Dear Food and Wine: Nashville’s not a hick town
Dear Food and Wine Magazine:
As I was perusing my July issue, late of course because I do have a life, I came across your glowing recommendation of The Catbird Seat restaurant. I do not disagree. But then you wrote this (slightly paraphrased because your sentences are way too long): “The Catbird Seat’s co-chefs trained in some of the best kitchens in the world. Yet they’ve made their home in Nashville, where not many restaurants aim higher than meat-and-three.”
Really, Food and Wine. Really? When’s the last time you hit Music City? 1978?
Let’s just take the first part of that offensive sentence. “Yet they’ve made their home in Nashville…” What is it you find so offensive about Nashville? Somehow, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman endure the backwater nature of the town. Michael McDonald has suffered for decades here. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw actually let their children out to play. Okay, Miley Cyrus used to live here. But don’t hold that against us. We made her move.
Now, to the meat-and-three of the matter: “…where not many restaurants aim higher than meat-and-three.” First off, meat-and-threes are their own art form. The James Beard Foundation thinks so. They gave Arnold’s an America’s Classics Award. They celebrate the fact that Southerners still like to sit down to a hot lunch with a nice slice of lemon icebox pie for dessert. I’m sorry, Food and Wine. I hope you didn’t miss the lunch part. Meat-and-threes are not fine dining, because fine dining usually takes place at night and the owners of the meat-and-threes have figured out they don’t have to be in the kitchen at midnight to make a nice living. What a bunch of hicks.
Secondly, Food and Wine, we have a precious plenty of restaurants that aim quite a bit higher than the Olive Garden (if you don’t understand what a “precious plenty” is that means A LOT). I could run through a list of a hundred, but let me just give you a few – Capitol Grille (or Grillee, as we call it down here), Husk, Marche, City House, Rolf and Daughters, Sunset Grill, Susy Wong’s House of Yum, The Silly Goose, Tayst, Etch. We have foams, emulsions, gastriques, sous vide thingies and even butter tastings. We have small plates, tastings and pairings. And none of it involves Mountain Dew and a MoonPie.
And, by the way, your competitor – Bon Appetit – thinks Nashville is the city of the moment. They actually showed up here. They actually tasted the belly-ham pizza at City House and made it to the Catbird Seat almost a year ahead of you.
So, Food and Wine, you can tell my feelings were a little bruised. I know we still have a few things to work on. Like Wynonna. She’s still here.
Your friend, Catherine