If we’re going to talk about Josephine, Nashville’s newest restaurant created by acclaimed restaurateur and Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, we have to mention the Brussels sprouts. The menu states they are prepared with charred orange, dried cherry, peanut vinaigrette and rye onion rings, but my mouth says they were prepared in heaven.
“There are only so many ways you can cook a beef tenderloin or a steak,” says Josephine chef Andy Little. “You know what I mean? The world of vegetables, it’s something I definitely think you can explore. Not vegetables as a side dish — vegetables as an actual center-of-the-plate item. The response to the Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower and pepperoni sauce, and the wood-smoked carrots, has been the most gratifying to me.”
Of course, Little is quick to point out that vegetables aren’t the only choice on Josephine’s purposefully limited menu. Some of the other early hits have been the clams casino bites, hazelnut agnolotti and the steak and French fries topped with herb butter. The menu will change frequently depending on the availability and seasonality of products coming from local farms. But the five menu categories — bites, vegetables, noodles and dumplings, meats and fish, and sweets — will stay the same.
“It’s not exactly tapas,” Little says. “As far as portions go, each dish is portioned for one. But we always encourage people to come with a crowd, never order the same thing twice and to share, so you get the entire experience.”
To Pontes, the overall feel of the restaurant was just as important as the food. Local architect Nick Dryden executed the interior and architectural design, outfitting an open kitchen and large U-shaped bar with plenty of natural light to accompany Pontes’ leather, wood and industrial finishes, such as the standout Amsterdam Modern dining room chairs. Sitting at one of the dining room tables, or at one of the 20 community table seats, you get the feeling that you are at a friend’s home, a friend who just happens to be incredibly talented in the kitchen.
Josephine is open daily from 5 to 10 p.m., except Tuesday. Reservations are accepted; but walk-ins, especially from the 12South neighborhood, are encouraged — a set amount of bar seats and community tables will remain open for just that purpose.
Photos Courtesy of Andrea Behrends