Chef Ryan Poli's Swan Song At The Catbird Seat
In 2011, the Goldberg brothers, masterminds behind Strategic Hospitality, transformed the culinary scene in Nashville when they unveiled The Catbird Seat. Unlike any other restaurant in Music City, the Catbird Seat elevates the dining experience as guests gather around a twenty-two seat U-shaped bar and are entertained and enthralled by the stylings of the chef and his team.
When The Catbird Seat first opened, chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson were at the helm guiding guests through a multi-course tasting menu. Admittedly, I frequented the establishment quite often and rarely had the same course twice. For me, that was part of the thrill and excitement, aside from scoring one of the most coveted reservations in the city. I couldn’t wait to see how they took basic ingredients and made extraordinary dishes.
However, all good things must come to an end and it wasn’t long before Habiger and Anderson departed to pursue other opportunities. Little did we know, this would be the first of many chef shakeups at the restaurant. Over the past seven years, The Catbird Seat has developed a reputation for being a “chef incubator” as they seek out young talented chefs who can express their creativity with no culinary boundaries.
Leading the second iteration of the Catbird Seat was Trevor Moran, former Noma sous chef. Moran had somewhat of an abbreviated stint as he was tapped by Rene Redzepi, chef at world renown restaurant Noma, to lead the efforts of the restaurant’s reconceptualization. And like that, the second chapter of what we know the Catbird Seat to be was closed.
Who was going to fill Moran’s shoes? That was the question that was on everyone’s mind. In December 2015, Strategic Hospitality announced that longtime Chicago chef Ryan Poli and brother Matthew would be taking over the kitchen and wine program. Poli boasts quite the resume as he trained under Rene Redzepi in Copenhagen with stints at The French Laundry and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the US and El Celler de Can Roca and La Broche in Spain.
Fast forward to December 2018. Strategic Hospitality announces the Poli brothers departure from the Catbird Seat. It was an announcement that had Nashville food connoisseurs in utter disbelief. Foodies far and near rushed to their laptops to secure one of the final reservation as their last service was December 29th. I was one of the few guests that had the pleasure of saying farewell to the Polis and enjoying their final performance in the Catbird kitchen.
Below you will find the dishes served during chef Ryan’s final farewell meal. Each dish was extraordinary in its own right. I will spare you the ramblings of how delicious each bite was and allow you all to enjoy these culinary masterpieces as they are.
Not featured: Celery Root Agnolotti with Iberico Ham Sauce + Fermented Crosnes + Perigord Black Truffles.
So what’s next for Chef Ryan Poli? Aside from a trip to NYC to see one of his favorite bands, Phish, Poli will be spending some time in Las Vegas as well as Southeast Asia before his next culinary performance.
As for the Catbird Seat, chefs Will Agahajanian and Liz Johnson will be the stars of this fourth iteration. To be honest, I know very little about either creative mastermind other than the fact that they met as interns while working at acclaimed Noma. While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to the Poli brothers, I anticipate that chefs Will Agahajanian and Liz Johnson will not disappoint.
Until Next Time!
Tariff: Chef’s tasting menu is $125.00 per person. Guests have the option of adding a wine pairing for an additional $85.00 per person. It’s important to note, that reservations are available 30 days in advance. When guests make reservations via Tock, they will prepay for the experience.