My final day in Nashville before my two-day drive home to Connecticut began uneventfully enough. Turned out, that I had underestimated how many miles I’d be driving on this trip, and was actually nearly due for a second oil change (every 3,000 miles!). So, first thing in the morning, I headed to a nearby Toyota dealership, not only to get my oil changed, but to have my already-tattered, plastic skid-plate completely removed, because it had begun to drag on the pavement the night before, on Music Row. It took a couple of hours to get this done, because the service department was already booked up. But, the folks at the dealership were really great, and somehow squeezed me in.
Now, remember my Oxford, Mississippi friends, Josh and Chelsey, and the must do list they gave me? Well, on that list under Nashville is Husk – Sean Brock. I had heard of Sean Brock, a good chef-friend of Anthony Bourdain’s, and Sean Brock’s restaurant, Husk, which I remember, from another Parts Unknown episode, as being in South Carolina. But, I didn’t realize that Mr. Brock had also opened a second Husk restaurant, right here in Nashville. So, guess where I was heading for lunch? For anyone still counting, this would be #6 on the Bourdain Effect list.
By the time my car was ready at the dealership, it was already 12:30, lunchtime. And in my foodie naiveté, it had only occurred to me at that moment that I should probably call ahead to see if I could even get into such a trendy, highly sought-after restaurant, until I was setting my GPS for the address. And good thing I did, for two reasons. First, when I called, the very nice hostess informed me that Husk was only open until 2:00 for lunch, and I was still at least a half-hour away. And second, she also informed me that all of their tables were in fact completely booked in advance…but…that there was first-come, first-served availability at their bar. So, I made a bee-line for Husk.
Husk is known for being an upscale, trendy, locally-sourced, heirloom and farm-to-market sort of restaurant. Sean Brock is a James Beard Award-winning chef. Needless to say, I was straying a ways from my down-home comfort-food roots on this excursion. And I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting to find Husk in a stately, somewhat unassuming, nineteenth-century brick home, in a quiet neighborhood, a bit off the beaten path. First, if you are not a resident of Nashville, you pretty much need GPS just to find it. Husk blends in so well with its neighborhood, that you are just as likely to drive right past it, as to notice its inconspicuous sign near the sidewalk. Here is the exterior and sign:
Husk’s historic home is built near the top of a hill overlooking downtown Nashville, and into the side of a steep slope. The interior is divided into a few cozy dining rooms, including a lower-level dining room with floor to ceiling windows. The bar, where I had lunch, is also on the lower level. The hostess and wait-staff were all extremely friendly, even as you would pass them in the hallways, if in a semi-formal sort of way. This was not hanging out with the waitresses at Champy’s Fried Chicken in Muscle Shoals.
I had not looked at the menu before going. I just assumed that this is the kind of restaurant where, if you need to ask what anything costs, you might want to reconsider. It wasn’t anything outrageous, but I did make the conscious decision to treat myself to whatever was recommended, with no second thoughts. You only live once.
When I got to the bar, there were only a couple of other people there, so it was easy to get a seat. In my trademark fashion, I explained to the bartender that I had heard about Sean Brock and his South Carolina Husk restaurant on Parts Unknown, but didn’t realize there was also one in Nashville. I also volunteered that I could use some help in ordering.
The bartender started by explaining that Husk’s bar is primarily a whiskey bar.
I knew that Sean Brock is a bourbon connoisseur, but I again volunteered my ignorance about whiskey (I didn’t even know that bourbon is a kind of whiskey. I thought bourbon is bourbon. Whiskey is whiskey), and would be happy to go with whatever the bartender recommended. So, he began by bringing out this bottle, and explained what it was.
As the tag and bottle indicate, this bottle is from a keg of bourbon hand-picked by Sean Brock and the distiller. As the bartender informed me, they only make five of these bottles available at Husk each month. So, there was no question. This is where I started my lunch.
Next, the bartender recommended the Husk Burger, a large, locally-sourced beef, two-patty burger with caramelized onions, cheese…and I stopped listening after that. So, here’s my lunch (remind me to not bite into my lunch before photographing it, next time. I didn’t have the presence of mind to just cut it in half to show what’s inside. My apologies).
As I was leaving the bar, I noticed this:
This is Husk’s cured-hams and bourbon display vault. My thought was, any restaurant that had a ham and bourbon vault, was serious about what it was serving.
So, this was my Husk treat. The bourbon and burger were amazing. Anthony Bourdain strikes again. If you ever find yourself in Nashville, Husk is definitely a restaurant that you should consider treating yourself to.
And now, a return visit to Music Row…