Etch (Downtown)

I get asked all the time - where is the best place to have lunch in Nashville? My answer is now "Etch".

 entrance

entrance

If I could describe a perfect date, this would be it. Etch holds on to what it means to truly have a quality dining experience. From the moment you walk in you are treated better than family. They know how to seat you, where to guide you and even how to carry on a conversation without being overbearing (we all know those kind of servers). It felt comfortable enough to be ourselves, but classy enough to understand that we are going to have a quality time.

 I am kicking myself over that knife by the way

I am kicking myself over that knife by the way

The menu is hard to describe. Honestly the best way to think of it is Deb Paquette. It's her on a piece of paper. Etch describes themselves as eclectic which is a good way to say it, but still does not do it justice. Their is method to this madness. It's not as if Chef Paquette could not make her mind. She knows exactly what she is doing. That is what makes this place so great. Their are no filler menu items. Each one is crafted to perfection.

 the gateway appetizer - cauliflower

the gateway appetizer - cauliflower

I was told to order the Cauliflower appetizer. I did as instructed and quickly noticed that almost every table around us had done so as well - and it makes sense. Not only is the cauliflower seared well, but the house made pesto and red pepper essence add a delightful melody. Cauliflower itself is quite bland and tough. The searing brings out the sugars and paired with the pesto, it is fantastic. They also include a lemon feta spread to enjoy with it as well. You cannot go wrong with this dish. Honestly, it is a must. Do not skip it.

 Agentinean Beef Tenderloin

Agentinean Beef Tenderloin

Meat = Perfection. Simple as that. It could not have been cooked any more tender and precisely. They arugula add the bitterness that enhances the Salsa Verde that is both mixed in the meat as well as poured on the side. All in all, for what it is worth, this dish stood out magnificently. Underneath, as a bed of sorts, is a fried potato salad. The crunch and fat cuts into the bitterness of the mustard that it is mixed with.

With this dish, I do have one simple disclaimer - if you are not a mustard fan (particularly dijon) this dish may be too overpowering for you. They do use quite a bit and certain bites felt more mustard heavy than others, but for my taste, it proved to work well. For others, such as my wife, certain parts were too 'mustardy' to eat.

 lamb gyro

lamb gyro

At Etch, they do have a selection of sandwiches you can choose from. It ranged from the Gyro to even a grilled cheese. Me, being a lamb aficionado, ordered the Gyro. Let me tell you - this is the best gyro I have had. 

As a traditionalist, I will say that I miss that old school flavor of the gyro. You know the one. Where essentially you can go to any Greek place in a strip mall and get the same exact flavor no matter where you are at. Well this is different - and it is so much better. 

First and foremost, the lamb is more tender and flavorful. Still has remnants of the lamb flavor which are more often than not completely lost elsewhere. The pita bread is soft and warm to the touch. The toppings are fresh and provide a great texture to the food. But the star of the show is the salsa placed on top. Creamy, packed with cilantro and lime, it enhances the dish and in certain bites tries to trick you that you are biting into a Greek taco (is gyro taco in Greek?). What brings it all together is the acidity from the pickled onions. Honestly, every gyro dish should have this. It completes it. 

All sandwiches come with house chips that are so thin and fresh that they melt in your mouth like cotton candy.

 Almond Coffee Cake

Almond Coffee Cake

When it comes to desserts, I am a lover but I am no expert. Being a pastry chef would be the hardest thing. A few key points that I do know about this dish - the cake is moist. the crumbs are elegant and flavorful. the fruit is fresh. the candied orange peel provided a dellightful surprise. But more importantly, the buttermilk sherbet on the top cleansed my palatte and left me feeling refresh. Yes the blackberry sauce gave the dish a deeper tone but this dessert was fantastic because of that buttermilk ball. 

 open kitchen

open kitchen

I want to give a special thank you to Angela and the Etch team. My stay there was fantastic. Angela (our lovely server) took the time to make sure everything went well, including lighting and even playing with my son, Enzo. She was polite and proper the entire time, never forgetting our drinks and always offering her assistance. I am truly thankful for the experience I had that afternoon.

 bar area.

bar area.

