The Catbird Seat

Behind The Scenes of The Restaurant

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Orange Wine

We tend to think of wine as white, red, and sometimes pink, but orange wine certainly deserves its own category. Orange wine is simply wine made with white grapes that is left in contact with its skins for a prolonged period of time. The result? You guessed it, an orange-ish hue. But the provocative side effects of this method of wine-making don’t end there. The texture is forever changed, the wine developing grip and a fuzziness on the tongue — almost like the tannin of a red wine; Interesting flavor compounds arise and acidity is heightened; a distinct “funkiness” emerges with earth, minerality, and even an odd (yet not unpleasant) metallic note…these are all the effects of orange wine. Of course, each one differs, depending on the grape, producer, terroir, barrel treatment, and — of course — the time spent in contact with the skins.

Last week at The Catbird Seat, we featured two such “orange” wines. The pairing was for an octopus dish with pickled daikon, kimchi puree, and turnip. The two wines (one for our house pairing, one for the reserve), were the 2009 Broc Cellars “Naturale” Roussanne and 2004 Radikon Ribolla Gialla, respectively. Broc Cellars is a winery out of California, whose winemaker Chris Brockway makes natural wines in innovative methods. Roussanne, a grape originally from the Rhone Valley in France, is normally fat, oily, and low acid. Broc Cellar’s skin-contact Roussanne couldn’t be further from that: lean, textural, and brightly acidic, this wine is a perfect introduction to “orange” wine. Radikon, on the other hand, is this category taken to the extreme. Stanko Radikon was one of the pioneers of skin-contact whites, working out of Friuli in northern Italy. His 2004 Ribolla Gialla spends 4 months in contact with its skins, then another 3 years in barrel and 1 year in bottle before it is released. Even darker amber in color, this wine is oxidized, funky, and almost brutally tart. 

When I pour these wines for people, I tell them to give it a taste before they get the dish. And I tell them, they may not like it. But, when they get the food, the wine will transform. The acidity will seep supportive, not harsh. The funkiness will seem earthy and pleasant, not distracting. With the right food, at the table — this is where these wines shine. 

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While the floors were being finished this past weekend, Josh and Erik had a chance to hit the woods and forage for some local mushrooms. While a variety of mushrooms is easy to come by — if you go to Whole Foods, there is an entire section you can choose from, shiitake, maitake, reishi, cremini, chanterelles, etc. — they are nothing like what you find in the wild.

The bright orange mushroom is called Chicken of the Woods, and it is aptly named as it has a chicken-like flavor and texture.  These mushrooms are often found August through October but can be spotted as early as June.

The Puffball mushroom can be found during late summer and early fall as well. It can be as big as your head, and has a tofu-like flavor once it is cooked, making it ideal to soak up other flavors in a dish.

The Hen of the Woods is a white mushroom that looks like a flower straight out of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. It has incredible flavor, spanning from meaty to nutty to smoky at times, and a firm texture that makes it easy to use in a variety of dishes.  These mushrooms are found right now, as summer wraps up and cold fall nights settle in.

We’re in the process of combining and preserving these mushrooms so we can use them throughout the winter in various dishes. Look out for them on your next trip to The Catbird Seat.

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Space Update

Hi friends.  It’s been a while since we talked about the space, but we’re here to fill you in.  It’s almost completely transformed; it’s hard to even picture the purple-walled salon that occupied the space before. The picture below is from the space a little earlier in the process. We now have in the countertops and floors, which act as perfect compliments to the stainless steel and white in the room.  We’re holding back some of our more recent pictures in an effort to get to a place where everything is ready – which will be soon, considering we open next Wednesday!  Hope to see you on the other side of that counter.  

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Glassware Decisions

Sorry we haven’t posted in a while, folks. Progress is being made, though, and one of the major decisions we have to make this week is glassware. Here, Jane tells us a little about the process.

