In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types and bloggers. To kick it off in Nashville, Eater asked the group eight questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequent most to the biggest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.
Q. What was your best restaurant meal of 2016?
Nancy Vienneau, food writer and critic for The Tennessean:
My singular experience at Bastion's dining bar.
Collin Czarnecki, founder and writer for NOBLE Nashville:
Eating a meal at Husk tasted twice as nice just knowing that the restaurant was safe and sound after it recovered from an electrical fire in September.
The "Arnold's After Dark" benefit dinner that the Nashville Wine Auction planned where Kahlil Arnold, Tandy Wilson, Tyler Brown, Sean Brock, Edgar Pendley, Trey Cioccia, Karl Worley and Lisa Donovan all prepared their version of dishes of the iconic Arnold's Country Kitchen menu as a tribute to the Arnold family and to recognize their contribution to Nashville. The food was freaking phenomenal and the atmosphere was totally convivial.
Lizzy Alfs, retail reporter for The Tennessean:
Little Octopus with a huge group of girls for my birthday. We shared at least 10 dishes and everything was incredible. It’s one of the most vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants in town and they work wonders with vegetables. The restaurant is on hiatus until it opens in the Gulch. Yes!
Lesley Lassiter, food writer for Nashville Scene’s Bites Blog and Lesley Eats:
That's a tough one, so I'll say the special vegetarian dinner at Saffire in Franklin for variety and quantity.
Matt Rogers, editor Eater Nashville:
As an all-around dining experience, my meals at Bastion this year were definitely standouts. I continue to be impressed with the dishes Treehouse chef Jason Zygmont is putting out, and Butcher & Bee has quickly established itself as a Nashville staple.
Vivek Surti, founder of VEA Supper Club and Sabrage Society:
Beth Wallace Sachan, founder and food writer at Eat. Drink. Smile.:
I can't pick just one! All very different from each other, but my best meals have been at Butcher & Bee, Bastion, and The Farm House.
It's a tie of two of my favorites that have both been around two and three years, respectively: Josephine and The Farm House. Those who have yet to experience Andy Little's X|X:Josephine 10-course dining experience need to make that a priority for 2017. Fun fact: Even if you can't nab a seat at the 10-person table for the weekly Friday or Saturday meal, you can still arrange your own dinner any night the restaurant is open provided that you have a group of 10, which is exactly what my husband and I did for our anniversary this year. And you can never go wrong with Trey Cioccia and Bobby Compton's creations at the Farm House. Winter, in particular, is my favorite time to dine there as they do a lot of fun dishes with squash and other seasonal vegetables. Most recently, we had a feast of walnut gnudi with delicata squash, Tasso, sage, sweet potato and apple; duck confit served over spaetzli with spaghetti squash, ricotta, olive and pancetta; chorizo, pumpkin, apple, cumin, caraway and crème fraiche; roasted chicken thigh, collards, white beans, ham, onion and beer; then a skillet pecan pie and a deconstructed vinegar pie in a mason jar as part of a trio of desserts.
Kristy Lucero, associate editor Eater Nashville:
I really enjoyed everything on the menu for Virago brunch, most notably the warm scotch egg and bacon and egg mazeman. The Korean fried chicken & waffles at Marsh House was also very good…Grilled strip steak at etc. was delicious as well.