When a memorable dish comes along, it need not be a whispered recommendation. A memorable dish is worth shouting from the rooftops — and often is. A memorable dish makes you urge others to order the same and scoff at waiters when they suggest you change your order. On Monday mornings, our office conversations often circle back to memorable dishes we’ve had over the weekend. We gathered intel from one of these Monday morning chats and put together a list of must-order items at local restaurants. If your taste buds are anything like ours, these dishes will be love at first bite. The tomato pie at The Corner Market may not be a hidden gem, but its deliciousness always merits repeating. The cauliflower at Etch hasn’t changed since we first tried it five years ago, and that is precisely why we order it time and time again. Put the menu down and trust us. Here are the most memorable dishes at local restaurants.
Order: Selection of House Cured Meats, Cheeses and Seasonal Accompaniments
The in-house aged steaks are worthy of a mention. The 20-ounce bone-in ribeye is nothing short of mind-blowing. But with every visit to Deacon’s New South, we start with an order of the selection of house-cured meats, cheese and seasonal accompaniments. On many occasions, this is the only thing we order (along with a few glasses of wine, of course). Priced at $23, this dish is worth every dollar. The selection never disappoints, and the portion is perfect for sharing.
Order: Seattle Caesar
Often bustling with a sizeable crowd, Caviar & Bananas features three stations at which to order food, in addition to shelves stocked with pre-packaged snacks. If time is on your side, meander around and explore the many options. If you’d prefer to go in with a game plan, head straight for the salad counter and place your order for the Seattle Caesar. Kale is tossed with shaved parmesan, tomato, cucumber, pumpernickel croutons, hot-smoked salmon and dill Caesar dressing. Next, make your way to the dessert counter and take your pick of freshly made sweets. The selection is always changing, and we haven’t met a dessert we don’t like, so you can’t go wrong.
Order: Roasted Cauliflower
Deb Paquette never ceases to amaze us. But before we let ourselves dig into her latest creation, we start with an order of the roasted cauliflower. Perfectly charred, the cauliflower is the ideal vehicle for the truffle pea pesto and feta cream. You can order it as a precursor to your lunch or dinner, but the best time to try the cauliflower is during happy hour. This starter-size dish is $8 and easily pairs with a glass of wine.
Order: Table 3 Hamburger
Our favorite nights at Table 3 Restaurant and Market are spent sitting at the bar, with a burger and glass of wine. The Table 3 Hamburger is piled high with lettuce, tomato, red onion, aïoli, bread & butter pickles and your choice of cheese (we recommend white cheddar). The suggested wine pairing for this dish is a Robertson Cabernet Sauvignon. The burger and wine go together like, well, a good burger and wine. And what’s a burger without a side of pommes frîtes?
Order: Dry Ribs
We wouldn’t be steering you wrong to suggest Peg Leg Porker’s barbecue sandwich or half-chicken, they are both delicious. We would be steering you wrong if we didn’t suggest the dry ribs. Easily our favorite menu item, the ribs are not slathered with sauce but rubbed with a winning combination of spices. Tender, tangy and full of flavor, the ribs require both hands and a lot of napkins. We prefer to pair ours with coleslaw and French fries.
Order: Oysters on the Half-Shell
Oysters are no longer few and far between in Nashville. Fresh oysters grace the menu of many restaurants, making these beautifully plump creatures of the sea readily available. Some of our favorites can be found at The Southern Steak & Oyster. Each oyster is shucked-to-order, and you can watch the shuckers from just about anywhere in the restaurant.
Order: Deviled Eggs Done Three Ways
Ordering the deviled eggs at Silo is a game of chance, and everyone is a winner. The combinations are always changing. We have seen hot chicken served with jalapeño and bacon — and yes, we are still talking about deviled eggs. The trio features deviled eggs done three ways, as the menu suggests. Although we can’t guarantee what you will get, we can guarantee they will be delicious.
