Friday, May 31, 2013

This Week's Dining Column: Music City Flats, Bond Coffee, 12 South Bistro

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Butternut Squash Flat from Music City Flats
In this week's Dining column in Scene, Carrington Fox checks out some new spots along 12th Avenue South in the Gulch and nearby environs.

"What a difference a decade makes," she notes. "Where once a barren strip of asphalt climbed from a ragged railroad scar, now a gleaming universe of highrise towers, chic eateries and fashion and design landmarks lines the sidewalks of a pedestrian-friendly modern urban landscape."

And some dining spaces are even in their second generation: the rebooted Music City Flats (formerly Urban Flats), and Bond Coffee Company (which recently replaced erstwhile neighborhood pioneer Casablanca Coffee.

Not far away, there's the new 12 South Bistro (which is actually almost a mile outside the neighborhood called 12 South, but who's counting), at 907 12th Ave. S. Formerly the home of At The Table meat-and-three, the new bistro is sleekly remodeled with a lunch and dinner roster that includes "European-inspired dishes so ubiquitous to casual dining that we've co-opted them as American cuisine: brick-oven pizza, pasta, panini, fried calamari, mozzarella sticks, tiramisu, kebabs and a Greek salad strewn with shredded cheddar."

Read the full story here.

Ken's Sushi Moving to East Nashville

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Nashville’s redevelopment boom is pushing a popular sushi restaurant out of its home. Ken’s Sushi is being forced out of its longtime Division Street location to make room for a massive development that is expected to include a hotel, a shopping center, residential space and a parking facility.

However, the 1.75-acre project led by the Indianapolis-based Buckingham Cos. will not spell the end for $3.95 crunchy shrimp rolls and daily 2-for-1 sake. Owner Kenji “Ken” Ohno decided to make the move across the bridge and secured a new location for his restaurant on the east side, at 923 Main St., which will open later this summer. Ohno is still unsure about when his current location will close. He says he has known for years that he would be forced to vacate his current space. But he says he still hasn’t received any notices from the landlord about when exactly he needs to move.

“I was supposed to move out by now. They told me a couple years ago. Since then, they keep telling me one more year, one more year. So I just decided to go ahead and open the new location while I wait,” Ohno told the Scene.

The good news is the move will mean an expansion of space and menu. Ohno says the new restaurant will have more than 100 seats inside, and he is especially excited about the outdoor patio, which will seat about 40-50.

Ken hopes to revamp the menu as well, with the addition of more Japanese specialties. The new location is tentatively set to open in July and is currently hiring all positions. In the meantime, you might make your way sooner rather than later to Midtown to say farewell and kanpai to Nashville’s longstanding home of the under-$5 sushi roll.

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Springfield, Tenn., Invites You to Taste of Country USA

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 7:41 AM

Normally, we citified Bites writers don't cover much news in the hinterlands of Robertson County. But when the folks there shared some info about an upcoming event that included some local Nashville favorites, we were certainly happy to oblige them by spreading the news.

Cleverly timed to coincide with the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Springfield invites tourists and Tennesseans alike to come by the historic Courthouse Square on Saturday, June 8, for Taste of Country USA, with a chance to experience real country food, fun and music. In addition to a Corvette rally, a classic car show and a motorcycle ride around the county, the organizers plan plenty of fun family-related activities revolving around food and farming.

From the official announcement:

You’ll be able to hunt for treasures in the Historic District Yard Sale and see our local green thumbs at the Garden Tour. Plus, if you like Traditional Country music, this is the place to see our amazing local talent for free. There’ll be exciting, live Country and Bluegrass music throughout the day on our big Court House Stage.

Of course, what would a Taste of Country USA be without lots of good old-fashioned country cooking. So, we’re pulling out the stops to showcase Robertson County’s great eating places and wonderful home cooks. They’ll all be serving up their mouth-watering specialties and tasty treats with plenty of small town Southern charm.

Many farmers in Robertson County supply the fresh ingredients that help make Nashville restaurants good. Among the farmers represented are Gourmet Pasture Beef, Don Henry’s orchard in Cross Plains and G&G Family Dairy, which provide product to companies like Gabby’s Burgers, Marché, Tin Angel, Fido, Bongo Java, The Turnip Truck and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

If you'd like to meet the people who are the direct source of some of Nashville's best produce and products, here's your chance!

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The Weekly Open Thread Asks, 'What's Your Favorite Lowbrow Indulgence?'

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Mine, for the record, is Kozy Shack rice pudding. I love the stuff.

It's simple and straightforward. Milk, rice, sugar, egg, salt, natural flavors. It's the pinnacle of comfort dessert for me. In summer, I eat it straight out of the fridge. In winter, I zap it in the microwave for a minute — instant heaven.

I'm not sure why I like it so much. Surely it's mass-produced in a scary-looking factory somewhere. Maybe it reminds me of baby food and takes me back to my early years.

What's your favorite lowbrow indulgence? Something you never tire of. Something that you can buy in the neighborhood grocery store for just a few bucks. Something that doesn't seem like it should be nearly as satisfying as it is.

