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Feb 19 2012

City House- A Restaurant Report

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It is a conundrum. Can a restaurant that has pulled pork, collard greens and catfish on the menu really be an Italian restaurant?

That is the question I asked myself as I was perusing the menu on a date out with my lovely wife. Judging by the razor-thin pizzas delivered to the tables around us I would have to judge yes, but it is obvious that the chef there feels no need to be restricted by tradition!

The mere fact of how hard it is to get a reservation at the City House should be an indicator of its quality. I had booked a table at 8 o’clock on Open Table and was unable to move the time at all by the day before.

The Germantown stalwart would be easy to pass by unknowingly as the sign is tucked on the side of the building and the front looks like it could be an extension campus for historic Fort Nashville.

Inside the building is broken up into several rooms and levels and is alive with energy. The kitchen is the centerpiece of the restaurant and is completely open to view. This gives City House a feel of having a holiday dinner at a relative’s house. A very boisterous relative’s house!

Past the open dining area are a set of stairs that lead up to two smaller rooms that are a bit more intimate, but still were very energetic. There were definitely times when I had to lean my head very close to my wife’s to understand what she was saying to me.

The menu was a single page and our waiter informed us that there were no specials this evening. Although not a broad menu the range of choices made making up our minds a challenge.

The pizzas looked truly tempting but my wife and I opted for regular entrees as it was obvious the pizzas were authentic and exceptional.

My wife chose the fettuccine with pulled pork, greens and cannellini beans and I went with the North Carolina trout with bread crumbs, peanuts raisins, parsley and lemon.

My wife’s fettuccine was cooked perfectly al dente and the ingredient listing, though odd, blended beautifully. The greens added color to the simple dish and the beans gave it a lovely creamy character. The pulled pork gave the whole dish a salty, smoky depth of flavor that really was magical.

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My trout was served skin on with the bread crumbs, raisins and peanuts used both as a stuffing and a garnish. The fish was cooked perfectly with crispy skin and fluffy, succulent flesh. The garnish and stuffing though made of the same ingredients take on very different character and added a wonderful textural contrast to the meal.

I tried to wait, but I HAD to take a bite!

The waiter also informed me that this dish had been on the menu since City House opened. If you get it right, why change it?

The non-pasta entrees are served with a side and I chose the collard greens in a blatant attempt to make my wife happy. The greens and stems were cooked with lots of yellow onion and some kind of ham ( Tasso, maybe?). “Slap your mama,” is the phrase that comes to mind. They were as dark and smoky as a politician’s soul. Truly wonderful.

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In both cases, I found the soul food additions to the dishes to be very successful and really gave the meal a distinctive twist.

The service staff at City House all have a bohemian air and the service was attentive if slightly spacy. I think our waiter’s name was actually “Dude”.

We did have to ask for bread but it was also very good and the quality of the olive oil they served with it finally gave me an indication that I was in an Italian restaurant.

The food was uniformly excellent but I did find the ambiance a bit lacking. Even the separated dining rooms were very loud and I would not put City House on my personal romantic dining list.

I am however looking forward to dragging some of my more foodie oriented business compatriots back to City House and the pizza is definitely on my list for next time.

CITY HOUSE
1222 4th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37208

City House on Urbanspoon

City House on Foodio54

1 comment

  1. angela@spinachtiger

    Drag us anytime. You have to try the pizza! And the drinks are good too! That trout dish is my all time favorite there.

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