Originally posted on The Epicurious Blog. Written by Lauren Salkeld.
“I really do think Nashville is the most exciting city in the world right now,” says Max Goldberg (above right), one half of the sibling team behind some of the city’s hottest restaurants and bars, including The Patterson House, The Catbird Seat, Merchants, and the recently opened Pinewood Social.
“It’s a really entrepreneurial city with so many creative people doing really interesting things,” explains Max, who, with his brother Benjamin (above left), opened Pinewood Social, at least in part, to create a space for this thriving local community to work and play. Located in Rolling Mill Hill, a live-work community just outside downtown Nashville, Pinewood Social is a unique all-day restaurant concept that includes a Crema coffee bar, bowling alleys, karaoke, and an upcoming outdoor pool area, complete with bocce courts and an Airstream cocktail bar.
“One of our goals,” offers Benjamin, “was to make it not necessarily your stereotypical restaurant where you have to worry about guest counts, turn times, and average checks.” Instead Pinewood Social is open morning, noon, and night, with different menus, drink programs, and activities to accommodate it’s all-day clientele. And so far, the Goldberg’s plan is working.
“It’s great seeing people come in and take a lunch meeting and then really stay almost until midnight,” says Max. “They’ll either be taking meetings or having a beer with a friend or just working the entire time. And so creating this great restaurant space that has some other stuff going on, and is really a warm, wonderful environment for people to treat as their third space. I think Nashville is ready for it and seeing people actually get that and utilize the space for that purpose has been just the best feeling in the world.”
With their ever-expanding restaurant empire and their talent for opening local hot spots, Max and Benjamin Goldberg clearly have a feel for what makes Nashville “the most exciting city in the world.” We recently got Max and Benjamin on the phone to talk about their favorite local destinations, including the best restaurant for a first date, the top music venues, and where to go for a big night out. While the brothers often agreed, sometimes they didn’t, which is actually all the better for us, since it just means more Nashville musts.
Read on for Max and Benjamin Goldberg’s 10 Things We Love About Nashville interview.
1. Epicurious: What’s the best restaurant for a first date?
Max Goldberg: Benjamin’s been married for a while so I’ll help him. I would say Rolf and Daughters (above). It just has a really incredible vibe. It’s really a beautiful space and the food is insanely good, so even if the company you’re with isn’t the best, the food is just absolutely incredible. I think it’s such a great date spot, a great place to go.
2. Epi: Where do you go to satisfy a sweet tooth?
Benjamin Goldberg: If I’m doing a cake, I’m ordering a caramel cake from Leland Riggins. They do this caramel cake that is just ridiculously good. This one is truly special.
3. Epi: Where’s the best place to hear live music?
Benjamin: I love the Station Inn. I think the Station Inn is awesome. They do really small shows. It’s a bunch of bluegrass musicians that hop on stage and play some music. It’s fun.
Max: I’d say the Ryman. I love the history of it. I love the fact that bluegrass was kind of invented there. I love the different types of acts that come through there and a lot of times it’s just because they want to play the Ryman. I’ve seen Bob Dylan there and I’ve seen Vampire Weekend perform so it’s definitely a wide range of people. I saw Dave Chapelle do a stand up show there one time. It’s really cool to see “The Church”– some people call the Ryman “The Church of Country Music”–and the history of what’s happened on that stage and to see these great acts come through. There’s really not a bad seat in the house.
4. Epi: Where do you go to have a classic Nashville experience?
Max: The Picnic. We grew up going there and the women that started it, they started it by selling sandwiches to some of the women in the beauty shop. They became so popular that they got this great storefront. Now they have this really incredible space. Our grandmother and our mother absolutely love the Picnic. I think their chicken salad is just insanely good.
5. Epi: Where do you go to eat an amazing meal for less than $10?
Benjamin: That’s a tough question. I don’t like that question. Let’s skip that one.
6. Epi: Where do you go to blow your paycheck on dinner?
Benjamin: Arnold’s Meat & 3
Max: Can we say that Arnold’s Meat & 3 is both our place where you can go and get a great meal for less than $10 but also where you can go and blow your paycheck. Benjamin and I have definitely ordered every single thing on the menu before.
Benjamin: I think the atmosphere is amazing. It’s a cafeteria-style line so you grab your tray, you grab your silverware, and you go down the line and you pick out three side dishes and a meat. It’s super casual. It’s really welcoming, very friendly, but at the end of the day the food is just spot-on delicious and you see everyone there. We go there a bunch. You see all the people in the restaurant business. You see people that work in offices around the area. You see people that work in construction around the area. The governor goes for lunch. You get an entire cross-section of all of Nashville in one room, going through a cafeteria-style line for delicious food.
Max: It’s so fun taking people from out of town there, because every single time it’s the best fried chicken, the best bread pudding, the best greens or whatever it is, whatever is in season they’ll usually do some kind of special with and it’s just unbelievably good.
7. Epi: Where’s do you go for a big night out?
Max: All the bars in Nashville close at 3 a.m., but if I am going to do a big night out, which is few and far between at this point, I love going to Robert’s Western World (above). It’s a honky tonk on lower Broadway. I just think that the music, the vibe there, and being able to be down on Broadway is a really special experience and a ton of fun. One beer will usually turn into a few because you get so caught up in the music.
8. Epi: Where do you go for the best barbecue?
Max: Martin’s Bar-B-Cue. They’re about to open a new location around Belmont, which I’m really excited about. Pat Martin and the guys at Martin’s Bar-B-Cue do the best barbecue in the city. Whatever Pat Martin recommends I’ll usually get, but since it’s being printed I’ll say beef not pork, because I don’t want my grandma to get mad at me, but everything they do is pretty incredible.
9. Epi: Who makes the best sandwich?
Max: Mitchell’s Deli would probably be my favorite. I think it’s a great, simple sandwich, but done really, really well. It’s over in East Nashville where I live. It’s really fun going in there, and seeing the different types of people that are there. There are families, there are college kids, people that work in the hospitality space. It’s a really great mixture of people and I love their food.
Benjamin: I think Mitchell’s for sandwiches is pretty awesome. What they do is really cool.
10. Epi: Who serves the best weekend brunch?
Max: I would say Marché over in East Nashville. I’ve always loved going to brunch there. I think what they do is really great and usually what happens is they seat Benjamin or myself by the table next to the window, just because we order so much that it’s extra space [where] you can put the food, which is kind of embarrassing. It’s just an awesome experience and it’s a great place for brunch. They have this incredible croissant French toast that is just out of this world good.
Benjamin: I would go brunch at Hattie B’s. It’s hot chicken and waffles and it’s pretty awesome. They’re super-nice and the food is delicious as well.
(Photos: Benjamin and Max Goldberg; Nashville Skyline, Getty; Robert’s Western World)