The Hubs and I just had an AMAZING trip to Nashville, TN including lots of food, booze, and live music – I really need nothing else in life! We decided to go when we saw one of our favorite bands was playing there on a Thursday night and to just make a long weekend of it. I’m not sure what was better though – the bands, the food, or the adult beverages. Here’s the rundown:
We got in town about 4 and checked into the hotel. The show started at 8 and was general admission seating so we only had so much time for dinner. We had done some scouring on the internet and had come up with several places we knew were musts we had to try. The first evening was Holland House Bar and Refuge (how cute is that name?) in East Nashville. Loved it! It had a 1920’s speakeasy vibe, the bartenders dressed in old school-ish button down shirts and vests, and they have a drink list like none I have ever seen. All very “vintage” type cocktails. We sat at the bar and chatted up the bartender, and he ended up guiding us in all of our drink choices. I had a resolution this year that I would start drinking gin (did anyone else make resolutions to start drinking more like I did?) and as of pre-Holland House, it had yet to happen. Luckily, I am now a gin drinker! Two different gin drinks over the weekend. My plan is get a gin repertoire going this summer. Food was good, but nothing to get completely worked up about. Nonetheless, this place is MORE than worth a trip here – in fact, we almost came back Friday, but decided we owed it to ourselves to try out other places. I don’t think their actual website is working, but they claim they are working on it, so I included this link to their FB page, too.
Friday brought us to The Acorn, an old house turned restaurant that specializes in Upscale Southern food with a bit of a French influence. I got to have one of my favorite southern dishes there – pimento cheese. They had served it with pickled radishes (versus the typical pickled okra).
We also had an appetizer of fried chicken livers with buttermilk dressing with pickles. It’s rare we don’t order fried livers if they are available, and these did not disappoint. No actual dessert for us, but we did have some nice coffee dessert drinks that hit the spot.
Saturday we slept in, but around lunch made it to the South 12 area of Nashville, which seems to be an area that used to be a bit questionable but is now becoming quite fashionable. We did lunch at Burger Up – a local place that is all about the best burger with local products and being welcoming to all. It did its job. The place was packed for a Saturday lunch, and most tables are of the community style – long benches where multiple people sit together. We had fried pickles with buttermilk dressing. The pickles are apparently “pickled” in-house, and that makes me happy – it just shows a commitment to serving quality foods; plus, I’m a sucker for almost anything pickled (and then fried). I had the “Woodstock” with bacon, cheddar, and jack daniel’s ketchup.
They did have a burger with pimento cheese which I was thisclose to getting, but the server swayed me to cheddar bacon. The Hubs had Mushroom Swiss. I thought their version was very clever and worked well – cremini mushrooms, Gruyère cheese, and balsamic bbq sauce. I now must figure out the recipe and make a balsamic bbq sauce at home. AND, the burgers were actually cooked to the correct temperature. Such a critical way to ruin a burger. Medium, people, medium!
Saturday night brought us to City House in the Germantown area. We found out this restaurant had recently been nominated for a James Beard award (kinda like the Oscars of restaurants) so we were pretty excited to check it out. It was in this quaint, rustic old building (an old general store, I think), and we would have loved to have sat on their screened in patio, but the weather had turned cold, rainy, and miserable, so that was not an option. No worries – we had a nice table in the corner with a good view of the whole restaurant, including the open kitchen. To start the night right, I had another cocktail with Gin! So exciting for me! It was the Seven Jills – Cocchio Americano (an Italian aperitif), Death’s Door Gin, and Peach and Rose Bitters. (Note to self – I must start learning to make more exciting cocktails at home.) Appetizers included Octopus with Fennel Breadcrumbs and Chicken Liver Crostini with Red Onion Jam (like I said, sucker for chicken livers). Dinner for me was cracker-meal crusted catfish with pickled vegetables. Dinner for the Hubs was house-made sausage with rhubarb sauce and a beer mustard. We got sides of cheesy grits and collard greens. We could not have been happier with our meals. Amazing. This is a not-miss for any trip to Nashville. We skipped desserts for after dinner drinks (seeing a pattern here?). The Hub’s drink was such a clever idea – Jack Daniels, Root Beer, and cream – kinda like an upscale hillbilly White Russian, I suppose, with big orange peel garnish. I had an Espresso Martini. We left City House very happy, but yet sad since we don’t know the next time we might make it there.
Other Nashville Highlight
The Nash Trash Tour: This tour is almost worth a trip to Nashville in itself. Two sisters have created a tour of Nashville’s “low-lights” versus the high-lights. For instance, points of interest involving George Jones getting drunk and arrested or their opinion of certain Nashville country starts. All on a giant school bus that has been painted bright pink. The duo of singing sisters are hilarious (plus you can drink alcohol on the bus!). My body actually hurt from laughing so hard. Be ready to be singled out and picked on, though, as they seem to take no mercy on anyone. And, be aware, it is PG-13/R in terms of language and topic selection
Ween at the War Memorial Room – The Hub’s and I’s favorite band is Ween, and we love to travel to see them. We have recently seen them in St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, and Denver. And now Nashville. AND, I got to meet the guitar player at an after-show they played that we were somehow lucky enough to find out about.
Hillbilly Casino at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn – Another one of my favorite bands. Rockabilly with a touch of country and punk – interesting combo, I suppose. But, the lead singer’s energy is amazing (seriously, I have never seen a lead singer quite like him), and their show is not to be missed. Seeing them in their hometown bar of Layla’s on Broadway made it even better.
Jason Isbell at the 5 Spot – Jason Isbell used to be part of the Drive-By Truckers, and recently has put out some solo records. Great voice, great lyrics, great guitar. We just happened to see he was playing in a small club in Nashville, so we figured we might as well hit it up and just make it a trio of shows.
Needless to say, three 3 am nights are hard on old woman like me, but somehow I managed to pull through. And, we could not have asked for a better weekend in Nashville.