The coolest part about our evening at Adele’s?
It was not the repeated sightings of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, stepping outside for a smoke every half hour or so, giving us the perfect view of his cocktail and conversations from our patio table.
Nor was it the wind whipping around in such a way that we feared a flying-menu-induced paper cut. Empty water glasses grooved around on the table beside us, revealing the true power of the gusts swooshing around the Broadway-facing corner.
It wasn’t even the hilarious moment after dessert, when Lindsay pointed out that “Set Fire to the Rain,” by Adele (you know, the singer) was serenading us into the night through the outdoor speakers. Whilst eating at Adele’s. We laughed, and laughed.
The coolest part is, in fact, another funny coincidence. But you’ll have to read on to hear about it.
For now, our main course: The food.
Thanks to lauded Chef Jonathan Waxman of California and NYC fame, the former Universal Tire Shop location on the Gulch’s McGavock Street is now one of Nashville’s newest culinary darlings — and one we highly recommend.
A toast: To a lovely collection of cocktails and wine. We didn’t try the bourbon, but the list of amber-colored spirits is long and something we’ll surely sip on when we return.
Clockwise from the top: The earthy, jammy Tortoise Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. The James with local gin, caramelized georgia peaches, fresh basil, sage and lime juice. This one worried Rachael a bit that it’d be too sweet, but it turned out to be a perfectly balanced cocktail, much like the KL Vodka Martini. With Tito’s vodka, fresh mint, cucumber juice, elderflower and fresh lemon, it’s the perfect way to greet your palate.
And another toast: To the appetizers. One savory and one bright, this perfect twosome put us well on our way to falling in love with the place.
The meatballs were perfectly cooked, delicately seasoned and Rachael’s favorite dish. Every bite of the raw zucchini salad was packed with the simple flavors of mint and pepper. We all agreed we could happily eat both dishes every day.
Along with the apps, these sure earned an early spotlight: The JW Potatoes, ladies and gentleman.
Hiding in the unassuming shareable sides section of the menu, these little brown beauties stunned us all. They are golden-glory. Crisp-manna. The perfect hybrid of French fry, chip and baked potato. Waxman’s crew brines russet potatoes overnight, bakes them, then smashes them, fries them and crumbles them into a bowl where they become perfection, topped with Grana Padano cheese.
A moment of silence, please, in their honor.
The entrees were no easy choice. Rachael wanted red meat as did Lindsay and I. Carrie was set on the Gnocchi. But someone had to order Waxman’s signature dish, the JW Chicken. We agreed to share and share we did. The chicken itself was enough to feed us all — the Adele’s team does not skimp on their proteins.
One bite explains everything about this creation’s signature designation. The green sauce on the JW Chicken resembles a chimichurri and brings out the best in the simple dish. The wood-oven prep leaves the meat amazingly tender and flavorful, the skin with a crisp pop. For only being cooked with olive oil, salt and pepper, this bird puts your typical poultry to shame.
Carrie’s Gnocchi was pillowy and delicate, scrumptious comfort food. We all gladly helped her clean her plate, each bite like a cloud tossed in a tasty, just-right pesto. Mint provided a creative complement again here, as with the zucchini salad. Grilled eggplant added a smoky tinge and just the right amount of garlic danced into every bite.
And now, for the red team.
The New York strip was fired in the wood oven and arrived surrounded by a mixture of its own wonderful juices, plus the ever-flavorful Worcestershire. This classic cut paired with its refreshing, vinaigrette-tossed side is the epitome of what Waxman promises every guest at Adele’s: Flavorful American cuisine.
And there’s nothing more American than a summer veggie succotash. Topped with steak, of course.
The succotash, laced with bacon-powered richness, propped up a stunning Filet — another classic that did not disappoint.
And, just to be absolutely sure we wouldn’t blow away with the wind, we ordered the Cadillac of desserts: The Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae.
The combination of warm and cool harken back to the classic hot fudge sundae while the handmade, hand-toasted marshmallows show off just how sweet this quintessential treat can be.
A daintier cousin to the chocolate powerhouse, the Almond Ricotta cake was a hit. Just sweet enough and dotted with fresh blackberries, she was the perfect counter to the ultra-rich sundae.
Speaking of sweetness …
Meet Vivian Charlotte, the newest addition to the family of Five Disher Julia, and just one beautiful reason why we’ll definitely go back to Adele’s. Our Fifth Dish deserves some of what we enjoyed without her while she stayed home with her own tiny morsel.
Okay, so you made it this far.
Now for the funny coincidence. The coolest part of it all.
While this was the first time we’d walked in the door together, the five (well, four, five in spirit) of us have a history in this building.
Once upon our 9 to 5’s, we spent our days together in an office high-rise set diagonally across the street from the ivory-colored garage that is now Adele’s. I mentioned already that, back then, Adele’s was The Universal Tire Shop, or as we called it, ‘the car place.’ They once gave me some spare parts to help temporarily repair a rotten battery cable. Those parts can still be found under my hood today — that was at least six years ago.
That car place took care of all five of us at some point, extending a neighborly 10% discount to those who worked nearby. The five of us, and this city, have changed so much since then. We’ve seen babies, break ups and just about everything in between. And Nashville has surely gotten older and wiser. From becoming a formidable foodie destination to sprouting a billion skyward-reaching condo collections, she’s added her fair share of improvements to the ol’ resume since the Universal Tire Shop days, too.
Forgive our reminiscing. What with recently celebrating our two-year anniversary, we couldn’t help it. And after reading Waxman’s poignantly written words about his own personal history and about his mother, Adele — his inspiration for transforming the car place into her eponymous restaurant — we felt it all the more appropriate. Waxman introduces his mother to us by saying this:
She was never a mom, nor traditional mother, in fact she was a maverick, a force to be reckoned with.
We’re so glad she was. If not, we may have never enjoyed her impassioned taste, which Waxman has brought to our own fair mother, Music City. A former musician himself, Waxman partnered with Kings of Leon brothers (and Nashville residents) Caleb and Nathan Followill to create Music City Eats: Nashville Food, Wine & Spirits Festival, which is making its second year debut in September 2014. The talent he’s wrangled for the two-day fest is just as impressive as the fare you’ll find in this old car place we know of, right over on McGavock Street.
Talk about a transformation. Like those spare parts of mine, we’ve all come a long way. Adele would certainly be proud.