I always have huge respect for Carrington, and this week I stand especially awed. Here's why: I dined at The Catbird Seat a few weeks before she did, and I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I found myself at a complete loss for words. Dozens of curious friends and acquaintances asked me about the nine-course, $100 dinner, and all I could really muster amounted to this: "It was good. I mean really, REALLY good."
That's a frustrating thing to happen to a professional journalist who's been writing about restaurants since 2000. I fell back on trying to simply describe dishes, but I remained inarticulate. "See, there's this plate with three snacks, and one is an Oreo, 'cept instead of chocolate, it's porcini mushroom flavor. And the filling isn't Oreo filling, it's Parmesan cream. And I could've eaten 12 of them."
It's as if my enjoyment of the food short-circuited my verbal abilities and registered on my brain as pure sensation. My memory of the evening includes sitting on my dining perch around the U-shaped chef's bar, making embarrassing yummy noises and joyfully kicking my feet like a toddler.
The Catbird Seat is a big deal. Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson are cooks of an international caliber, and Catbird allows them to serve you directly, with no serving staff as intermediary. (I got to interview them about the concept for the Scene's Innovations issue in August.)
That results in a comfortable, relaxed vibe that's rare in the world of high-end cuisine. (The photo by Eric England with this post shows Anderson pouring a bowl of soup: chanterelle velouté over granola, carrot, apple and hibiscus leaf. As Carrington says: "The thick silken liquid filled the gaps between the elements of color and texture, melting an airy chip of dehydrated milk and honey into a creamy swirl atop the orange pool.")
Anyway, it's no surprise The Catbird Seat is getting national notice. It popped up on the Today show this week, along with longtime Nashville favorite Yellow Porch and East Nashville's zesty Mas Tacos Por Favor.
If you read nothing else food-related this week, check out Carrington's review. Bravissima, Ms. Fox.