Updated Oct 19, 2022 - Food and Drink

Review: Dessert saves an overhyped meal at Locust

An ornate dessert.

Kakigori at Locust. Photo: Katie Lewis/Axios

👋 Axios copy editor Katie here! As a 36-year Nashville resident, I’ve delighted in dining as a recreation. Imagine my thrill when a last-minute dinner reservation opened up at Locust on my wedding anniversary.

Why it matters: Experiencing the buzzy, Trevor Moran-led 12 South restaurant begins with a hearty welcome from the chefs in the open kitchen. It's a congenial start to an uneven meal saved by a spectacular dessert.

Context: For the curmudgeons among us, the tiny restaurant is so loud we couldn’t hear the chefs (there are no servers) who took our orders.

  • And they apparently couldn't hear us, as my husband's drink order arrived wrong.
  • Also, since the menu's a night-of surprise, I hadn't anticipated my pregnancy would keep me from trying most of the dishes.

Yum: You want the pork belly dumplings. Perfectly delicate yet structurally sound, they’re served with toothsome seaweed.

  • A mushroom flatbread — really more of a puff — held a puree I'd spoon up any day of the week.

Um: Dover sole, the catch of the day, lay in a creamy sauce topped by lumps of lobster meat.

  • A side of crispy potatoes was a tangled mess. The chef instructed us to crack and dip the nest into the sole's sauce — yet the potatoes' own sauce coated our fingers in the process. My napkin (and dress) didn't emerge unscathed.

The big picture: Being named Food & Wine's Restaurant of the Year did Locust no favors. We had big expectations and experienced an adequate payoff.

  • I was fortunate enough to dine at Catbird Seat during Moran's tenure. That remains the best meal of my life, so I had unfairly high hopes.

The bottom line: The angels sang when the loaf pan-shaped kakigori arrived for dessert.

  • The refreshing Japanese shaved ice tasted of passionfruit and honeycomb, with a sugared egg yolk as a sunshine of color on top.
  • This truly wowed us. Texturally unique, hitting every flavor point, this dessert is one to remember.

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