Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fifty First Kitchen & Bar

Almost a year ago, my friends MM and MC and I got together to eat at Union Common, where we shared a bunch of plates and had a ball.  Recently, we decided we were long overdue to play this game again, and we picked the new Fifty First Kitchen & Bar in the Nations neighborhood in west Nashville.  Once again, we chose well for our feast.

Quote of the night: "Is it gluttonous if we order one of everything on the menu?"  "Absolutely not."

Fifty First Kitchen & Bar

According to the website, Fifty First is a "seasonally focused neighborhood restaurant with technique rooted in rustic Italian cuisine."  There's ample parking, though I will warn against wearing heels as the lots are gravel/uneven.  There's a large porch, and the inside feels very much like a dark, hip bar set in an old house.  It's intimate and comfortable at the same time, so you'll see people wearing anything from street clothes/jeans to dressy attire.  Very Nashville, I'd say!

You'll have to excuse the poor photo quality; sexy mood lighting and votives are not the best for iPhone snaps!

The menu at Fifty First is printed daily, though I noticed a lot of the items reflect the ones on their website; that said, it wasn't identical, so I applaud the chef for basing the day's menu on what is in season and what's inspired for the day.  We started with charcuterie, selecting the chicken liver pate (served with warm rye bread and an apple-vanilla delicious jam), galantina (spricy pork shoulder), coppa (dry cured pork shoulder), salami finocchiona (dry cured salami with fennel), with the meats served with some green beans and accoutrements.  For cheese, we had the cave aged gouda (raw cow) and mona extra-aged (sheep and cow), served with flatbread and honey.

The charcuterie was amazing.  We had to try every combo... bread + cheese and bread + pate and bread + jam and cheese + jam and cheese + honey and on and on...  YUM.  We had to ask for more rye bread, as there wasn't enough for the pate, and PATE WAS THE BEST.  All caps.  Seriously, we were bowing down to the excellent pate in its superior flavor and smooth texture.  It was amazing.  I want to feed it to my future babies.

We consulted our server before making our next move.  We'd initially decided to order one of everything on the menu, but then the charcuterie menu came and we knew we had to make some cuts.  With her help, we cut the number in half and ordered six of the day's twelve menu items.

To assist with our feast, the server/kitchen staff paced us with a few courses at a time.  We started with the buckwheat sourdough focaccia, served with olio verde and marigold ricotta.  I'm a big bread fan, so I LOVED the pure simplicity of this.  I would eat it every day if I could.

After the focaccia, the grilled octopus arrived, served with romano beans, arugula, and preserved lemon.  We also had the tomato panzanella, with goat feta, watermelon, and moscatel vinaigrette.  Everything was tasty.  Octopus was something new for me, and the taste was mild but good.  The way it was plated, I don't think most people would have realized what it was.  The panzanella was yummy too.

But honestly, these were not the rock stars of the evening, because of what came next...

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the radiatore nero, with rock shrimp, chiles, guanciale, and charred tomato.  The pasta was soooo fresh, and a beautiful black color from the squid ink.  The shrimp were delicious and cute (can I say that and keep my wannabe foodie card?) and the spicy kick to the sauce was on point.  This arrived with the octopus and panzanella, and I honestly couldn't focus on the others because I was obsessed with the radiatore.  Good pick, dear server.  We salute you!

And then there was MEAT.  We ordered the lamb & pork sausage served with field peas, roasted peppers, and vin cotto.

We also had the grilled PRB steak, served with AMAZING lamb fat potatoes, lobster mushrooms, and balsamic.

Um, delicious.  I think the sausage was a clear favorite for the table.  We actually had to wait a little for these courses, because our ticket was misplaced in the kitchen; our server topped off our wine gratis, and the chef brought the food out with apologies.  But the thing is, we didn't even notice the delay!  We were so blissfully enjoying a break in our gluttony, knowing we had more ahead...  but I'll take any excuse to pay our compliments to the chef, because he was really fantastic!  (You're awesome, Tony Galzin. Bravo.)  In fact, our service was pretty amazing the entire time.  We never wanted for anything, the servers cleared the many courses quickly and even brought us lots of fresh silverware throughout the evening, all swiftly and adeptly and without complaint or looks of "are these people still eating... MORE?!"

MM and MC aren't huge on dessert, but I am... so we ordered one:  peach semifreddo with pecan crumble and white peach-thyme compote.  So this dessert didn't knock my socks off like a few of the other dishes, but it was still tasty.  Peaches are about gone for the year so I had to take advantage; the peach and pecan combo was soooo yummy.  I think I would have eaten a bowl of the crumble and compote and then skip the semifreddo itself.  But it was good... I mean, we ate the whole thing if that tells you anything.

The moral of this story?  Eat at Fifty First Kitchen & Bar, before it's impossible to get a reservation.  You don't have to share dishes like we did, as the portions are ample enough that you could split charcuterie and some small bites, then have a couple of individual courses.

That said, splitting a zillion dishes with friends is my new favorite way of eating.  For example, we each had two drinks, and with all the courses and everything, our split came to about $60 each.  (Plates and charcuterie ranged anywhere from $4 to $32... choose your own adventure.)  And while I know that this isn't cheap by any means, did you look at everything we got to try?  See photos above AGAIN.  You can do way worse damage than that in Nashville and get a lot less great food, let me tell you.

Eat all the things, friends.  Eat all the things.

Fifty First Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
(so new, I had to ask Zomato to add it)

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