Catbird Seat

We came to Nashville to find the best that the city has to offer… or the catbird seat of cuisine as one might call it.

After going to Hattie B’s hot chicken, which was every bit the greasy heart-stopper I needed, we were ready for some high end refinery and a move from park benches to chef’s table.

The entrance to Catbird was small and mysterious like the entryway into a secret wonderland or a small apartment in New York City.

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Upstairs, the chefs were busy at work, and when someone entered or exited, those who had a free moment would lined up in tight rows to greet the wide eyed diners.

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9/10: We started off with a small bowl of chips that were much too small. There were salt and vinegar chips, dehydrated beets, and seaweed. This is a good reminder that although we were invited to sample Asian-influenced cuisine, we were not to forget that we were in the south: The land of salt, vinegar, and all things whipped and churned dairy.

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7/10: Oyster in mushroom dashi and pine nut ice cream. The ice cream was absolutely divine. I would eat it out of the machine. Unfortunately the weakest part of the dish is also the central part. The oyster was of an earthy variety and had a strong flavor. I only wish it were either a little more refreshing, or gelatin underneath carried enough acid to cut through the seafoody musk.

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9/10: Duck egg chawanmushi with roe. This was at the brink of greatness. The chawanmushi was cooked perfectly (see my recipe here), and I always love the delightful pop of roe. If only there were 60% more chawanmushi and a light warm sabayon of really something, anything to bounce off the tongue a little. It would have been heaven.

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6/10: Sunflower seed risotto with sunchokes. The seasoning and flavor were absolutely amazing, but I simply don’t like that this was almost all sunflower seeds. I wish I had a warning. I thought I was eating rice, and surprising and Asian person with not-rice is like surprising a pizza lover with puffy tofu instead of pizza crust. I never quite got over the shock.

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7/10: Fluke with fried garlic, miso, parsley oil vinaigrette. I rarely find myself in a situation where there couldn’t have been a better fish than fluke. There are so many fish in season right now that have a similar texture but bolder flavor! Like… golden eyed snapper? But I guess the dinner is at a very reasonable price, so it’s okay. But there were only two pieces! Two!

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10/10: Wakame noodles with shaved scallops and yuzu cream sauce. Wow. Just wow. I give perfect scores sparingly but I still dream about this noodle some times. The toothsome-ness of the noodles… the warm yuzu sauce that was tangy and creamy… the perfect balance of the seaweed from the noodles and bonito like richness of the scallops… This was a piece of art.

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4/10: Cauliflower marinated in sake and miso with turnip butter and spicy nasturtium leaves. I love the spicy taste of the nasturtium leaves. The turnip butter is fun. But I think soaking the cauliflower ruined the vegetable. It didn’t have the same give and became a little mushy in the middle. The sake was too bitter.

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6/10: Strip steak. Nothing wrong with it, but as you can see from the leaf, it’s quite small. It’s also not very stand out.

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9.5/10: Buttermilk yuzu panna cotta with lemon gel. This was beautifully presented, and even more beautifully favored. The balance of the citrus and cream was artful and I cannot imagine anyone not from the south doing it better. It was like a perfect lemon square, but my teeth didn’t hurt after.

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6/10: bitter chocolate ganache with puffed grains and meringue. Honestly I thought the chocolate was less bitter than the cauliflower, though I expected some bitterness this time. It was also in the shape of a spiral poo. If only I didn’t expose it from its teepee of meringue, but it was pointless because I saw it being made.

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Hi Homer! Everyone was presented with a cookie jar at the end of the meal. I was absolutely delighted to get Homer. I mean the only thing better would have been the TARDIS, which they did not have.

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We got raspberry and chocolate cookies. Of course that’s what would be on Homer’s brain.

The food was good. It wasn’t the best I ever had, but it was good for the price. If I lived in Nashville, I’d definitely go again. The team at the Catbird seat was extra friendly. We had a good chance to chat with everybody, and the chef personally shook our hands and greeted us on the way out. The portions were a little small, but good thing we were in Nashville, and there was no shortage of hopping night time dining spots for the tummy rumblings several hours later!

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