As much as I love the hidden gems, the hole in the walls, and the neighborhood haunts with their locals only menus, reasonable prices, and welcoming atmosphere, there are times when I look for the high end, the award winners. If the location permits, there’s nothing quite like indulging in a restaurant with a few Michelin stars, but since I rarely frequent New York, LA, San Francisco, or Chicago, I more often look to the James Beard Awards.
However, the James Beard Awards had slipped my mind when I first arrived in Nashville. Having explored most of the hot chicken options the last time I was in town, I was looking for something a little more Asian. Stuck between Thai and sushi, I was driving around the Vanderbilt bubble to scope out a few restaurants when my sister called. Having graduated from Vandy, I thought she would know a few good places around the area. Unfortunately, she doesn’t visit as often as she would like, but she did know about a restaurant named Fish & Co. Opened in the later half of 2010 by James Beard Award winner Louis Osteen for the Hospitality Development Group, Fish & Co is the self-described first Nashville high-end seafood dining option.
Like most high quality seafood restaurants, Fish & Co has a raw bar including a fine selection of oysters. Deciding to skip the shrimp cocktail, I went straight for a dozen assorted oysters, the smaller and brinier the better.
Going with the White Cap & Wellfleet from MA, the Summerside from P.E.I, and the Deep Bay from Vancouver, that platter of shucked bivalves on ice was a welcome site. If there was one thing I took away from this selection of oysters is be careful what you wish for. I asked the waiter for his advice on the smallest and briniest oysters and with the Summerside oysters, I may have bitten off more than I could chew. The occasional touch of overwhelming salinity and wallet aching prices aside, this platter was a delectable appetizer.
Although the description of the grilled bone-in ribeye, with roasted bone marrow, creamed spinach and topped with cabernet shallot butter, was tempting, I felt the need to stick to seafood at Fish & Co. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of enticing seafood options. From the rainbow trout, stuffed with crabmeat, scallions, and Benton’s bacon, to the seared scallops, there was really too much to choose from.
With braised leeks, wild mushrooms, and spinach and topped with a brown butter caper sauce, this red grouper certainly looked the part. From the golden brown sear to the deep tan of the butter sauce, this plate of earthy browns was speckled with just enough greenery to compliment the richness.
If you’re looking for overcooked, chalky fish, you’ve come to the wrong place as each piece of this grouper was delicately seasoned and cooked to perfection. One would think all this brown butter would be greasy and overpowering to the fish, but the leeks, mushrooms, and capers made sure that wasn’t the case. While I did love everything about this plate, I didn’t really understand the addition of the spinach. It doesn’t detract from the dish but the spinach doesn’t seem to play a vocal role either. I suppose it provides a little more greenery and tartness amidst the plate of browns and a few leafy greens always help assuage the guilt of eating so much butter.
Unfortunately, that plate of excellent red grouper was the end of my meal at Fish & Co. Even though the dessert menu was beguiling, I would have gladly returned to the appetizer section to see just how good an order of seared scallop and foie gras was, but, sadly, there was no more room. I hardly made a dent in what Fish & Co had to offer and by the next time I visit, the menu will have changed completely. At least I can take solace in the fact that, if this meal was any indication, I will have no trouble repeating the seafood excellence that I enjoyed that night.