Thursday February 9, 2012
Executive Chef Tyler Brown and the Capitol Grille (no relation to the chain) in downtown Nashville's Hermitage Hotel have accrued an abundance of awards and praise in the past few years. And rightly so. Named one of Esquire's Four New Chefs to Watch in 2011, Brown is bringing the farm to the table much more directly than your average eatery patting itself on the back for a commitment to slow food. Not many restaurants have a chef that does the farming himself. On a piece of land donated at the nearby Farm at Glen Leven, Brown designs the seasonably sustainable growing program, but also plants, weeds and ultimately harvests the vegetables to be used at the Capitol Grille. Cooking from scratch? For chumps. Brown cooks from seed.
I recently dropped in for dinner at the Capitol Grille, so let me be yet another voice (of many) heaping praise upon them. For a restaurant of its reputation and caliber, the Capitol Grille remains fairly understated. It's classy without being stuffy. It's spacious and quiet enough to converse (not the case at many of Nashville's trendier eateries). The menu is refreshingly simple: upscale Southern, but lacking pretense. Extra Nashville credit for the Hatch Show Print menu design. To start, there's the brilliant sweet onion bisque, which is rich, creamy and delightfully smoky (thanks to the Benton's bacon). Grass-fed beef also comes from the Farm at Glen Leven, and the vegetables are impeccable and strikingly pretty. Deep green, leafy Brussels sprouts accompanied my lightly battered, wonderfully textured Gulf snapper with celery root puree and just the right amount of crab butter. Other dishes enjoyed at our table included the Double H Beef sirloin as well as a perfectly cooked pork chop with carrot grits and a handful of delicious (and pretty) beet chips. Portions are reasonable - not particularly huge but not small plates either - so you might require a side dish if you're skipping dessert. Fingerling potato confit, truffle mac and cheese and extremely creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes are among the options. Desserts did not fail to impress either, such as the decadent, dense coconut cake with chocolate malt ice cream - bonus points for the mini malted milk balls. And, though I've seen it a handful of times before, I couldn't resist doing the touristy thing by taking a gander at the beautiful unspoiled art deco bathroom adjacent to the Oak Bar on my way out. It's an absolute must-see for any enthusiast of our country's most notable bathrooms.
pork chop with carrot grits, beet chips and whiskey jus