Food & Drink

Nashville Bids Farewell to Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Parting words to a Southern cooking institution

Photo: Courtesy of Maneet Chauhan

Maneet Chauhan (back right) outside Arnold's with her children, Shagun and Karma, and James Beard Award finalist Cheetie Kumar.

Southerners are familiar with the ritual of delivering comfort food to those in mourning. As the beloved Nashville meat-and-three Arnold’s Country Kitchen readies its final servings of fried chicken, turnip greens, chess pie, and more on January 7, we asked a few mourning fans to deliver words of comfort and encouragement to the food providers.

Maneet Chauhan
Chef/proprietor of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, judge on Food Network’s Chopped

The closing of Arnold’s Country Kitchen is such a loss for the Nashville community. It was a meal I had there about ten years ago that actually prompted me to open a restaurant in Nashville. That was the first time I ever ate at a meat-and-three. Through the taste of the food and the essence of the team, you always felt filled with the sense of community, which left a lasting impact on my family and friends every time we dined there. Arnold’s holds such a special place in the Nashville dining scene that I donated a portion of my winnings from Food Network’s Tournament of Champions to help it out during the pandemic. It surely will be missed.

John T. Edge
Garden & Gun contributing editor, Southern Foodways Alliance founding director

Arnold’s was a mirror for Nashville, reflecting the country roots of that big-time city. Standing in that line, tray in hand, a haunch of roast beef and a couple slabs of cornbread in sight, you saw the very best of what life in the South makes possible, and felt the real care of the sprawling family that founders Jack and Rose Arnold made. This is a time to celebrate what they gave us, not to mourn what the demigods of change have taken from us.

Ashley Christensen
Chef/proprietor of Poole’s, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, and Fox Liquor Bar in Raleigh

Arnold’s was a tremendously special experience. Since my first visit to this iconic meat-and-three, I don’t think I’ve ever visited Nashville without stopping in. Any trip to Music City (usually for a show at the Ryman or to cook with Tandy Wilson at City House) is always crowned with a visit to Arnold’s. I’ve never met a dish there I didn’t enjoy, but the perfectly medium-rare roast beef and its magically seasoned jus, dark and potent like truck-stop coffee, stays on my mind. Kahlil Arnold has shared the recipe with me more than once, and I just can’t nail it. I’m semi-grateful for my failure, as it keeps some beautiful mystique around the original. The creamed potatoes seem tinged with the tiniest bit of white pepper and, when mixed with the vinegary turnip greens, create a magic greater than the sum of its parts. I will miss this treasure of a lunch counter and witnessing the Arnolds sharing it with friends and visitors, but I’m happy that they are ending this chapter on their own terms—well deserved and simply bad-ass. The experiences shared and the memories created between those four walls will live on in our hearts and bellies. Thank you, Arnold’s.

Stephanie Langston
News reporter, WKRN, Nashville

My dad started taking me to Arnold’s when I was a little girl. It quickly became my favorite spot and a lunch tradition I carried on as an adult. They’ve now served three generations of my family, as I’ve had the privilege of taking my own child. My husband’s grandmother’s picture was on the wall there, because she’d been a human cannonball in the circus, and then when she opened an antique shop down the street, she was a regular. Every item on the menu is a favorite, but the turnip greens and an Arnold Palmer were always a must. Sure, the food was great, with the best chocolate meringue pie in town, but the hospitality from the Arnold family made this place one of a kind. I’ll never forget Jack slicing my roast beef, and Rose’s sweet smile behind the cash register. I’ll also never forget taking the rock band Southern Culture on the Skids there so they could experience the best meat-and-three in Nashville.