Seasonal menus bring new colors to dining landscape
Trees aren’t the only things showing off fall foliage as October’s warmth gives way to November frost and winter waits around the bend. Plates coming off the line in restaurant kitchens are now painted in palettes of deep earth tones, re-colored for palates longing for comfort and substance as the temperatures dip. Chefs turn to root vegetables, autumnal fruits, braised meats, thick stews, dark stocks and rich sauces to stave off the chill.
F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar has gracefully managed several changes of ownership, management and culinary staff in its nearly 20 years while remaining consistently committed to excellence in the front of the house and creative craftsmanship in the back. Owned for nearly three years by Wendy Holcomb Burch and Elise Loehr Solima, the Green Hills restaurant continues to earn accolades for its thoughtful, confident and mature menus created in the last few years by young but disciplined executive chef Will Uhlhorn and superbly executed by his seconds, Charles Robb Jr. and Kevin Ramquist.
Two weeks ago, they rolled out their new fall menu, which Uhlhorn says imbues local ingredients and product with a French Mediterranean influence. Kick off the season with a foie gras of the day, an artisanal charcuterie plate or a robust soup of stout-and-onion purée, with caraway croutons and melted white cheddar. F. Scott’s has always been known for its fish, and Uhlhorn offers five on the new menu, among them a black olive oil-poached monkfish; a pumpkin seed oil-marinated salmon with Granny Smith apple-chive salsa; and a shrimp-and-scallop pot pie. Meat entrées include a smoked Long Island duck breast with wild mushroom carnaroli risotto; grilled beef tenderloin with foie gras wine reduction; walnut-and-pear-stuffed pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta; and slow-braised beef short ribs.
Solima, who also serves as wine director, chose 25 new wines for the cellar to complement the distinct flavors of the cuisine, five of them available by the glass. Six new rums and whiskies that can stand up to richer foods have taken up residence behind the bar.
F. Scott’s, 2210 Crestmoor Road, 269-5861; dinner served 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
With its first birthday just weeks away, Watermark in the Gulch was recently named Best New Restaurant in the Scene’s Readers’ Poll. Owner Jerry Brown, operations director Nathan Lindley and executive chef Joe Shaw will mark their first year with some new and newly promoted team members, as well as a new fall menu. In the front of the house, taking the position of director of service and wine recently vacated by Steve Boyer, is Justin Maestas, who came to know many of Nashville’s movers and shakers during his five years at The Palm. He moved from there to a co-ownership position at Chapel Bistro (now Eastland Café), and when that was sold he did some time at Opryland’s Old Hickory Steakhouse. Maestas will be acquainting and re-acquainting himself with Watermark guests Tuesday through Saturday nights.
In the kitchen, grill cook Sean Norton has been promoted to chef de cuisine and Shaw’s right-hand man, and Sam Tucker has settled in as pastry chef. Tucker came to Watermark from Bound’ry in August. The once-aspiring rock ’n’ roll star learned to bake bread at Great Harvest, then pastries with Sally Johnson at Provence, before moving onto stints at Brasserie and Wild Boar. Tucker embraces Shaw’s philosophy of seasonal products on simple plates. His pumpkin pot de crème, baked in a hollowed-out itty-bitty pumpkin and topped with meringue, is a delight to behold. Gruyère biscuits have been added to the breadbasket, and he is still tweaking the focaccia, made from a 4-year-old starter. Shaw has flipped the main menu, putting a focus on robust flavors and cooking methods: braising rabbit and veal breast; roasting venison; pan-frying flounder; and grilling swordfish, pork tenderloin, lamb rack, beef filet and ribeye. A new starter of sweet-potato ravioli in a shallow bowl of ham hock liquor and collard greens makes a lasting impression.
Watermark, 507 12th Ave. S., 254-2000; dinner served 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Up and running
Ombi, the Elliston Place restaurant with two veteran chefs new to that kitchen—Laura Wilson and Kim Totzke—will reintroduce itself on three consecutive Monday nights at “Sip, Sup and Support” dinners benefiting a trio of nonprofits. On Oct. 30, a portion of proceeds will go to Artrageous for Nashville CARES. Nov. 6 is designated for The Women’s Fund at the Community Foundation. The third Monday benefits the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross. Valet parking is provided, and free parking is available in the lot behind the building.
Diners will also benefit from the brand new menu, which borrows heavily from French bistro fare with some international twists: mussels steamed in a red curry broth, potato samosas with tamarind sauce, pommes frites with garlic aioli, grilled hanger steak, roasted half chicken, paella in spicy tomato broth over saffron rice. With the exception of the foie gras with green apples and hard cider reduction, all starters are under $10, and not a single entrée hits the $20 mark. New lunch, Sunday brunch and late-night menus have also been created; the last, served on Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. until closing, includes a foie gras-stuffed burger with caramelized onions and an omelet with smoked salmon and Herbsaint creamed spinach.
Ombi, 2214 Elliston Place, 320-5350; open for lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner Monday through Saturday and for brunch on Sunday.
Acorn, tucked away on 28th Avenue North and now peeking out of the embrace of the tall trees that mark the property, is gradually adding fall dishes to its menu. Leading off the season are pan-seared duck medallions on a rum-butternut squash mash and a vegetable-and-polenta tower of portobello mushrooms, corn, bell peppers, spinach and feta, served atop cilantro vinaigrette. Acorn is the latest eatery to join the Nashville Originals, the group of independent restaurants formed last year as the local chapter of the Council of Independent Restaurants of America, just in time to participate in their second online sale of discounted dining certificates. The $50 certificates sold out in less than 30 minutes, one of the fastest sale times of all of the national branches. Check nashvilleoriginals.com for dates of the next sale.
Acorn, 114 28th Ave. N., 320-4399; dinner served Monday through Saturday.