Order: Garganelli Verde and Sourdough
A meal at Rolf & Daughters is a communal experience, from the shareable plates to the shareable tables. Folks gather over bowls of rustic pasta, housemade bread and thoughtfully handled proteins. If you’ve done any exploration of Nashville’s dining scene, it’s likely Rolf & Daughters is on your radar. This Nashville favorite is known for their atmosphere, but moreover for their sourdough bread. Served with seaweed butter and sea salt, the sourdough bread wears the crown. If we could sustain ourselves on sourdough alone, we would. Since we can’t, we will sustain ourselves on sourdough and garganelli verde with heritage pork ragout and sarvecchio.
Order: Epice Salad
It’s not often we crave a salad, but when topped with goat cheese, toasted almonds and a fig vinaigrette we’d drink by the spoonful, things change. In the office, we have yet to settle the debate on whether white fish or lamb is the better protein option for the salad, but we can agree that these are the two best options. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which you prefer. By adding protein, the sizeable salad is large enough to keep you satisfied.
Order: BBQ Nachos
It’s not rare to dream about nachos — and any variety of nachos will do. When nachos come in the form of crispy potato chips loaded with cheese sauce, pulled pork, pico de gallo and sour cream, the reward is greatest. You may be ridiculed for eating an entire portion on your own, but don’t be discouraged. It is a task of great honor – not embarrassment.
Order: Whipped Feta
Light, airy, creamy, full of flavor and delicious … Butcher & Bee’s whipped feta is all of these things and many more. Additional flavor comes from fermented honey and cracked black pepper. The dip is served with pita bread, which you can use to clean the bowl. There is the option to add chorizo, bacon, beef or mushrooms, but we haven’t done so for fear of compromising the integrity of the dish. Its simplicity is what makes it so flawless.
Order: Shishito Peppers
Admittedly, we had a tough time choosing just one dish to recommend from Two Ten Jack. Should we suggest the crispy Brussels sprouts? Should we share our favorite ramen (tonkatsu)? Should we recommend our favorite cocktail? Or should we just tell you that the shishito peppers are the menu’s unsung hero? We landed on the latter. Texture and flavor abound in this small-but-mighty dish. A little sweet, a little heat and a lot of flavor are really all you need in life.
Star Bagel Cafe
Order: Cinnamon Hazelnut Coffee
It’s likely you already have your bagel order down pat. For us, it is a challah bagel with plain cream cheese. We know better than to get between a person and their bagel, though, so instead of pushing you to try our favorite, we will push you to order a cup of the cinnamon hazelnut iced coffee. It gives the perfect essence of sweetness without being sweet. It requires no addition of sugar but an extra sprinkle of cinnamon is encouraged.
Order: Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower, tonnato sauce, parmesan
The roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower appetizer is addictive and can be your main meal — our preferable way to order! You can ask for a protein to be added, and we think shrimp is the way to go. The veggies are placed atop a tonnato sauce — think Caesar dressing on steroids. It’s thick and creamy and made with traditional Caesar dressing ingredients but with the addition of tuna and a few other add-ins. Delicious!
Order: Truffle Mac and Cheese and Veggie Plate
Life is all about balance, and so is dinner at Firefly Grille. The vegetarian plate changes daily and never disappoints. It can also be ordered vegan. You can’t choose what you get, but you can ask what’s on it before you order. It’s typically about five sides and will contain a grain of some sort, sometimes pasta. In addition to getting your daily serving of greens, order the truffle mac and cheese to get your daily serving of comfort. The truffle mac and cheese is decadent, but it’s also easily shareable, and it comes in its own dish that can be passed around the table.
For authentic French croissants, Little Gourmand is the place to go. Owner Guenievre Milliner bakes croissants fresh daily following a French recipe with traditional ingredients. On Saturday mornings, she has been known to make nearly 200 croissants, and they always sell out. The smell alone will transport you to a French café.
Order: Tomato Pie and Salad Dressing
A good fridge is always filled with The Corner Market’s salad dressing and a tomato pie. The salad dressing has a cult following — for good reason. It’s the absolute best on a salad with mixed greens, toasted walnuts, strawberries and crumbled goat cheese … a little goes a long way. Another favorite from The Corner Market is the tomato pie. Pop it into the oven for a quick dinner, or take one to a friend as the ultimate hostess gift.
Find more scoop on the Nashville restaurant scene here!