This is not a full-fledged review, because Two Ten Jack is not officially open yet, but I was able to get a sneak peek at a recent pre-opening party.
I heard about the coming of Two Ten Jack several months ago when I went to this Asian cooking class at the McConnell House from Chef Jason McConnell and I’ve been waiting anxiously ever since. This will the place I think I can convince Franklinites to venture over to East Nashville for as they are already familiar with his successful host of restaurants including the Red Pony, 55 South and Cork & Cow.
Two Ten Jack is located in East Nashville on Eastland in a great foodie neighborhood, a few doors down from Silly Goose, Ugly Muggs and Jenni’s Ice Cream in a new build-out. As the doors opened, my eyes first feasted on a the handsome decor.
Lots of wood, simplicity, warmth, a kitchen in full view, and an ample bar bar that sits in the center of the restaurant, pointing to the izikaya style, a Japanese pub with casual food, often ordered in small plates, like the shishito peppers, which were amazing and have already been placed on my best bites of 2014 list.
Two Ten Jack was elbow to ribs crowded, but I managed to snatch a cocktail table where I perched for the evening doing hipster people watching, sipping the cocktail of the evening, slurping oysters, munching on fried chicken on a stick, sweet and salty edamame, Japanese meatballs. The treat of the night was watching one of my culinary heroes working hard in the kitchen, living her dream.
Chef Jessica Benefield (formerly of Virago) in collaboration with Jason McConnell is probably going to seduce and upset many weekenders for a while, because I predict a continued crowd, even at the bar.
There were two cocktails for the evening, and I had the Take & Nickel. Nikka 12 yr appleton estate rum/rare wine savannah madeira/cherry heering/benedictine/lapsang souchong bitters. Inventive, pretty, not too sweet. There are 24 custom built beer taps, and the beers for evening included Oskar Blues G-Kinght Ale and Green Flash West Coast IPA.
While I like the cocktail, I loved the red wine, one we don’t drink much of in the United States. E & M Zweigelt. It’s from Austria, and with a bit of cherry and peppery notes, seems a perfect choice for food with a lot of sweet, sour and salty.
Take a look at this fried chicken on a stick. I was fortunate enough to snatch a cocktail table against the wall, close enough to the kitchen, so I got to sample almost everything that was being passed around on trays, sometimes twice, like the oysters and the chicken.
We loved that kitchen was in open view.
The place was so noisy (in a good way) that I didn’t even realize they had a D.J.
I noticed that Sarah Gavignon of Otaku South was there in support. What is it about these Southern women with such passion for Japanese food Izikaya style. That’s a story all it’s own, and one I hope to tell.
I’ll be back to write more about Two Ten Jack. Stay tuned. We are both looking forward to yakitori, sushi and ramen as well as more of those shishito peppers.
In the meantime, there is a fancy weekend (January 24-25) Grand Opening 5 course dinners with special guest Chef Shigetoshi Nakamura of Sun Noodle Ramen Lab in NYC. Details are at Two Ten Jack.