Sean Brock opened up the Nashville outpost of his wildly popular Husk restaurant a little over a year ago and the enthusiasm and the crowds have not dimmed. We dined there on a chilly Wednesday evening in the middle of January and it was still packed. Husk is on the edge of downtown in a hilly, dark residential area, so don’t be alarmed if you have trouble finding it, or your driver gets lost…just keep going.
Husk changes their menu on a daily basis, but a few mainstays are usually on the list; one of which is the crispy chicken skins with a spicy white bbq sauce and thyme. If these are on the menu order them and relish in their crunchy, juicy umami. Be warned, this dish is to be shared by a group of preferably 4, as it’s super rich and you will eat all of it even if there’s only two of you…
The menu at Husk is very manageable, and quite small with 8 – 10 small plates and another 5 – 7 entrees, depending on the night. I would best describe the style of food as upscale southern comfort that utilizes modern techniques and a twist of non-traditional southern ingredients…Husk is not your average farm to table concept. I would suggest ordering 2 – 3 small plates and an entree for two to experience the breadth of the kitchen, or as in our case, 6 small plates! After the massive plate of chicken skins, another sizable serving of their Cheerwine glazed pork belly sliders appeared, topped with pickled cucumbers and smoked Duke’s mayo…good lord. Before you start thinking this is some Asian mash up, take notice that the pork belly is served crunchy and not braised with a crispy piece of fried pork skin…very old school southern and awesome; I would fight somebody for these.
After the first two dishes, I was a little worried that six was too many, but thankfully the next few plates were a little more manageable for my expanding waste line. The grilled lettuces, with cured egg yolk, bottarga and sheep’s milk cheese was more of a creative side salad; while it wasn’t bad, it lacked something, and was be far the weakest link of our meal.
Next up was probably my favorite dish of the night; grilled Rappahannock oysters infused with nduja butter (what!!!), and preserved lemon…little morsels from heaven.
Our last dish was a creative take on beef tartare, using aged beef topped with dried blackberry dust and a thin rye cracker; the beer cream it was served with was sublime.
The wine list at Husk Nashville was also very approachable with most bottles coming in under $100; there a reserve list as well for the high rollers. We enjoyed a solid 2011 pinot from Mouton Noir.
Husk Nashville was every bit as good as the original and is definitely worth seeking out, even if it is hard to find.