Nashville is the capital of the most populous city of the state of Tennessee. Although it is known as Music City, it has an amazing food scene as well. We tried several great places over a weekend recently, but the standout for me was the Butcher & Bee, at 902 Main Street in East Nashville. It was about a 10-15 minute ride from the downtown core. Usually, I am not a fan of restaurants that open sequels elsewhere. Husk is a case in point. But Butcher & Bee, which is originally from Charleston, has made a name for itself in Nashville for good reason.
Located in a funky neighborhood, this busy, hip, industrial space, with an open kitchen and soaring ceilings is buzz-worthy. Seating about 70 either in booths, around the open kitchen or bar, or on the patio or loft, you will enjoy this dimly lit, geometric designed motifs, with lots of wood and a very relaxed, casual and fun atmosphere.
This is by no means another southern concept restaurant. The emphasis here is on seasonal farm to table ingredients, but here everything seems to be tastier and more impressive than other places. This company started originally making great sandwiches in Charleston but has morphed into a full-service restaurant in Nashville.
The menu begins with Mezze, small sharing plates. We could have ordered the entire menu, everything sounded great. A signature dish here is the whipped feta with fermented honey and black pepper. It is served with a couple of freshly grilled and blistered pitas. But try and resist not filling up on this dish and make room for the other creative and tasty ones. The kohlrabi was definitely a hit, served with pickled radish, carrot and tahini. It tastes even better than it sounds. The fire roasted carrots with coconut, peanuts, and samba onions, was also good. Vegans and vegetarians could seriously have a field day here. The avocado crispy rice is another signature dish, made with Carolina gold crispy rice, collards, peanuts, and Serrano chilies. You can add a protein like grilled steak or shawarma chicken thighs and have a fabulous meal in a bowl. Tomato and peach salad would have been better if ordered when in the height of the season. The Bear Creek meatballs were ordered by most customers, oh well next time. There was a guest chef there the night we dined who specialized in seafood. It was Chef Ford Fry, a James Beard nominee, of the Optimist. He will be opening another one of his restaurants in Germantown soon. I couldn’t decide between my two favourites, a soft shell crab or a lobster roll. I went with the latter and had no regrets. It was meaty, and succulent and served in a toasted buttered roll, with Duke’s celery, lemon, and homemade Optimist chips. Another amazing dish was the turnips. I’m normally not a fan of the turnip, but they sure did them justice here. You would swear you were eating a plate of pasta. Tossed in a divine almond pesto, with charred broccolini, garlic scapes and parmesan. There were several meat dishes for the carnivores as well. Hence the name, Butcher & Bee.
There was a large selection of wines by the glass or bottle, beers, ciders and craft cocktails. My 6,800 Negroni was goooood. I swapped out the mezcal for gin, and they added Aperol.
Although the dessert menu piqued my interest, I tried the guest chef’s Optimist coconut pie, the best I’ve ever had.
They played a rock soundtrack in the background, and while the atmosphere was fun and lively, you could still talk.
Every ingredient is treated with respect and tastes so fresh. By using locally sourced foods, sustainably raised meat and fish, vegetable-focused dishes, all with global flavours, the Butcher & Beewas creates original, cooking-ambitious dishes that are utterly delicious.