Food for Thought

A Pair of Smart Downtown Dining Decisions

Downtown Nashville offers lots of dining decisions, though not all of them are wise ones. Two smart choices for the conscious customer with a discerning palate and an inquisitive mind are Fin & Pearl and the Library Bar. Both establishments plate outstanding fare in a stimulating setting with lots to talk about.

Fin & Pearl is all about serving the highest quality, sustainably sourced seafood available. You will not find overfished Chilean sea bass here. You will find, however, chef de cuisine Shawney Severns constantly creating unique dishes from the fresh fish that comes in three times a week. One recent week’s creation featured handmade ravioli filled with goat cheese and corn and topped with beech mushrooms, brown-buttered toasted pine nuts and a bit of concentrated lobster butter. The meal was crowned with grilled fish, starting with swordfish but switching over to striped marlin. It is all about what is fresh and sustainable.

“We know the captains’ names of the boats and every detail about how the fish is caught,” General Manager Philip Leaberry says. “We’re not just getting a box of frozen fish somewhere. We’re actually getting a biography.”   

The setting for the seafood story that Fin & Pearl regales its patrons with every day is an inviting one, with repurposed teak for the tables and bars and glasses from recycled wine bottles. Even the oyster shells get a second life; properly crushed, they make for bags of soil amendments on the Harpeth River.

“Our mission is to create a sustainable, earth-friendly seafood restaurant in both our practices and buying strategies,” says Tom Morales, Fin & Pearl’s owner. “We hope to inspire others to embrace these simple tenets through our culinary efforts and a kind, hospitable attitude.”

The Library Bar inside the Sheraton Grand Nashville offers some delicious food for thought as well with its “Famous Authors Menu.” Beginning this summer, chefs Kimo Akana and Albert Mallard created seven three-course dinners inspired by seven great writers. Each week, a different author is integrated alongside the regular menu. The Mark Twain, for example, features a farmer's salad of seasonal vegetables wrapped in carrot, radish and zucchini ribbons and served with fresh florals followed by cornmeal-dusted catfish, seasonal greens, blackberry gastrique and seasonal floral garnishes. Save some room: The bourbon pecan praline bread pudding is for dessert! Thoughtful cocktail pairings accompany each meal. The Mark Twain is paired with The Langhorne, an organic whiskey served neat or on the rocks. As Twain himself might say were he in the Library Bar, the demise of fine dining in a scintillating setting has been greatly exaggerated.

Fin & Pearl: 211 12th Ave. S., Nashville, Tennessee, 615.577.6688,

The Library Bar: 623 Union St., Nashville, Tennessee

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