As I head out on foot from my hotel situated only blocks away from the infamous Printer’s Alley I feel a glow from the city of Nashville. Keep in mind we are still in the backhand of the Covid epidemic and the city doesn’t feel as busy as usual. Not a lot of cars zooming by, or horns blasting and even the smell seems different. The town feels a bit more peaceful and serine.
So I got a tip from a Facebook friend that I need to check out a small place with big results. I am always game to check out a solid recommendation from a fellow foodie. As you make your way into the alley overhead lights glow of excitement and adventure. The smell of cigarettes start to lift sensations in your body of wild times past of the College glory days and nights that you never wanted to end. The sounds of music and laughter and people on a mission to have a good time and forget about all of the bad going on in the world, even if just for today.
So I make my way to a door that is about to lead me into a portal of a new culinary dimension. I was quickly greeted by the hostess who safely led me to my table right up by this amazing angelic singer who was harmonizing with the piano man. I knew I was off to a good start. The staff was masked up for our safety and took great efforts to make sure all patrons felt as safe as we possibly could.
As I pick up the menu my eye goes straight to Foie Gras and a whisky drink that includes a sassafras infusion and I am in! I will take that and that please as I point to the two best thing on the menu, though I don’t know it at the time.
So f***ing good! This dish just made me food-gasm with literally every bite of the Foie Gras. Perfectly seared and melted in my mouth like butter on a Lamborghini Diablo on a Miami Hot Summers Day! The foie was literally so good, I couldn’t eat the corn that was paired with it. Next time I would order the fois by itself, it literally needs nothing.
So I am a huge fan of raw filet and arugula so I order the carpaccio. Way to much salt, I think the chef got excited about his new salt flakes and went a little cray cray. It is a simple mistake and anyone could make it. I also feel a little too much truffle oil was used. The person that garnished this dish was probably a young and excited chef, nothing wrong with excitement, but you can go to much with such rich ingredients. The arugula salad was Devine, but I am an arugula fan all the way. The bread basket was unique and delicious unexpected treat. It was a light fluffy piece of toast with a raw egg yolk in the middle. The golden toast bar melted in your mouth and the egg would have been so good on the beef, what a fun concept that I will definitely have fun recreating at one of my next private dinners. Thank you team for the effort, I will definitely try again and specify light on the salt. To be fair, the waitress noticed I didn’t eat much and took this item off my bill. She said the chef agreed there was too much salt. Mistake made, chef was aware, problem solved, now on to the next course.
Now on to a dish you don’t see often enough on the menu these days. I am the chef that thrives on the classics but is always open to a new ride. Who doesn’t love organ meat from the thymus gland and pancreas??? If you don’t, it is probably because you haven’t been around an old school chef that has cooked it properly. I still can remember the texture and strong flavors of cognac and reduced veal stock the first time I had them. I remember all the chefs running over when the organ meat came out piping hot of the roasting pan and they all dug in with a spoon to taste of the glory! So of course I dug in as well not having any idea what a sweetbread really was. It melted in my mouth, all senses were thrown out the door and I was left barely able to stand. I can’t be certain, but this memory possibly could have been my first food-gasm ever in my adult career. When the chefs laughed and told me what they were, I truly didn’t care and knew that my life would be forever changed as a chef. Sometimes we have to take big boy steps, to enter the big world of Culinary-ism.
Needless to say, sweetbreads are very dear to my heart and I was almost scared to order for the chance I didn’t want to be let down. Thank God I did order!!!
I took the first bite and was thrust into a land of everything right and where everything was perfect except what I was drinking. I instantly stopped sipping on the whisky trophy drink and frantically looked for my waitress. I held my hand up, like I was in school trying to get the teachers attention, in hopes she would see me, she came over promptly and I simply requested a red wine that tastes as close to butter as possible. She had no idea what I was taking about but we agreed upon a Trevena Paso Robles California Cab for $15 a glass. Yes!!!!!! The only hard part was to not eat all the sweetbreads before the wine arrived. The wine had a buttercup nose that led into a heavy smoke from the barrels it was aged in. This wine was simply delicious and truly made for my dish.
