REVIEW: The Catbird Seat

2018 came to a close with Chef Ryan Poli cooking a final meal at The Catbird Seat on December 29th after 3 years with the “avant-garde dining gem.”  It’s a new year and new chefs will be introduced in February. As my friends and I reflected on our “Best of 2018” experiences on New Year’s Eve, I knew, without a doubt, my “best meal” pick was The Catbird Seat.

I recently read a comparison of the dining experience at The Catbird Seat to hearing live music, specifically at the Ryman here in Nashville. The diner, Ben Kuttler, appeared as a guest writer on Nashville blog, Type-A Explorations, and expressively described the parallels between the Ryman and Catbird Seat as a feeling like “a massage at the center of your body.” On the other hand, the late, great Anthony Bourdain was so enamored with the pasta he was served at The Catbird Seat he claimed he would “face-plant in a big fuckin’ bowl of this” and “would wake up and eat this cold in a Tupperware container” like Tony Soprano does with Carmela’s legendary ziti.

High praise indeed. The figurative and literal accounts of The Catbird Seat experience, each an eloquent rendition of the multi-course meal, are both entirely accurate. I’ve been very fortunate to dine at several tasting menu restaurants all over the world and every time it was a special orchestrated performance unique to the chef(s), location and cuisine, not unlike the magical experience of listening to music live. I have to agree with Ben when he described “getting lost in the sound” of live music. Next time you’re at a venue with great acoustics, hearing an extremely talented musician, close your eyes. It feels as if every note resounds through the body pulling at every single heartstring stirring the soul. Tasting food, some things you’ve never heard of before, prepared in a way you couldn’t imagine recreating, the sheer inventiveness baffling the mind, sparks that similar feeling. Sounds of beautiful music and bites of something so indescribably delicious will absolutely move you to the core.

Sean treated me to the raved about, local, “interactive” restaurant for my birthday. What a treat it was featuring delectable bites such as peekytoe crab with toasted nori + sea urchin butter, corn porridge with crispy beef tendon and beets infused with coffee. Other food pairings didn’t sound very appetizing such as the bitter chocolate cremeux with roasted kelp ice cream and cherry compote, however tasting the flavors together you newly experience the feeling of sheer bliss and complete disbelief that something so odd could taste so, so good.  I fear I lack the words to adequately explain the many flavors and creative bites we relished throughout the evening. Thus, pictures will have to suffice. I was incredibly lucky to witness the magic of the Poli Brothers in action my first year in Nashville. Best of luck to them in their new venture and in the meantime, I look forward to the announcement of The Catbird Seat’s newest chef!

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From top to bottom:

  1. Sweet Corn Soup with Russing Ostera Caviar + Chive Oil
  2. Ahi Tuna Crudo from Hawaii with Yuzu Vinaigrette + Garlic Chip
  3. Smoke Marble Potatoes with Catbird Cured Coppa, Fermented Butter + Herbs from our Garden
  4. Beets Infused with Coffee from Crema with Potatoe & White Chocolate Mousse, Dehydrated Olives + Lime Zest
  5. Corn Porridge with Mole Negro, Frozen Cilantro + Crispy Beef Tendon
  6. Miso Pasta with Peekytoe Crab, Toasted Nori + Sea Urchin Butter
  7. Bear Creek Farm 30 Day Aged Strip Loin in Umami Crust with Morel Mushroom + BBQ Tofu
  8. Buttermilk + Vanilla Panna Cotta + Lemony Olive Oil
  9. Bitter Chocolate Cremeux with Roasted Kelp Ice Cream, Cherry Compote + Crunchy Things
  10. Cookies in a Jar!
Rating*: 5 | More Info:  The Catbird Seat | Neighborhood:  Music Row | Cuisine Type:  New American
*Ratings are based on a 5 point scale with 5 being an exceptional, extremely satisfactory experience. Factors are taken into consideration when reviewing & include atmosphere, service, taste, food/drink preparation, quality & innovation, and cost relative to the previous factors.

 

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