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Friday, December 13, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: The Catbird Seat

The Catbird Seat. The unobtainable holy grail of Nashville haute cuisine. This shining beacon of creativity and palate teasing has been on my radar since they first opened in 2011. And ever since then I have been pestering Steve to take me there. I annoyed him, cajoled him, threatened him, begged him - and then finally for our 2-year anniversary - he made the reservation. Waiting for this dinner made it seem like the longest month ever!
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Oh hey- it's a sneaky picture of me. 
The decor of Catbird is minimalism at it's finest. The room is a soft white with nothing on the walls. The majority of their 32 seats are at the bar overlooking the open kitchen. Everything is decorated in such a way that the food is truly the star. I love the idea that they take everything away so you're forced to focus more on the food's beauty and taste. The decor deprivation really works in this setting.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
The way The Catbird Seat operates is unlike any other restaurant in town. There is no menu. You have no idea what you are going to be served and there is certainly no picking and choosing. Our night we had about 9 courses served to us over a 3 hour period. Part of the excitement was not knowing what we were going to eat next. This way, I could be surprised and guided on the taste journey that the chefs planned out for us. We also decided to go with the beverage paring (we chose the $40 version instead of the pricier $75 one, and were very pleased.) The very talented and knowledgeable beverage director provided wine and cocktails that matched the dishes. Please be aware that they do serve you a lot to drink. You will definitely get tipsy, and you may even get drunk. I highly recommend planning on taking a cab home - you will be in NO shape to drive.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
I feel unable to review specifically the food at The Catbird Seat for the simple reason that if you go, chances are you will get a totally different menu. Insomuch as that is the case, I feel I can review the overall experience and vouch for the talent that the chefs exude. Everything that we had was crafted perfectly. Flavor profiles were methodically thought out and every dish exceeded my already high expectations. Some dishes were so unique and beautifully presented that I couldn't believe it.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Our first dish was a "snack" plate. Three different little bites to set the tone for the evening. From left to right we were served an Island Creek Oyster with sea flavors, a small smoked pate sandwich, and puffed country ham with coffee. This was served with Louis de Grenelle Brut. I couldn't get over the perfect and adorable smoked pate sandwich. It was a teeny tiny bun of perfection.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee

