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Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review Nashville: Biscuit Love at Cooking with Yazoo Beer

We’ve talked before about our love for local food truck Biscuit Love, and when Rachel and Bryan came to visit we went and toured Yazoo Brewing Co, so when we got a chance to combine the two for a special night you know we jumped at the offer. I mean, come on, beer and great food cooked with beer? No brainer!

Yazoo has been hosting local chefs for the night about once a month and this was our first time to go. For $20 we got a three course meal and unlimited beer, plus a really fun time. Karl, the genius behind Biscuit Love, and his wife Sarah have become friends of ours, so we also loved the chance to go support them as well.

Karl named his meal “Scenes From a Redneck Childhood,” and with a name like that, you know it’s going to be a great night.

First course: Country Store Pickle Plate

  • pickled sausage poached in Dos Perros and served over fried cornbread (my favorite)
  • pickled Hefeweizen egg salad served on an angel biscuit
  • Tobasco and Hefewizen pickled Gulf Shrimp served over a Weisenberger Mills cheese grit cake

Second course: The Virginia Creeper Picnic

  • drunken Cruze Dairy buttermilk fried chicken brined in Gerst
  • Delta Sun Farms collard greens braised in Broadbent bacon, onions, and Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Lager
  • 4 cheese Kenny’s Farmhouse macaroni (complete with Cheeze-its crumbled on top)

Third Course: The Family Get Together

  • a buttermilk pie named Sue, which was Karl’s Aunt Edna’s recipe with a little bit of a Beer Named Sue (this was the lightest and best buttermilk pie I’ve ever had)

As you can imagine, poor Josh pushed his dairy allergy to the limits, but it was worth every bite and possible nasal issues later. Every course was perfect, but the second course in particular really spoke to me in the way that only true Southern comfort food can do. While the fried chicken and mac and cheese were insanely good, the collard greens, which reminded me so much of my late grandmother that I got a little choked up, were what brought waves of childhood nostalgia crashing over me.  Even if you didn’t grow up on these foods (like Josh), it’s still just the kind of meal that makes you feel happy and cozy.

We will definitely be keeping on eye out for Yazoo’s next chef’s night, and will continue to stalk Biscuit Love. If you’re in the area, you should check both of them out!

Restaurant Review Memphis: Felicia Suzanne Chef’s Table

Last night we had a magical, magical dinner. It was so magical you can only double it . Magical magical. That’s how awesome it was.
A friend of my husbands invited one of us to dinner with his step dad and a few other friends. They had won a dinner for 6 at a great local restaurant at an auction and there was only one seat open. Bryan talked to the host and to the restaurant and they agreed to allow me and we’d pay my own way.  I figured it’d be a multi-course meal, but didn’t really have many preconceived notions. Mainly I was trying not to think of it at all because I was worried that since we would be eating with strangers it might be really awkward and I tend to play these things up in my head which in the end forces it to be awkward because I’m awkward in response to foreseeing it being awkward. Self-fulfilling prophesy if there ever was one.
Anyways, back to the story. Bryan and I arrived a few minutes early and grabbed drinks at the bar. We’ve been to this restaurant several times without reservations and can never get a table so we’re always forced to sit at the bar and look longingly at the people who were smart enough to plan their dinners in advance. We also have a friend that works the bar, so there’s that too. And given our recent visits we’ve made friends with the main bartender as well. I don’t like to brag, but he makes some fantastic drinks. One time he made me this drink with gin and a real fig in it. It was amazing.  I digress again.
Bryan’s running buddy shows up first and we chat with him as the other members of our dining party arrive. Once everyone is there we are taken to our table. We pass all the other tables and they take us through the double doors. The double doors to the kitchen, ya’ll!!!! THE KITCHEN!
Being a foodie I’ve known this is a thing. For chef’s to have special seatings in the kitchen. But never ever did I think I’d be such a lucky girl to be able to do that. I think my jaw dropped and I just froze. Mainly to prevent myself from jumping up and down and squealing like a little girl…. and also I didn’t want to spill my cocktail. That would be wasteful. After a mintue and the shock wore off I sat down where I could see what was happening in the kitchen.
Felicia, the owner and chef, greeted us and asked if we had an allergies or food preferences. There was one vegan at the table, so he got his own special thing. If I had felt more comfortable with the dinner party I would have piped up and asked her to get really creative or something. But I didn’t. I just smiled and knew that I was in for a treat regardless.
After seven courses I can’t tell you specifics of what all we ate. There was a little tart, a squash and apple soup with crab meat, a salad, a duck and mushroom crepe with some tasty tomato jam, a fish course served over hoppin john (she mixed black eyed peas and lady peas and I might have wanted to ask for seconds), a beef course with a really tasty sauce, and then for dessert she brought us three different things to try and share. Sigh… incredible food.
But the thing that struck me as special was the guests. We only knew the one friend going in to the meal. I was super nervous that it was going to be awkward not knowing everyone. It wasn’t. We both really enjoyed talking and getting to know everyone.  I had one of those epiphanies that this was what grown up life was supposed to be like. This is how we were supposed to live. Sharing meals with people and getting to know each other.
One of my goals for next year is to host more gatherings. When we first bought our house four years ago we were great about having people over pretty regularly, but we’ve slacked off in the last year or so. Last night spurred me on to make it more of a priority to bring people together and share food and drink.

