Friday, May 27, 2016

Chef's Table at the Bald Headed Bistro

Chef’s Table at the Bald Headed Bistro

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best dining experience happening in the state of Tennessee short of Thanksgiving day at my Grandmother’s house. If there is something better, please let me know.

We walked in and were quickly whisked to our own private table in the kitchen. I’ve decided to be a gentleman and leave my phone in the car, but I’m already missing my camera. The table is elegant and intimate. We’re greeted by Executive Chef Eric Fulkerson, General Manager Aaron Reed, and a wonderful server whose name unfortunately has slipped my mind. I expect the Chef and the General Manager to slip off to their other duties after an introduction, replaced by a Sous Chef and possibly another server.

What I certainly did not expect was for the GM of a busy and increasingly successful restaurant to stay for our entire service and act as our personal sommelier for the evening, explaining the history and flavors of every drink on the menu. I did not expect the executive chef to cook every dish in front of us and explain every item on the plate with budding and beautiful passion. I did not expect these two men to spend hours focused on only my table.

Watching Chef Fulkerson cook is a joy all its own. He quickly jumps in and out of intense focus as he prepares and plates his carefully planned menu. He is in an intense flow state and it shows with every bite. His love for the craft is a pleasure to be around. We start with a caramelized scallop on a bed of fennel and served with a Chandon NV California Brut. Scallops in Tennessee? This is one of the best I’ve ever had. I no longer accept excuses for bad seafood in landlocked states.

The courses progress through a myriad of amazing flavors and palettes. Each dish is paired expertly with a wine, champagne, or beer. Think Smoked Oysters on Squid Ink and Roasted Beet Ravioli with a 2014 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley. Or a charcuterie platter of Duck Prosciutto and Lardo with Blackberry Fig Jam, Toasted Beer Bread, and Whipped Pork Butter. There are many more surprises that I’ll let you explore on your own.

The Bald Headed Bistro has stumbled onto something amazing, and it just keeps on growing and getting better. A chef’s table is just a small part of both the potential of this restaurant, and all of the amazing things it already has going for it. They are cooking beautiful southern influenced local dishes on a New York City level of service and culinary artistry. I have no reservations in saying that this is the best meal I’ve had since my trip to Le Bernardin last year. And my wallet didn’t cry nearly as much. This is a prime example of why I think Michelin should abandon their strict geographical methods and start recognizing regional restaurants.

Complaints? I had nothing at first, the night was excellent. Looking back, I would like to see a coffee pairing with the dessert. That’s about all I’ve got.