I usually wait too long to post about a good meal, so that by the time I get around to writing about it, I’ve forgotten everything. Well, I figured I should probably post as soon as possible about dinner last night – since I already can’t do this meal justice, and the only way I was going to remember everything we ate and how it was prepared was to take notes.
No, I didn’t take notes.
Manda and I have been wanting to try Husk since before it opened. The original Husk is in Charleston, S.C. and in 2011 was named “Best New Restaurant of the Year” by Bon Appetite. So when we heard Sean Brock, the chef behind the restaurant known for celebrating Southern ingredients, was looking to open a second Husk in Nashville, we were pretty excited.
Every time we wanted to go, reservations were impossible to get. So we made it a priority to get reservations for our birthday week. Boy, was it worth the wait.
We couldn’t get reservations until 7:45, and when we got there the restaurant was hopping. On a Tuesday night! It was a different crowd than I was expecting, but I liked it — a mix of young professionals and older people. (not a hipster in sight, surprisingly)
The restaurant focuses on Southern ingredients (even things like Cheerwine and Peach Nehi soda!), although there are definite hints and influences from other cultures (our waitress explained how one dish was influenced by Chef’s time in Africa, for example). When you walk in, a big board tells you what food came from where that day.
When we flipped open our menus (a paper menu that changes daily, of course), we both did a double-take. It said “Happy Birthday!” on the top of it. Happy Birthday? Manda looked at me with big eyes. I dismissed it. “Is it their birthday? It must be their birthday.” Our favorite grilled cheese food truck just celebrated their birthday, so I had that on my mind.
Then one of the waitresses stopped by. “We heard you all are celebrating a birthday?”
We told her that we were celebrating both of ours. But how did they know? We never got to the bottom of it. We suspected a friend of calling, but he didn’t. So perhaps we’ll never know! They brought us celebratory cider, which they feature prominently on their drink menu (with a reminder the cider used to be more popular than beer in the South). We toasted our birthday and agreed we were quickly falling in love with this place.
Our waitress was fantastic — the perfect combination of casual yet professional. She was very approachable but knowledgeable. She wasn’t snooty in any way, but knew the menu backwards and forwards and seemed to really understand the ingredients. It was clear she was at ease with the menu and wanted us to be as well. I didn’t feel embarrassed to point to a cocktail on the menu and admit I had no idea what everything was but that it sounded wonderful.
And it was. The Old Tom Mullen — a gin drink (Ransom Old Tom) with Meletti Amaro, Clear Creek douglas fir, maple bitters, and allspice dram. Can you say Christmas? Yeah.
We ended up splitting a “First” — a refreshing salad that I wish I could even begin to describe. All I know is that it was a winter brassicas salad with pecans and pears… and this crazy tarragon concoction that was creamy and goat-cheese-like. Let’s just say it was wonderful.
Manda had the chicken dish (with dumplings and …mustard greens, I think?), which our waitress had recommended. My first instinct was to try the duck, but they were out. So I chose the Southern Vegetable Plate. When I questioned it, Manda said, “It’s like at Cracker Barrel, when you just want to order all the sides. … Only better.” And it was. A bunch of sides. And a million times better. No fried okra here, people.
It’s not something I normally would order — give me meat and lots of it — but I’m so happy I did. I didn’t miss the meat at all. Top left was my favorite — sweet potatoes with jalapeño butter. It wasn’t spicy at all — just very flavorful. The skins were crispy, the middle of the diced potatoes was moist and wonderful. I could have eaten a huge plate of just those.
Top right was my least favorite – cabbage dressed with something. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but if I had to pick a least favorite, that would be it. Bottom right was cauliflower, again, dressed with something wonderful. I wish I would have taken notes, because honestly, this isn’t sounding nearly as amazing as it really was. Bottom left was farro and beans and something else… I know, I could never be a food blogger… And then the middle was grits with tomatoes and a poached egg. Good night. Delicious.
Everything on the dessert menu looked fantastic – of course. But Manda settled on a caramel pecan cake (I think! Manda, I should have written this all down!) and I had the Soft Serve S’more – basically vanilla ice cream topped with Olive & Sinclair chocolate sauce, graham cracker crumbs, and toasted marshmallow.
We left VERY happy girls.
And since I clearly need a lot of practice before I become a food blogger, if anyone wants to take me back to Husk, I’m available.