Monday, June 1, 2015

Silo: Southern Food or Die

   'twas a rainy Wednesday night in Nashville, and because one of my dining companions was working until nine, our options were limited: this city closes early. Finding a restaurant kitchen that stays open past, say, 11 pm is a challenge to put it mildly. And so we would up at The Silo, in Germantown.

    I was vaguely aware of Silo since its opening in 2012 by a pair of M Street grads, but upon opening, it was eclipsed in infamy by other summer openers Etch & Lockeland Table. Although those two have more food lit buzz, Silo has quietly become a Germantown staple, for tourists and locals, alike.

    It was only when I was seated and saw Silo's menu for the first time, I realized just how hardcore it is in its philosophy promoting Southern food traditions.

   This is the part where I mention to some prejudice, as a NY-raised eater who often thinks of Southern food as mushy vegetables, stored months in vinegar before ever seeing a plate, and over-processed meat often hard to distinguish from the sauce it's been smothered in.

   There, I said it.

   While I wouldn't begin to complain about the flavor of the food at Silo, or the preparation of the items I selected from the menu: when you come right down to it, taking traditional Southern Food items — which were developed by people whose top priority was simply to keep things from spoiling — and applying them to appeal in a city with a immigrating population of increasingly sophisticated tastes, isn't as simple as changing music keys.

    So readers may want to keep a salt shaker handy when a reviewer gets decidedly turned off because something on the Charcuterie plate was reminiscent of Deviled Ham. And okra. I did enjoy the house-made mustards and fig sauce. The Deviled Eggs fared better, but only when I removed their meat toppings. On their own, the top bites were intriguing but on the eggs, they overwhelmed the yolk batter. Something one doesn't need to do when they aren't adding pickled anything to the mix.

My companions on the other hand, Nashville boys born and raised, were mostly in heaven. They enjoyed the bone marrow I passed on (for me, marrow is one of those things you try once, and then you get back on with your eating life) and can only say that it smelled like a wonderful onion soup. I actually was very tempted, but our late friend had just arrived, and I'd eaten both our shares of the eggs.

Both the boys opted for Braised Rabbit in a house-made pasta (and loved it), with various herbs and cream, while I went for the least complicated thing I could find, Flat Iron Steak with mushrooms and veggies. It was a great little steak! Slightly tough, as the cut demands, perfectly cooked to medium rare and plenty of char-grilled beefy flavor. I didn't care for all of the accompaniments, but the broccoli was crisp (!) and not bitter at all.

One thing we all went weak for was the big bowl of Mac & Cheese, made with buttermilk & cheddar. Hands down the creamiest — and non-mushy — Mac & Cheese in town, with a super mild flavor. Big win. I mean, huge.

    Only two of us opted for desserts. Companion #1 opted for cake with much love, and I had a delightful Pot de Creme that took the popular flavor of salted caramel and put it on steroids, adding an additional caramel sauce and bacon-caramel popcorn. Granted, it was served in a Mason glass, and not a creme pot or ramekin — gotta be Southern, after all.

Two drinks, one side, one entree, one dessert: $60


1121 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208

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