As you all know I am a fan of the cuisine at Mason’s in the Loew’s Vanderbilt Hotel off of West End in Nashville. So I thought I’d kick off this move to a new blog space by sharing with you all about them. Below is the original post from July 26, 2013.
As you might’ve gleaned if you’ve been reading very long on my blog, I am a foodie nerd. Last year my good friend Stacey and I took a trip to Chicago and the whole trip was centered around getting reservations at Girl and the Goat. I have posted several times about foodie dreams and dinners. You get the picture.
So a few months ago as I was reading some of my culinary go-to blogs and magazines, a new Nashville chef popped up in one of them. He was having these pop-up dinners each month, and planned to open a restaurant in Nashville. As any social media maven will tell you, I immediately started following him on Twitter to get the scoop on the food. Every time a pop up would happen I would have something else scheduled. It was ridiculous that every single one I had a conflict. But then, Mason’s opened. I knew my birthday was right around the corner, so I thought, why not have a big birthday dinner and make it special? Turning 32 isn’t anything special, but this next year will be drastically different than any before and I wanted to mark that.
Cue Wednesday evening…the entire Mason’s staff was incredibly gracious and kind. From the hostess Desiree (I apologize if I spell names wrong) who took such great care of the two of us, to Brian our waiter who suggested drinks from the amazing bar menu, I could not have asked for a better start to this dinner.
Then Chef Brandon Frohne came out with Chef Jonathan. We chatted briefly and talked about what we might have for dinner as we had both already checked out the menu far in advance (see, nerd alert). This doesn’t happen everywhere, or all the time. To have the chefs come out and talk with you is a big deal y’all, and I was practically bursting inside with giddy foodieness because of it. Conversations…about food. It doesn’t get much betterthan that for me. Then the food started coming out and I snapped a couple of quick photos (Stacey would die if she had been there cause I did that in Chicago too!) so I could share with y’all just how amazing Mason’s food is for diners.
The first course was three offerings: the Crab Corn Dogs with Mississippi comeback sauce, Deviled Eggs with bacon jam, and Fried Green Tomatoes. Y’all that know me, know I do not like tomatoes, despite growing up Southern, I just never have. I tried them, thanks to the Dude pushing me, and they were phenomenal! The Crab Corn Dogs were by far my favorite as they weren’t greasy, they had an amazing flavor, and the comeback sauce made you want to come back for a whole other plate. The Deviled Eggs had this sweetness to them that we figured out was the bacon jam, that coupled with the pickled okra as a garnish, was just flat out devouringly good.
I am typically not much of a starters or first course person. They tend to weigh heavy and fill you up prior to your main course…which is why you frequent a place. Not at Mason’s though. They are substantial and delicious without being weighty. I have to say I cannot stop thinking about those corn dogs though. They carry them on the Mason’s Bar menu as well, and you can pop in there during happy hour for a great after work place for half the price. They had the Red Sox on the ginormous screen so I was on cloud nine from across the hallway in the restaurant.
Out came salads for the second course. And they were lovely to look at, if you enjoy food art. This was the peach arugula salad they offer. Let me tell you, it was inhaled at our table. INHALED. The fresh peaches were grilled and deliciously complement the prosciutto and blue cheese. The basil vinaigrette with the arugula itself was enough to do me in. It was light, and very summerish for the South. There was also enough time between courses that allowed us to digest without overloading our palettes.
And then y’all…came the main course. The Mason’s Burger (aka a farm burger) with truffle fries for The Dude and Shrimp and Grits for me, along with jalapeno cheese bread. I think Icould have bathed in the roux of the shrimp and grits. I don’t particularly care for grits as a whole (I know, I know…I promise I am Southern). Let me tell you that these grits were to die for…I’d go back right now just for those. Perfectly prepared and offered up in a cast iron skillet, still warm and delicious. To be quite honest, this is the best meal I have ever had from start to finish. The service, the details and the food were astonishingly superb. Mason’s cares about the diner and their experience. The quality of care they provide in all they do is leaps and bounds above any place I have been to before. I can tell you that Mason’s sets the bar high, and then keeps notching it up as you dine.
They offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner…as well as that bar menu. I will be headed back there soon, and often. The menu changes seasonally and you definitely want to get a taste of each menu. We got to try a “not on the menu” item as well at the end of dinner…the Goo-Goo Cluster Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Soda. So good and a great treat to wrap up our meal.
Brandon Frohne and staff are excellent and innovative, while also staying true to the Southern-ness that is Mason’s cornerstone here in Nashville.