Our next "snack" was the Catbird version of hot chicken. This was a nice thick piece of chicken skin fresh-fried, spiced, and served warm. While this was nowhere near as hot as traditional hot chicken, it had a lovely smoked paprika flavor and it really contained all the wonder that is Nashville's most famous food, minus the burn that would obliterate your taste buds for the rest of the night. 
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Next was the salad course. This salad was tied up in a pretty bundle with a string. Inside the bundle of greens was a mixture of pecan butter and huckleberry jam, while the whole thing was covered in pine dressing. The idea was that you pick it up by the bundled end and eat downward. I have never before had a salad that was finger food and I was totally impressed by the creativity. This might be the coolest salad I've had. The cocktail pairing consisted of dry vermouth, gin, sauvignon blanc and chartreuse. I normally despise any drink with chartreuse in it, but our beverage director was so good in his use of it that he changed my mind. 
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
This dish is one of my favorite things I ate that night for the simple reason that chicken liver pate is one of my favorite foods of all time. This chicken liver terrine was served with a Cheerwine glaze with peanuts and pickled watermelon wine. The sweetness of the soda reduction was a great compliment to the fatty liver. This dish was paired with a beer cocktail made with Schlafly's Biere de Garde and a cherry herring. This dash of cherry really played off the Cheerwine flavor. 
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Next up was the fabulous fish course featuring a pan roasted turbot. This white flatfish was cooked perfectly and even came with a crispy skin. I'm always impressed when a chef can crisp fish skin but not overcook the meat. This was served with a sea urchin, roe emission and little lemon dots. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the beauty of the microgreens scattered on top.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Following the fish was the fowl course. Pigeon is one of my favorite birds but I rarely if ever see it on a menu. Perhaps there is a cultural aversion to eat an animal that New Yorkers refer to as "flying rats." Whatever the case- pigeon (or squab if you want to avoid calling it what it is) is a damn fine meat. It's consistency is almost steak-like; it's the red meat of poultry. Catbird served a perfectly cooked pigeon breast along with the full leg (claws and all) that had been made into jerky. This was served with white beans, cornbread and a pepper marmalade. I really loved the chewy skin off the jerky leg paired with the nice kick of the pepper marmalade. This was Steve's first time having pigeon and he now loves this bird just as much as me.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Our final traditional savory dish was meat, in this case wagyu beef served with spinach, shallots, horseradish, and cassis. The beef was served at the perfect temperature and it was red in the center, just the way I like it. The quality of the meat was so high that it just melted away like butter. The accompaniments reminded me of an interesting take on what you would get at a traditional steak house.  
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Taking us from savory to sweet was a cheese course of tete de moine served with walnuts, cranberry, honey and endive. We were amazed at how thinly the cheese was shaved. The curls were then formed into a trumpet where it almost mimicked flower petals. Because of the thin slices the cheese just  evaporated to the top of your palate. All sliced cheese will now pale in comparison.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Now we were ready for some full-on dessert. First up was the Catbird take on a creamsicle. This citrus-heavy dessert tastes like a creamsicle once all the parts melt in your mouth, but on the plate it's deconstructed and the cream is fluffed and flash-frozen. This dish was playful and brought back sweet memories of eating a creamsicle at summer camp during snack time. 
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Next up was the dessert interlude- egg custard with thyme served in an eggshell with maple bacon. This was the same dish I had earlier this year at Music City Eats. And you know what, I was 100% OK with this repeat. The simple one bite of egg custard just perfectly walked the line between sweet and savory. Our desserts were accompanied by a late harvest tokaji with a bourbon rinse. This was the drink that did me in!
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
Our final dish was a sweet one. Vanilla cake with bourbon beads, cherry crisp, and oak wood ice cream with a pineapple gelee. This would be the most amazing birthday cake and ice cream combination. I loved how the desserts were playful takes on old favorites. At this point our dinner was at an end. I was full of food, tipsy from the drinks and incredibly happy.
Catbird Seat in Nashville Tennessee
I can't imagine a better dining experience than The Catbird Seat. I can assure all diners that no matter what is on the menu, you will be impressed and probably fall in love with a dish you never knew you liked.

In addition, there are some shake-ups going on at the 'bird. Earlier this year one of the two founding chefs, Josh Habiger, left to go help open Pinewood Social. This week it was announced that the other founding chef Erik Anderson will be leaving the Catbird Seat on New Years to be with his fiancee in Minnesota. While the two main driving forces will be gone, I have no doubt that the quality and creativity will not falter. The talent that we saw from the sous chefs will be sure to carry the restaurant and keep the experience as is. Either way, save up your hard earned cash and go.

The Catbird Seat on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Giveaway: Pet food from Petcurean!

Today I'm super excited to bring to you a giveaway from my awesome partners at Petcurean! They are offering one lucky reader two free bags of pet food! And trust me this is a good one- my cats love their Go! Chicken Daily Defense. So, if you love your furry friends you should definitely enter this contest. :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: Mitchell Deli

