Category Archives: Restaurants

A visit to New Orleans, LA

Kimberly Higdon
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, especially since my husband is from Lake Charles and has me hooked on the food! So naturally I jumped at the chance to join him in NOLA even though he would be attending a convention and I would be on my own…  Some may think “no way,” but the chance to eat, drink, and do exactly what I want in a city that doesn’t sleep was exactly what intrigued me. It turned out to be one of my favorite stays!

Of course it all starts with where you stay. There are so many fine choices; however I must say that The Roosevelt New Orleans exceeded my expectations. Originally built in 1893, the interior of the hotel made me feel like I was stepping back in time as I walked down the corridor with its massive columns, antique chandeliers, and mosaic tile floors. As with most of New Orleans, The Roosevelt closed after Hurricane Katrina and after completing a full renovation reopened in 2009. The Roosevelt has since become a member of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels offering the finest luxury accommodations; blending history, glamour and today’s amenities.RooseveltUnfortunately it was little too cool to take advantage of the rooftop pool, but I did enjoy the fabulous views of the city from up there. Not to worry, there were plenty of other ways for me to relax and I did in the Guerlain Spa with a specialized deep tissue massage just for me. Fully relaxed and ready for the day, I didn’t even make it out of the Roosevelt before The Sazerac Bar beckoned me in for a drink. (It’s ok…you can drink before noon in NOLA!) One wall showcases large murals depicting life in New Orleans during the early 1930s while the bartender is more than willing to tell stories of all of the famous and not so famous patrons that have caused a stir – my lips are sealed!

Hopping on the streetcar, a great way to see the city, it didn’t take long before I was in the Garden District. The old Southern-style homes—or should I say mansions—were immaculate. No signs of Hurricane Katrina here. I was prepared for a day of shopping on Magazine Street but realized it is actually miles of antique stores, clothing shops, galleries, and restaurants. There is no way to see it all in a day, but I tried!MagazineStOne of my favorite shops was the Courtyard Gallery in the French Quarter.  They specialize in using salvaged items such as doors, shutters, and tabletops from Hurricane Katrina and carving them with New Orleans-themed paintings. I love the green aspect of their recycling; truly one of a kind interpretations of a historical city.

CathedralAnd history is the key word when speaking of NOLA. Take time to visit the Cabildo and Presbytere, two historic buildings which are part of the Louisiana State Museum. The Cabildo showcases Louisiana’s early years, while the Presbytere’s exhibit, Living with Hurricanes/Katrina & Beyond, focuses on the devastation and impact it had on lives in the area.

Nestled between the Cabildo and Presbytere is the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France. It is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the U.S. and the perfect place to sit and reflect. Surrounded by murals on the ceiling, intricate statues, and powerful organ music, it’s an emotional experience.

Nashville Lifestyles Roadtrip Guide: Louisville & The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Another famous landmark, just in front of the Cathedral, is Jackson Square. Named for Andrew Jackson, a hero in the Battle of New Orleans and President of the United States, the park prominently displays a large statue of him on his horse. The Square is well known as a gathering place for artists, musicians, carriage rides, street performers, and magicians. You never know what to expect!Cathedral2
One thing you should expect is amazing food—I was not disappointed. Here are a few of my “will definitely go back” favorites:

Café Du MondeDuMondeNeed I say more? Famous for its beignets and dark-roasted coffee and chicory, this café is open 24/7 except for Christmas Day, and of course in the event of a hurricane. The original shop is in the French Market, but they have opened several others in the New Orleans area so you’re never too far from some of the delicious French-style doughnuts covered with powdered sugar.

The Hermes Bar at Antoine’sNew OrleansThis was the perfect place for a low-key lunch of a fried soft-shell crab po boy.  If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, they have 14 dining rooms, each unique with its own story. (Good luck choosing just one!)

Nashville Lifestyles Roadtrip Guide: Asheville, North Carolina

Galatoire’sGalatoiresA part of New Orleans for over 100 years, this icon has an abundance of seafood that is expertly prepared. The duck gumbo and stuffed avocado crab meat salad were perfect, but be prepared to stand in line: they don’t take reservations.

