New Southern restaurants in Tennessee
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Chef Kelly English richly deserved his recent James Beard Award nomination, one of a pile of accolades he's accumulated since opening Iris in 2008. His avant-garde Creole menu sends foodies into paroxysms of delight, with playful dishes like a 'knuckle sandwich' of tarragon-flecked lobster, or an oyster-stuffed steak 'surf 'n' turf.' The setting, in a turreted cottage on a residential Midtown block, is so low-profile it feels like a speakeasy.
This signless brick building in Nashville's gentrifying Germantown neighborhood hides one of the South's best new restaurants. The food, cooked in an open kitchen in the warehouselike space, is a crackling bang-up of Italy-meets-New South – local chicken livers with red-onion jam, pizza with house-cured pork belly, root-beer layer cake with buttermilk buttercream. Cocktails are a high art here: try a Kubric (Tennessee whiskey, artisan pear brandy, ginger ale).