Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Catbird Seat: Review!

 
This weekend was pretty incredible because after years of reading about it I finally got to experience dining at The Catbird Seat! It definitely lived up to my extremely high expectations and I can't wait to tell you all about it. 

The Catbird Seat opened in 2011 in Nashville- and since then it has been well known as one of the hardest reservations to get in the country. This is because the restaurant only seats 28 people and you can only make reservations 30 days in advance

They are only open at nights from Wednesday - Saturday- so your best shot of getting a reservation is to stay up until midnight and make reservations 30 days exactly from the date you're looking for. For instance, my birthday is April 22, so I would need to make my birthday reservation at midnight on March 22- and even then it may take a couple tries loading on the computer. Complicated? Yes... but worth the effort? YES!!! People travel from all over the country just to eat here!

I was so excited that my sister actually got reservations on a weekend night! It was a 9:00 p.m. reservation so it was perfect for a Saturday night. Their reservation times start at 5:45 p.m. and the last one is at 9:15 p.m. 

Before I tell you about the food, here are some things to know about The Catbird Seat:

- Don't be late! The restaurant has all reservations perfectly plotted out into 15 minute increments.
Every 15 minutes, someone will be seated and began to be served. Get there at least ten minutes early so you won't mess up their seating strategy. 

- All people in the restaurant are seated at a giant U-shaped table where the cooks prepare the food in the center while you can watch. Everyone is served the same menu of 14-16 courses. Don't worry, this isn't set up like a hibachi table- you have enough space from the strangers sitting next to you that you don't feel like you're dining with people you don't know. You also aren't watching some big dining performance- you can have conversations with the people you came with without being interrupted.

- There is not a typical drink menu. You can choose from a bottle of wine, half bottle of wine, or the $50.00 drink pairings. There is a non-alcoholic drink pairings option as well. The alcohol drink pairings option is totally worth it though because you will get a LOT and its pretty intriguing.. I'll explain more later. 

- If you plan on drinking, take a cab there if you plan on ordering the drink pairings. It also can be hard to find parking around midtown/music row.

- This will be more expensive than you expected. Their multi-course tasting menu costs $115 a person. The drink pairings is $50.00. But this doesn't include tax AND the 20% service charge AND tip. So this ends up costing an arm and a leg, but it's not just food, it's an experience, just like an expensive concert ticket or weekend getaway.. so it's worth it to me! :) 

- Your dining experience at Catbird Seat will last 3 hours- so plan accordingly! It flies by though. 

- PACE YOURSELF! I learned that the hard way. You are going to be served A LOT of food and A LOT of drinks so don't get too full and/or drunk! Don't feel like you have to eat/drink it all!



Our Experience:


You walk into this inconspicuous door: 


 Catbird Seat secret door (photo credit)


You are then greeted by a hostess with champagne! You then are handed a glass of champs and go up the elevator to the dining room on the third floor. 


 (Catbird Painting in the elevator!)


You then are seated at the table and your adventure begins! 

 The table! (image credit)



I am really adventurous eater and will try almost any kind of food. Our courses were split into four course categories: vegetable, flower, meat and desert. My favorite courses were veggie and dessert. I ordered the drink options and I'm so glad I did- it consisted of one beer, three glasses of red or white wines and a dessert wine. This doesn't include the glass of champs that you are handed before arriving. 

I started off trying to finish each glass but there's no way I could have finished all of these without being completely full/hammered. So beware, there's tons of drinks! The drinks also may taste strange on their own but taste perfect with the courses! 

The concept of The Catbird Seat is to challenge food concepts and to teach you about flavor. So many of the courses were totally surprising and I really loved them all. Come in with an open mind! I don't think its even possible to finish all 14-16 courses (I got extremely full by the meat courses but I was still able to continue throughout dessert!)

You will be eating flowers, leaves and will even have some desert courses wrapped in lettuce and it's all surprisingly delicious! You will also be eating almost every course with your hands so it will get a little messy (I ended up dropping caviar down my dress twice.. hilarious!)

Several chefs prepare your meal and they will come over and explain each course to you and where the ingredients are from! Many of the ingredients are local! It is so neat to talk to each chef and to get to meet them! I had no idea I was talking to the famous main chef Trevor Moran at times - he is so nice and down to earth! The music is also pretty fun and the 3-hour night flies by!


Here are some photos of our courses (I was shamelessly snapping pics the whole time!):


Oysters






A bite of pasta (blurry, sorry!!)






Sushi fish bite



Potato tea (amazing!)





Caviar on greens





Interesting colored wine from my pairings that I had to photograph.. did I mention I love wine?






Snail eggs with flowers.. so beautiful!





 Beer yeast over potatoes





 Their twist on a southern tomato sandwich!






Some of my beer and wine pairings (struggling to finish my drinks at this point)





 One of the beef courses (skin and potatoes.. I was very tipsy and full by now)






Green apple juice and salt to cleanse the pallet before dessert!






Key lime pie wrapped in lettuce (to die for!)






Dessert wine (my favorite drink I had)






Blueberry cake with milk for saturating the cake






Close up of the blueberry cake (work of art!)



They also send you home with a brown bag with a surprise inside... 




...which turns out to be a pastry that looks like a potato in dirt (above)!!! They say you can have it the next morning for breakfast, which I did! It was so good.. Adam and I were a little nervous to eat it because it really looked like a potato in dirt! It was awesome!!


They also send you home with a hand written menu describing all the courses (and drinks!) that you had that night:
 


 Our menu above-- What a personal keep sake! 


All in all, my sister and I were totally amazed and are already dying to go back! What an experience- it really lives up to all the hype. If you are willing to invest money and time it is totally worth it.

Almost everyone we were seated with was celebrating a special occasion- anniversaries, birthdays, and one couple had just gotten engaged that night! It was epic.. thanks for the friendly service and a night of dining that I will never forget, Catbird Seat!

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