Glassware Options

The Catbird Seat presents unique challenges for choosing glassware. We are a small restaurant, with relatively few guests in every night. But given how we’ve chosen to set up the beverage program, with a focus on our liquid pairings, we are going to need a disproportionately large number of glasses. We will also need a diverse range of glasses for the pairings to accommodate all the different beverages we plan to pour. If you go to Riedel or Schott Zwiesel’s web sites (two famous Eastern European wine glass makers), you will find specific glasses for dozens of grape varieties, different styles of wine, and occasions. There are glasses for young wine; there are glasses for old wine. There are glasses for New World wine; there are glasses for Old World wine. Pretty much anything you can think to drink, there will be a specific glass for. 

Obviously, we have to narrow down the choices, and pick a small range of glasses that will work well with a variety of different wines. The glasses pictured above are nine of the many samples that we’ve received thus far. We will carefully weigh factors like weight, capacity, durability, price, style, and shape to choose our favorites, and create a repertoire of glasses for the pairing menu.

In addition, we will have a separate set of glasses for bottles ordered off our wine list. As pairing pours are normally only 3-4 ounces, glasses for bottle service will have to be a bit larger. The selection process is the same, though: we want to make sure that we’ll have a fitting glass for any bottle on our list. 

Stay tuned for some final choices!



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Ladies and Gentlemen, The Catbird Seat Team

It’s official – all five employees of The Catbird Seat are officially here in Nashville. 

(Side note:  We haven’t introduced you to Tom and Mayme yet, but now you’re going to get to know them!  They will be rotating a position that has one in the kitchen with Josh and Erik two nights a week while the other works back of house.)

L to R: Tom, Mayme, Erik, Jane, Josh

Last night we had our first all-staff meeting and decided to kick it off with sharing some fun information so everyone could get know each other.  After we heard how interesting and cool everyone really is, we thought it would be fun to share their answers.



1.What was your first job?

I was a corn detassler when I was 13 or 14 years old.  They grew hybrid corn by planting one row of one variety and then four or five rows of another variety, and I walked down the rows and rows of corn and pulled off the tassle on each plant.  I made $4.28 an hour.


2. What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

Isla Mujeres, Mexico


3. What is the best thing you’ve ever consumed?

Kobe beef with smoked paprika and pumpkin seed brittle at Alinea. 



1.What was your first job?

I was a dishwasher at my parents’ restaurant.


2. What has been your favorite travel destination so far?



3. What is the best thing you’ve ever consumed?

The first time I ate sushi was very memorable for me.   I was in Seattle and me and some guys saw a sushi place and decided to go.  I loved it.  Except for the wasabi, I thought, what’s it for?  I wish I had known!



1.What was your first job?

Babysitting.  When I was 11 my neighbors entrusted their 3 year old with me.  She’s still alive today!


2. What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

Cirque de Terre, Italy


3. What is the best thing you’ve ever consumed?

The first time I drank a sazerac at The Violet Hour my world changed!



1.What was your first job?

When I was 16 I got a job as an exterminator. I would crawl under houses to spray and I just tried really hard not to get the fumes in my mouth!


2. What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

After college I took off alone and drove all over the US.  I was on Highway 101 early in the morning and I crossed into Crescent City, California, and it was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. 


3. What is the best thing you’ve ever consumed?

What can I say?  I love toasted bread dipped in beef fat, with just a touch of salt.  Delicious.



1.What was your first job?

I was a barista making coffee drinks at the Café of Americas in Minneapolis.


2. What has been your favorite travel destination so far?

San Sebastian, Spain, feels like home to me.


3. What is the best thing you’ve ever consumed?

Tortellini en brodo made by this little old woman in Bologna, Italy.  She wrapped every single noodle around her finger to form it.  It was amazing.


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Couture Cooking

Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, all three Hank Williams, and many more icons in American history have been dressed by Manuel, the “Rhinestone Rembrandt” for artist, athletes dancers, presidents, and now, Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson.  Today their chef coats from Manuel arrived and they are beautiful.  We decided not to show you the coats, but rather invite you to come check them out yourself when The Catbird Seat opens. If you want to be one of the first, email to be added to the list of those who find out about the reservation system first.       (P.S. We’re hoping to launch it soon, so if you’re on the list, it’s a good place to be!)

