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VOL. 37 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 6, 2013

Let area’s best chefs create holiday memories

By Hollie Deese

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If you expect a flock of foodies among your visitors this holiday season, don’t waste too much money buying them gifts – simply take them to eat at one (or more) of these 10 signature Nashville restaurants.

Eclectic, innovative and mostly upscale, local ingredients star on the table and chefs star behind the scenes. The food and the experience of these places will dazzle your guests who may have read about Nashville’s remarkably robust and trend-setting food scene in the national press.

Husk Nashville


37 Rutledge St., 256-6565

In a time when Southern ingredients are shining on menus across the Nashville, Husk Nashville is still a star, and family members will fall in love with the city just a bit more if you take them there for an evening of fine dining.

Located in Rutledge Hill, Husk Nashville is the local outpost of James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock’s renowned Charleston restaurant, Husk.

Led by Brock and Chef de Cuisine Morgan McGlone, the kitchen reinterprets the bounty of the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that begins in the rediscovery of heirloom products.

Constructed into the side of a hill, the design of Husk’s interior only enhances the experience for loved ones. Everything on the menu changes daily and is available to peruse online, and winter options are sure to warm more than the tummy.

Some December offerings have included a Tennessee flat iron steak with creamed snap beans and ember-roasted oyster mushrooms and fingerlings with a star anise glace, perfect with a skillet of cornbread with Benton’s bacon for the table.

Rolf & Daughters


700 Taylor St., 866-9897

Located in the historic Werthan Factory building, Rolf & Daughters offers upscale rustic Italian food at its finest, thanks to the seasonal Southern ingredients.

Their “modern peasant food” includes thoughtful cooking that produces dishes like baby octopus with black garlic, pork belly and celeriac or dry-aged meatballs or squid ink canestri with shrimp, squid and pancetta.

Sit by yourself, but walk-ins are relegated to the communal tables and bar, which actually might be perfect if your family is a big group. Just open for a year now, R&D has already become a must-visit restaurant and a place locals take their family to show them exactly why Nashville is a food force to be reckoned with.

The Catbird Seat


1711 Division Street, 248-8458

When “Bon Appetit” magazine names a restaurant to its 10 Best in the Country list, people tend to pay attention.

At Catbird Seat, it’s all about the shared experience with your fellow diners that make for a memorable evening.

The creation of Max and Benjamin Goldberg and chefs Josh Habiger (who left in July to open a new restaurant, Pinewood Social) and Erik Anderson, reservations run on a 30-day rolling calendar, and that is about as far out as you want to try to book if you want in.

That means, call now to get visiting family a seat, check the restaurant regularly for cancellations, and follow them on social media to get first notification when seats open up.

The effort is totally worth it when you and your loved ones – and any additional revelers in the room that night – can taste the masterful execution of dishes like Wahyu ribeye steak and smoked chicken liver.

Pinewood Social


33 Peabody St.

Located in the Trolley Barns in historic Rolling Mill Hill, the paint is barely dry on one of the most anticipated venues in Nashville. The latest project from local restaurateurs Benjamin and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality, Pinewood Social, offers bites that transition from morning to afternoon to evening.

The locally-focused menu is created by former Catbird Seat chef Josh Habiger, the beverage program is led by former Rolf & Daughters bar manager Matt Tocco, and the coffee program is spearheaded by Crema coffee.

Open to the public on Wednesday, Dec. 4, you can be sure the place will be packed throughout the holiday season and then well into the New Year.

In addition to delicious food, fun-loving family members will love that there is a bowling alley, shuffleboard and private karaoke rooms to create the best kind of holiday memories – the embarrassing ones.



303 Demonbreum St., 522-0685

Fans of still-missed Zola have been waiting for this new venture from Chef Deb Paquette, and they haven’t been disappointed.

Located in the ground floor of the Encore tower downtown, Etch offers a private dining room if your family is on the large side, as well as a full bar and an open kitchen with bar-style seating which allows guests to interact with the chef as she works on her bold flavors and colorful presentations – why should you be the only one to enjoy your wacky relatives?

