We are thrilled to have Kay West join StyleBlueprint today for her first of many (we hope!) appearances here! Today, Kay explains all about the pop-up restaurants around town. Get ready to be hungry.
New locally-owned and chef-driven restaurants are shooting up all over town—Lockeland Table, Silo, Etch, Café Fundamental, M Restaurant, Rolf & Daughters, Aura and Feast have opened in that order since August and should be on your to-try list if you haven’t hit them already. As if those newbies and our existing eateries don’t provide enough choices to chew on, another opportunity to leave the cooking to the professionals has come into its own: pop-up restaurants.
Even as the term (meaning a restaurant without its own brick-and-mortar) trips easily off the tongues of Nashville’s in-the-know diners, the cooks behind the concepts define what they do by personal touchstones that inspired them.
For Nick Pellegrino, a transplanted New Yorker and recovering songwriter whose Mangia takes over Franklin’s Cool Café (a meat-and-three) every Friday and Saturday night, it’s all about recreating the boisterous Italian family feasts he grew up with. “I didn’t want to be married to a restaurant but I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have a place where people could just come in, you don’t have to order, you just sit down and people bring out the food. There’s great music and singing and dancing and it’s like having a big party, all the best times you ever had, growing up, at holidays, at your grandmother’s house, at weddings, everybody’s eating and being together.”
(all photos courtesy of Mangia)
Every Friday and Saturday night, 100 or so people come to Mangia for a five-course meal, served and passed family style: 4 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 pastas, 3 entrees and 2 desserts. Though he changes the menu quarterly, deep-fried green olives stuffed with mozzarella, lemon risotto cakes, rosemary chicken, Bolognese pasta and zeppoles are never retired. Be prepared to dance—after the pasta course, Pellegrino and his staff get everyone up to mambo! And there will be singing: ‘When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore….”
Find Mangia and info about December’s traditional ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MangiaNashville.
Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures Supper Club
Vivek Surti is a Tennessee native born to Indian immigrants and raised in a multi-generational home. With Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures Supper Club—staged monthly at the Nashville Farmer’s Market—he channels the two cultures that raised him to create an exotic southern meal. “My supper club is kind of a cool way for people to have dinner, but also for the people cooking to tell a bigger story through the food. I was heavily influenced by the dishes of India that my parents and grandparents coked in our home. But growing up here, Southern food is a big part of my culture. The challenge for me was to take Southern food culture and Indian food culture, mesh some of the ingredients and techniques and tell my story that way.”
(all photos courtesy of Vivek from his Dec. 8th dinner)
Surti works with veteran Nashville chef Laura Wilson, who currently runs the Grow Local Kitchen at the Nashville Farmers Market (a community kitchen in the Market House). They begin prepping Thursday for the one-Saturday-a-month, five-course dinner that might get a last-minute tweak if they spot something fabulous in the farm stalls. They cook on the GLK stage, and Surti’s high school buddy Ryan Moses—of the Best Brands family—-does wildly inventive cocktails. Reservations close at 25 guests, and dinner is served in Arnold Myint’s elegant [email protected] space.
Go to www.viveksepicureanadventures.com/supperclub to read about Vivek’s epic birthday binge, get a recipe and sign up for posts about future dinners.
Sarah Gavigan is sharing her ramen love one bowl at a time through Otaku South, which she introduced to 220 people on a one-night stand at 12South Tap Room on September 30th. The Tennessee native discovered genuine Japanese food during the 17 years she lived in Los Angeles. “Izakaya is essentially the Japanese local gastro-pub, it’s comfort food. Very small, intimate and cozy. An izakaya is one thing, a ramen shop is another. Ramen shops are kind of fast and furious. You walk up, order your ramen, and just inhale it. It’s meant to be eaten rather quickly because of the heat and the noodles and a lot of other things going on in that bowl. When we moved back here three years ago, I missed it and started making it, then started making it for other people, which led to this. It’s really more of a food project than a pop-up restaurant.”
(all photos courtesy of Otaku South)
A project that begins with 200 pounds of pork bones from Porter Road Butcher, and a 24-hour process of making the rich, thick stock that is the base of her ‘tonkatsu’ or pork broth. She also makes a corn miso broth for vegetarians, and imports the noodles from LA. Since Otaku’s debut, events have been staged at Catbird Seat, Barista Parlor and Burger Up. She also does private ramanaramas.
Go to http://otakusouth.com for details behind her delectable obsession and get on her mailing list.
Buttermilk Road Sunday Supper
Lisa Donovan turned her love of breads and baking into a way to supplement her income as a writer, and her talent brought her to Margot McCormack’s kitchen, then the pastry chef position at City House. But the hours were taking a toll on the mother of a 12 and 8 year old and she switched course. “I was going to go to graduate school and write full-time, but I couldn’t accept that I would never get to cook for people again. I love it and missed it. So I thought, what if I did it every once in a while and just asked a few people. We could do 20 people, once a month. That’s manageable.”
(All photos courtesy of Buttermilk Rd)
Buttermilk Road Sunday Supper had its debut in July in a private home in East Nashville, and has since built a fervent following on both sides of the river. Her Sunday Supper at the Catbird Seat in the fall sold out in 12 minutes, and though that was limited to 20 people, other venues allow around 40. Some of her dinners have had what she calls ‘soft themes’: Central and South American dishes at Mas Tacos Por Favor, a New Orleans-flavored meal after a trip to the city, and a vegetarian spread around the harvest. If you head directly to her website, you might snag one of the few remaining seats for the tribute to the late Edna Lewis and her marvelous cookbook The Taste of Southern Cooking on January 6th. Robin Riddell of Pettirosso Consulting does the exquisite wine pairings.
“I don’t look at this as a pop-up restaurant. It’s a community, it’s friends and strangers coming together at the table. Everyone who comes to the suppers is so nice and happy, and what I meant to create is happening. Nashville has become such a great food town. People are working hard and honestly to do good work, and there’s a wonderful audience who appreciates that.”
Go to http://buttermilkroadsundaysupper.com for some stellar writing, gorgeous photos, to order baked goods and sign up for suppers.
Thank you, Kay! We’re all starving now…
For the last 26 years, Kay has been a freelance, professional writer for local, regional and national publications, as well as doing significant writing for the music industry. She continues to write features for the Scene (where she was the weekly restaurant critic from 1992-2007), as well as The City Paper, she writes the monthly restaurant column for Nashville Lifestyles and is Nashville correspondent for People Weekly/People Country/People.com. She has written for TV Guide, InStyle, Glamor and USA Weekend. She has also written five books: How To Raise a Gentleman; How To Raise a Lady and 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know, part of the Gentle Manners series for Thomas Nelson; Around The Opry Table: A Feast of Recipes and Stories from the Grand Ole Opry; and Dani’s Story: A Journey From Neglect to Love.
Kay was also featured as our FACE of Nashville last year. Read her interview here.