Tasting Menu at The Chef & I, Garth, And Pls Don’t Paint Buildings Like That

The tasting menu at The Chef & I in Nashville (close to Arnold’s) was incredible and just so much fun, owing to the chefs, staff, and owner Chris being super friendly and putting on such a great time.

There were cocktails — this was the Freddie Mercury, with Xicaru mezcal, Frida Kahlo tequila, jalapeno agave, and house sangria float…

I made reservations on OpenTable, and we were able to sit right at the counter — the chef/owner, Chris explained how much he was in love with this quartz and how it was one of the largest expenditures. He spent a while talking with one of my friends about the restaurant business and the operations there.

Being a tasting menu and changing so often, the servings weren’t listed on a menu. But I can say that every.single.thing was just crazy delicious, from the egg dish to the blackberry waffle to the shrimp with avocado, and our desserts — chocolate espresso creme brulee

and the heirloom carrot cake = so fab.

One of the most amazing things for me was that the kitchen staff seemed unhurried. They did everything efficiently and quickly, and everyone got their food in a reasonable amount of time, but they weren’t crazy stressed or running around like I imagine (and I guess I get that from too much reality-ish tv). In fact, when there wasn’t a server available and a dish was ready, the chefs would just bring it around themselves. Nobody stood on ceremony. It was just super chill.

After lunch, we didn’t even think about supper. It was off to the Grand Ole Opry to see Garth Brooks! He was last of course but played four or five songs and the crowd was SO into it. Of all the concerts I’ve been to, this short set with Garth was maybe my favorite. He is that much fun.

Afterward, we joined the rest of Nashville on Broadway at Tootsie’s and Robert’s Western Wear (there were two other big concerts going on that night) and got price-gouged by Uber going back to the hotel. Still, who cares!? It was crazy fun.

BTW, quick mention about lunch the next day: it’s been a forever since we went to Monell’s downtown, that we had to do it again — but this time at their location by the airport — Monell’s at the Manor. Y’all. I’m not sure their air conditioner was working and everyone was just burning up. And while usually one’s table mates are friendly, only one couple was really interested in chatting (the other was busy with their baby, and a group at the end of the table was busy talking about a supposedly worthless member of their family so whatevvvvs). The food wasn’t especially hot or flavorful, and the waiter took the fried chicken platter and never came back with it as he had promised another member at the table. Just meh. Soooo I don’t have to do Monell’s again for a while. And hoo. Why is the building they’re in painted like this?

And of course, our next adventure, going to Cheekwood for the Cracking Art exhibit, was divine. Crazy great weekend.

Cracking Art at Cheekwood

We got to see the Cracking Art exhibit at Cheekwood in Nashville and it was really fun! The show is closing September 2, so now’s definitely the time to go.

If you’re familiar with Cracking from the penguins at the 21C hotels, or you’ve just seen news about their other exhibits, Cheekwood made for a terrific setting because the sculptures were on view on the grounds of the garden setting, as well as in the mansion.

From Cheekwood’s site:
Cracking Art is a Milan, Italy-based artist collective born out of the intention to radically change the history of art by investigating the relationship between natural and artificial reality. By using 100% recyclable plastic materials, Cracking Art creates site-specific installations using large-scale, natural animal forms made of synthetic materials, playfully arranging meerkats, bears, crocodiles, birds, and other animals in surprising invasions of familiar landscapes.

We interacted with the giant bird and her eggs, and even rode the croc!

September 22 – October 21 is Cheekwood Harvest where, among other sights, is their famous 400+ gourd pumpkin house.

Annnd We’re Back. And We’re Eating Good.

Saba is Alon Shaya’s new restaurant on Magazine. Blissfully (for many) Besh-free since there was allll that drama (and like that whole thing in HBO’s Treme when a chef loses the right to their own name on their own (well formerly own) restaurant), Alon isn’t at Shaya, he’s at Saba.

Just as a complete aside, for the times I or someone in my family was in John Besh’s company, he was always super crazy nice. Friendly and wonderful and humble. You just never know how people :::really::: are sometimes. I had a really unfortunate experience with someone who runs an influential food organization, but the rest of the world thinks he’s fab and they name hamburgers in his honor. It’s a thing. As far as I know, John Besh has stayed quiet. Maybe he’s gotten counseling or just decided to lay low. America is a forgiving place (insert basically endless list of ill-behaved celebs & politicians here) and there’s this weird part of us collectively, I think, that finds the act of crashing and burning and then being all apologetic and going away for a while and then making some kind of amazing return intriguing and affirming.


Oh wait. Before we get started, let’s roll back for a sec to how incredible the Chanukah supper was that Alon was a big part of in Oxford, Mississippi this past December.

Oh and SPOILER ALERT: one of the great desserts of my life straight ahead.

So reservations at Saba are made not with OpenTable but with Resy. We had an early lunch so I think we could have been seated immediately anyway, but I don’t like wondering, so we were set with the app. The restaurant is in the old Kenton’s spot on Magazine (so it has that little parking lot in the back which is a huge plus) and moment of silence for that fine, fine Kenton’s hamburger they used to serve with some of the best fries in the universe.

But we’re having small plates at Saba now and that oven inside the dining room is cranking out two-zillion degree pita and I’m so very glad I looked poor or like I didn’t grasp the concept of small plates (prob) and only ordered one small plate for myself because I split a dessert and ohholymotherofallthatisrightinthisworld that was amazing and if I’d eaten any more it would have been crazy town. If you’re getting dessert, you maybe don’t need more than one small plate.

