Good Eats

The Year in Restaurants: Pinewood Social

By Jed PortmanDecember 19, 2013

To wrap up 2013, we've spent the week profiling some of the South’s most exciting new restaurants. For our last entry, we visit a club that just opened its doors earlier this month.

It’s official: The good old days are back. Not only are chefs killing their own chickens, music lovers dusting off their turntables, and shuttered textile mills opening their doors again, but the hottest new restaurant in Nashville is inside an old-fashioned country club.

Alright, so maybe the brand-new Pinewood Social is a bit more inclusive than the gated spreads where the mid-century well-to-do celebrated birthdays, weddings, and the lazy days of summer in high style. But the concept is the same. With a pool, a bocce court, bowling lanes, internet-equipped work areas, and even private karaoke rooms, it is a dawn-to-dark gathering place with food and drink supplied by a dream team of Nashville culinarians. 

The baristas at Crema, one of Music City’s most innovative cafés, developed a coffee menu that goes beyond the basics with carefully selected beans and belly-warming mixed drinks such as the Southern Limerick, a blend of coffee, bourbon, sorghum, and cream. Bartender Matt Tocco, formerly of the Patterson House and Rolf and Daughters, hand-chisels blocks of ice for scratch-made Bloody Marys and his own craft cocktails.

Presiding over the kitchen is Josh Habiger, who previously served refined tasting menus to just thirty-eight guests each night as one of the two chefs at the tiny Catbird Seat. To assemble the broader selection of dishes at Pinewood, he and his deputies mined the New York Public Library’s collection of historic menus for throwback crowd-pleasers. “We want to make good, simple food that people crave,” Habiger says. That means fried chicken, mushroom potpie, liver and onions, and—of course—pot roast, plated with turnips and gravy. Throw on your best shoes and your dinner jacket. It’s time to start eating at the club again.

DON’T MISS: Sous chef Julia Sullivan, a veteran of New York’s Per Se, brings new life to an old staple with her trout-and-celeriac variation on tuna casserole. With smoked Sunburst trout, from the mountains of western North Carolina, and house-made potato chips crumbled on top, it’s a rich but nuanced fortification against the winter cold.

Smoked Trout Casserole
From Julia Sullivan, Pinewood Social, Nashville, Tennessee

Serves 6

1 12-oz. package egg noodles
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups celery root, small dice
2 cups celery, cut into quarter-inch slices on a bias
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups smoked trout, separated into large pieces and pin bones removed
1 cup sharp white cheddar, finely grated + extra for topping
2 tbsp. yellow celery leaves, roughly chopped + extra for topping
2 tbsp. parsley leaves, roughly chopped + extra for topping
1 tbsp. chives, minced + extra for topping
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups crushed potato chips

Fill an 8-quart stockpot with water and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Add salt until the water tastes like the sea, and then cook the noodles according to the package instructions. If you plan to assemble the dish right away, strain the noodles and add them to the casserole warm. If you plan to cook the noodles ahead of time, then strain them, chill them in an ice bath, and hold them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In your clean stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add diced celery root and sweat until just tender. Add celery and sweat until just tender and bright green. Then add cooked egg noodles and enough celeriac puree to generously coat the noodles (there may be some left over). Add butter, grated cheese, and smoked trout, and mix gently to preserve the large chunks of fish. When the trout pieces are warmed through, stir in fresh herbs, dried thyme, and lemon juice. Season to taste, then transfer the mixture to bowlsor a casserole dish and garnish with additional grated cheese, fresh herbs, and potato chips.

Celery Root Puree
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
½ cup carrot, small dice
½ cup celery, small dice
4 cups celeriac, large dice
1 quart water
1 quart whole milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepot, sweat carrot, onion, and celery until translucent. Add celery root, cover with milk and water, and season with salt. Simmer until the celery root is soft and then strain, reserving the liquid to adjust the consistency of your puree. Puree vegetables and butter in a food processor until smooth. Add enough cooking liquid to achieve the consistency of a very thick soup, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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