Whatcha got?

And what else is up, folks? Anyone been to Husk? Love to hear some early reports.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Catbird Seat Chef Josh Habiger Gets Kicked Upstairs; Erik Anderson Stays in His Perch

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Josh Habiger and Erik Andersoon
Remember Tuesday's news that Strategic Hospitality — which owns a variety of restaurant and bar concepts in Nashville, including the nationally lauded avant garde restaurant The Catbird Seat — is adding a new project called Pinewood Social in the Rolling Mill Hill development? Today we get another little update.

One of Catbird's duo of chefs, Josh Habiger, is not only creating the menu for Pinewood Social, he's leaving Catbird and getting bumped upstairs at the company. Here's today's announcement from Strategic Hospitality:

“It is with great enthusiasm that we announce that Chef Josh Habiger will be joining the Strategic Hospitality team in a new role as a guide for future projects, as well as opening his own restaurant with the company at a later time.

Because of Habiger’s new position, there will be a change in the future of The Catbird Seat. Habiger will begin his new role in July, and The Catbird Seat will continue to be led by Chef Erik Anderson.

We are excited to implement these new changes at The Catbird Seat and within Strategic Hospitality. We look forward to continuing to bring creative restaurant concepts to Nashville and appreciate the unwavering support the city has always provided to us.”

The Catbird Seat is an important restaurant player in Nashville, one of the biggest birdhouses on the It City's front porch, so I asked a company spokeswoman, Tara Tocco, about the status of Catbird in the future.

She said The Catbird Seat's concept will "function as it always has," but "Erik's going to lead the charge." Some stations in the little chef's bar kitchen will change, she said, and Erik will probably get some more staff help. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

In addition to prodigious chef skills, Habiger has always had an avid interest in the cocktail side. He helped launch Strategic Hospitality's neo-speakeasy Patterson House, as well as helping kick off Grant Achatz's cocktail palace in Chicago, The Aviary. So maybe it makes sense for him to work on the company's big picture.

Anderson, of course, is a really, really good chef; he's been up for a Beard award for his work in Minneapolis and has traveled widely, working in some of the world's top spots (including Alinea in Chicago and Noma in Denmark). So Catbird seems poised to stay in an enviable roost.

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It's On! You Are So Nashville If ... Contest Page Is Live

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 4:19 PM

You are so Nashville if ... you can't believe it's already time again for the Nashville Scene's You Are So Nashville If ... contest.

Now, don't you steal that entry. For one thing, I just wrote it. For another, it's not even funny. Surely you can do much better, right?

Last year, Holly Matthews took home top honors with "You are so Nashville if ... you think Bart Durham should direct The Real Housewives of Nashville."

An impressive entry, for sure. Think you got game? Think you can bring that kind of heat?

As usual, there's no shortage of hot topics ripe for lampooning. Here are a few off the top of my head just to help you get the wheels turning:

The state legislature
Nashville cast member sightings
Charter schools
Nashville as the "It" City
The restaurant boom
Blake Shelton dissing old-school country
Hip Donelson
The Music City Center
Ken Jakes, government watchdog

Now get busy! Deadline is June 28! Winners will be announced in the July 18 issue.

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Rosebud Bistro Closing; Chef Anita Hartel Retiring (Maybe) and You're Invited to a Big Party

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Chef Anita Hartel is one of the pioneering Nashville chefs who's been shaping the restaurant scene here since the 1980s, starting at the famously wild watering hole Tavern on the Row, running her own highly regarded restaurants Sasso and Mambu (both launched with her former chef partner, Corey Griffith), and most recently rebooting Mambu as Rosebud Bistro earlier this year with her business partner Jan Firek.

Hartel called me today to say that Rosebud is closing for good on Friday night. (Firek and chef Andrew Coins, who joined the team this spring, hope to reopen eventually in a new location). She plans to retire from restaurants — well, at least from owning them — and she's throwing a big celebration on Saturday that we're all invited to.

"I'm retiring," she said, then laughed and backpedaled. "Well, not really retiring. I will no longer own restaurants. That doesn't mean I'm never going to work for anybody or talk to anybody."

She added, "I just need to give myself some flexibility." Her mother died a couple years ago, and it's time for her to clean out her mom's Victorian house in the little town of Marietta, Ohio. Hartel's kids are also getting ready to leave the nest in the next couple years.

"It's very bittersweet," she said, laughing again. "I just want to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life."

To mark the momentous occasion, "We're having a little blowout party," she said. It's set for Saturday night at Rosebud Bistro.

Continue reading »

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Rooster's Bar-B-Que on 12th Avenue Shuts Down; Equipment Up for Auction

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Rooster's Texas Style Bar-B-Que on 12th Avenue is no more. Specializing in Texas-style beef brisket, it was the Nashville restaurant project of "Rooster" Beane. (You may know him as the brother of another barbecue luminary, Aubrey "Judge" Bean. Yes, they spell their last name differently.)

