Thursday, July 26, 2012

Urban Grub Fish Pit and Southern Cantina: This Week's Dining Review

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 5:21 PM

In this week's Dining column in the Nashville Scene, restaurant critic Carrington Fox samples the eclectic fare and sexy ambiance at Urban Grub Fish Pit and Southern Cantina. It's restaurateur Jay Pennington's the chic and sprawling new restaurant along the 12South neighborhood's happening thoroughfare.

Urban Grub is the much-anticipated latest project from Pennington and his business partner William Inman. Pennington, of course, is the seasoned pro who also owns The Local Taco and whose resume includes the pioneering days of The Bound'ry and South Street.

He's no longer involved in the latter two restaurants, but Urban Grub's style is reminiscent of the early days of Bound'ry, when its global flavors and creatively designed interior helped propel Nashville's restaurant scene into the soon-to-be-21st century.

With a roster of fresh seafood — including an alluring list of fresh oysters — Urban Grub is also reminiscent of the sipping-snacking-and-relaxing vibe of South Street.

Much-loved chef Deb Paquette, another Bound'ry veteran, helped develop Urban Grub menu (before departing to work on her own new restaurant, Etch). Urban Grub executive chef Edgar Pendley delivers a "pan-Southern coastal-flavored repertoire," Fox writes.

Hints of the Mediterranean, Asia and the tropics weave through Pendley's recipes for grilled Scottish salmon with pistachios, raisins, butternut sauce and pineapple salsa; Sriracha cocktail sauce on oysters on the half-shell; steak frites with chimichurri; and chocolate cheesecake with ancho chili. ...

Two standouts emerged in our visits. The first was an elegantly simple charcuterie platter of house-cured meats, including a thick slab of buttery tuna pastrami, supple kerchiefs of prosciutto, and "duck candy" — tender slices of rich meat laced with sweet hints of anise and other warm spices. In addition to the meats, the cast-iron tray carried cheddar, olives and a ramekin of pimiento goat cheese that traded the ubiquitous thin tags of red pepper skin for plump flesh of sweet orange bells.

Another exceptional entrée was a walnut-and-herb-encrusted fillet of trout cooked in a wood oven, topped with a lush tangle of arugula tossed with roasted butternut squash, orange segments, pecans and bacon vinaigrette.

Read the full story here and check out more of Michael W. Bunch's photos after jump.

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