In the spring of 2014, buzz began about a Charleston, SC, favorite making its way to Music City: Butcher & Bee. This eatery creates quite the following of tourists and locals in Charleston with its ever-changing selection of sandwiches, and in June 2014, the team headed our way for a pop-up, hosted at Peter Nappi. The response was outstanding. After this experience, Michael Shemtov, Butcher & Bee owner, enamored with Nashville, saw an opportunity to add to Music City’s culinary culture. “We felt like we could positively impact the food scene here,” Shemtov shares. Since Butcher & Bee’s Nashville location opened its doors in mid-December, they have been doing just that.
Bryan Lee Weaver, Butcher & Bee’s Nashville executive chef, is to thank for the well-received (and outstandingly delicious) menu. Chef Bryan, formerly of Los Angeles’ Superba Snack Bar, designed a menu that celebrates rustic, veggie-driven cuisine. “We are in a unique position to stand out,” Chef Byran tells us. “My food is pretty unique for Nashville.” What he’s primarily referring to is the vegetable-focused menu. A few of his dishes that have been big hits include: Let’s Start With a Soup, the So Fresh, So Clean Shaved Veg Salad and Tiger-Style Brussels.
Each thoughtfully named menu item offers an element of surprise. Let’s Start With a Soup is a far cry from the Campbell’s your mother served you as a child. Hardly fit to be called soup, the dish elevates roasted butternut squash, as it’s served in a semiliquid state, topped with bay leaves, frothed and bay leaf-infused milk, pomegranate seeds and herbs. The dish is also brûléed, which adds a nice texture. The So Fresh, So Clean Shaved Veg Salad combines fresh vegetables, sorghum-chile vin, pickled grapes and a black olive crumble. And Tiger-Style Brussels is a hearty helping of Brussels sprouts tossed in fish sauce. Chef Bryan also features simple and straightforward, yet delicious, sandwich variations, paying homage to Butcher & Bee’s origins.
Despite their standout sandwiches, being under the same ownership, focusing on quality ingredients and bearing the same name, Butcher & Bee’s two locations share few similarities. Butcher & Bee Nashville has quickly become well loved for its space, which is drastically larger in size than the Charleston location. The owner signed a 20-year lease on the property prior to stepping foot inside. “I don’t want to sound cliché, but I believe in Nashville,” he shares about his decision. “I believe in East Nashville. I love how people support each other and how there is a level of support and community pride. It felt right for us as a business.”
Katie Vance, of Powell Architecture + Building Studio, is responsible for bringing the interior to life, and the results of her design are stunning. The soaring ceilings are complemented by intimate booths, inviting tables, an open kitchen, exposed brick and a welcoming bar. Located on Main Street, a few steps from Two Son, O.liv Body Bar, The Family Wash/Garage Coffee, Smith & Lentz Brewing, Edley’s Bar-B-Que and a handful of other local businesses, the restaurant is easily spotted (if you know what you are looking for), thanks to the large, exterior signage.
Speaking of the bar, be sure to take advantage of the cocktail program, led by Carley Gaskin. This native Nashvillian and long-time cocktail expert designs approachable cocktails that are light, yet flavorful, and pair well with the food. A house favorite is the Slumber Queen, named after the building, which was once home to a mattress warehouse. It offers a twist on your classic Manhattan by incorporating housemade Cheerwine syrup. If bourbon isn’t your desired spirit, take a sip of The Outsider (gin, hibiscus, lemon, ginger beer and angostura) or The New Driver (vodka, Jones Cream Soda, orange juice, lemon, whole egg and nutmeg). Each cocktail promises real flavor with real ingredients. You can also find wine from small-batch producers and a wide selection of beer.
Butcher & Bee has seen organic growth since purchasing the space in the fall of 2014, and they continue to expand. Since we first visited the restaurant in December, they have starting serving lunch, and we can anticipate an expansion into late night and mornings. “There is an opportunity to build on what is already an amazing coffee scene here in Nashville,” Shemtov shares. They will borrow notes from The Daily by Butcher & Bee, a Charleston-based coffee stop, and provide another morning option for folks in the area or those who wish to venture to the east side. More than anything, the staff is excited for the chance to connect with people for a large portion of the day. We look forward to seeing the continued growth, going back for another meal and keeping you in the loop on all the changes that lie ahead.
Butcher & Bee is located at 902 Main St. in East Nashville. Lunch hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Call (615) 226-3322 or visit their website for more info.
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