For my 30th birthday, all I wanted to give myself (treat yo’ self, as Kim would say) was a dinner out at the Catbird Seat. For those of you who are living under a rock, the Catbird Seat is a restaurant in Nashville that’s been featured in Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, etc. It’s one of the top restaurants in the country, and I’d venture to say a trailblazer in putting Nashville on the culinary map.
So what’s all the fuss about?
The food. Dear baby Jesus – the food.
But the experience, too. You see, you don’t walk into the Catbird Seat and order some chicken fingers. You must have a reservation. You can only get a reservation within 30 days of when you’d like to go, and you must do it online. You cannot call from your prepaid cellular device. So if you want to go eat there 30 days from now, you get online at midnight and start clicking before the reservations are all gone…because they will be, in seconds.
Then you arrive 15 minutes apart from each of the other parties for that evening. And you sit at one of 32 seats at a square bar around the kitchen, where award-winning chefs greet you, prepare your meal and serve it to you while explaining what it is, how you eat it and then stand there and shoot the breeze with you about things like music and Amsterdam.
You eat 10 courses of the most delightful culinary treats you’ve ever experienced. You don’t order anything – it’s all chef’s choice. Oh, and you have a wine or cocktail pairing with each course. (insert drunk face here).
It is a nearly three-hour-long, foodgasmic party in your mouth where no one overstays their welcome.
And y’all. I don’t really get star-struck in this fair city often – but being the food lover that I am, I knew I’d totally GEEK out over eating here and seeing Erik Anderson in the flesh. In front of me. Cooking food for me. Serving food to me. Talking about food to me. I want to be his best friend and awkwardly show up for dinner unannounced every Sunday.
So yeah, this is what I wanted for my 30th birthday. But alas, I could not get a reservation for the life of me. Enter Daniel – new boyfriend extraordinaire – who surprises me with a 7:30 Friday night reservation. Probably one of the most hard to come by timeslots, I might add. The boy is handsome, smart, good with a computer – and shares my love for excellent food. Let’s keep him.
So we went. We ate and drank. And it did not disappoint. Here is the play by play.
The Catbird Seat.
We arrived, were welcomed by the hostess and rode up the elevator with her babbling about I don’t know what because OMGI’MABOUTTOEATATTHECATBIRDSEATSHUTUP!
We were seated and then greeted by a tiny plate already waiting on us, with the chef’s version of Nashville’s famous hot chicken.
Crispy chicken skin and a “Wonder Bread” puree. Y’all.
The wine and cocktail pairing is $40 per person and worth every dime. (Also, take a cab).
This was another one of our “snacks” and part of the first course. I failed to take a photo of the others before I inhaled them. But this was a beef tartare. Amazing.
Oh hey famous chef Erik.
This was a melon salad. And you’re all like “oh melon salad, whatevs.” No. It was to die for. Those little melon balls almost changed my life. There was an avocado puree, some sort of foam and mint and salt something or another that made it to die for.
This was a celery root that was served on a super hot plate with foie gras shaved over the top. (Foie Gras = duck or goose liver that has been especially fattened). That foie gras melted like butter on the hot root and hot plate and we were encouraged to eat it quickly. Um, no problem.
Mashed potatoes. But not your grandmas. These had golden caviar underneath and cured sturgeon with lemon thyme. You know, like you do. Amazing, but probably the least impressive thing we ate.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. I had known three other friends/acquaintances who ate at the Catbird Seat and two of the three were served Pigeon. Make that three now, counting me. I was so scared and excited when this came up. LOOK at that claw.
And aren’t pigeon’s referred to as “rats with wings?” They are gross, annoying animals. But I would have eaten a frosted turd if Erik Anderson served it to me.
So, he put this in front of us and explained it and I had heard to ask a lot of questions, when you eat at the Catbird. So the best I could come up with was, “How far down this little claw leg can I eat?” Well played.
He said, “well, that’s a bone – so don’t eat it.” Sweet, dude. Y’all. A real, single tear came to my eye when I ate this dish. We will all be eating pigeon in Heaven. Real talk.
After. Like a boss!
This was maybe my favorite cocktail that got major points for creativity. It was sweet tea, but real tea leaves were infused in riesling instead of water. That’s how we should all be drinking our tea, folks.
This was a top contender for favorite dish, as well. Wagyu beef ribeye that simply melted in your mouth. The watercress puree was really strong — watercress is just such a distinct flavor. I loved it, but it could have ruined it for you if it’s not a flavor you like.
We should always have a cheese course – with every meal. This was harbison cheese, which was kind of the consistency of brie, but twenty times tastier – served inside a hollowed out shallot with a mushy cherry compote of some kind. I don’t know — but it was good.
Love and food drunk.
Hey drinks! And the first of three dessert courses. YES! Sweet corn ice cream, y’all. It was SO good. Served in a potato cone with shaved truffle on top. Truffle is such an overwhelming flavor when served in this quantity — but with the ice cream it was on point. This was a super savory dessert, as well.
Another savory-ish dessert. Maple, bacon, thyme custard served inside a real eggshell with a tiny real piece of bacon. I almost licked the inside of the egg.
Finally — a little smorgasbord of vanilla cake, cherry crisp, oak wood ice cream and pineapple gelee. But the star of this show were the bourbon beads. Close up in the next photo.
So that bourbon bead you see there was a tiny, gel casing that when bit into shot straight bourbon into your mouth. It was the craziest thing and I don’t know how they made them, but I could have eaten a million. I would have died, but it would have been sort of worth it. They were delicious!
Lastly, a tunga vanilla espresso drink with an espresso ice cube. Eh, it was fine. I had a lot of food and alcohol by this point, so I would have enjoyed anything.
Chef Erik, cutting some lady’s pigeon off the bone for her because the claw freaked her out. Really lady? This aint Burger King — you can’t just have it your way.
The view of the restaurant from the door when you walk in. This is pretty much the whole thing.
Lastly, here is a photo of our menu that they give you to keep as a souvenir. You can read all about everything here if you’d like. But I suggest you just fork over the cash and go yourselves. It was worth every penny. (FYI — it’s roughly $100/person plus the $40/person alcohol pairing plus service charge and tax, so…yeah).
We decided we’d treat ourselves once a year to this kind of experience, if possible. The menu changes constantly, so hopefully each time will be new and different.
I love Nashville and I love food. I’m so glad the two have teamed up to make our great city a foodie destination, as of late. There’s so many new eats to be excited about.
Thanks, Catbird. We’ll be back.