Wednesday night, my girlfriend and I had reservations at The Catbird Seat, a Nashville restaurant that has garnered international recognition for being on the culinary cutting edge. We had not idea what to expect but knew that we had to experience it. In fact, we were so anxious that we arrived thirty minutes early.
That was good because it gave us the opportunity to go to The Patterson House, a cool bar that is on all of the trendy lists.
The Patterson House
It is known for unique cocktails, and ours were unique. I got an Old Fashioned infused with bacon, and my girlfriend got a drink called Daisy, which is also the name of her dog. The bacon drink was cool, but the really cool thing happened when the waiter brought our check. It was not in a regular check folder. It was in a book – a real book with words and chapters and everything.
After the drinks, we made our way next door to The Catbird Seat and entered a small room with a curtain on one side and an elevator on the other. When Dorothy looked behind the curtain, she found an old man. We didn’t look behind the curtain, but there wasn’t an old man back there. It was a young hostess. She took us on the elevator to the restaurant. No tables. No art on the wall. We were going to sit around the bar; watch the chefs work; and eat the art.
The Catbird Seat
With everyone in close proximity, we people watched. It’s the natural thing to do. In one corner was a couple with a camera, and they were taking pictures of each offering. I was trying to be smooth, so any picture on this post were not made by me.
Next to them sat a couple who had that tattooed, retro, 1950s vibe going on. They were the coolest cats in the place.
The next couple was a guy getting liquored up and a woman who ended up with the check. The look on her face was priceless because the food was far from it.
A foursome sat on the other side of us. It looked to be a young couple dining out with her parents. They seemed to like the meal, but I am sure that her dad stopped at Waffle House on the way home. There is no way that he got enough to eat.
The last people looked to be a woman with her son, who was probably a student at Vanderbilt. Overall, the crowd had a little variety to it.
Anyway, here is how it works at The Catbird Seat. You don’t order. You eat what they prepare. There are a bunch of courses with small portions. Each plate is a carefully prepared edible experiment. Some of it you will like, and some of it you won’t. But, each will be a different experience. Also, you are given a different alcoholic beverage to compliment each course. I ended up sipping a little from each one because somebody had to drive home.
Oh, and a chef explains the ingredients of each course and what they are trying to create.
The first course contained three bite-sized offerings paired with a Jean Louis Denois Brut Classique, which comes from Languedoc, France. The first bite looked like a small ice cream cone but was made of scallop, potato and roe. We didn’t like it. However, the second bite was awesome because it was essentially a Rice Krispie treat filled with seaweed. The third bite was a play off hot chicken, a Nashville staple. Except, this was fried chicken skin with spices.
Course number two was a small salad made of king crab, broccoli, green tea, yuzu and togarashi. It was paired with a cocktail made from Sawa Sawa Sparkling Sake.
Course three was not my favorite because the chef said the word truffle three times while describing it. I have no idea why chefs love truffles. They could mess up a wet dream. Anyway, this was a soupy combination with the aforementioned truffles, chicken skin, green apple, celery, roe and a runny egg. I don’t like runny eggs, either. Also, I’m not a ig fan of beer, but that was the highlight of the course. They brought out an awesome beer from the KleinBrouwerij de Glazen Toren Brewery in Saison d’erpe-mere, Belgium. Man, it took me a while to get that typed.
The next course finally contained some meat. Sturgeon, clams and blood sausage made a great combination with Kuentz Bas Riesling to drink. We were informed that it comes from Alsace, France. It turns out that the French do something right after all.
The fifth course brought more meat with chicken breast from Wedge Oak Farm along with fennel, black olive, black garlic and parsnip. It was washed down with Lechthaler 2010 from Italy.
More meat came with the sixth course. This time it was veal cheeks with beet, horseradish, yogurt and dill along with the Austrian produced Kirchmayr Zweigelt 2011.
By this time, I was having a hard time keeping up, and the courses were running together. According to the menu they gave us open leaving, the next course was made up of fig preserves, queso de torta, finca pascualete, and a few other things that I can’t read at the moment. I know that we had La Gitana Manzanilla sherry.
The meal was coming to a close, and that always means dessert. This time it meant three desserts. The first one was an almond ice cream popsicle covered with citrus cells , campari gel and cinnamon. It was awesome and came with the Italian Amaro Segesta with soda.. Not so awesome was the second dessert, an egg shell filled with maple, bacon and thyme. I thought that bacon could make anything good. It doesn’t. Next, we had oak ice cream with vanilla cake, a cherry crisp, pineapple and bourbon balls.
As i wrote, we liked some of it and didn’t like some of it. But, that isn’t the point. The point is that we had a great experience and expanded our dining horizons.