Audrey Just Might Have the Best Restaurant Experience in Nashville

An evening at Audrey is an evening well spent.

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*sigh* I swore to my wife that I wasn’t going to work Saturday night. I told my buddy Zach, who was kind and generous enough to invite my wife and I to fill the empty spots on his and his wife’s reservation, that I wasn’t there to work. And, yet – what am I here doing? I’m writing about my experience Saturday night. My plan is to just not tag my wife or Zach in this post, and just hope that they don’t see this post in the constant barrage of content you get from SoBros Network. Maybe they won’t notice if I just don’t say anything out loud. To be honest, I had no intention of writing about Audrey, but the experience I had was so nourishing that I knew I couldn’t keep it all to myself.

The evening started as Audrey opened its doors. We made our way upstairs to the bar, tucked away in a room lined with soft white walls radiating the natural light as it poured in from above. Wood and greenery broke the white light, and I couldn’t help but be in awe of how natural the place looked….like stumbling on an oasis in the forest….even though I know oases form in deserts…you get what I’m saying. It felt isolating and calming. Our bartenders dropped a basket of five vegetables/fruits in front of us (sunflower sprouts, peach, tomato, corn, and cucumber), and told us “this is the cocktail menu.” Legit – we each picked our item, and we received a cocktail made from whatever we ordered. I’m a big time tomato guy, so I went with the tomato, and just happened to luck out with a gin drink that was rich and full-bodied like the heirloom tomato used as its key ingredient. Sounds weird, but let me just say – these folks are most definitely people you trust when it comes to this sort of thing.

After a round of drinks, it was time to head down to meet our reservation. Walking across the restaurant, I noticed the open kitchen, and how nice the restaurant was decorated. Even though I had to wear closed-toe shoes, it was cozy and inviting. It was like when I walk into Pottery Barn in Cool Springs and don’t buy a damn thing but just admire the decor. It was also…maybe…just the second time all summer I actually wore shoes outside of mowing the lawn. Were people wondering, “who let this fucking redneck in here? And, why is he staring at the eucalyptus like he’s never seen eucalyptus before?” Sure. I accept that. It’s fine. It was a sensory experience for me, and I was going to take it all in regardless of what a hillbilly I looked like.

We were seated in the corner – the perfect spot for Zach and me to people watch, not that we would ever in a million years judge someone without knowing the first thing about them. Not us! We were most definitely NOT wondering out loud if we were the most famous people there at that time. The restaurant was teeming with charm, and it wasn’t long before we were greeted with an in-depth introduction to the night’s menu.

We started with “welcome snacks” – which, by the way, you’ll have to forgive our photography here. My photographer was trying to be sneaky about taking pictures so that we didn’t look like a couple of noobs who never get out of the house (even though I wore Nikes because I didn’t realize until that day that I don’t even own any closed-toe shoes that aren’t sneakers or dress shoes). Pictured below, we have the tomato, buckwheat, and coriander (near) and the hot water cornbread, country ham, and sourwood honey (far). Not pictured was the chilled corn soup, which…like…they’re not going to call it a shot, but it was pretty much a shot and it was delicious. The cornbread was the star of the show for me – it was cooked to perfection, with a nice, crisp exterior and a light, fluffy, and creamy interior. With the ham and honey, it made for a warming, rich flavor, and it was in this snack particularly that you could see the classic southern inspiration in Chef Sean Brock’s style more clearly than in anything else I ate that evening.

For my first course, I had the Jimmy Red Grits, Scallop and Porcini, Sorghum Cured Yolk (pictured bottom left of the featured image on this post). I followed that up with the 49 Day Aged Bear Creek Beef, Morels, Vidalia, Wax Beans, Sassafras for my main course (pictured bottom right in the featured image). For dessert, I went with the Grilled Peaches, Sweet Corn, Buttermilk (pictured top right in the featured image)…which, I’m going to expose my inner redneck again and just call what’s in that bowl “corn ice cream,” but the corn ice cream was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten. They even threw in a corn flour funnel cake. I think the grits were my favorite part of the meal – just the combination of flavors made for a really complex experience. It was equal parts smooth, tangy, rich, and robust. That’s my speed. But, overall, the way the courses were tied together, and how each dish had a unique flavor that complemented the next made for a dynamic, creative dinner.

While the food alone made for one of the best meals I’ve ever had in this city, it was the combination of the restaurant experience provided by Audrey, and the character of the place around me that made it such an enriching experience. The folks at Audrey clearly understand the core of what a solid night at a good restaurant means beyond simply making good food. It’s the slowing down of the outside world. It’s the pacing – taking the time to enjoy a fulfilling meal, course by course. It’s understanding the importance of a good conversation between friends to a dining experience and letting that marinate (or soak in beer and wine, if you will). It’s providing a comfortable environment that fosters a sense of calm and openness. At the end of the evening, I felt as though I was a better, more relaxed man, hearty and satisfied – the same way I feel after reading a particularly profound poem. It’s art in restaurant form.

Sure, there are other meals in town that rival Audrey in terms of creativity and quality, but when you put the total package together, I don’t know that I’ve had a better dining experience, and a better evening at a restaurant, than what Chef Sean Brock and his team have cooked up down at Audrey.

And, so that I can add ’em to my list of Nashville restaurant rankings, let me hit ’em with the rating system I use.

  • Food: 9.99/10 (I don’t give 10s, sorry nobody is perfect even if you look like it – what are you hiding, Audrey?)
  • Booze: 7.35/10
  • Atmosphere: 9.12/10
  • Overall: 8.82/10

That’s the new #1 spot in town on the SoBros rankings, folks.

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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