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Posted by / 19-Feb-2020 02:17

Little Octopus serves up a long menu of mostly small plates, the overwhelming majority of which are vegetable- and seafood-centric.

They are also entirely agnostic as to culinary genre: a Mexican style ceviche spiked with Worcestershire sauce shares space with Mediterranean sardines and a congee that starts in China but ends up who-knows-where, with smoked pumpkin, durian and shiitake mushrooms (it was one of the strangest things I've eaten in a while, but good).

Despite bringing out several starters obviously intended for sharing (including the toasts served on fiddly little wooden planks), no share plates were provided.

I very much enjoyed a barrel aged cocktail they called a "Reverse Tailspin" that included Strategic Hospitality's own Wathen's single barrel bourbon, vermouth, Campari and Chartreuse, but couldn't get anyone to pay attention long enough for me to order a second round.

I was amazed to hear from one of our Uber drivers that the East Nashville neighborhood of our (pretty fabulous) Air Bn B was, just five years ago, one of the roughest parts of town. Now, it's filled with charmingly restored bungalows, third-wave coffee houses, boutique clothiers, a butcher shop, and several restaurants.

After three somewhat BBQ-intensive days in Memphis, we were ready for something different.

Pinewood is a gigantic 13,000 foot space built in a former trolley barn a stone's throw from downtown Nashville.

It's a café, bar, and restaurant all in one serving breakfast (or brunch), lunch and dinner seven days a week, with six different variations on the menu depending on when you're there and where you're sitting.

Instead, what I recall most is service that was as perfunctory and inattentive as any I've experienced on South Beach.This was good, fun food, and a welcome change of pace.(You can see all my pictures in this Little Octopus flickr set).The contrast is striking: while Memphis feels a bit stuck in time, Nashville is booming.The city is experiencing rapid job and population growth, is filled with shiny new public works projects like the massive Music City Center, and the skyline is dotted with as many construction cranes as Miami in the throes of a building craze.

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Some highlights: fatty hamachi, block-cut like sashimi, served with a chunky romesco sauce, burnt bread powder and cerignola olives; juicy, crisp-skinned pan-roasted chicken, served over a vibrant salsa verde with a perky herb salad; those sardines, fat and fresh, simply grilled, dusted with bottarga, and drizzled with lemon and olive oil.

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