Rooster's, which opened in 2010, filled the space at 123 12th Ave. N. across from 12th & Porter in the neighborhood that has come to be known as the North Gulch.

To add to the confusion, the 123 12th Ave. N. address previously held one of the incarnations of Aubrey's original barbecue restaurant, Judge Bean's Bar-B-Que. Best I can tell, Aubrey continues to preside over The Judge's Vinegarroon on Church Street, his most recent palace of smoky meat and cold beer.

Carrington Fox visited Rooster's in 2011 and liked it, though they were fresh out of calf fries. I was there when Adam Richman filmed a Man v. Food Nation challenge at Rooster's, as the LoCash Cowboys attempted to conquer The Roost, a platter replete with a 72-ounce sirloin, a large baked potato, two slices of Texas toast and a big salad.

I haven't been able to secure any details on the closing, but it appears that a Rooster's Lone Star BBQ still exists in Murfreesboro.

At any rate, if you have a yen to start your own barbecue empire, a Rooster's on 12th liquidation sale is under way at the McLemore Auction website.

Everything must go, from booster chairs to trash cans to T-shirts to flat-screen TVs to — presumably the crown jewel — a 16-foot commercial smoker. If the auction interests you, check it out, but be aware it closes Wednesday, June 12.

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Win Two Bonnaroo Passes Courtesy of Jim 'N Nicks!

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

In just a couple of weeks, you could be hula-hooping in heaven. Or Manchester, Tenn., anyway.
  • In just a couple of weeks, you could be hula-hooping in heaven. Or Manchester, Tenn., anyway.

The fine folks at Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q have provided Bites with a pair of Bonnaroo passes to give away.

Yes, you read that correctly. Free. Bonnaroo. Passes. Two of 'em.

Here's all you have to do: Go to the Scene's Facebook page. Share the Bonnaroo contest image as a public post. (Be sure to share it as a PUBLIC post — not just among friends — or you won't be entered, because we won't be able to identify you.)

Done. You're entered! Bada bing. Bada boom. (And while you're there, if you're feeling inspired, like our page!) There will be one winner, chosen at random, who will receive a pair of general admission passes for the whole festival.

Deadline for entry is noon Monday, June 3. So get a move on! Winners will be notified by 5 p.m. Monday.

Also, Bites correspondent Chris Chamberlain has details on a couple of other Bonnaroo ticket giveaways Jim ’N Nick's is running on its national and local Facebook pages. Those are separate contests, so try 'em all and increase your chances! But keep in mind, those contests end tomorrow (May 31).

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Pat Martin to Represent Again at Big Apple BBQ Block Party

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Pat Martin Captains his Big Rig
  • Pat Martin captains his big rig.
Over the past year, I've done quite a lot of traveling, chasing the smoky trail of some of America's best barbecue. And my LDL levels will confirm it. But if you are looking to sample the wares of some of the greatest pitmasters in the country, don't bother with Memphis in May or even the Jack Daniel's BBQ Championship. Not that there aren't some spectacular cooks at those events; it's just that you really can't eat most of the food since these are competitive events and the 'cue is reserved for judging.

For sheer barbecue goodness and access to a variety of styles, you can't beat the Big Apple BBQ Block Party held each June in Madison Square Park in te Flatiron District of Manhattan. This year's iteration will be held June 8-9 and will feature a veritable who's who of barbecue talent.

Our own Pat Martin will drag his 40-foot Hogzilla smoker all the way up the Eastern Seaboard and through the Lincoln Tunnel so he can prepare six whole pigs and 30 shoulders at a time for long lines of hungry New Yorkers who devour it and embrace it like a life-changing experience. Last year, I can't count the number of times I saw eyes rolling back in heads with moans of ecstasy as city folk discovered what we country mice have been hiding all these years while they have been eating reheated radioactive orange frozen Hormel shredded pork and calling it barbecue. Please!

Martin will be joined by some of my absolute favorite pitmasters, and frankly favorite people, in the barbecue biz. Sam Jones will be there from Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., cooking whole hog alongside his friend and neighbor to the south, Rodney Scott from Scott's Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, S.C. Both Jones and Scott are members of the Fatback Collective barbecue supergroup with Pat Martin along with other luminaries like James Beard winners Sean Brock, John Currence, Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski.

If I was able to attend this year, I could be happy just spending my time among the piggy law firm of Martin, Scott and Jones, but then I would miss out on so much other great barbecue. Nationally acclaimed pitmasters like Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson's, Scott Roberts of The Salt Lick, Mike Mills of 17th Street Bar and Grill, Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke, John Stage from Dinosaur Bar-B-Q and Ed Mitchell will join several other talented cooks to prepare their specialties. Drew Robinson runs the Jim 'N Nick's tent, where they serve a very simple appetizer of the same smoked sausage, pimiento cheese and saltine cracker app that you can find on the JNN menu, but lawdy, you should watch those Yankees line up around the block for a taste of South in their mouth.

Continue reading »

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