Have I mentioned I love Nashville? No? Not lately? Well, here you have it, my confession: I kind of dig Music City. But really, it’s more like I love Tennessee as a whole, because seriously, I hail from one awesome state. Have you been? If not, what’s keeping you from it?
Along those lines, a bit of exciting news: I’m officially working with the state—or, formally, the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development—this year on their new TripTales platform to bring weekly travel tips to visitors to my lovely grand division of Middle Tennessee (the state is divvied up into three: West, Middle, East).
So if you’re looking for more service-y guides to visiting my area, you’ll find them there going forward (or on my Instagram, always). As for now, here are five things that are getting me excited about Music City these days:
1. the Prima Chef’s Table dinner
Prima has been open for nearly two years, and it wasn’t until January that I finally had a meal there. I’d been for cocktails at the beyond-stunning bar—the best part about this Gulch restaurant is it’s fancy enough for a special occasion while also being chill enough for drinks with friends—but never tried Chef Sal Avila’s creative cuisine. Let’s just say, I’m a new convert.
Not two months after my initial foray into Prima fandom, I indulged in a Chef’s Table meal with four of my foodie pals. This pretty much comprised sheer gluttony (with wine pairings, duh!) and a journey through Sal’s own experience walking Camino a Santiago. This was a culinary trip even closer to my heart than most given that my first guidebook writing experience at the ripe age of 23 (a full decade ago!) was in Aragon—right along the Camino route.
The great thing about the Chef’s Table experience is that it’s intimate (you’re in your own glass room overlooking the restaurant), it can be a romantic dinner or a celebratory meal with friends (the room accommodates two to eight diners), it’s inventive (granita! roulade! potato bread! almond torte! yes, please!), and it’s literally a one-of-a-kind type of meal (Sal burns the menu at the end of each feast).
Now the question is: Who wants to tag along with me next time?
2. the cocktails at Bastion
Who doesn’t love a cozy bar that discreetly pays homage to that 80’s cult classic The NeverEnding Story? Not only is the name a nod to the protagonist, but the only way you’ll find Bastion from the outside is by spying Falcor’s quote “never give up and good luck will find you” painted on the garage door. The latest winning concept from the Goldberg Brothers features frozen drinks, a punch of the day and other delicious cocktails—not to mention, some seriously sinfully tasty nachos (both meat and vegetarian).
I’ve been twice so far: once for the preview and the second time for an impromptu birthday party last month during which my friends and I took over the entire back bleacher area. It was perfect for a casual celebration.
3. VEA Supper Club events
My good pal Vivek Surti launched his supper club series several years ago, but due to his day job as marketing director of the Nashville Wine Auction and side gig as the mayor of Music City—not to mention, the sword-wielding founder of the Sabrage Society—dinners only take place every few months.
And I’ve missed every last one of his supper clubs in the past—until now. SVV and I already bought our tickets (just $25 a pop, a steal!) to his upcoming Biryani & Beer event at The Family Wash and, a bonus, my girl Lyndi of Littlest Love baking fame is making the dessert! Cardamom and ginger and apple all baked into a hand pie? I hope she has leftovers because I’m not stopping at one!
4. everything at the Goo Goo Shop Dessert Bar
I’m sure you’ve heard me extolling the brilliance of Nashville’s own century-old candy company a time or two in the past (and if you haven’t, then you clearly need to pay more attention!). And if you know me in real life, you’ve more than likely been the recipient of a Goo gift in the past (it’s my go-to for a hostess present). Well, as if an entire downtown shop celebrating my favorite, century-old candy brand wasn’t enough, now there’s a new dessert bar, too! And because the good folks at Goo Goo Clusters are the best, they let me come in to taste-test the new menu. You know, so I can have an informed opinion when I tell you guys GO THERE AND EAT EVERYTHING.
5. the design at Le Sel
To be honest, there has yet to be a Strategic Hospitality property I didn’t immediately love (see: Bastion above), and Le Sel is no exception. Everything about the place is fantastic, the drinks are dope, and the service is on point—but overall, I can’t get over how simply gorgeous the space alone is.