Restaurant Review Nashville: Otaku South Popup

Josh and I jumped at the chance on Sunday to try a new popup restaurant in town. Otaku South is a project by a local resident, Sarah Gavigan, who has a passion to be bring authentic ramen to Nashville. She is currently only doing one or two events a month, and they have been extremely hard to get into in the past, so we were determined to get our own bowls of noodles this time. Luckily we have some food obsessed friends who were right there with us. The meal was served in a great coffee shop, so the four of us got there early and hung out with warm cups of coffee and tea until the main event.

I’ve proclaimed our love for ramen before (notably here and here), so we understandably went into this event with high hopes. Knowing that Sarah cooks her broth for days, using pork bones from Porter Road Butcher, was encouraging. Making true ramen is not a quick process. The broth is the star, with all of the other additions supporting players. You can’t have a great bowl of ramen with some weak store bought broth. It just doesn’t work.

There were three different flavors offered: pork, spicy chicken, and corn miso. While part of me (the new found part that is addicted to sriracha and spicy food in general) wanted to get the spicy chicken, I knew I’d be full of regrets if I didn’t join the rest of my group and get the pork ramen.

I’ll break it down into two groups: the fun stuff and the broth.

The fun stuff included shredded pork, a soft boiled egg, pickled greens, fried shallots that I could have eaten by the bowlful, and some of the best ramen noodles I’ve ever had. These noodles had the perfect chew and subtle flavor that makes for a well balanced bowl of ramen, and I need to find out where she gets them. I’d like to buy them in bulk and eat them on a weekly basis. There was also a little collection of pickled daikon radish, peppers, and mushrooms on the side to accompany the ramen. Josh, who I’m just now easing into the world of fungi, even said that the mushrooms were great, which is high praise indeed. All in all, these ingredients were delicious and also just a lot of fun to eat. Much slurping ensued, which in ramen culture is not only accepted but encouraged.

The broth is a subject unto itself. On each table was a bottle of a tasty homemade sriracha type sauce called “friendly fire” (which could take your taste buds off if you weren’t careful) and a bottle of burnt garlic oil. While the addition of these two ingredients make the broth tasty, they also contributed to my slight disappointment. To me, the perfect ramen broth shouldn’t need that much tinkering. Maybe a little squirt of something here and there to fine tune it to your preferences, but not a lot. While Otaku’s broth was nice and rich, it also felt slightly heavy and just lacked a certain depth of flavor. Most people might not even notice this, but after having had some truly incredible ramen over the years I know that this just didn’t quite measure up. All three of my co-slurpers felt the same way, so I knew I wasn’t just being too picky. I wound up adding a good bit of both the sauce and oil in order to brighten up the flavors.

