Having worked for the gorgeous McKel of Nutrition Stripped (i.e. the best nutrition/lifestyle blog out there) earlier in May while cooking for her cookbook shoot, I was only too excited to check out the vibes in Nashville. After stopping off en route to see the view in Chattanooga (go on, say it in a Southern accent – amazing huh!?), we rolled into downtown Nashville to kill a couple of hours before meeting McKel for dinner. We immediately headed to ‘juice. Nashville` for some raw, cold-pressed goodness. I (obviously) opted for one of their low-fruit-high-greens green juices, with Laura going for the special of almond, peach, honey and cinnamon which is definitely the closest raw-vegan, gluten-free thing to peach pie. We then headed over to Thai Esane to meet McKel, who has lived in Nashville for the past four years, where we caught up over piles of delicious tofu pad thai and raw papaya salad. We spent the night crashing at McKel’s house, which looks and smells so beautiful it literally is like a virtual Pintrest board (see here and here), before heading out early the next day to pick up fellow Anglo-New Yorker, Neil (who pretty much took all our photos from the moment he landed to the moment he left us in New Orleans as he is far more knowledgable and talented than I am). Laura and Neil headed straight to ‘Biscuit Love` in the trendy urban Gulch neighbourhood for Saturday brunch, where Laura feasted on cheesy grits, tomato gravy, fried eggs and buttered kale and Neil traditional biscuits and gravy. I, on the other hand, had the only dairy free item on the menu (black iced coffee) and headed off to Barre3 around the corner for a much needed (and free – thanks McKel) barre workout; NYC has definitely rubbed off on me!
We all reconvened a couple of hours later in a classic downtown country bar, which we soon learned made up huge swathes of the centre of the city, incredibly proud of their musical heritage. The walls were adorned with posters of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and, obviously, Taylor Swift, and a country rock band played to a totally packed midday crowd of Tennessee-folk, in town for the weekend. We soon realised that a day spent drinking beer in Nashville’s Broadway bars was THE way to spend your Bachelorette party (sorry, “Hen Do”), especially when it’s you and your 9 closest gal pals on a party bike (which definitely looks less fun in 36ºC heat with American drinking laws). After a beer (I unfortunately couldn’t catch up with Laura and Neil’s brunch mimosas induced head start due to my designated road-trip driver status), we dumped the car and our stuff at our next home for the next two nights (an apartment that a friend of my roommate’s casually has nestled in her basement and let us use with a minute’s notice), and headed out in search of (more) food. We headed over to the hipster neighbourhood of East Nashville (a far cry from honky-tonk Downtown) to The Pharmacy – McKel had recommended it to us for burgers with all the sides that has something for carnivores and vegetarians alike. Laura and I both opted for the black bean burger; Laura’s obviously came with piles of cheese, as well as the usual burger veggies, whereas I requested jalepeño, avocado and lettuce. Neil went for something meaty and stuffed with bacon and egg. He assured us it was delicious. For sides, we went all-American and split some slaw, regular & sweet potato fries and tater tots (little deep fried cylinders of grated potato, pronounced “tayder taats”).
Beer, burgers and more beer later, we rolled ourselves next door to Holland House Bar & Refuge. We needed a little pick-me-up in the form of happy hour cocktails in a vain attempt to make our heat/beer/food exhausted bodies a little more upbeat in honour of Neil’s first day. Holland House was so gorgeous, but sadly we left sooner than we hoped, defeated (Laura unable to finish her Fuego Siempre having been force fed my amazing-but-disgusting digestive bitters to aid her poor overworked tummy). I went for drinks with McKel while the others (over-) napped, then we all ended up at the trendy East Nashville drinking hole Bar 308, where the evening was concluded with (more) cocktails. A pretty damn good introduction to the BBT way for Neil if you ask me (as well as 3 incredibly sore bank accounts).
The following day we went and grabbed a much needed coffee at Barista Parlor, a vast space jam packed with beautiful 20-somethings dressed all in black and trilbies that made the three of us feel like we had momentarily been transported 900 miles back home to Brooklyn. Incredibly strong cold-brew down, we drove a few blocks to The Post East to meet McKel for brunch. Opened for just over a year, this is a cafe that totally resonates with my food ethos; organically sourced ingredients, whole food dishes, community focussed, and accepting of all diets. Laura and I were sent into dish deciding overload with a menu boasting a whole host of gluten-free and dairy-free options and a fridge crammed with cold-pressed juices. Over smoothies and juice we feasted on delicious vegetarian scotch eggs, crispy corn cakes with a sweet and crunchy red cabbage salad and salsa, and a gluten-free vegan biscuit with mushroom gravy. Everything totally delicious and leaving me so happy to FINALLY get to try a true American biscuit.
After a tour and tasting at local Cosair Distillery (think pumpkin spice moonshine and vanilla infused vodka) and a cheeky ice cream/sorbet pit stop at Jeni’s, we head home for a quick turn-around before heading over to Pinewood Social for our last meal in Nashville (oh, why must it end?) I had met McKel there the previous night and was dying to show the others. It is honestly one of the most fabulous spaces I’ve hung out in and would die for one near where I end up living. It is huge: boasting a beautiful bar (with even more beautiful bartenders) centre stage; tables for the restaurant nestled around the perimeter of the room; at the front end a long communal table seats hip young professionals with laptops or a book, huddled over a coffee from the espresso bar (also equipped with pastries). The back of the space has a glass wall which reveals a 6-lane bowling alley restored from an old Bowl O-Rama, from Indiana (karaoke is also on offer). And if that isn’t enough then there is an outdoor area where you can lie by the pool and nibble on delicious morsels from the kitchen whilst simultaneously sipping on a cocktail. With a dry rosé for us girls and an old fashioned for Neil slipping down nicely, we set about making our way through the platter of salty oysters (with the most fabulous cucumber/dill mignonette), burrata with peaches (fresh herbs, hot sauce, almonds), fried broccolini with almond-garlic dipping sauce, spring salad with pickled jalepeños, radish, grilled carrots and goats cheese, fried catfish with shrimp fritters and tartare sauce and (breathe) meatloaf with jalepeño mac, wilted kale and tomato sorghum glaze (which I sadly had to give a miss). All in all, a fucking fabulous last meal. Holy cow I’m full.
Written by George.
See what I’m eating or what juice I’m drinking HERE
See my antics HERE
See what I’m talking about HERE