Wednesday, July 18, 2012

F. Scott's - Nashville

Pull up to the valet stand, hand off your keys, and step through the art deco doors of F. Scott’s into a world of flapper dresses, jazz bands, and prohibition cocktails.  Well, there may be a dearth of flappers inside F. Scott’s, but there are certainly plenty of cocktails, jazz music, and even local farm products. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself; allow me to color this scenario with a little nostalgia.

I had made it to Nashville for my overnight stay and I was in the mood for a cocktail and new southern cuisine. While there may be other venues for those items in Nashville, I had F. Scott’s on my mind if only for a hazy memory of spring 2003. That was the year Jennifer graduated from Vandy and while I’m short on the specifics, I remember a rather tasty meal at F. Scott’s. Nearly a decade later, I decided it was time to lift the haze and see what F. Scott’s had to offer in 2012.

While waiting on my appetizer course to arrive, I decided to indulge in F. Scott’s version of a Manhattan.
Rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters truly make for a sublime beverage.

Before I could finish my cocktail, my appetizer of veal sweetbreads arrived.
The dark, dinner atmosphere of restaurants plays hell with picture quality, but this plate contained veal sweetbreads, cornbread cakes, Serrano pepper, shallot, and plum relish and a citrus velouté.
Instead of the usual thin coating, these sweetbread nuggets were wrapped in a thick, chicken fried, and salty batter.
While the coating was nicely crispy, the sweetbreads inside were overcooked. Interestingly, these sweetbreads, while lacking the usual silky texture, weren’t chalky but more akin to the texture of liver, dense and thick but a bit odd.
The cornbread was another different story. Each piece was light, airy, and topped with a complimentary smoky relish.

Faced with a variety of tempting entrees, it took a duo of pork to make me decide on the braised pork cheeks.
Entirely out of season but perfectly welcome, these pork cheeks were served on top of country ham, spring, onion, and mozzarella gratin with braised red cabbage and fava shoots.
The first few bites of the pork cheeks were some of the silkiest and smoothest examples of pork I can recall, but what was, at first, a dark and extremely rich variety of flavors quickly became too thick, heavy, and hard to finish.
Underneath the pork cheeks, the potato gratin was exceedingly tender and quite salty, proving that even country ham can sometimes be too much of a good thing. I was hoping that the fava shoots would help cut through the richness of the sauce and seasoning, but they proved no match for the bold flavors. This dish would have been well suited for sharing on a blustery winter night but for one person in the May heat, it was simply too much.

After complaining to myself about the overt richness of the entrée, I was easily convinced to make the entirely hypocritical choice of pistachio ice cream for dessert.
To be fair, turning down the prospect of homemade pistachio ice cream with candied pecans is a difficult decision to make.
As you might expect, this ice cream was insanely rich with an exceedingly creamy texture and mouth feel.  I did enjoy the pistachio flavor and the crunch of the candied pecans, but I was no match for this bowl of ice cream.

It seems that the past few times I’ve tried to revisit old memories of restaurants, I’ve come away with mixed results and F. Scott’s is no exception.  From the cloyingly thick batter of the sweetbreads to the sinfully dark flavors of the pork cheeks to the creaminess of the pistachio ice cream, each course was a study in excess, and not always in a good way. There’s no denying that, with maybe the exception of the sweetbreads, there are excellent flavors at work at F. Scott’s; maybe I should have looked to the lighter side of the menu. Regardless, I’ll be tempted to revisit F. Scott’s the next time I’m in Nashville, but maybe I’ll just stick to a few more cocktails and the fish.

F. Scott’s Address & Information
F. Scott's on Urbanspoon

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