PWI–Parenting While Intoxicated

…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work

Josephine – 12th South’s First Grown-Up Restaurant

No coffee until the end

No coffee until the end

When I first heard about this place, two things bothered me.

The first thing that worried me was that the project was being headed up by the same Nashville folks that run Burger Up, an  establishment I find to be at best, mediocre.

The second thing that bothered me was that the restaurant was labeled by the owner as “Not fussy“.  What the hell does that mean?  Were you trying to say “Not pretentious”?  I can imagine a diner being “fussy”.  I can imagine a shitty waiter being “fussy”.  I can’t imagine an entire restaurant being “fussy”.  That’s just stupid.

But any concerns I may have had were immediately assuaged when I found out that Jedi Badass Chef Andrew Little (that’s really his full name) was heading the project.  And any other hesitations were allayed once I ate there.

Chef Andrew Little is a got-damn visionary.  And he believes in scrapple.  And you had better believe that if this guy has free reign to do what he needs to do, that this is going to be one of the most talked about new restaurants in town, because some special things are happening here.

We got there slightly after they opened, at 5:15PM.  It is strange to get to a restaurant that early, and we almost had the place to ourselves for the first hour or so, but damn, did things change by the time we left!

When I arrived, my friends were already there and polishing off the cheese plate.  Since I was late to the game, I can’t authoritatively say what was on the plate, but what remained was a cheese rolled in coffee and a blue cheese that was divine.  Cocktails were the order of the day and for my first I tried the barrel-aged Negroni.  Tasty, and it helped to whet my appetite for more food.

The chef intends you to try four courses, a Bite, a Vegetable, a Noodle or Dumpling, and a Meat or Fish.  We were told that they were “European Portion Sizes”, which is true, if you are referring to the European countries where people are made out of chocolate, like Germany.  All joking aside, the pricing on the portions is great and you really get a nice sampling.  I also think that you could get away with ordering two or three courses, but hell, I’d hate to have to limit myself with all of the choices there are.


Between the four of us, we ordered all of the bites:

  • Skillet of pretzel rolls, mustard butter 
  • Clams casino bites, crispy collard greens, lemon
  • Leek tart, mascarpone cheese, bacon 
  • Smoked beef tongue, toasted bread, caramelized onion, horseradish sauce 
  • Josephine cheese selection, rosemary nuts, candied cranberry, gingerbread 

Of the bites, it was a tough call to say what was best – I’d have to say that the beef tongue won the day.  It melted in your damn mouth.  Seriously.  It was like buttah, the liquid kind.   The Clams Casino were also excellent, and I was really wowed with  the texture and flavor of the pretzel rolls – so light and flaky.


For the next round, we chose all of the veggies.  All of it.  And each potion was huge:

  • Brussels sprouts, charred orange, dried cherry, peanut vinaigrette, rye onion rings
  • Roasted cauliflower, pepperoni, mushroom conserva, golden raisin, arugula, walnuts
  • Grilled rainbow carrots, curry granola, dill, buttermilk vinaigrette
  • Heirloom beets, frisee lettuce, crouton, honey lavender vinaigrette
  • Bibb lettuce, bacon, crouton, radish, herb buttermilk dressing

Of this round, I can say that all of these are made for sharing, and I have to say that the grilled carrots were my favorite, probably followed by the cauliflower.  The carrots just had this amazing caramelized yumminess going on – plus all the way around.

Noodles and Dumplings

Dumplings and Braised Rabbit - Bugs, we barely knew ye

Dumplings and Braised Rabbit – Bugs, we barely knew ye

Now, I must admit, this course was the one I was looking forward to the most.  This world needs more house-made carbohydrates.  And Chef Little aims to please.

Here’s what was up:

  • Dumplings, braised rabbit, mushrooms, country ham, sage, apple cider reduction
  • Hazelnut agnolotti, butternut squash, pretzel crumbs, brown butter
  • Sourdough spaetzle, pastrami cured pork belly, whole grain mustard

The right answer here was the spaetzle (and by the way the correct pronunciation is Shpate-zuhl), and holy hell was it good.  The pork belly was just paired up so well with the sourdough spaetzle and I had a really hard time sharing.  The braised rabbit with the dumplings kind of threw me, because there was the tangy-sweet of the apple cider reduction, but it was still damn good.  And the hazelnut agnolotti was not only fantastic – I think it would have done really well as a dessert alternative.

