Sharing Food at Restaurants and What I Ate at City House in Nashville

Over the years, I’ve developed a preference for sharing food when I go out to eat. This doesn’t always work. Some dishes simply don’t lend themselves to sharing. Soup is tricky, and divvying up a burger isn’t much fun either. Then there is the people problem. With many friends, I have an unspoken agreement that when we go out to eat, we will share food. We don’t ask, “What are you ordering?” Instead, we say, “What should we get?” Everyone wants to try a bunch of items and can’t commit to just one, so we order a pile of appetizers, mains, sides, and if there’s room, a dessert or two. But some folks just don’t like communal eating and there’s very little point in trying to convince someone to share when all they really want is to enjoy what they ordered on their own. I get it: Sharing isn’t for everyone. My bias means that I tend to like restaurant with menus that cater to or are designed with sharing in mind. Nashville’s City House is just such a place. Tucked behind trees in the city’s Germantown neighborhood, City House has a clean but rustic aesthetic, an open kitchen, friendly and casual service, and a buzzy atmosphere. While a couple would undoubtedly enjoy their City House experience, I think it’s perfect for small groups, and yes, diners who like to share. Chef Tandy Wilson’s menu is divided into antipasti, pizza, pasta, and fish + meat. Obviously, the food has Italian roots, but look closely and you’ll see Southern touches like buttermilk, cornmeal-crusted catfish, and summer peaches. My group, four curious eaters and all dedicated sharers, ordered from all over the menu. The meaty and just a little bit crispy octopus served with fennel, carrot gremolata, and fregola was a standout, even for a known fennel-hater like me. City House is known for its pizza, baked in a giant wood oven. We ordered one topped with peaches, buttermilk cheddar, scallions, and strutto (a rendered pork fat), which was both creamy and tangy, as well as sweet and savory. We loved it. House meats are another specialty. We tried a garlic sausage that was perfect for sharing, and just a little bit of meat for everyone. It also paired well with the creamy, just slightly cheesy grits we picked as our side. The frico was like a tender potato sleeping inside a gooey and decadent sleeping bag of cheese, which reminds me of another benefit of sharing. Splitting the not-at-all good for you dishes means you only eat a bite or two, without feeling guilty that you either ate too much of something unhealthy, or wasted food that was far too filling for you to finish on your own. Sharing was particularly smart for dessert as we were able to polish off the peanut butter Coca Cola cake with rum and coke caramel and vanilla malt gelato, as well as the almond ricotta pound cake with lemon syrup and lemon ricotta gelato….

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