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Butchertown Hall in Germantown

Butchertown Hall brings the smoke, brisket, and tacos of Texas Hill Country to Germantown.

Written By:  Erin B. Murray

Photographers:  Ron Manville

The heady scent of burning wood wafted through the entrance of Butchertown Hall and out over the patio. It was a Friday night, just six weeks after the opening, and the crowd was spilling out of the space, much like that tease of smoke—there was a two-hour wait for a table. Inside, the crowd was packed tightly, jockeying for a place to park themselves near the host stand or at the bar.

Seems like this is now the way of hotly anticipated restaurant arrivals—as the pre-opening hype around a venue grows, so too does a ravenous fan base. In the case of Butchertown Hall, which is owned by Terry Raley and Amaranth Hospitality Group (Holland House Bar and Refuge, The Pharmacy), the opening date was pushed back a few months—which these days is expected but only fueled the curiosity and demand. But now, after finally seeing the setup, tasting the perfectly charred brisket, and digging into the well-curated beer list, we can attest that it’s worth the wait.

EatWhat to Order:

Brussels Sprouts, $6
Hearth-Roasted Oysters, $12
Beef Brisket, $22 (full order) or $12 (half order)
Knackwurst, $11
Borracho Beans Taco, $4
Mole-Roasted Bird Taco, $5

Designed by Powell Architecture and Building Studio and Design House 1411, the space is modern and minimalist, with 40-foot-tall cathedral ceilings, white subway tiles, and earthy elements like rocks wrapped in steel cages, trees poking out through room-dividing walls, and bits of moss showing up in the bathrooms. Behind the bar, a utilitarian-looking line of tap handles are hung with small tags listing what’s on draft; the staff eschews the ubiquitous chalkboard for a roll of butcher paper on which they scribble the daily featured spirit.

In researching the concept, Raley, general manager Shane O’Brien, and chef Ben Houk traveled to Texas Hill Country, where Raley is from, and it became the inspiration for Butchertown Hall. The BH team spun those culinary counterpoints together, creating a menu that’s a mash-up of German-influenced barbecue (brisket, sausages) accented by Mexican touches, like serving tortillas with everything. They also pulled German inspiration into the beer list, which includes a flood of local brews as well as one of the city’s largest selections of German, Belgian, and Czech options (there’s plenty of tequila to choose from, too).

Brisket is the signature item—Houk and his team slow cook theirs for 14 hours over white American post oak—and it’s meant to be eaten as it would in your backyard: with a tortilla, topped with pickles, onions, and a dash of sauce. Or try it ground up in the brisket double burger. There’s also smoked pork and whole chicken plus four types of sausage served by the link, like klóbasa, chorizo, and our favorite, knackwurst, which offers a perfectly crisp snap when you bite into the skin. (The Texas Trinity will get you brisket, sausage, and one other meat, like ribs, and is the best bang for your buck.)

The centerpiece of the kitchen is a Grillworks Infierno 96, a monster of a grilling mechanism that can sear, smoke, or grill just about anything. Test its prowess with an order of hearth-roasted oysters doused in chimichurri or the vaquero rib eye, which at 22 ounces is more than enough to share. A selection of well-portioned tacos will change regularly but hope for the mole-roasted bird, which gets a kick of both heat and sweetness that’s rounded out with a dollop of crema.

Getting back to that two-hour wait. It’s not every night that you’ll face such a daunting prospect, especially now that they’ve set out patio seating. But even if you do, a little patience goes a long way. The night we visited, we scored bar seats after just 20 minutes, and the bartenders were friendlier than we expected them to be while facing a grumpy crowd that was three people deep. Even the food runners, picking their way through the mob, remained polite—in fact, downright pleasant. An even better indication of the restaurant’s culture is its core team—King, Houk, and O’Brien—all of whom have risen through the ranks at Raley’s other properties. O’Brien, who moved out to California for a bit, returned to Nashville to take this job.

“[To] work with people I like and am challenged by and to know that we’re growing together—that was the core philosophy and principle that got me to come back here,” he says. To us, that speaks volumes.

1416 4th Ave. N.; 615-454-3634; butchertownhall.com

 

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