Pork belly, spaetz;e and naughty (it's in there)

Pork belly, spaetzle and naughty (it’s in there)

Meats and Fish

Cheeky - The Beef Cheeks and horseradish risotto

Cheeky – The Beef Cheeks and horseradish risotto

By this point in the game, my pants were a little bit more snug than the start of the game.  And frankly, I just didn’t have it in me to do much more.  To be honest, I was bordering on “B-word Fat”.  But I soldiered on, because this is AMERICA!

Here’s what we faced down:

  • Cod, clam chowder garnish
  •  Jolt Head Porgy, celery root, cauliflower, kale agrodolce
  •  Scallops, fingerling potato, ham hock, mushroom, Swiss chard
  •  Quail, sweet potato, pumpernickel, sage, pickled raisins
  •  Beef cheeks, horseradish risotto, rosemary crumble
  •  Josephine steak, fries, herb butter

I chose the beef cheeks because why not.  Perched atop a perfect bed of creamy risotto were perfectly-tender beef cheeks that just turned into beefy butter in my mouth.  And so many delicious meat juices…  A great portion size, too.  Some damn good comfort food.  The ladies had been told about some sort of secret chicken project, apparently there are only so many available a night, and sure enough, they were delivered a whole chicken (which could easily feed two or more) and veggies.  They give you an option to carve it yourself or have them butcher it for you.  Tender, juicy; everything a chicken should be.

My only regret is that the Czech Queen did not butcher it...

My only regret is that the Czech Queen did not butcher it…


Yes, I got sweets.  No, it was not a good idea by this point.  But I did it anyway.

  • Sorghum molasses crumb tart, brown butter almond brittle ice cream 
  • Malted milk cake, roasted apple, pumpkin granola, bourbon caramel 
  • Chocolate ganache tart, peanut mousse, sweet and salty peanuts 
  • Jeni’s Ice Creams, brown butter brioche 

I opted for the malted milk cake, which reminded me of a malty version of the pound cake my mamaw used to make; everything around it only enhanced the experience.  Coffee is served in a French press with a little hourglass to tell you how long to steep it.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the treatment we got from our server, Carly.  She did a great job with us and tolerated my general rambunctiousness and irreverence.  And in addition to her patience, she did a great job of following up and making sure everything came out together (it did).  And by the time we left, it was a freaking mad house.  I mean that in a good way, but the entire timbre of the joint had changed by the end and was much more frenetic.

There is no other place like this in town.  It is unique.  It isn’t the same-old locally-sourced new spin on southern favorites horseshit that opens every other weekend.  We are damn lucky to have this place and it fits a niche that I didn’t even know we were missing.  Bravo, you crazy bastards.

Josephine on Urbanspoon


About Sparky

Sparky is a salaryman for an unspecified Fortune 200 company. But more importantly, he has a smoking jacket and entertains fellow bon vivants in his secret lair, The Manitarium. He believes in booze, charcuterie, bbq, bourbon, villainy, craft cocktails, ascots, the Oxford comma, and freedom. He is married to a beautiful attorney who is a life-long vegetarian and was raised as an experiment by her meddling nutrition scientist parents. He can be found trying to save his kids from a life of vegetables...

3 comments on “Josephine – 12th South’s First Grown-Up Restaurant

  1. Uncle Ulser
    December 27, 2013

    Ummm – what city is this in? Is 12th South part of an address or part of some cryptic -trendy name? “Josephine – 12th South” makes as much sense as “Ruth’s Chris”

    • MusicianMama
      December 27, 2013

      12 South is a neighborhood in Nashville–there are more details here. It’s on my list!

  2. Pingback: Two – Ten – Jack : EAT ALL OF THE THINGS | PWI--Parenting While Intoxicated

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This entry was posted on December 27, 2013 by in What Are We Eating?, Where Are We Eating?.
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