Word to the wise… take the next day off work. I knew it wasn’t a coincidence with all the trains around. I felt like I got hit by one the next morning. Getting old bites.
Helloooo! I’m so excited to be blogging from my brand new computer, where I can you know, upload photos…. I am so incredibly sorry I’ve been slacking in the blogging department. I finally have all of my data transferred and organized and I promise I won’t stay away this long again.
I’m also excited to tell you that shortly before my birthday I was given a temporary assignment off our front desk. I’m so incredibly grateful I didn’t ring in 26 as a receptionist. The new job requires considerably more of my time and while that means less time for blogging, it means I am eligible for overtime which I plan to allocate towards culinary adventures. :) Either way, we win.
Also winning is family time. My family and I both prefer when I visit them in Austin. That way I get to see more family and friends and revisit my favorite haunts. It also means my folks don’t get the opportunity to complain about how much farther behind Austin Nashville is in the food scene. They gave me 2 weeks notice of their visit and I begged you for advice. Thank you so much for your tips! This was THE MOST successful culinary tour I’ve ever given them.
All plans for a fancy birthday dinner went out the window when I scored the men in my life company ticket to the Titans game. I’d already begged mom for a night of spring roll fun so that only left us with 3 meals to play with. My family loves sushi and I was hoping to swing a visit to Virago, but there were just not enough meals in our two days together. We figured that the best way to take advantage of our time together was to do brunch. Marche or Margot are standard favorites, but after reading Beth and Vivek’s glowing reviews and checking on the menu, Tavern moved to the top of my hit list. I didn’t want them to think M Street productions were the only ones making headway in the local food scene, so despite the fact that I was a little wary of bringing an 8 and 11 year old to a Tavern for brunch, it became our M Street visit for the trip. We were all thoroughly pleased with the decision, and I’m still working up the willpower to not spend all of my weekend mornings there. If I did, I’d gain 50 very happy pounds. Overtime might buy me a few more meals out, but not an entire wardrobe ;)
I hadn’t been inside since the transformation from Lime. It was less tavern-like than I was expecting. The chains and concrete are a little more Disney prison scene, but I barely noticed when the woods were so breathtaking.
I sort of lost the boyfriend and brother to the rows of televisions playing football and golf, but I was too distracted trying to narrow down the menu to be offended.
Tavern serves up brunch from 10:30-3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Even better, they do two for one brunch cocktails ($8-$10.50.) 3 different bloody marys, 2 mimosas, and one delicious red sangria were incredibly tempting.
I pretty much wanted one of everything and was so grateful for the influx of dining companions so we could try a nice cross section of the menu.
I apologize in advance for the photos. We brought the big camera and it decided it didn’t want to play along. We were starving and the food was already coming out on the cold side so quick snaps are all I’ve got for you this time around. I’ll be back again and again and again, so I’ll start swapping them out for you ;)
We started with the Maple Fondue ($17) It got us a nice sample of the pain perdu, red velvet waffle, blueberry corn meal waffle, spicy chicken and garlic pork sausage, fresh fruit, and cardamom scented maple syrup.
The sausages were fantastic. The pain perdu was a unique spin with the frosted flake crusted challah bread. The waffles were tasty, but were out shown by everything else that arrived at our table.
My sister couldn’t be talked out of the local ham and cheese omelet ($8.50.) With so many variations on breakfast favorites on the menu, I was surprised to see something so down the middle as ham and brie in eggs. She was perfectly happy with it, and I was perfectly happy snagging bits of her cracktastic white trash hash. Crispy french fries were tossed with cheese and onions and spices… I live for breakfast potatoes and this was something I never would have dreamed up.
I was heartbroken when a previously arranged trip kept me out of the food blogger happy hour at Tavern a few weeks ago. I’d heard such wonderful things about the burger ($10.) I was pumped that it was what my brother wanted. He wanted bacon, I wanted griddled onions so they came on the side of our white cheddar burger cooked medium. All additional toppings are $1.50… so adding cheese, onions, and bacon make this an almost $15 ordeal. The burger was huge, the ribeye and filet combine for a juicy and incredibly tasty bite. It moves right into my top three favorites with Gabby’s and Whole Foods. The fries were just ok, everything kept coming out less than piping hot. They were adorable in the baby fry basket, but between you and me, I’d ask for a side of white trash hash instead of the fries. Each table comes equipped with ketchup, Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce, and 3 varying levels of hot sauce. I was so consumed with getting a bite of everything it took a long time to circle back and play with the condiments. The fries were a great way to sample them all until I found my favorite.
Mom was sold by the Nooner. Fried oysters, bacon scramble, spicy sour cream and white trash hash. She and my stepdad fought over every last bite.
