In the midst of all the buzz surrounding Nashville’s many new restaurants, sometimes we just need to pause and thank all the ones that opened here long before Nashville was considered so “foodie and fabulous.” Really, thank you to the trailblazers and the people who migrated back home to make our culinary scene that much better.
While we always want to showcase new restaurants on StyleBlueprint, we also want to highlight favorite places that we crave, where year in and year out we find ourselves going for one particular fix or another. Today, we start with City House.
Recently, I was down at City House hours before they opened with fellow SB’er Rowanne McKnight. Owner and Executive Chef Tandy Wilson was drinking up his caffeine out of a mason jar as he set out to start the day. Pastry Chef Rebekah Turshen was finishing some desserts that were making us drool and the vibe was definitely laid back.
This really was just a moment to reflect on the past 5 years and City House’s place in the Nashville food scene. Tandy is frank about the fact that he doesn’t worry about what everyone else is doing. His job is to create delicious food for his customers and provide a great experience, which is what he concentrates on day in and day out. He’s never on social media, so his feedback comes from customers themselves, as in eye-to-eye, not tweet to re-tweet.
You can’t help but notice that there’s something else Tandy concentrates on and is proud of: his staff. He is most at ease and talkative when referencing others, in particular how long much of his staff has been at City House. His sous chef, Aaron Clemins, has been there since the beginning, over 5 years ago. Rebekah, his pastry chef, over 4 years. It’s obvious that his team is considered extended family.
As a guest at City House, you feel that family bond. There is nothing snooty about eating a meal here. My gosh, when we were meeting with Tandy, he was wearing an old t-shirt and a ball cap on backwards, with a mason jar filled with coffee and cream. That’s the joy of the place: it’s amazing food that served up for everyone to enjoy in a distinctly “we’ll take you as you are” sort of way. The foodies and the famous may love it, but it’s the rest of us–who just want a good meal and a night out–who fill the seats each night. City House makes you feel welcome and part of the friends gathered. It’s good food, food that’s been loved on, served up in the most non-pretentious of ways.
As were were drinking coffee and sampling Rebekah’s cookies, the topic of City House Sunday Suppers came up. You could see that Sundays hold a special place for everyone who works here. Neither Rowanne nor I had been on a Sunday, but now, it’s tops for us to do. The menu changes every Sunday so you must go without any expectations of what you are going to order. “What we like about Sunday Supper is that there are no rules on Sunday, and we love that!”—Tandy
As I prepared to write this post, I realized that as much as I love the fried catfish at City House (the best I’ve had anywhere, including Pegram’s Catfish Kitchen), I do need to branch out and head down on a Sunday, family in tow, and experience the ever-changing Sunday Suppers menu. I asked Vivek Surti, of Viveks Epicurean Adventures, what he thought about the this specific meal at City House:
Whenever people ask me where to eat in Nashville, Sunday Supper at City House tops my list. Chef Tandy Wilson draws inspiration from communal meals, where dining tables are loaded up with a full spread, allowing diners to taste a variety of things and share a family style meal. When I grab a group of friends, have a few of the innovative cocktails and start ordering from the menu, I know no one in Nashville (or the world) is eating as good as we are. We’ll start off with a few of the “pork snacks” like headcheese or pork rinds, items that were never seen in Nashville until Tandy put them on the menu but are now cherished and sought after. And then, it’s ordering a vegetable salad, a perfectly cooked pizza from the wood burning oven and always an order of the ethereal pork meatballs. Sunday is the new Friday and there’s no place I’d rather be than City House.
After hanging out at City House with Tandy and Rebekah, we started asking people we ran into (who we knew liked to try the new restaurants but were purposefully heading to City House on a regular basis) what it is that keeps pulling them back. This is what we heard:
“City House makes the best pizza this side of Naples, and is my #1 place to go for amazing food, friends, and wine! Tandy knows how to celebrate the art of real, simple cooking with stellar ingredients…” — Holly Williams, owner of H. Audrey Boutique, songwriter, singer, foodie, totally nice person on top of all that.
“…Even though I have a few more (really great!) options to choose from on the Nashville restaurant scene these days, City House continues to draw me back. The food is original, yet feels familiar at the same time. The ambiance is vibrant, yet cozy–it is a restaurant that manages to perfectly walk the line of uniquely creative and comfortable, kind of like the city of Nashville, itself! Plus, I pretty much crave the belly ham pizza on a weekly basis. So while I’m thankful for many incredible dining options in Music City, City House will always be on my “must go” list.” — Cassie Kelley, Nashvillian, SB guest writer, friend and blogger behind Womanista.
“We love City House and it is my children’s absolute favorite restaurant in town. We also love their Sunday Suppers. They mix up the menu a bit on Sundays, which makes it different from the rest of the week’s menu. You never know what you will get, but you know it will all be good. Tandy has a knack for consistency and that is why we go back again and again.” — Stephanie Galanter, SB reader and friend.
We couldn’t agree more. So, are you game? Sunday Supper is a must. The menu may always change, but you know the end result is amazing, the surroundings are welcoming, and you can talk football as it is, after all, on a Sunday. To find out more about City House, read here.
And, if you’d like to read about what the rest of the nation is saying about City House and Tandy Wilson—you know, the likes of Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, New York Times and such—keep reading here.
Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for her beautiful photography today. To see more of Ashley’s work or to contact her, click here.