While the experience didn’t quite live up to my admittedly high hopes, I would absolutely love to try it out again. Maybe next time I’ll give one of the other flavors a go (hello, spicy chicken). It was still good, and certainly far better than anything similar that I’ve had around here. I’m also just excited to have something like this available in the town that I love, and will support Otaku South for no other reason than appreciation for introducing the people of Nashville to the wonderful world of true ramen.

Restaurant Review Nashville: Lockeland Table

A few weeks ago, Josh and I decided to check out a new local restaurant that I had been hearing some really good things about. Lockeland Table opened about 3 months ago, and I’d say it wins our vote for best new restaurant in Nashville.

It will come as no surprise to frequent readers that we have very adventurous palates, and there were a few things that we had seen on the menu before coming that we knew we would be getting. While we did stick to most of those, there were also a few specials that we started salivating over as soon as they were listed. We decided the best approach would be to simply order a large quantity of appetizers and go to town. Our fantastic waiter loved our approach (in fact, he called us ballers) and did an excellent job staggering the arrival of all the dishes.

When making reservations, we chose to sit at the pizza bar in order to get the time slot we wanted. This turned out to be a fun chance to watch the pizzas being made and to chat with the staff about the food. We love sitting at the bar when we go out to get cocktails, so this was a very natural extension of that. I always enjoy talking to people who know the food and love what they’re doing.

I will go ahead and mention that while we had several cocktails, I can’t remember the details of a single one. My thoughts were all on the food. Lockeland Table doesn’t seem to have their cocktails listed online at this point either to refresh my memory. Suffice it to say, I had a lot of drinks, and they were very good.

We started off our meal with the classic cornbread. It came in a small cast iron skillet with a generous amount of honey butter on the side. Fact: I love sweet butter of any type, so I was already happy. I did try to limit the amount I ate though, knowing that I would be extremely angry with myself if I filled up on cornbread before the rest of the dishes arrived.

Next we got the chicken liver pate in a jar, with a layer of warm Benton’s bacon fat on top. This came with a side of smoked peach preserves and grilled bread. People, this is the dish that I want to be buried in/with when my time comes. I know that a lot of people are grossed out at the thought of liver, but this was honestly some of the best I’ve ever had. While some liver can have a very strong mineral taste, this was mellow and divine. The peach preserves added the perfect amount of sweetness to an already stellar dish. If you have ever even possibly considered trying liver, this is the place to go. We scraped every last bit out of the jar, and had dreamy smiles on our faces for the rest of the evening due to this.

Next we got one of the chef’s specials for the evening: head cheese. This one was definitely on the outer fringes of my comfort zone, having never tried it before. Normally the very mention of head cheese brings to mind visions of pimento loaf and worse, but I decided to trust them and try it, and it was delicious. Delicate, with a subtle barbecue flavor, and very little of the gelatinous quality I normally associate with the dish, this was absolutely something I would order again. After speaking with one of the chefs, we discovered that he actually used his PePaw’s recipe for head cheese. Love it.

Another special that night was pork and crawfish boudain balls with Alabama white sauce. Think of them like a rice and meat version of a hush puppy. They were crunchy and delicious, and the sauce added the right amount of tang. Definite comfort food right there for this Southern girl.

One of the dishes we knew we had to order was the roasted bone marrow. There’s something incredibly primal about ordered giant bones, cleaved in half, and scraping out the insides. After spreading it on grilled bread and adding some lovely pickled shallots and parsley though, I realized that eating like a caveman is vastly underrated. This was a rich, delicious dish that I’m sure raised my cholesterol entirely too much, but one that I will happily be ordering again soon.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, we decided to go bold and order dessert as well. We went with the ricotta doughnuts with homemade jelly filling. They came out, still piping hot, in a small paper bag filled with powdered sugar. We shook the bag well and enjoyed the perfect finish to a perfect evening.

Lockeland Table has already manged to create an incredibly welcoming and homey atmosphere in a very short amount of time. Ever detail, from the staff to the decor, contributed to a feeling of comfort that normally only comes with many, many years of experience. If this is how they start out, we can’t wait to see what’s to come.