The cuisine, which includes a decadent butter tasting, fried pork belly with kenji kimchi and ginger caramel, and Moroccan spiced venison with sweet potato guava, ginger grits, pear butter and cranberry sumac relish is complemented by a comprehensive wine list, featuring an extensive collection of wines from around the world.



1121 Fifth Ave. N., 750-2912

Another Southern-influenced offering in Germantown – can we really have enough? – Silo is a collaboration between Clay Greenberg, formerly of Virago and Lime, and Paul Cercone, the previous owner of Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery in Charleston.

Together, their take on farm food combined with a room designed by nationally award-winning architect Greg Ibañez, creates a total moment that your family will remember for seasons to come.

Opt for the community table if your group is of the friendly kind and sink your teeth into cast-iron cornbread or rainbow trout with turnips, daikon, kohlrabi and shitaki broth. Or, gather the crew for Sunday brunch.

Lockeland Table


1520 Woodland St., 228-4864

One of the area’s greatest talents, Hal M. Holden-Bache has taken up residence in East Nashville, and opened Lockeland Table last fall after spending more than a decade delighting palates all over the city, first as the executive chef at Nick and Rudy’s Steakhouse, then briefly on the team with Tyler Brown at Capitol Grille before moving on to be the executive chef of Eastland Café.

After five years at Eastland, Hal decided to venture out and now Nashville is blessed with Lockeland. Family members will love one of the wood-fired pizzas or plate of sweet potato gnocchi with blistered tomatoes, corn, spinach, apple, and Kentucky blue gouda. The best part is that children are more than welcome so no one has to stay at home with the cousins while everyone else eats.

A children’s menu offers the choice of kabobs, elevated grilled cheese or burgers with fresh sides and a sweet treat like Oreo balls.

The Treehouse Restaurant


1011 Clearview Ave., 454-4201

Open for just a few months, chances are this is one spot out-of-towners have not had the chance to visit yet but will fit right in for a night out on the town.

Hearty plates like chicken and dumplings bring total comfort on cold nights, and so do the drinks with cute names like “Where’d You Get That Shiner” with the newest moonshine offering in the area, American Born, as well as lemon, egg white, sorel and cherry bitters.

The food is driven by chef Todd Alan Martin, who pulls flavors from Texas, Asia and Central America.



2310 12th Ave. S., 292-7766

Another hotly anticipated opening, Josephine, opens its doors Dec. 6, and it can’t happen soon enough for fans of Miranda Whitcomb Pontes (Burger Up) and executive chef Andy Little of Pennsylvania.

It may be worth a pop in to try out the brunch and dinner menu before bringing family, but if it is as good as hoped, it will be a must-stop for next holiday’s visitors.

Diners can expect plates like sourdough spaetzle with pastrami cured pork belly and whole grain mustard, beef cheeks with horseradish risotto, and smoked beef tongue with toasted bread and caramelized onions.

M.L. Rose


2535 Franklin Pike, 712-8160; 4408 Charlotte Ave., 750-2920

For family members who want to cut loose and relax over casual plates of delicious food, all you have to do is take them to M.L. Rose, at either location.

Owner Austin Ray is all about making people feel welcome, which is one reason the original spot is celebrating its fifth year in business this month.

“To me and many others, M.L. Rose has been a place that makes a lot of sense to gather during the holidays as a neighborhood pub, a second home, or even a place to get away from home (and family!) for a little while,” Ray says.

Specials abound all month, beginning with the actual anniversary celebration on Dec. 12 with 2-for-1 craft beers.

“We invite everyone to come have a beer and help us celebrate,” Ray says. “We will have a heated tent on the patio for added capacity and Black Abbey brewing will be joining us to give away samples and help set the mood.

“I know I personally will be inviting all my old friends and neighbors to join me - after all, M.L. Rose was started out of personal want for a great neighborhood spot near my own home.”

M.L. Rose is rolling out its annual 12 Days of Christmas Twitter contest, as well. December 9-20, follow them on Twitter @_mlrose and retweet their tweets to enter to win prizes like gift cards, tickets to Brew At The Zoo, and gift packs from local breweries.

This month they are also adding new winter brews to the menu.

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