The Hericot Verts were undercooked in my opinion and didn’t need such a heavy sauce. It was like a straight forward plain aioli. The crispy potatoes were cooked a little too crispy but some people probably prefer them that way, but I would have held back slightly and made them not so bitter. The Potato Gelette “Mashed Potatoes” were delicious and perfectly seasoned. There was an aioli surrounding plate, but I suggest to leave it as a garnish. Maybe a dip for the potatoes, but I didn’t really eat the potatoes. But who cares about anything, the star of the show were definitely the sweetbreads and might I say with beautiful presentation.
Now on to my favorite salad in the world. Please keep in mind I am very hard on this particular salad for I have had the best in the world at a young age, long live the Caesar!
The salad was refreshing and they were on point with the cracked pepper service. I would say it was ok, the dressing was a little bland, and lacking in the garlic and lemon flavor and heavy on the anchovy category. I don’t mind heavy anchovy but I like a follow through with spice and a little Worcestershire goes a long way with this Texas boy. Douse a little bit of that Texas staple and kick up the garlic. If you are serving white anchovies I like a whole one for garnish but don’t put a whole salty dark anchovy fry on my salad, my wife won’t kiss me for a week, lol 😝
Now the Cheese Triangle was delicious and reminded me of a compressed Cheez-It and grated cheddar, absolutely scrumptious! I would say, order if you want a salad. I am always in search of the perfect Caesar so I love trying new ones, not my favorite but I don’t hate it. I am spoiled and grew up on the border of Mexico and would go weekly for my fix of the best Caesarian Salad on the planet earth at a border town restaurant called Garcia’s, but that tale is for another day 😉
So now imagine your in New Orleans sitting in a trendy spot that is doing new age super rich decadent foods mixing crazy flavors. That is what this dish represents. Fried Panko fusion meets funnel cake batter, perfectly cooked eggplant. I preferred the thinner slice over the thicker, but who am I to judge? The crawfish was fun and popped excitement in my mouth. They used super small shrimp, but I will say they didn’t taste that bad. I sometimes admit I do judge a shrimp by its size. I am a 1-15 guy, and these were 30-40. The sauce was way over the top rich and I couldn’t finish it, but if you are looking for some bang for your buck order this!!!! Delicious flavors that melded as one. A little too rich for this Texas boys bloodstream, but I am greedy and want to try as many dishes as possible….
Now when God created me, he made something very unique to my body. He gave me two stomachs, one for savory and one for desserts. I can be so full from a meal, but that doesn’t effect my eating of dessert. So we are off to desert-land!!!! After some time of explanation and narrowing down the choices we arrive upon Peanut Butter Pie.
This quadruple peanut butter explosion is now my new best friend and I will protect all she stands for! The top is a peanut butter drizzle, over the top of Butter Cream infused with light peanut butter, over the top of lightly whipped peanut butter cheese cake, over the top of heavy peanut butter cheesecake sitting on top of a nutmeg spiced graham cracker stack! Get back Jack, this is a treat that is worthy of ending this meal with. I was feeling spunky so paired with a Cherry Sour Beer from Belgium……I know………I’m Weird…….and I like it that way!!!!!
This was not the pairing of the century, but I am a sour junky, and a sour junky’s will pair anything with one, just to get the opportunity to drink a new flavor 😉 This sour is not as sour as most but does have a twist and turn or sour patch kids meets cherry-cherry and a little berry.
I will have to say that Executive Chef Gannon M. Leary and his team did a fantastic job out of a 10 foot by 20 foot kitchen and truly made magic for this chef to digest. The front of the house staff and duo of entertainment, you all rocked my world!!! Thank you all for putting your passion, your risk, your heart into making extraordinary memories! #iwillbeback
222 Printer’s Alley
Nashville, TN 37201