Arnaud’s Jazz BistroArnaudsNo trip to New Orleans is complete without a little jazz and there is no place better than Arnaud’s. I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, live Dixieland jazz band and views of Bourbon Street, all while enjoying spicy Shrimp Creole, fresh baked bread and Louisiana-brewed Abita beer.

I’m already making a list for my next visit. Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!—Kimberly Higdon, Controller

For more great destinations, visit NashvilleLifestyles.com/entertainment/travel

A First-Timer’s Look at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium

ErinAbout a week ago, I sat in on the 16th Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, which is organized and attended by (in my opinion) some of the most fascinating people in the South. It was my first time attending the Oxford, Mississippi-event and I was hooked from the get go: As a first-timer, I was invited for bloody Marys and biscuits at director John T. Edge’s home to kick off the weekend.

I was introduced to a dozen new faces, all of whom were as excited and anxious to start the weekend as I was. The high-octane beverage helped, especially since it was packed with spices, pickled okra, and a hefty pour of Cathead vodka. There were biscuits and souvenir Tabasco go-cups, to boot. That sense of hospitality was carried through the entire weekend. One evening, we were handed a flask filled with a potent bourbon cocktail (to be consumed on a school bus as we rode to fried catfish dinner); the next afternoon, we received illustrated tea towels.

photo 1
Hospitality and event organization aside (the entire weekend of lectures, meals, and entertainment were executed flawlessly and to the minute), the weekend was packed with informative conversations, both formal and casual. The theme of this year’s conference was “Women At Work” so everything revolved around women and food. It started with the car ride down; I was joined by food writer Jennifer Justus and author Alice Randall (Jennifer summed it up nicely in a recent wrap-up post) and continued once we arrived, just in time to watch the Thacker Mountain Radio program. There was an interview with fashion designer Natalie Chanin followed by a performance from The Gee’s Bend Singers, who are both fine quilters and choral singers. Friday, Alice and her daughter Caroline Randall Williams, presented their newest project, a cookbook, due out next fall. We were entertained with stories about Caroline’s grandmother, Alberta Johnson Bontemps, who left Caroline her massive cookbook collection, which includes a full range of Junior League cookbooks that were once housed in her grandmother’s guest toilet. The speech made me laugh out loud and also crave a cookbook collection like hers.

photo 3
Alice Randall presents a talk with her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams

There was a clever lecture on Eugenia Duke, creator of Duke’s Mayonnaise and a moving documentary by filmmaker Joe York about Alzina Toups, of Alzina’s Restaurant, who also won the SFA’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame award this year. Her restaurant will surely be my next food pilgrimage

Between all of this, there were funny and fascinating conversations with people from all over the South as well as other members of the Nashville food world like Karl and Sarah Worley of the Biscuit Love food truck, Kahlil Arnold of Arnold’s Restaurant, and Lisa Donovan, pastry chef at Husk. It was a big Nashville contingent, I was told. I imagine it will only keep growing.

The meals were spectacular, made even more delicious by the conversations happening over them. One lunch by chef Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill in Atlanta, was the prettiest plate I’ve seen all year.

photo 2

As a first-timer, going into it, I didn’t know what to expect—and like many I’ve spoken with, still feel overwhelmed by everything I experienced. But driving home on Sunday, I was struck by how fulfilling and satisfying the weekend turned out to be. The food, drink, friendships, takeaways, and knowledge have all sunken into my bones, held firmly in place by the fact that I now have 375+ reasons to return again next year.

photo 5

—Erin Byers Murray, managing editor

Preview: The Tippler and Pisco Portón

The next big thing in the Nashville cocktail scene may just be The Tippler, a massive three-level lounge/restaurant opening in August in the ground level of The Adelicia building in Midtown. Most recently the penultimate home of Fish and Co., the space has been closely watched by local foodistas anxiously awaiting the new tenant.

The Tippler is a spin-off of a very successful Manhattan establishment located in Chelsea Market. Known for artfully-prepared innovative cocktails and classic architecture, The Tippler aims to replicate that formula with their second location. On July 23, a gathering of Nashville mixologists and spirits purveyors got a sneak peek of the bar at a special event presented by Best Brands and Pisco Portón, the best-selling Peruvian liquor made in the oldest distillery in the Americas.

