Love is all you need
I have fallen in love three times in my life. Once, when I was 18, with a beautiful Dutch man I met sitting by the fountains in Nice, France. Once with a man I had no business giving my heart to. And once with, of all things, the best biscuit in Nashville. The latter has been the most consistently available, doesn’t threaten my sanity, and is something I’m readily willing to share. I’m no stranger to the long distance relationship, so it seems only fitting that my love lives in Nashville—and I don’t. But it’s a place I visit often as I burn up the Southern highways.
It all started some years ago one February morning in the heart of the Gulch, at a little place called Biscuit Love (yes, I get the irony) owned by Karl and Sarah Worley. Here, the line snakes out the door and the wait for the best biscuits in Nashville can easily exceed 45 minutes. I’m not the only one crushing hard on these biscuits. But as you wind your way to the counter to place your order, fingering the oversized laminated menu, and internally debating your options (for the record, I never order just one biscuit—this love is generous), a certain euphoria takes over. It’s biscuit time.
Earlier this year, at the annual Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, I argued why biscuits are the totemic staple of the Southern breadbasket. And if I’m right (I am), the specimen at Biscuit Love reigns above all others in Music City. This is a town where the Southern palate is amply supported by breakfast joints full of home-style cooking and a full roster of meat ‘n’ threes. There’s a veritable bounty of biscuits here. But make no mistake, Biscuit Love is king.
I’ll be the first to admit that biscuit preferences are highly personal. And let’s be honest, no one’s biscuit will ever measure up to your grandmother’s—even if objectively she wasn’t really that great of a cook. Biscuits are as packed with nostalgia as they are with flour, which makes finding the “best” feel like chasing the ghost of a taste memory. Variations abound. Butter or lard or Crisco? Dropped, hand-formed, or rolled out? Cast iron skillet or sheet pan? But great biscuits share a few things: soft winter wheat flour, fat, leaveners, and liquid—usually buttermilk.
The angel biscuit at Biscuit Love elevates the basics with shavings of frozen butter, heavy cream, and rich cake yeast to aid the rise, all of which makes these flaky rounds taste like a biscuit had a delicious tryst with a dinner roll. They manage to be tender enough to melt across your tongue and sturdy enough to make one helluva sandwich. Because a biscuit is both a thing and a vessel for a thing.
Pile on Nashville-style hot chicken, mustard, pickles, and honey with the Princess. Slather it with sage-flecked sausage gravy, made daily with pork from the “Biscuit Pigs” that the restaurant sources locally from Bear Creek Farm. Let your BLT mind be blown with the biscuit version that stacks slices of sweet and spicy thick-cut bacon with tomato jam and lettuce. And if your love affairs lean Francophile, the biscuit French toast with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote will have you stocking a boudoir worth of syrup.
Or keep it simple, and just order a plain biscuit. Rest assured, there is nothing plain about it. Because sometimes love doesn’t need all the trappings. Sometimes, as with the Worleys’ masterpieces, you just need to know the love is there—consistent, unassuming, and as close to perfection as you can find this side of the angels.
Jennifer V. Cole is a Southern-based food and travel writer. As a night owl, she prefers breakfast for supper.