Nashville may be most famous for being the hometown of country music but beyond a music mecca, it is also a fabulous food destination, with a thriving restaurant scene. I spent two nights in Nashville and didn’t have a bad meal. Here are my highlights.
Dinner at Lockeland Table
Dining at this East Nashville neighbourhood restaurant feels a bit like eating in the home of a good friend. But don’t let the cosy interiors and laid back atmosphere fool you: chef-owner Hal M. Holden-Bache’s high-end comfort food far exceeds even the most accomplished home cooking and landed Lockeland Table a nomination for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant Award in 2013. The distinctly Southern-accented menu is both rustic and refined. Dishes like chicken liver pate in a jar made with Benton’s bacon fat and served with peach preserves and grilled Tuscan bread ($9.50); or rack of lamb with fingerling potato-bacon-and-kale hash, kale, pickled grape and feta salad, and kale verde ($27). There are also wood fired pizzas like the Pig – Italian crushed tomato, homemade sausage, pancetta, pepperoni, ham, home-smoked mozzarella and pepperoncini ($14), and the peach cobbler dessert with ice cream ($7) was about as delicious and comforting as it gets. Portions are massive so don’t over-order.
1520 Woodland St, Nashville
+1 615 228 4864
Brunch at Pinewood Social
This stylish new all-day restaurant is housed in an expansive 13,000-square-foot former trolley barn with soaring ceilings and exposed-brick walls near the Cumberland River overlooking Downtown Nashville. Customers can hit the bowling alley, pick up a brew at the Crema coffee stand or indulge in the reinvented American fare from culinary director Josh Habiger. The mouthwatering breakfast menu features the likes of Reuben benedict, with corned-beef tongue, sauerkraut, poached egg and thousand-island dressing on rye ($13); smoked trout omelet filled with cream cheese, capers, sprouts, dill and green onion ($12); and the heavenly fluffy buckwheat waffles with apple butter ($9). Later this summer, a pool, Airstream pool bar and bocce court are set to open at Pinewood.
33 Peabody St, Nashville
+1 615 751 8111
Dinner at Merchants
Occupying a restored brick building amid the bars of lower Broadway, this restaurant once housed the Merchants Hotel, built in 1892. Many of the original features remain: fireplaces, wainscoting and custom sconces, giving s sense of history right in the heart of Downtown Nashville. Spread over two storeys, the second floor features a formal dining room with hardwood floors, brick walls, and ceiling fans and a menu of traditional meats: roasted chicken, pork, yellowfin tuna, steak and short ribs. Meanwhile on the ground floor, the bistro serves burgers, salads, and sandwiches next to creative, contemporary takes on comfort food favourites such as fried green tomatoes with spicy pepper jam and house pimento cheese ($9); or chicken fried chicken with smashed yukons , garlic studded spinach and country gravy ($18). The chocolate cake for dessert was big enough to defy four of us.
401 Broadway, Downtown, Nashville
+1 615 254 1892
Brunch at Loveless Café
A 30-minute drive southwest of Nashville towards Memphis, Loveless Café is where you head for the full-on Southern comfort-food experience. Founded in 1951 by Lon and Annie Loveless and more recently synonymous with the late Carol Fay, aka the “Biscuit Lady”, it’s renowned for its country breakfasts. The famous biscuits are served with homemade preserves but beyond these are Southern classics like fried chicken and catfish. The signature country ham – house-cured to be outside of refrigeration for up to 90 days – has a salty kick that compliments fried eggs to perfection, while other staples include three-egg omelets; pancakes with bacon; fried catfish and smoked boneless pork chops. And before hitting the road, stop at the store for a few take-home jam, ham or biscuit mix.
8400 Highway 100
+1 646 9700