Nearly Native Eats: Myrtle’s Chicken + Beer

Beer and chicken – two words more beautiful have never been uttered together (according to my boyfriend). My southern boy is the epitome of “meat and potatoes”, raised on home cooking, his diet is generally guiltless and you better believe he’s never gone anywhere near the words “gluten-free”.  So when Myrtle’s Chicken + Beer opened it’s doors on Market Square in downtown Knoxville, you better believe it jumped all the way to the front of his new restaurant list. Me on the other hand, I’m pretty basic when it comes to staying healthy, meaning that I try to stay away from all the carby fried goodness, but it’s hard to pass up old-fashioned southern fried chicken, so we quickly made our way to this southern comfort spot.

Offering a convenient Market Square location and a food genre that the good southern people of Knoxville, Tennessee absolutely love, Myrtle’s is a recipe for success. The menu is pretty straightforward, dressing chicken several different ways, whether it be in their starter baskets, sandwiches, or entrées. You can pretty much be sure that if you’re ordering something from Myrtle’s it probably has chicken somewhere in it, save for a few side items, a salad, and in their tomato pie. I’d say if you’re vegan, this probably isn’t the spot for you. But you can bet this was the spot for my boyfriend and an indulgence for me.

Myrtle’s Famous Fried Chicken can be prepared with light or dark meat, in chicken tender form, as wings, and slathered in one of their many sauces. I’m no connoisseur of fried chicken, but whatever Myrtle’s is doing works – the buttermilk taste lingering on every bite of the fried chicken is worthy of any southern home. If that’s not your thing, their classic American sandwiches and wraps will feel familiar. Plus, they’ve got several salads to choose from if you’re simply not ready to dive into something fried. Even if you skip the fried chicken, don’t skimp when it comes to the sides because the tomato pie and grits are not to be missed! And, y’all, they have brunch. The chicken and waffles are calling my name.

Don’t forget to try one of their cocktails, featuring some local spirits, or barrel-aged classic cocktails to wash everything down with. Needless to say, my boyfriend was in heaven – this joint is perfect for a casual date night, especially if you’ve got a fried chicken lover. Belly up to the bar or find yourself a booth, it’s a small space, so it won’t get too loud. Of course, this is a fried chicken, southern comfort restaurant, so don’t expect much of anything as far as calorie redemption goes. Just indulge and enjoy it because a trip to Myrtle’s is totally worth it.

Check out their website on the Eat Like a Native page!

Nearly Native Eats: Homestead Manor

Have you ever been to a place and instantly felt the presence of its history? From the layers of foot traffic on the weathered wood floors to the musty air you breathe, the feeling of being surrounded by years of untold stories is almost overwhelming. If only these walls could talk! Middle Tennessee may have a younger history than most historic sites that immediately come to mind, but the area that metro-Nashvillians call home has a much longer past than meets the eye. Instead of heading to a museum or monument to celebrate Tennessee’s past, try getting your next history lesson (and a meal too) at Homestead Manor.

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Located a short drive south of Nashville, this manor has been standing much longer than its Thompson Station surroundings. Built in 1819, this 4,000 square foot plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s not just a very large home in the “middle of nowhere”, it had a front row seat to the Civil War’s Battle of Thompson Station. It housed a number of soldiers, acting as a make shift hospital during one of the most tumultuous times in our country’s history. Despite all it’s seen, this meticulously constructed home has endured generations of wear and tear, standing proudly on Columbia Pike for all to admire.

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So its a big old house with history that’s about 30 minutes outside of the city, why would anyone want to make the trek to see it? Homestead Manor not only holds tales of war within it’s walls, by day it acts as a thoroughly modern restaurant and event space. Each room in the manor is reminiscent to the home it once was, with books on the shelves of the library and chandeliers adorning the dining rooms. Patrons can enjoy southern style meals from brunch to dinner in virtually any of the rooms on the first two floors and even take a tour through the home (compliments of the friendly staff).

