DJ Dines: Adele’s in Nashville
Reese and Jim don’t let a trip to Nashville go by without a visit to Adele’s. Opened last year by celebrated chef Jonathan Waxman, the restaurant has locals and visitors alike lining up for its clean American food served with a serious side of Southern comfort. Adele’s is named after Waxman’s beloved mother and honors the affection for sophisticated, simple, and seasonal cooking she passed down to her son. Located in a re-imagined 1950s auto repair shop, the restaurant features a large open kitchen, an oversized fireplace to grill on, and lots of reclaimed and mid-century touches.
Adele’s was Waxman’s first Nashville restaurant, though he’s long been a fan of the city, especially its music scene. Earlier this year, he became a partner in Bajo Sexto Taco, a modern Mexican joint with one location inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and another one opening soon.
In the kitchen, Waxman is known as a master of chicken. In the mid-80s, he brought California cuisine to Manhattan with his restaurant Jams (which he recently reincarnated just off the lobby of 1 Hotel Central Park in New York) and caused a sensation with his homey-yet-luxe grilled chicken-and-fries entrée served in a white tablecloth setting. Chicken continues to be at the centerpiece of his menus, as it is at Adele’s.
We’re thrilled Waxman not only shared his recipe for JW Chicken and Salsa Verde with us, but that he also took the time to partake in this quick Q&A.
When did you first realize you wanted to be in the restaurant business?
I was in Hawaii playing in an R&R band. The band broke up, and my surfer buddies told me I could either sell drugs or work in a restaurant. I started at the Rusty Harpoon in Kaanapali Beach in 1974 and never looked back.
What are your three favorite ingredients to work with in the kitchen?
Butter; it’s a perfect food.
Sea salt; it makes any dish impressive.
Olive oil; it’s the ultimate matchmaker.
What does Southern food and cooking mean to you?
My wife is from Wilmington, NC. I love hush puppies, fried catfish, Brunswick stew, anything creole or Cajun, chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas, okra, collard greens, etc. They are so comforting and soothing; the world slows down.
What is the best part about the culinary scene in Nashville?
The burgeoning cooking scene has virtually exploded in the past few years. But classics like Margot’s, City House, Arnold’s, and Prince’s have stood the true test of time and have helped make Nashville a nationally known food town.
Tell us about JW Chicken.
It is the perennial crowd pleaser at Adele’s. In Nashville there is a great variety of chicken, so Adele’s offers its addition to the city’s culinary landscape.
How would you serve it?
With our kale salad [done with Pecorino, anchovy, and breadcrumbs] and a great bottle of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.