Music City Tippler
Pisco is a distilled spirit made from eight different varietals of grapes, the only fruit-based white liquor as opposed to grain products like vodka and gin. Best known as the base for a tart Pisco Sour, this spirit can be used to create all sorts of interesting cocktails. The guests of honor at the event were Johnny Schuler, the head distiller at Pisco Portón and Dale DeGroff, noted mixologist and cocktail historian. Schuler and DeGroff regaled the assembled audience with tales of the history of the distillery, which dates back to 1684, and DeGroff mixed up a bowl of Button Punch from a recipe that was popularized in San Francisco in the 1870’s. The cocktail is mentioned in the writings of Mark Twain and Jack London, and the revelers at the launch party agreed that it has aged quite nicely.

Music City Tippler
Other Pisco Portón cocktails were served as accompaniments to a four-course dinner prepared by the kitchen staff at The Tippler, a meal which promises good things for Nashville diners once the saloon doors swing open to the public. Best Brands Business Solutions Leader created several of the cocktail recipes and was kind enough to share one with Nashville Lifestyles readers.

Peruvian BBQ
1.75 oz Porton
¾ oz Lime Juice
½ oz maple syrup
1 dash of Bitter End BBQ Bitters

Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake to chill. Serve up in a champagne coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.

More about the Tippler in Nashville Lifestyles HOT LIST issue!

—Chris Chamberlain, NL contributor

Staff Salvation: Soulshine Pizza

We’ve heard plenty of reports about the new Midtown hotspot, Soulshine Pizza Factory, which is why we decided to send the team over to investigate. Longtime readers of Nashville Lifestyles know that we like to treat ourselves to a little post-production outing. Last month, Soulshine truly hit the spot.

Pizza
Music and pizza are at the heart of this massive space. Dozens of original live show posters line the walls and there are a few areas set up for live music including outside on the spacious, covered, second-story roof deck. Inside, pops of color warm up the otherwise industrial room, including the stained glass window panes that take up much of the front wall of the restaurant.

Stained Glass Windows
We were in search of a few lighter, mid-day snacks, so we started with the hummus plate and a heaping Greek salad, layered with iceberg lettuce, artichoke hearts, peppers, onions, olives, and feta. To go along with it, a few of us ordered that day’s cocktail special, called the Tart-y Pants: sweet-tart vodka mixed with sugar-free Red Bull. They also boast a pretty lengthy beer list, with a dozen beers on tap and an even longer bottle list, including a strong showing of Nashville-brewed beers. They also have a signature Soulshine Beer brewed locally by Blackstone Brewery.

SS7 Brews
Of course, what we really wanted to try were the pizzas. Fair warning: These are huge pies with a soft, doughy crust but a well-balanced ratio of toppings. The CCR was a hit with our group—it’s grilled chicken, bacon, mozzarella, cheddar tomatoes, and ham—as was the Mediterranean, which we ordered with a whole-wheat crust, and came loaded with shrimp, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes. Johnny’s Garden satiated our veggie needs since it was layered with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, broccoli, sautéed onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives.

Three Pizzas
After filling up on pizza, we took a peek downstairs inside Soulshine’s brand new sister restaurant, the Slider House. More of a burger-and-beer joint, this first-floor neighbor has a number of fun, retro touches like communal bar tables made from old bowling alley floors from the beloved Melrose Lanes. The beer list at Slider House is still getting beefed up but look for an all-can selection of about 50 or more plus a few boxed wines (the good ones). Also on hand? A frozen drinks machine that will pump out Painkillers, a heady concoction of spiced rum, coconut, pineapple, and orange juice.

Between the patios, the tasty offerings, and the constant supply of good music, these two new additions are becoming a one-stop-shop for fun. If you haven’t checked out them out yet, now’s the time.

