As I write this post I’m listening to a country band in Tootsies, in Nashville airport, Tennessee. Aka Music City, Nashville has the friendliest people I’ve ever come across. I’ve received complements and lifts from total strangers, countless recommendations, and a “howdy, how y’all doing” every ten minutes or so.
The abundance of space is also pretty astonishing. The airbnb we stayed in was a bungalow with at least three metres on either side before the next house, and most bars and restaurants stand alone amidst a sea of highway and big cars.
One such restaurant was Butcher & Bee. In preparation for my trip I started following Nashville food bloggers and liked the look of it so booked without actually doing any due diligence. There was Hebrew writing on the door and the menu confirmed that there was definitely some Israeli influence here. Soon we met Tomer the manager who confirmed the owner was Israeli and told us this was the second Butcher & Bee; the first was in Charleston.
They use the space well, featuring two large seated bar areas, one of which looks into the open kitchen, as in similar restaurants in London and Israel, Palomar and Macheneyuda. It has the trendy industrial look, cleverly interspersed with books, bagels and Le Creuset pots.
We started with a cocktail. It was only 6pm after all so we weren’t in a rush. I had something a bit like an old fashioned, but sweeter.
Most items on the menu had quirky names so we had a few questions to ask. Fully informed, we chose three mezze to start; hummus, beetroot and dill and a grain and lentil salad.
Hummus was like most hummuses, but the chickpeas were fried which presented a crunch surprise. The others were also very good.
Having eaten a lot of meat thus far, I overlooked the burger and lamb and suggested we get the whole trout next, which turned out to be a great move. It was unbelievably fresh, as though we’d fished it ourselves and cooked it on the boat. The sea salty charred skin was delicious and it came with a side of mustard gnocchi. We found and ate every morsel of flesh leaving the barest of fish skeletons when our plates were cleared.
We also had green garlic with poached egg and pickled strawberries. They weren’t bulbs of garlic but instead the shoots, which tasted like the offspring of an asparagus and garlic romance. The pickled strawberries were an interesting addition, and the egg’s yolk tied it all up rather well.
I rather enjoyed listening to our waitress’ clear and comprehensive descriptions of the desserts on offer; they aren’t written down. We chose chocolate stout cake with pretzel crumbles and, what I think, was a yoghurt icing. The icing did a wonderful job of injecting a tartness into the dish to counteract the sweetness, but thanks so the stout, it wasn’t too sweet to start with.
It turns out I didn’t like the food in Nashville as much as I thought I would. I must not be the smoked chicken and grits kinda gal. This is something quite different though, taking inspiration from the Southern States as well as Israel and elsewhere. I thoroughly recommend it and hope to see it in London some day soon.