After my trip back to Portland last year, I realized just how important good food is to me, and just how much I desperately miss living out there because of it (among other things, but I’ll save that for another time). As a result, one of my (many) resolutions for 2016 was to dive back into my current hometown and give it a chance, food-wise.
Twenty years ago, Nashville didn’t HAVE a food scene (edited to clarify: no food scene of which I was aware at the time!), but now that it’s enjoying an extended reputation as a hot destination to visit (and to move, as evidenced by all the overpriced apartment and condo buildings going up everywhere, ahem), we have a more than respectable burgeoning food scene, with new restaurants cropping up all the time and all over the place. Even more exciting is that they’re not all trying to duplicate the hot chicken/shrimp and grits/fried everything fare that has permeated the city’s menus for so long.
I don’t know many people who get as excited about food as I do, nor do I know many here in town who have any interest in trying out all the restaurants I want to try. Between that and my status as a single lady without a whole lot of free time flexibility, I decided I’d take it upon myself to just start eating my way through Nashville’s restaurants, flying solo (unless someone opts to join me along the way).
Enter the Table for One series. My goal is to average 2-3 restaurants a month, if at all possible. The photos may not always do the food justice, but I’m hoping my enthusiasm will!
Last week was Restaurant Week, courtesy of Nashville Originals, a local organization designed to highlight and promote locally-owned/run restaurants here in town. They do this twice a year, I believe, and participating restaurants put together a special menu for the occasion, allowing diners to try out a selection of dishes at a reduced price. I love this idea, because it can get people out of their dining comfort zone, and also opens the door for people to go places they may not otherwise because of cost.
I’d already decided to check out Americano, primarily because I know someone who works there; he also happens to be a mutual friend of one of my new co-workers who’d been raving about the food. Small world + great food = perfect reason to go in, I figured. It helped that they were participating in Restaurant Week, and I figured I would just load up on tapas – trying everything I wanted to try, which would have been a pretty valiant effort on my part (have you seen the menu??).
From what I hear, the line is often out the door and reservations are recommended, if not necessary, to get in there. It worked out for me that we’d had snow that day, so I think a lot of people just stayed home; the restaurant was comfortably full, but with plenty of room for me and my plans to eat. A lot. I had every intention of ordering off the menu and being able to recount and recommend whatever I’d tried and liked, but as it turned out, it pays to know people, and I wound up being served off-menu for the evening. And since I had three glasses of wine to go with it, my memory of what all I ate is a bit… fuzzy.
I do know that I started off with Crispy Brussel Sprouts, and it was close to the menu selection (which comes HIGHLY recommended, btw) but not exactly the same, because while there was pork belly in there, there was also kimchi. And it was glorious.
Along with that were steamed bao buns with seared duck. Also fantastic.
And then there were these… well, I hesitate to call them chicken nuggets, but lacking the proper verbiage, I’ll just say it’s that best part of the chicken you find, that one little piece under each leg, I believe, and these had a sweet sesame sauce.
Next up, completely switching flavor gears: a mini-paella. No saffron, but there WAS oxtail that had been braised for a long, lovely time.
And, finally, a beautiful French-style dessert of poached pears and cake, with crème anglaise.
Also, Prosecco and St. Germain, because I am nothing if not predictable.
I have to say, it was a fine way to dive into this endeavor, and I’m really looking forward to going back. Even if I’m never permitted to order from the menu, I feel pretty certain I would always leave well-fed and sated. ❤