The transformation of the space goes like this — Kenton’s was bright but still had these great jewel tones:

Saba is this:

And those amber water glasses yessss

Here’s my foie, which was really good but not the best ever. And a side note: if you ever get the chance to have marcona almonds, do it but do it with this caveat: know that you’ll never be able to enjoy any other kind of almond ever because marcona almonds are gold. Also, same thing in the apple world with honeycrisp apples.

I had a bite of lamb kebab and that was pretty good:

and the potatoes were pretty nice:

…but if you’re the kind of person who wants to go somewhere just for dessert, or if you’re doing Saba because it’s yummy and cool and the place to be, you just can’t leave without ordering dessert. And dessert equals the warm chocolate babka.

I’m not even big on babka. The grocery store babka is always dry and boring. I will say that Zingerman’s sent me some treats late last year for a project I was working on at the office, and WOW their babka is good. But the babka at Saba is served with a blackberry sauce and hazelnut gelato and it is next level. You can’t not get this.


It’s great to be back at DFK. Thanks to allllll of you who emailed or messaged or whatever to check on me. Things are good, I just needed a break for a min. You know. Kids, job, travel, stuff, chocolate babka. xoxo!

Little Break, Back Soon

Hi friends! I took a little break from DFK, but will be back mid-April. I’ve missed you, and your notes wondering when I’ll be back have been just super sweet! Everything is great and I can’t wait to share with you again soon, soon, soon. See you again around the 18th of April. xoxo!

Punch Today in the Face, and Text Me at MODA

We visited the Museum of Design Atlanta first so that the boys could take an engineering class, and were thrilled to get to see the ‘Text Me: How We Live in Language’ exhibit which closes soon — February 4. Some of the exhibit is not for younger people, so while I did take the boys back to see much of it, there were parts we breezed over. It was easy to do as anything questionable is hung at a higher level.

Here, the boys are in the classroom area where they watched 3D printers work:

From the MODA website on the Text Me exhibit:

The individual component of language—text—is the prime vehicle used to express the experiences of our existence—from minor moments of daily life to the grand nature of the human condition. Our ancestors as far back as the cave man have been using symbols to document and record experiences.

Today, the visualization of our personal stories is an integral and essential part of nearly every moment of life, and we use text in all of its forms to define reality, emotions and even time itself. We are now living in a world wherein the condition of our visual communication reflects the condition of our culture. Conceived and curated by designer, podcaster, and brand strategist Debbie Millman, this exhibition is an attempt to organize, express, translate and reflect both how we live in language and how language now defines our lives.

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Guns are Good for the Economy, Guns are Bad for the Economy by Brian Singer

Money is a Waste of Time by Christopher Simmons

Bottled Feelings by Adam J Kurtz

Oy / Yo by Deborah Kass

I Dismantle by Lesley Dill


Thoughts & Prayers by Christopher Simmons

…and in the giftshop area:

Oysters And Gold Leafing At Billy Reid

Billy Reid brings the cool. His home and stores have been in so many interiors mags (and GQ, here), has been recognized by CFDA twice now, and this Florence, Alabama flagship store started out in a house where his design gallery was located upstairs (now the design gallery is in the back of the downtown shop plus there’s one in NYC). There are now two Billy Reid shops in Atlanta, plus Austin, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans, two in NYC, and one in DC.

Before this month, Anne and I last visited the Florence shop in spring, when these strings of oysters were up. Billy made oysters the focus of a spring-summer print.

And by all accounts I know, Billy’s just a super nice guy. He emailed me years ago just checking in and thanking me for mentioning him here on DFK, which was really, really kind.

Various works by Butch Anthony are scattered about:

The aesthetic of the shop is sleek but also worn and well-loved, and his clothes have similar freshness that’s also really familiar and classic.

On our visit last week, the oyster strings were gone and up instead was a wood feature that had some gold leafing. From their Insta:

Store Interiors – Florence 📷 @kaylabrann

A post shared by Billy Reid (@billy_reid) on

The pic below is from one of the dressing rooms, where the wall is papered with prints of old photographs (mmmmm…I tried on the dress below last week, but the arms fit a little tight and everything else fit a little too loose). Love Billy’s looks, though. And he’s forever doing fun collabs, like with Levi’s, J. Crew, K-Swiss, and Coach (yeowch, and an apron with John Besh). Last year: lux mardi gras beads, though they’re no longer available.

Vogue has a feature on ‘Doutzen Kroes and Family Take the Season’s Best Topcoats on a Tour of the Bayou‘ in the Feb 2018 issue with a Billy Reid suit and ooooh those pics.

He Wasn’t The Best, But He Was The Best I Ever Had

This week, Anne and I decided to go back to Florence, Alabama — our first stop was the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Cemetery, where Key buried his dog in 1937. Since that time, other hunters wanted to bury their dogs there, and a rule was put in place to limit the place to only true coondogs. From the cemetery site:

“When I buried Troop, I had no intention of establishing a coon dog cemetery,” says Underwood. “I merely wanted to do something special for a special coon dog.”

When columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson interviewed Underwood in 1985, he told her that a woman from California wrote him wanting to know why he didn’t allow other kinds of dogs to be buried at the coon dog cemetery.

“You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs,” he responded.

My Flickr set of previous visits here.

I didn’t photograph it this time, but my favorite quote on these is this one, for Track:

“He wasn’t the best, but he was the best I ever had.”