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Steady as She Rose…

As you can see, the shaft for the elevator is built.  The door on the bottom will be the front door for the restaurant, and the elevator is to the left.  We’ve picked out the lighting for the lobby, some pretty cool light bulbs that I think you’ll like.  We’ve also passed our electrical inspection for the rough in, so that’s good news.

 As far as the internal elements go, we’ve got bar stool samples on order.  We thought we were going to do an ironwood bar top, but that’s not going to work now so we’re back to the drawing board.  We have all the lighting fixtures picked out, and some of them are being custom built, so they should be one of many unique touches in The Catbird Seat. 

 Later this week we’re going to start installing the HVAC, and over the weekend start to drywall the space.  We’re still on schedule and on budget, so it’s always a balancing act that has to be refined, but so far so good!

The view from on top of the elevator shaft.

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A Recipe from the Chefs

Maybe you’ll get bored this weekend. Try this recipe Josh and Erik discussed on the Morning Living show on Martha Stewart radio this week and send us pictures of how your dish turned out!

Cured Spanish Mackerel with Citrus and Ginger

Chefs Erik Anderson and Josh Habiger, The Catbird Seat in Nashville



3 fillets of Spanish mackerel

1 cup kosher salt

¼ cup white sugar

4 cups cold water

½ grapefruit

½ lime

½ Meyer lemon

½ orange

2 T. olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste





Fillet the mackerel, leaving the skin on and the pin-bones and bones around the belly in.  These bones can be easily pulled out after the fish is salted.  Mix a 4:1 ratio of kosher salt and white sugar. You can also incorporate the zest from the citrus fruits.  Cover the bottom of a pan with half the salt-sugar mixture and place the fish skin-side down.  Cover the fish with the remaining salt-sugar mixture and place in refrigerator for approximately two hours to cure.


Remove fish from refrigerator.  Place fish into a large bowl of cold water and brush off the salt-sugar mixture.  Remove from water and place on a paper towel to dry.  Remove the bones and peel off skin (optional).  Transfer the fish to a cutting board and, with a sharp knife, slice it cross-wise into uniform slices about 1/8” a piece. 



While the fish cures, cut grapefruit, lime, lemon and orange in small triangles and mix together in a small bowl. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon and lime into a separate bowl.  Take a small chunk of fresh ginger and grate on a micro-plane over the lemon-lime juice mixture.  Combine olive oil, lemon-lime mixture and fruit triangles together.



Place 3-5 slices of cured mackerel on a plate and cover with citrus dressing.  Make sure to get a few pieces of the citrus triangles over each slice of fish.  Garnish with chunky sea salt, cracked black pepper and a chiffonade of shiso or flat-leaf parsley.



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Your Table Awaits

It’s been a little while since we updated you on construction, so here’s an overview of what’s going on.   It’s really cool to see the space start to come together.  All the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC has been roughed in and is ready for inspection.  The new permanent emergency staircase is being built offsite and should be installed next week.  We’re looking at countertop stools and lighting fixtures, and we placed an order for all of the kitchen equipment. 


The bar has been built, as you can see in the picture. This is where diners will sit and watch Josh and Erik prepare deliciousness night after night.  I’m not sure if you really get the scope of the restaurant in this picture, but it really is a very intimate, interactive setting.   


We are still working on the reservation system, and we thought we were really close yesterday, so we all got on yesterday to test the site yesterday and, well, it’s not ready! We were really hoping it would be by now so we’re sorry to those of you who are so anxious to reserve a spot. We’re still collecting names if you want to be alerted as soon as it is.  Email and let us know you want to be added.

Josh and Erik are in New York right now speaking with various editors and reporters at some big publications, so we’re excited to keep the buzz going until the opening in October.  After that, you’ll just have to come see for yourself!