Nashville is obviously filled with all sorts of amazing restaurant options, but sometimes it’s nice to have a different dining experience, something a little more unexpected than just picking from a menu. Luckily, Music City has also embraced the pop-up restaurant and supper club culture, with itinerant chefs offering fantastic meals in some unexpected places.
The ultimate goal of some of these traveling chefs is to parlay their audience of fans into an actual brick-and-mortar restaurant. Popular spots like Otaku Ramen, Funk Seoul Brother, Mangia and Nicky’s Coal Fired were all founded by chefs who made their reputation in town with traveling road shows, cooking and serving food in interesting locales like private homes, bars, coffee houses and restaurants during hours when they were normally closed.
The latest chef to parlay a pop-up dining experience into an actual restaurant is Vivek Surti whose VEA Supper Club is transitioning to a new consistent home at Tailor Nashville. Surti has been spreading his brand of international fusion cuisine at events all over town for years, and he soon hopes to open his new eatery in the back room of chef Tandy Wilson’s popular Mop/Broom Mess Hall in Germantown.
Even though Surti is setting down roots he still intends to maintain the supper club vibe, with two small seatings a night Th-Su starting out with small snacks and time for socializing before sitting down to a multi-course dinner. Surti plans to plate and explain each dish to the assembled diners from a table set right in the middle of the dining room so that patrons can feel like they are really guests in his home. Fans of the VEA experience are already waiting with mouths watering for Tailor to open sometime in the next month or so.
Since chef Tyler Brown announced that he was leaving his position at the Capitol Grille to start up a new restaurant at Southall in Franklin, diners have been waiting for the chance to enjoy his food again. While the luxury resort and restaurant are still under construction, Brown couldn’t wait any longer to give hints about what sort of cuisine future guests could expect, so he’s been throwing a series of pop-up dinners at the farm as part of a series Southall is calling “The Rambling.” Lucky diners enjoy a fall farm dinner under beautifully-lit tents in the middle of a field in view of the greenhouses that will soon grow the produce Brown will use in the kitchen. The series has run throughout October and there are still three opportunities left to sample what is to come at Southall, so buy your tickets now.
Johnny Haffner has been a beloved local caterer for years, a go-to source for wedding and party meals among those in the know. Haffner is also a gracious host who invites guests to join him on his front porch for elaborate pop-up supper clubs during the summer and fall. Old friends sign up to dine together, and strangers become new friends at this almost underground BYOB home-cooked feast. To score an invitation to the party, you need to sign up in advance at Haffner’s catering website
Another fun pop-up event coming up soon will be Gather at the Farm, a food, drink and music experience courtesy of Bloomsbury Farm and Experience Nashville in partnership with Food For The Hungry. In what’s intended to be the first in a series, the bucolic Bloomsbury Farm in Smyrna will host guests to their property on Sunday, Nov. 4 for an evening of food prepared by chef Brian Riggenbach of The Mockingbird, drinks by noted local mixologist Freddy Schwenk and an outdoor acoustic performance by Nashville band Moon Taxi. The number of tickets have been intentionally limited to maintain the intimacy of the experience. You can still buy several different levels of admission, including some that offer private meet-and-greet opportunities with the band and other options that include luxury transportation to and from the farm. Choose your tickets at the event website and plan to bundle up for an evening of music, food and fun!