Soulshine PizzaPhotos by Katie Jacobs

Nashville’s Dining Scene: Our Food Writers Weigh In

ErinHopefully by now, you’ve had some time to dig into the April issue and our list of Nashville’s 50 Best Restaurants. We’ve received a fair amount of feedback, both in agreement and opposition to our list—which was exactly what we were hoping for. I love talking food with people, whether it’s dissecting every dish of my last meal or scheming up ideas for the next one. But the conversation I sat in on for our Best Restaurants list was my favorite kind since it got some of the city’s most well-versed food lovers dishing on what they love (and don’t) about Nashville’s food scene.April 2013 Best Restaurants

Because I’m still a Nashville newbie, I was fascinated to hear what the locals think of all this national media we’ve received. As the Tennessean’s Jennifer Justus (JJ) admitted, “I think we have more restaurants, but I don’t think all this praise from outside means that we have anything going on that’s really super amazing and creative.” Beth Sachan (BS) of the blog Eat.Drink.Smile. agreed: “We have all these restaurants opening but I feel like there’s so much that’s the same. It’s like the whole farm-to-table thing: Can we get something that’s a little more interesting?”

So, there’s certainly space for other types of cuisine and more creative influence, it seems. Chris Chamberlain (CC) who writes regularly for Nashville Lifestyles laid it out for me, saying, “We still don’t have a good Chinese restaurant, we still don’t have a great Mexican restaurant. We still don’t have any place to get a paella, there’s no good Jewish food in town.” Long-time food writer Kay West (KW) chimed in, adding, “No good Cuban food, no Spanish food, I still don’t think there’s any good Italian. Where would the mob go? That’s what I want to know.”

Well, then what are we doing right? I wondered. Turns out, plenty. Here’s just a taste of our conversation:

CC: We are attracting folks like Phil Krajeck [of Rolf & Daughters] coming in from out of town, Sean [Brock] coming in and bringing his new chef. We are becoming a destination for chefs to go. We don’t have that advantage of a big cooking school here. We don’t have a Johnson & Wales, but we’ve got the Art Institute and Nashville State. That’s burgeoning. And that leads to developing younger talent.

KW: I also wonder, what incentive is there for someone to come along and be daring and exciting and innovative? I’m not saying that restaurants need to dumb down but I think if you’re a chef who’s investing your own money or trying to get investors and it’s such a hard business, you don’t have big bucks behind you, then you’re going to have to make something that’s going to have a return. Your investors want to see a return. So you’ve got to find that balance between what’s going to be successful and what’s going to be creatively exciting to that small group of diners.

Food Writers

Nashville food writers: Kay West, Chris Chamberlain, Beth Sachan and Jennifer Justus

JJ: I will say that when City House first opened, I would recommend it to people, but I would say, “don’t expect meatballs.” I don’t have to do that anymore. I can just be like, “go to City House.” I do think the level of sophistication is growing.

BS: I think people are more open minded. Another positive thing is [that restaurants are] sourcing locally. Because in the last couple years, a lot more restaurants are naming all the different farms they’re sourcing from and I love that.

JJ: When I interviewed Jeremy [Barlow of Sloco] recently, he was like, ‘I remember it used to be five farmers I could call, and now it’s over 60.’

KW: And a lot of restaurants are doing their own farms, too. That was a pipe dream ten years ago.

Nashville Food Writers

CC: And we’ve got purveyors like Porter Road that we didn’t use to have. There wasn’t access to a butcher that could provide you with locally sourced meat that could be processed the way you wanted it processed. If you didn’t have a local butcher, which we really didn’t, there was no option even if you wanted it. I mean chefs don’t have time to drive to a farm in Millington to bring back a cow.

JJ: That’s another thing, I don’t think they make me describe CSA anymore in a story. It used to be like, what is that?

CC: And we do have a great community of chefs. It may not be one big community, but there are small groups, and they work in each others’ kitchens. I remember when Kahlil [Arnold] told me—he used to work at the Loveless for Tom Morales—and when he left the Loveless to go back and work at his family business, Tom wasn’t mad, he said, ‘how many of my guys do you need to take with you to help run that place because you need to take care of your family business.’”

Nashville Food Writers

KW: I think there’s a huge amount of support among the chefs.

JJ: You know years ago I remember, I think it was in this magazine that I read it, one of the Goldbergs [of Strategic Hospitality] said that if you start something here, people don’t instantly want to drag you down, they want you to succeed. And I think that spirit is definitely going on here.

So, reader: What say you? What is Nashville doing right? And what would you like to see more of? Give us your two cents—and while you’re at it, make sure you have a copy of the April issue. (Comment here or email us at wehearyou@nashvillelifestyles.com)

Cheers!

— Erin B. Murray, Managing Editor