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


  1. Susan Harbin
    Susan HarbinReply
    September 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Amen sister! Obviously their article was “phoned in” by someone that doesn’t know a thing, and has never visited Nashville.
    Lovely rebuttal!

    • Catherine Mayhew
      Catherine MayhewReply
      September 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you, Bunny. I should point out that Susan is my mother-in-law and shows me unconditional support in all things.

  2. Candy Gourlay
    September 12, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Take that, Food and Wine!

  3. September 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    […] and commune with us. Oh, and that horrid lady from Food and Wine, which dissed Nashville for those stupid meat and three remarks. I do not know how she can show her face […]

  4. Cathryn
    December 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I am indulging in a blog binge here, and just had to tell you I love your writing! I stumbled here in a roundabout way, but will be bookmarking to enjoy future posts. In the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying your archives!

    • Catherine Mayhew
      Catherine MayhewReply
      December 31, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks so much! Happy new year.

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