Post edit: I wrote this post yesterday and last night attended Nashville’s Iron Fork where Chef Jessica Benefield competed against three other excellent contenders and won. I watched Chef Jessica diligently at work with the secret ingredient, maple syrup, and I had a feeling she was the one to beat. Congratulations Chef Jessica, just one more reason to go and see why people talk about Virago so much.
Virago isn’t the only place to get sushi in Nashville, but it’s the only place to get the Virago experience.
As soon as you approach Virago, you know you’re stepping into something that was designed with great intention to be one of those places that makes you go ooo and ahhh upon entry. The lanterns over the bar area are exceptional design, only spoiled (more on this later) by the flat screen TV.
But let’s put that aside. I loved the food, the service and the decor at Virago.
Cocktails are only $6 before 7:00 and we slid in just in time. I had a wasabi martini and it was so much better than I anticipated. That will be my drink of choice on my next visit.
Virago has two kitchens, a sushi kitchen and a chef’s kitchen. The food will be delivered as soon as it is ready, so I advise ordering a dish or two at a time with that in mind.
We ordered three rolls which were delicious, but the priciest, the katana, at $22 was without a doubt the best sushi roll of my life. Yes, $22 is a bit pricey for a sushi roll, but this delivers. Each piece has lobster tempura and then alternately, it is topped with either, scallop, tuna, shrimp or salmon.
The Bomb at $19 and the Crazy Monkey at $11 were great starters, and I’m glad we led up to the Katana because it’s a show stopper.
After three rolls, we switched over the Chef’menu. We ordered a gulf pink shrimp with amazu ponzu from the Robatayaki selection. Robatayaki means barbecued slowly under fire, on skewers in such a way that the shrimp are very tender. The shrimp were tasty and wonderfully, just cooked.
It’s hard to beat wagyu ribeye, but the next selection we ordered was amazing. We cooked the pieces of meat on the hot stone, by dipping in the oil and cooking 2 seconds on each side.
I never feel satisfied if I don’t have at least one green dish and the green beans were delightful. Crispy, flavorful, not too salty, and balanced out the meat perfectly. Please do order the green beans; you will be happy about it.
There were so many other items we wanted to try so we will be returning. The lobster tacos, the duck eggrolls, or the salt and pepper shrimp might be next.
Back to that flat screen TV. I’m not picking on Virago. All the upscale restaurants in Nashville seemed to have joined the ranks of lowering the quality of ambiance for the few bar customers who have to watch a ball game. But I noticed on the website that Virago’s has a dress code, which discourages sports fan attire.
Somehow this dress code which is fairly strict for laid back Nashville is a bit incongruent with the big glaring screen.
Everyone we’ve dined with agrees with me. Not every fine restaurant needs to double as a sports bar. I think of all the thought and creativity that went into those lanterns and I’m sure that the guys that needed to watch basketball would be fine over at Whiskey Kitchen or one of my favorites, the Tavern.
We enjoyed the Virago experience and the service was great, as our server was very helpful and attentive. The atmosphere lent itself to good conversation and I recommend Virago highly for business dinners.
I think if you love dining out and especially if you love Asian Fusion, Virago is a Nashville must try.
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