Okay you guys, I am so delinquent on sharing some of these meals it’s getting ridiculous. I went to Nashville back in October with two of my best friends. Some of you may remember seeing our meals at Mas Tacos and Barista Parlor, but until now I have failed to tell you about two incredible dinners we had during our weekend visit.
Our host and dear friend, Caitlin, is the queen of all things cool (which makes me sound really uncool, sorry). You met her through the blog when she was living in D.C. and wrote this guest post. Anyway, I had been reading rave reviews here and there about Rolf and Daughters leading up to our trip and upon asking if we could go there she casually responds, “Oh yeah, it’s in my apartment building.” Of course it is. I should also mention she does not live in an apartment building in the same way that the rest of us do. Her apartment building is an 100-year-old factory that has been renovated into the most gorgeous units, all with exposed brick and beautiful original floorboards. She also has a pool. And an old butcher table she found at a flea market that I want to steal. Sometimes life is not fair. After a day of tooling around the city, we showered and walked literally 10 yards to get in line at Rolf and Daughters so we could enjoy an early dinner before heading off to a concert. We were lucky enough to score tickets to see The Lumineers at the Ryman Auditorium that night and honestly it could’ve been Creed or One Direction and I would’ve been equally stoked. The Ryman is a legendary venue and a Nashville landmark (and it completely lived up to the hype).
Okay, so getting on to our dinner. The cocktails were beautiful. They have one called the Rad Old Fashioned which has bourbon, Laird’s Applejack, maple syrup, and Angostura bitters. You should order it.
We also started with what I think was maybe one of the best things I ate in 2013. It was their chicken liver pâté served with green tomato jam and cacao shavings. Whoever thought of pairing chocolate with chicken liver should get a medal.
We also shared the salad of pear, Asher Blue cheese, dandelion greens, and hazelnut and it was bright and flavorful. We knew we were going for some heavier pasta dishes later on in the meal so this helped round things out a bit. The cheese, an Asher Blue, was divine.
The surprising dish of the night was the Indian summer vegetables with field pea stew and tarragon. I love vegetables, but I won’t say this item jumped off the menu at me. The bartender recommended it and I’m so glad he did. It was hearty and delicious, and felt almost foreign to us Seattle folk with the okra and peas. The concept of Rolf and Daughters is described as Northern Italian and Mediterranean with Southern ingredients and to me, this dish illustrated that perfectly.
Here’s where it really gets good. Cammie, my salt-loving bff, could drink squid ink if it presented itself so naturally we ordered the dark and ominous squid ink canestri with shrimp, squid, rad pancetta (apparently it’s a thing), and lemon. Oh man, this was so briny and good.
Equally wonderful was the garganelli verde with heritage pork ragout and a light and fluffy coating of freshly grated parmesano. I mean, it’s pretty hard to not love a perfect pork ragout dish. There are times when I think I could give up meat and then I think of bolognese and ragout and think…nope, better not. We wanted to do dessert, but alas we were running out of time and needed to get downtown for our show. (Don’t worry, we got McFlurries from the drive-thru at 3 a.m. that night.) Other items that we didn’t try but that looked amazing include the brook trout with smoked trout broth and the heritage chicken with preserved lemon. Each plate passing by looked more amazing than the one before it.
The food was complex but comforting and the atmosphere was unpretentious and lively. Perhaps it’s because this amazing restaurant is in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Perhaps it’s because the region has such a special sense of place. All I know is that chicken liver pâté was seriously good enough to make me want to move to Nashville and become a regular. Rolf and Daughters, 700 Taylor Street, Nashville, TN, (615) 866-9897, http://www.rolfanddaughters.com, Reservations Recommended (phone only), Open Every Day for Dinner from 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.