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Silo1121 5th Ave. North www.SiloTN.com Clay Dined: 10/1/13
Silo is a relatively new restaurant in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, which is fast becoming a hotbed for great dining. Ok, Silo isn’t really that new- it’s just new enough that this is the first chance I’ve had to visit, in spite of hearing only positive things. As it happens, Silo is caty-corner from one of my very favorite restaurants in Nashville, Germantown Cafe. Can Silo give Germantown a run for its money, making this my favorite dining intersection in all of Nashville?
We made reservations (via OpenTable) for an anniversary dinner on a Tuesday night. When we arrived, Silo was busy but not crowded. We were greeted by a friendly, smiling valet who took the keys and wished us an enjoyable dinner. Once inside we waited momentarily before being greeted by what turned out to be our server. Our table was ready and waiting and we were promptly seated.
I was immediately struck by two things. The restaurant was much smaller than I expected, and it was beautiful. Upon entering, there is a small bar area to the right, and the main dining room extends to the left, opening up slightly, with a partially visible kitchen in the back. Exposed wood paneling adorns the walls, and tables are illuminated by individual light fixtures hanging from a tall, black ceiling. The fixtures provide perfect lighting for each table while allowing for a dimly lit ambiance for the whole dining room. The fixtures are punched with small holes, creating a starry appearance. The right of the dining room features a small private dining room with a well lit large table behind glass doors and underneath an artistic wood ceiling that resembles the inside of a giant woven wood cowboy hat.
After seating us, our waitress introduced herself, welcomed us to Silo and told us a little about the menu and the restaurant’s farm to fork approach. I started with an Old Fashioned and my wife went with a Dark & Stormy. Both were delicious. The Old Fashioned, which featured rye bourbon, (Buellit, I think) was garnished with a large swath of orange rind and was fantastic.
We’d heard such good things about the deviled egg appetizer that we ordered two. That’s right, we didn’t want to share, and wanted to be sure that we each got to sample all three of the varieties. On this particular evening those included one egg half topped with creme fresh and dijon mustard, one with ratatouille, and one with sorghum, pecan and bacon. This last one was my favorite, the sorghum added a touch of sweetness to balance out the deliciously savory crunch from the bacon and pecan. I think I could have eaten a carton of these!
Off to a good start, we decided on our entrees. My wife went with the shrimp and grits which came highly recommended by Megan, our waitress. Having completed the Hot Chicken Challenge this summer, I settled on Silo’s version, feeling that the hot chicken was calling my name. Our waitress warned me that the hot chicken was really not, saying that although she didn’t eat it, she had heard it compared to Prince’s “hot.” Doubting that it would be that hot, and confident that I could handle it, I forged ahead, selecting greens instead of grits for my side.
When the entrees arrived we were both immediately impressed. The presentation was great, and the hot chicken did indeed look just like authentic Nashville hot chicken, but served on a nice plate with a gourmet side instead of a styrofoam carton with fries. This chicken is high quality Springer Mountain Farms boneless white meat, fried, seasoned, and served atop white bread and adorned with pickles. Oh, and it was HOT! Yes, this was authentic hot chicken and it was really hot. The breading was crispy, and a little thicker than your standard hot chicken, with a slightly unique flavor, maybe from corn meal or corn starch. While the chicken was definitely hot it still had great flavor. This was really good hot chicken, but I can only recommend it for the most fearless of diners, or those who are really accustomed to hot foods. If you order “medium” or below at other hot chicken places (or for wings), you may want to pick a different entree here. This chicken had me wiping my brow and reaching for my ice water frequently.
The shrimp & grits on the other hand had no such side effects. They were simply fantastic. To put it plainly, these were the best shrimp & grits that I’ve ever had (yes, even more than 400 miles from the ocean). While often shrimp and grits can become boring as a few shrimp get lost in a sea of bland grits, Silo’s verison did not suffer from this problem. The shrimp were big and plentiful, and did not get lost in the resonable portion of grits. Everything was seasoned perfectly and the house tasso, tomato and okra added just the right kick to give this entree a wonderfully delicious flavor. Silo’s shrimp & grits comes with my strongest recommendation.
Some, but not all of the entrees come with a side, all of which are available in large family style portions. I chose the Pot Likker greens in smoked pork broth with my hot chicken, and we ordered a side of Sweetwater Valley buttermilk cheddar mac to share. The greens were absolutely fantastic, cooked perfectly tender with a great smoky flavor. The mac & cheese was constructed with homemade macaroni and white cheddar and was also excellent. This stuff doesn’t compare to your boxed variety and a bowl is enough for a table of four to share easily. It also did a pretty good job of helping to extinguish the fire that the hot chicken ignited in my mouth.
While the dessert menu looked delectable (apple chess pie or peanut butter mousse, anyone?), we were so full that we had to pass. I look forward to trying dessert, the burger, hanger steak, and sweet potato gnocchi on a return visit. Ok, maybe three return visits.
Our dinner at Silo was nothing short of excellent. The service was great, from the valet to the waitstaff, to everyone in between. The atmosphere and decor were inviting, modern, and still cozy. The menu, while small, features many excellent choices, and everything that came to the table was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. This is a place that I really look forward to visiting again, and the type of place where I’d love to become a regular. While Silo doesn’t have the same hype (or expectations) of Husk, or quite the same value proposition of neighbor Germantown Cafe, it hits the sweet spot of delicious locally crafted food at reasonable prices in a wonderful setting. With Silo and Germantown Cafe at the same intersection, and Cupcake Collection, Red Bicycle, Swaffles, Monell’s and Mad Platter within two blocks, Germantown is fast becoming a Nashville foodie’s walk-able paradise, close to both downtown and Vanderbilt/midtown. Whether you live in Germantown or not, you cannot go wrong with a visit to Silo.