A few weeks the Nashville food bloggers were special guests at the Omni Nashville Hotel. We were treated to a sit down dinner, prepared by Chef Peter McCall, at Kitchen Notes, cocktails at Bar Lines and if that wasn’t enough, we were armed with swag bags on our way out.
Prior to this visit, I knew very little about this new spectacular hotel which has embraced the soul of Nashville in the deepest way possible, bridging it’s country roots with a modern day, urban appeal. This is done with exposed steel, a breathtaking chandelier, integration with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and some well prepared Southern Food that I’m going to tell you all about.
While Nashville is down to earth and approachable, it’s not a backwards town. It has a treasured history in country roots, but is clearly moving forward, as an important city and major travel destination as marked by the new Music City Center.
The Omni Nashville has captured this Nashville balancing act through glorious food and hospitality, knowing that many of it’s guests will be weekly trotters, while many will only see Nashville for a few nights during a convention.
As a Nashvillian, I’m proud of what they’ll experience through an Omni Nashville stay or visit for dining.
Let’s start with Breakfast. Kitchen Notes does a huge breakfast business, probably as business travelers get ready for their meeting or head over to the convention center. They will start their Nashville day at the Biscuit Bar. They claim that they’ve already served 500,000 biscuits since September 30th. They do three different biscuits, a sweet, a savory and a classic buttermilk.
If you want a good cup of coffee or the best latte in town, locally owned Bongo Java resides right in the hotel. This may be one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a hotel yet, because they didn’t choose a national chain. They chose a coffee house that is truly near and dear to us, as we use Bongo Java beans in our Rancho Silvia at home.
As we food bloggers arrived, with our smart phones and taste for good food, we were impressed with the attention to detail. The staff of the hotel didn’t just put food on the table. They took us on a journey, detailing the Omni Nashville story. Omni put their heart into Nashville by capturing the soul of the city. They didn’t want to just be the Omni in Nashville. They wanted to be Omni Nashville, creating a Nashville hospitality experience, not found elsewhere.
The wall in the private dining room captivated me with old time recipes in frames. We learned that the corn bread is made with the recipe from Chef’s grandmother.
A Menu was designed specifically for us Nashville Food Bloggers. Pretty classy. We learned that a few weeks ago, Chef McCall and his culinary team brought in first place at the Taste of Elegance Pork competition, and will go to Napa Valley representing Tennessee. He prepared a pork tenderloin wrapped in smoked pork jowel, prepared suvée style, then roasted with glazed pork cheeks in Tennessee honey and red wine, with shaved watermelon radish, parnish puree, crispy pig ears, pickled Fresno chiles. Now that’s a chef who set out to win, and he did.
Sometimes, living in Nashville, the Southern bent on food gets cliche and repetitive, but I can clearly say that the style and attention to our food that was clearly Southern, but clearly updated, not in any elevated pretentious manner, but with much attention to flavor, prepared simply, cleaner, a little more modern.
We started with the most amazing deviled eggs, a combination of spicy and pickled okra. A very fresh approach using Southern ingredients for a Southern staple.
Anson Mills Grit Cakes with Pimento Cheese. A great way to start the night, creamy, Southern fare.
Shrimp and Grits with Collards, Tomato Gravy and Country Ham. I am a shrimp and grits fan, and I’ve had them served so many different ways, but none more charming than in a mason jar. The total surprise is the collard greens on top of the grits.
Countering the shrimp and grits was a housemade pork terrine, with housemade pickles. This could be a meal for me. We all agreed that the pickles were wonderful, as the sweetness was just right.
The salad of organic mixed greens, shaved fennel, tarragon and cornbread crumbs. Many of us remarked on how much we loved the tarragon addition. The salad was dressed with a buttermilk green goddess vinaigrette.
Nashville Steak Frites, otherwise known in the South as Crispy Okra and Fresno Chili Aioli.
Smoked Tri Tip. Amazing. It was not on our planned menu, and was a special addition from the chef.
Pan Seared Carolina Snapper with cast iron fingerling roasted potatoes and green sauce. This is what I’m talking about when I say there is a modern approach to the food. Not all fish in the South is deep fried. The potatoes are cooked with white wine, garlic and cherry tomatoes, Italian Style. Now I’m feeling at home.
The meal was finished with a trio of desserts, prepared by Chef Andy Manchester. Each was served on a beautiful board. Banana Pudding, Bourbon Caramel Stuffed Cupcakes topped with a whipping cream made with Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream and Bourbon Pecan Pie.
After dessert, the food bloggers got busy tweeting before we headed over to Barlines for a signature cocktail, the Lincoln County Maple Smash.
The mixologist showed us how she makes this refreshing drink with lots of lemon, whiskey and maple syrup. It had wonderful flavors. I look forward to going back for some fried pickles and a Bourbon Belle Old Fashioned.
Barlines, a full service bar, with domestic and imported beer, several wines by the glass, has nightly entertainment Nashville style and tasty bar food like flat breads, pulled pork, meatloaf and Nashville hot chicken.
Every hotel should offer it’s business clients a great steak and a place to cinch the deal or enjoy some down time with colleagues. Head over to Bob’s Steak and Chop House for intimate booth seating, and steaks cooked to perfection, and don’t forget the whiskey.
The hallway off of the lobby of the Omni is beautiful, and is also integrated with Country Music Hall of Fame. On the way to the bar, you look up and down the hallway for a superstar treat. My two favorites were right there, Brenda Lee and Johnny Cash. I attended Brenda Lee’s Christmas party this year and she really is that petite.
If the museum treatment of some of Nashville’s legends isn’t enough, it was mind blowing to see the Hatch Show Print occupy this space, and be open for all to see.
Thank you to the staff that entertained us with food, history, cocktails and a great time from the Omni Nashville Kitchen Notes to Barlines. The Omni Nashville is a first class hotel that has captured the spirit of Nashville’s history and Nashville’s future.