The Food Biz: A high bar

The influential Goldberg brothers’ latest venture is centered on two big-time masters of the kitchen [From our print edition featured in this week’s City Paper]

Patterson House, the little vintage-bungalow-turned-retro-speakeasy at Division and 18th Avenue in Midtown, has become quite the cocktail destination since entrepreneurs Benjamin and Max Goldberg opened it in 2009.

The Goldberg brothers — whose Strategic Hospitality LLC also owns the tourist-friendly, trailer-chic Paradise Park and the revitalized Merchants on Broadway — now plan to crown their cocktail nest with a chef-driven gourmet dining perch.

The Goldbergs are converting the small second-story of Patterson House into a dining concept unlike anything seen in Nashville. The Catbird Seat will seat only 30 — and instead of tables, guests will gather around a single U-shaped bar. In the center, a duo of notable chefs will cook up seven-courses meal tailored for each diner, chatting and interacting with the customers while feeding them high-end fare.

Nashville has definitely seen restaurants that included a chef’s bar as one element: Jason Brumm (now at Merchants) worked behind a chef’s bar at his former restaurant Radius10; and the late Ombi bistro had a copper-clad chef’s bar adjoining its kitchen, where popular chefs Kim Totzke and Laura Wilson held court.

But at The Catbird’s Seat, the chef’s bar IS the restaurant. The meal will be fixed-price, and the ingredients and courses will vary according to the season, the chefs’ whims and the preferences of the customers.

Everything hinges on the talent behind the bar, so the Goldbergs have recruited a pair of chefs who’ve both done time at some of the world’s best restaurants. And while both are coming here from out of town, both are familiar with Nashville.

Josh Habiger has lived here before. In fact, he helped kick off Patterson House, assisting in the planning, the training of staff and the launch before being lured away for other projects. He has a fat resume that includes gigs as chef de partie at Alinea (Chicago chef Grant Achatz’s establishment that a few years ago snagged a “best restaurant in America” tag) and Tom Colicchio’s James Beard award-winning Craft restaurant in New York.

Erik Anderson comes to Nashville from Minneapolis, where this year he was a James Beard semifinalist for best chef in the Midwest, based on his work as chef de cuisine at the highly regarded Sea Change. After leaving there in May, he’s been working a quick stint at Noma in Copenhagen, which some have called the best restaurant in the world. Despite Anderson’s global travels, Nashville has long been on his radar thanks to family living in the area.

Converting the space above Patterson House to the sleek little Catbird Seat will require a bit of construction, so the Goldbergs have enlisted local architect Manuel Zeitlin and interior designer Landy Gardner. Strategic Hospitality jubilantly posted a picture of the building permit on Twitter as soon as they secured it last week.

The Catbird Seat is expected to open sometime this fall.