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Butcher & Bee Nashville

East Nashville welcomes a tasty new Charleston outpost.

Written By:  Chris Chamberlain

Photographers:  Danielle Atkins

When Michael Shemtov opened the first Butcher & Bee in Charleston in 2011, he garnered immediate and widespread acclaim for his cozy restaurant, which serves an innovative menu of sandwiches and salads. When the time came to expand the concept to another market, Shemtov thought of Nashville almost immediately.

“Michael had his eyes on Nashville as soon as [Husk chef] Sean Brock came over from Charleston,” reports Bryan Weaver, the head chef at the Nashville spot.

Weaver’s menu is eclectic, focused on small plates for sharing, with plenty of fresh ingredients. At first glance, the selection seems random, ranging from a burger to a plate of lamb neck and grits to a roster of vegetarian dishes. But, Weaver explains, that variety is intentional.

“I’m interested in just making delicious, unfussy food,” says the chef, who previously worked in Southern California at Superba Snack Bar and whose SoCal sensibilities combine with international influences for a menu that leans heavily on vegetables and other fresh produce. “I got spoiled working near the Santa Monica farmers’ market, so I wanted to make sure that we have plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options,” he adds.

Shemtov was born in Israel, and his Middle Eastern roots are represented on Weaver’s menu, particularly in the mezze section. There are familiar dishes, like hummus, tahini, and baba ghanoush, as well as a few novel ones, like an Israeli salad made with cucumbers and mango as well as a selection of pickled items (raisins, grapes, carrots). Often, plates are cheekily named after famous movie lines (there’s “MMM...This Is a Tasty Burger” from Pulp Fiction) or punny descriptions (“Hey DJ, Drop the Beet!”).

There’s also an extensive bar program with 20 taps pouring local and regional beers plus a full bar that crafts clever cocktails and serves interesting and affordable wines. In fact, the bars at Butcher & Bee might just be the best seats in the house; you can watch the mixologists from the long cement bar or witness the show going on inside the open kitchen at the chef’s bar, which seats a dozen diners. There’s also a small bar hidden upstairs in the mezzanine—it’s the best vantage point to take in the stunning interior of the dining room, courtesy of Powell Architecture + Building Studio. The result is a neo-industrial vibe, all exposed ductwork and barnwood accented by dramatic tile patterns.

As the weather warms up, Butcher & Bee plans to add seating on the patio behind the building. Until then, between the chef’s bar, a large communal table, and that selection of small plates designed for sharing, Butcher & Bee is a great place to catch all the buzz.

902 Main St, 615-226-3322; butcherandbee.com

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