"IT'S hard to imagine, but when we opened in 2001, there was nothing here. You could sit on the corner and wait quite a while before a car drove by."
Margot McCormack, owner of the Provence-inspired Margot Cafe & Bar, is referring to the increasingly gentrified East Nashville neighbourhood – but she could just as easily be commenting on the city's food scene as a whole.
There are Nashville culinary institutions that have been around much longer than Margot Cafe & Bar – Arnold's Country Kitchen opened in 1982, and Prince's Hot Chicken Shack was set up more than 70 years ago – but it's fair to say that since Margot herself helped pioneer the concept of a chef-driven restaurant in Music City. With the chef as the face of an eatery, the food scene has steadily diversified.