The Food Biz: A tasty 2012

Openings, closings and a breakout year for the city

2012 is the year Nashville’s food scene broke through to national fame, with various news outlets such as The New York Times trumpeting Music City’s culinary vibrancy.

Britain’s Guardian summed it up: “There’s a new energy to Nashville’s food and drink scene that has been getting it noticed lately. It’s being driven by a crew of home-grown entrepreneurs and creatives drawn to the city’s reinvigorated music scene (thank you Jack White) and laid-back lifestyle.”

Whether or not you care about what the Brits or Manhattanites think, their avid interest reflects a remarkable kind of energy in the food biz in Nashville.

One of the biggest announcements of 2012 will climax in spring 2013, when former Nashville chef Sean Brock brings his Charleston, S.C., restaurant Husk (which was such a big hit that Bon Appetit crowned it the best new restaurant of the year) to a second location in a Victorian house on the edge of downtown.

Meanwhile, other new chef-driven restaurants abounded this year, including (in alphabetical order): Café Fundamental, Etch, Lockeland Table, Rolf and Daughters, and Silo.

Even some of the bad news held an element of promise: Cha Chah is shutting down, but chef Arnold Myint pledges to launch an even better restaurant in its place; chef Anita Hartel’s 11-year-old venture Mambu is closing, but she’s reworking it as Rosebud Bistro.

The farm-to-table movement continued to gain ground. The Hermitage Hotel bought a 225-acre farm in Dickson County to raise produce and beef for Capitol Grille chef Tyler Brown’s creative usage. Even Bella Nashville, the Neapolitan-inspired pizza spot that fired up its wood-burning oven in the Nashville Farmers’ Market, proclaims its bounty of ingredients from the Nashville area, not Naples.

There’s reason to believe 2013 will serve up another diverse buffet of restaurant news. But for now, here’s a list of some of this year’s openings and closings of note, plus some future projects we’ll be following:

OPENINGS: Alegria, Aquarium Restaurant, Aura, Bar Louie, Barista Parlor, Bella Nashville, Bobbie’s Dairy Dip downtown, Bolton’s on Eighth, Burger Republic, Café Fundamental, Chuy’s (Opry Mills), Claim Jumper, Coffee, Lunch, Cork & Cow, Dave and Buster’s, Garage Coffee, DeSano Pizza, Etch, Fat Bottom Brewing, Feast on Fifth, Green Curry, Gus’ Fried Chicken, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Headquarters Coffee, IHOP (Elliston Place), Kelly’s Cajun Grill, Jim ‘N Nick’s Cool Springs, Johnny Rockets, Kohana, Legato Gelato, Lockeland Table, M. Restaurant and Bar,, M.L. Rose (West Nashville), Music City Flats (formerly Urban Flats), Nomzilla Sushi, Nonna’s Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Nuvo Burrito (downtown and Sylvan Park), Otaku South (pop-up ramen restaurant in various locations), Patrick’s Bistreaux, Penn Station East Coast Subs (Hermitage), Pomodoro East, Pour House Burgers, The Perch Green Hills, {Pub}licity, Puckett’s Boat House, Rainforest Cafe, Roast on Eighth, Rodizio Grill, Rolf and Daughters, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, 1799 & Vine (in Whole Foods McEwen), Silo, Soulshine Pizza, South Bar and Restaurant, The Southern, The Speckled Hen, The Stone Fox, Sunflower Cafe, Sushi Train, Sweet CeCe’s (Opry Mills), Turtle Anarchy Brewing, Urban Grub, The Well, Which Wich (Green Hills and Opry Mills)

CLOSINGS: Cha Chah (closes Dec. 31), Fish & Co., Germantown East, Gloria’s Korean Kitchen, Joe Natural’s, Luna, Sol, Sweet CeCe’s in the Gulch, Mambu (closes Dec. 31, becoming Rosebud Bistro), Tayst (closes Dec. 31), Vito’s Ristorante, YOLOS

UPCOMING: Edley’s Bar-B-Que (East Nashville), Frothy Monkey Franklin, Granite City Brewery, Husk, Jack’s Bar-B-Que (Charlotte and 16th), Rosebud Bistro, Tennessee Brew Works, Taqueria del Sol