Going “Beyond Salmon” at Nashville’s Miel

As a cliche urban millennial, I want my fancy dining experiences but also don’t want the guilt of the environmental impact of dining out. When we can find restaurants and experiences that align with both of these values, we get really excited. When my husband was browsing The Nashville Scene on Twitter one morning, he found this…

… and asked if I was interested in doing this “Trash Fish Dinner Thing”. I was intrigued.

Miel is an interesting place. Billed as a French-inspired restaurant, Proprietor Seema Prasad and Chef Jason LaIacona are dedicated to creating beautiful food and experiences that are elevated while also remaining hyper-local and sustainable. Matt & I went once before this event and were really impressed. I recall the highlight being the wood-grilled oysters (which are probably not transplant friendly but I live on the edge) and our wonderful gentle giant of a waiter.

The premise of this dinner was to highlight the different kinds of sustainably caught fish outside of the standard Salmon/Tuna/Shrimp rotation commonly found on seafood menus. All you had going into this was a rough idea of the flavors and preparations the chef wanted to work with.

The Night’s Menu

We were taken to The Barn, which is a lovely event space on the premise (and now where I want to have our elopement reception), and introduced to the concept by Chef LaIacona. Everything served was chosen because it was fresh, sustainable, and delicious. The actual menu ended up shifting slightly to what you see above based on the quality of what they had gotten in that morning and other ingredients available. Sounds fab.

Pre-Dinner Drink: Watermelon Shrub

While we were enjoying the unseasonably reasonable weather for Nashville in The Barn, we were offered a pre-dinner non-alcoholic drink – The Watermelon Shrub. It was a tart and refreshing palate cleanser. Not very watermelon-y in terms of what you think of when you hear “watermelon flavored”. It tasted like it was made more from the rinds of the fruit as opposed to the flesh, which I have since learned makes sense. Shrubs are essentially a vinegar-based cocktail. I can see how a splash of rum would have made this quite dangerous.

Course One: Mussels with Yuzu, Coconut, & Acid

This was delicious. Mussels are one of those foods that I forget I enjoy until I have them. These were tender and had that slight sea salt burst when you bit them. This broth though… fantastic! It was buttery and slightly salty with enough citrus to make it interesting. I had to stop myself from sticking my face in the bowl and slurping it up. I wish we had been given bread with this.

Bonus Course: Smoked Sable Mousse With Potato and Black Garlic Shoyu

Not wanting to waste anything in the kitchen, we got a few “bonus courses” through the evening. The first was this smoked sable mousse with some sourdough toast. Flavorwise, it was very reminiscent of a smoked salmon spread but with a looser texture. Would absolutely eat this again.

Course Two: Seared Sable With Smoked Honey Vinegrette and Summertime Beans

Take two with the sable was almost as good as the first. The fish was beautiful and delicate. The vinaigrette was phenomenal. The beans were… ok. They were fresh, which was great, but they weren’t cooked, or not cooked enough at least. I appreciate the joy of eating a bean right from the garden, but raw lima beans aren’t really my jam. Still, that vinaigrette dressing made it easy to overlook the texture.

Let’s Talk About The Wine For A Second…

We opted to do the wine pairings with the meal. This got us three glasses of white wine that were curated to go with the dishes served, starting from lightest to “heaviest”. The first was N.V. Maitre de Chai, Chenin Blanc, Wilson Vineyard, which was a lovely sparkling choice from California. A few dishes in, we were given a glass of the 2020 Albarino d’Fefinanes, from Rías Biaxas, SP, which really came alive with the dish below. We finished the last course and dessert with a glass of 2012 Chateau de Chasseloir, “Comte LeLoup”, Muscadet Sevre et Maine. Loire Valley, FR which stood up well to the heavier finishing course.

I’m not a wine expert, but they did pair very well and left me feeling a little buzzed towards the end of the night. Perk of being a lightweight I suppose.

Course Three: Grilled Bronzini with Lemon, Parsley, Corn, & Leeks

This was Matt’s favorite dish of the night and I don’t disagree with that assessment. The fish was heartier than the previous choice and went so well with the wine they selected. I appreciate that it was a really simple dish; lemon, parsley, salt, pepper and that’s it. It’s a testament to the cliche of the quality of your ingredients matter. This corn is also now on the list of things to recreate at home.

Bonus Course: A Take on Fish & Chips

Another bonus dish from the kitchen. I think this was Hake (I was a few glasses of wine in at this point) with the cutest little waffle fry I have ever seen. The tartar sauce was really good and the grated egg on top was a surprisingly fitting finishing touch. The presentation won a lot of points in the dining room too.

Course Four: Roasted Monkfish & Skate Wing with a Umami Ragout

First of all, ragout is a severely underrated dish. This was so good! There was such richness and depth to it. I think I heard something about the black garlic shoyu being used again, which would make sense given the umami theme running through the course. This was my first time having monkfish, and in spite of being known as “poor man’s lobster” I thought it was just ok on it’s own. The skate was the better of the two in my opinion although it was also just ok on it’s own. What made it really good was the tiny little bit of miso butter they included. I wish we had at least one more blob to put on top of these fish.

Dessert: Seasonal Fruit, Coulis, Chantilly, Basil, Tart Crumble

I think this was the least successful dish of the night. Plating wise, I think it’s beautiful. When you were able to scoop it all together in one bite, it was really good. What didn’t work for me was the deconstructed aspect. I don’t want to work for my dessert, you know? Given how constructed all of the previous courses had been, I was expecting a little more of the same for this. If this has been combined in a little ramiken as a summer berry cobbler and served warm with the cream on top, I would have been in heaven.

Final Thoughts

One thing we kept saying through the meal was “I didn’t know ______ could taste like this”. We came away wanting to expand our horizons with our fish orders as well as making a small list of things we now want to cook at home. I think it’s safe to say the goal of the meal was a success. If there was a complaint, it’s that this was a long dinner service. By the time dessert came around we had been at our table for 3 1/2 hours, which was a little more than we had expected to spend there.

Overall, our experience at Miel was as good as our first. The staff was wonderful, even if they were being kept busy the whole time. The interior is lovely. The food was amazing. We’re already planning our next visit back to see what else this team is planning to do with foods we didn’t know we enjoyed.

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