Quite literally a “farm to table” menu, they use ingredients from the property’s private gardens to create delicious dishes decorated with turnips, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. Being a southern establishment, Homestead balances their organic greens with dishes like Pork Belly Pimento Cheese Biscuits and Bison Ribs. If you’re salivating we don’t blame you. Beyond the southern far, their bar is fully stocked inside the manor and outside at their beautifully adorned detached glass bar.

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Homestead Manor may be a bit of a trip for those Nashvillians living downtown, but if you haven’t figured it out already, it’s definitely worth the trip. From the well-preserved historic décor, to the friend staff and amazing food, Homestead Manor is a well-rounded dining experience that is not to be overlooked!

Check out their website on the Eat Like a Native page!

 

Nearly Native Eats: Husk Nashville

Let’s just state something obvious: Nashville is a southern city. Southern charm and hospitality are felt from the charismatic plantation style homes nestled in the surrounding rolling hills, to the warm smiles of small business owners, to the rowdy downtown honky tonks. Sunday suppers, river floating, and porch sitting with sweet tea are familiar activities to natives and the overwhelming majority of southern transplants that have moved to Middle Tennessee from other deeply southern cities. Even the southern vernacular of the locals (“y’all”; “bless your heart”) is embedded in the city’s culture. One signature southern style that’s taken quite seriously by the locals is their food. With their hot chicken, collard greens, and biscuits they mean business. So when a restaurant claims southern food as its calling, it better be ready to bring its a-game and Husk Nashville has shown Nashvillians that it’s no slouch.

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Residing in an enchanting southern home nestled amongst the streets of the SoBro neighborhood, Husk is just slightly southeast of downtown, enjoying a convenient location without the regular tourist traffic. The house itself sits on a slight hill and looks as if it was plucked from a secluded property near the sea, seeming almost out of place in its urban locale. This may have been just what Sean Brock wanted when opening his second location of Husk after he set down roots in Charleston, SC.

Its appearance is part of the appeal, creating a dining experience rather than just a destination. Seating is scattered throughout the floor plan, from the main floor to the basement, allowing for elbow room between tables and enabling intimate conversations. Although it’s a restaurant, it maintains its homey appeal, welcoming guests with a small foyer, and decked out with chandeliers and dark wood. The bar is positioned where you’d expect homeowners to entertain guests for pre and post-dinner drinks: On the bottom floor of the home with an option to enjoy the outdoor patio. This place seems meant for celebrating, bringing a special person, or a few close friends.

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The atmosphere is drenched in hospitality and warmth, everything you’d expect from an evening in a southern home. But can the menu live up to the lovely atmosphere? After all, the social life of a Nashvillian is generally centered around food and drink of some sort (coffee in the morning, whiskey at night anyone?), so a menu that leaves an impression promises a return visit from a local. Not only does Husk serve up creatively southern (and strong) cocktails, its ever-changing food lineup is something to be admired. The menu mixes seasonal selections with classic dishes, offering something for everyone. It even makes a Yankee want to try their taste buds at grits and slather some pimento cheese on… well, basically everything.

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Husk is not your average Nashville restaurant. A combination of ambience, speedy service, delicious bites and boozy drinks the encourage you to order two slices of chocolate pie leave this southern staple booked out with reservations for weeks in advance. If you’re looking to sneak in without reserving a table, your only chance is bar seating, but the wait is well worth it. Husk is setting the bar above and beyond what Nashvillians are used to when it comes to Southern dining. This isn’t a hole-in-the-wall meat and three joint or basic BBQ, this is fine dining deeply rooted in Southern tradition.

The next time you’re looking to “wow” someone with a fantastic meal that demonstrates what an elevated Southern dining experience is all about, look no further than Husk. Hats off to Sean Brock and team for bringing your impressive institution to our Music City, because of you our dining scene continues to innovate and expand beyond what anyone could have anticipated.

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Check out their website on the Eat Like a Native page!