Mitchell Deli in Nashville Tennessee
One of the reasons I like my neighborhood so much is the proliferation of cool businesses nearby. When I first got my house, I loved its proximity to Mitchell Deli in Riverside Village. Since I moved over to the east side 4 years ago I've been a frequent customer and consistent cheerleader. I tell everyone that visits to get some sandwiches there. When my parents come to town they get breakfast there almost every day and sandwiches at least twice. I was excited when I heard that my favorite local deli was moving to a bigger and nicer location only a block from the old place! They just finished construction and opened up the new space this week, so we had to check it out.
Mitchell Deli in Nashville Tennessee
The new space is HUGE! There appears to be at least three times the amount of seating available. The walls are floor-to-ceiling windows that I'm sure would bring in lovely natural light during the daytime (we went for dinner, so no sunshine for me). The counter space is long with a revamped order/pick up area. The salad bar is adjacent to the food line, thoughtfully placed rather than awkwardly taking up half the room. The best part is that the new space retains the overall feel of the old one.
Drinks at Mitchell Deli in Nashville Tennessee
One new addition is that they now have Sprecher Soda on tap. The soda taps are cute and I love that they have a good variety of flavors. I went for the cream soda and Steve had the root beer. I had a slightly difficult time working the soda tap- I had to pull really hard on the lever and the soda just trickled out. Maybe it's me or the fact that it's new and they haven't tweaked the system yet. I loved the cream soda and even though I am not a fan of root beer- I still tried it. Verdict: I still dislike it.
Asian flank steak sandwich at Mitchell Deli in Nashville Tennessee
When I saw the Asian flank steak on the menu I was stoked. If my memory serves me well, this sandwich used to be a special that was only available one day a week. It appears to be on the menu all the time now which is a bonus for stomachs everywhere. I couldn't have been happier with my choice. It had tender steak cooked perfectly and surrounded with mayo, cheese and pickled vegetables on a hoagie roll. I couldn't get over how crispy and flavorful the veggies were and how perfectly it all worked with the smooth mayo. If you have never been to Mitchell- this or the Turkey Avocado Bacon is a good place to start. 
Pastrami and swiss sandwich at Mitchell Deli in Nashville Tennessee
Steve went for the New York deli mainstay: Pastrami and Swiss. It was served on rye with spicy mustard, picked red onion, lettuce and tomato. The one bite that Steve let me have was really good- the bread was toasted just right and it had a healthy serving of meat. It's no wonder that my Dad orders this sandwich on the regular.
Mitchell Deli in Nashville Tennessee
OH! They also have a Jukebox coming soon! I'm so happy for the staff of Mitchell and their new space! Everyone who works there is super friendly and the food is reliably awesome. I can't wait to come back and see how the new space handles the busy weekday lunch rush or the weekend morning brunch rush. I feel a breakfast burrito in my near future. 

Mitchell Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Petcurean Holiday Contest

The lovely folks over at Petcurean are having an awesome holiday contest where you can win great prizes for your furry friends.

Your Assignment:
  1. Write a letter to SantaPaws and tell him why your pet is on the naughty or nice list. Be Silly. Be Serious! The more creative, the better.
  2. SantaPaws will read and respond to ALL of the letters he receives. He'll also choose his top 3 favorites and will send them a special delivery from the North Pole.
The Prizes 

  1. One grand prize: Your pet will win a 1 year supply of Petcurean Pet Food!
  2. One second place prize: your pet will win a 6 month supply of Petcurean Pet Food!
  3. One third place prize: Your pet will win a 3 month supply of Petcurean Pet Food!

You can enter the contest on the Petcurean Facebook page. You must Like their page to enter! ENTER HERE.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Hanukkah to those that celebrate. This year Steve and I stayed in Nashville and had a lovely Thanksgiving meal with friends. Everyone made one or two dishes and we all pigged out. Seeing as it was also the first day of Hanukkah I made pumpkin challah and noodle kugel (my favorite!). 
After dinner we played a rousing game of Munchkin. This was only my second time playing and I was still a little confused on the rules, but I had a great time. It's a super fun game and I highly recommend it. Of course I lost, but that was expected. We also watched some movies (Hannah and Her Sisters, Some Like It Hot) and a few episodes of Adventure Time. 
Every year I get invited to tacky Christmas sweater parties (which I love) but I'm always sad that I can't represent the Jews, as no one I know owns tacky Hanukkah sweaters. Then I found this awesome company GeltFiend that has awesome Hanukkah sweaters! I got the spinster sweater but I also love the Chanukitty because: CATS. I'm so happy there is a company that makes all my Jewish sweater dreams come true.
I really like this outfit. I threw it on for "Thanksgivukkah" and it worked well. It was nice outside so we went for a post-turkey walk and the sweater and tights kept me very warm. The skirt is just a tad bit too big on me, which worked well for over-eating.
If you can't see my awesome nails here's a close-up. I went to this awesome lady named Tiffani over in East Nashville and she made all my nail art and claw dreams come true. You can book an appointment with her here and you should also follow her on Instagram @tiffaninails to see all the beautiful designs she creates! If you're in the area, go see her!
Sweater: GeltFiend
Skirt: Old
Tights: Free People
Boots: Old

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