If I wasn’t already splitting the burger with the munchkin, I’d have picked the Benedict Uno. Luckily it wasn’t hard talking the boyfriend into ordering it for himself. It was hands down the table favorite. Smoky braised short ribs joined 2 perfectly poached eggs, Tabasco hollandaise, and toasted english muffins. The griddled onions from my burger and the AMAZING triple x hot sauce brought us to breakfast nirvana. It’s a little on the small side, so if you aren’t part of a family food orgy you’ll probably want to order a side.
We’re all savory brunch people but all of my twit-exchanges have suggested pretzel pancakes ($8.50.) We had to order a stack for the table. They didn’t look very cute when they arrived, but luckily these babies made up for looks with taste.
The salty pretzels and sweet white chocolate and dulce de leche sauces pack one heckuva mouth party. The only other pancakes that have ever turned my head have come from Kerbey Lane Cafe at home, and these just might have them beat.
Somehow after all of that we were still able to take down two salads. We’re not heavy breakfast eaters and we figured we’d just be sampling food… not absolutely anhilating it. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a scrap of anything left on any of our plates.The Junk Salad ($11) and Tuscan Kale and Parmesan ($7.50) helped lighten our carb loading.
I can’t wait to play with this kale salad idea. It was a little bizarre eating kale so pulverized it was practically kale dust. I adore kale and could eat it every day, but the kids and the boyfriend don’t usually like it at all. Everyone liked this concoction with the sweet currants, salty Parmesan, toasted almonds, and lemony vinaigrette. It was one of my favorite parts of brunch, even if it was ordered as an after thought.
The staff was so friendly and helpful. Our server was a foodie too and was happy to share other M Street menu highlights. She even brought out a little bread pudding with a candle for my birthday.
I can’t wait to go back to Tavern. The kaya toast, cheddar cheese biscuits, Israeli bread salad, and pretzel rolls need sampling. It’s a tough job, but I’m happy to do it. I’m glad I didn’t let the thought of taking young kids to a bar setting keep us away. Everyone was perfectly comfortable and we all left with delectably full and happy tummies. Calories don’t count on your birthday/vacation, right?
The triple x hot sauce is a freakishly green concoction that I still can’t dissect. I couldn’t tell you what’s in it, but I can tell you I’d drink it with a straw. I tried to buy some to take home, but had to settle for a little to go container. We made green eggs and ham with it this morning, I can’t wait to show you. I hope you enjoyed part one of the family food adventure, there is plenty more to share :) It feels so good to be back!
1904 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203
Sun-Th 11am-1am, Fri-Sa 11am-3am
I know, I’m a horrible Nashvillian, I’d never been to Copper Kettle. I only drive by it EVERY DAY on my way home. It gets delivered to my office regularly and I have had it as catering but I had never visited them.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge Meat & Three person. If I want southern food I go to Monell’s for a big family dinner. I get my requisite annual food coma and then I continue on my merry way. Sylvan Park and At the Table just didn’t live up to the hype for me so I put the Meat & 3 endeavor on hold. I told myself I had to get off my lazy butt and try Copper Kettle, Arnold’s, and the Pie Wagon if not for myself than for the blog. Thus phase 1 of Operation Meat & Threes began.
Copper Kettle. Seriously. Why have I not been visiting on a weekly basis? I don’t buy pork, I’m pretty positive I’ve never once cooked it. I rarely ever order it. I pretty much only eat pork when someone I know prepares it for me. I saw Fried Porkchop on the menu and about near knocked over an old lady to get to it.
Can you call it a porkchop if it’s boneless? I don’t know and I don’t care, I am POSITIVE it is miraculous. The breading was light, crispy and herbaceous. The meat was juicy and tender. The mashed potatoes were real and creamy. The salad had both fresh and sun dried tomatoes with feta and a perfectly puckering Italian dressing.
When I can’t decide between two things I usually just ask for both. Its a problem, but it works in my favor sometimes. I couldn’t decide between the pot roast gravy and the white gravy. Luckily asking for both got me a decent sample of the pot roast, which was tremendous. They didn’t make me choose between a roll or cornbread either. Both were standard, but the fruit compote was fantastic. If you can tell me what it is, I’m dying to know. I feel like it was rhubarb? It was a freakish color and I was terrified I was about to get myself into a beet mess, but it was tart and tangy and not too sweet. Loved it.
Becca took a page from my typical playbook and just got sides. Nothing healthy, my kind of girl. Totally standard southern fare. Nothing noteable, but nothing bad either.
I rarely order dessert, Creme Brulee is pretty much the only thing that entices me… but this menu was doing an admirable job tempting me.
That pot roast is totally calling my name. When’s our next trip to Copper Kettle? What’s your favorite offering of the week?DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE:
94 Peabody Street
Nashville, TN 37210
MAP to this location
4004 Granny White Pike
Nashville, TN 37204
MAP to this location COLUMBIA:
117 West 7th Street
Columbia, TN 38401
MAP to this location
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.
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.