I extremely recommend going to Etch. The lunch menu is fantastic. The prices are spot on. The service is detailed. 

Location: 303 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN 37201

Biscuit Love (The Gulch)

Their are a few things in this world that I would wait in an hour line for. My wife, son, and tickets to Bruno Mars.

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biscuit love

but can you do the wait?

If you are looking for an example of exemplary marketing, look no further than Biscuit Love. They have somehow convinced all tourists visiting Nashville that this is the place to eat when you come here. Luckily, I went where I had to wait about 10 minutes in a line.

 a little look inside

a little look inside

Like I said before, wait times should never dictate a negative review. Unless that wait is a tourist trap. Then be furious that your friends took you there. Thankfully, Biscuit Love is actually pretty dang tasty!

 people love their signage

people love their signage

I am a sucker for a good chicken biscuit combination. I could have fried or breaded chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, I do not go to the gym enough for this eating habit. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my experience there. Being a tourist trap, I was expecting
to be let down. I ended up spending $13 for a dish that took care of business. Well cooked chicken thigh (dark meat is superior), soft biscuit with a crunch and a gravy that was out of this world. I went with a little secret item recommended by the cashier lady. I was deciding between the Princess or the Nasty. She pulled a fast one on me and recommend I get the Nasty Princess. I went for it.

 the nasty princess

the nasty princess

So good guys. I mean like really good. Not an hour wait good, but like a solid 30 minute wait good. The service was prime, the food was prompt and the flavors were just so artistically crafted. My brother-in-law has a gleam in his eyes the moment the dishes came out. I have not seen that look since his wedding day.

I am grateful he loves my sister as much that Chicken Biscuit. Passionate man. To my surprise, the cashier did me a solid and threw in another option I was battling on choosing. The Wash Park.  2 Beef Burger patties and the amazing bacon jam. I swear you can put bacon jam on anything and it immediately makes it better. Fact. 

 The Wash Park

The Wash Park

Instead of chicken, it's beef. Throw some jam on their and the flavors literally explode. You taste the heavy meat flavor first, then followed by a subtle touch of sweetness from the spread. That is one thing that I have realized that Nashville does well. They understand jams and spreads. They spare no expense in getting it down to a science.

One side note about this place - you will most likely have time to kill. Talk to some people in line. See where they are from. If you are a local, give them some suggestions on where to visit. Share with them this page so they can discover some more Nashville Gems. I met a lady that was here for just a day and had no idea where to go or what to do. Ended up at Biscuit Love because a friend recommended it to her.

 East Nasty

East Nasty

I have no downsides to my experience. It was just a smooth process from start to finish. Would I wait an hour for this place? I don't think so. I loved it, I just know their so many other options, especially in the Gulch, that could give me an amazing experience without the hour wait. Check out the other articles I have
written on other location in the Gulch. - Oh and for the love of all that is good, don't stand in that ridiculous line to take a picture with the wings. 90% of the day it has horrific lighting, and the line is not worth it. #SaveYourTime

 the brother-in-law

the brother-in-law

Location: 316 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Café Roze (East Nashville)

It's East Nashville Restaurant Week. Let's see how many I can make it too.

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café roze

they pay attention to detail

We got quite a few of these East Nashville Restaurants participating in Restaurant Week. I'll throw that link in at the end of this post. To give you some background, I got here at 5pm hoping to be the first there to snag a seat by the limited window space. I got a seat, but did not realize that dinner started at 6pm. So those very beautiful natural light photos are going to have to wait. 

What do I think of it? No idea. 

 small tables by the front

small tables by the front

I honestly wish I had more input. I just did not have enough to really figure out if I liked the place or not. Fun Fact: I don't drink - so I can't have an opinion on those (but if you dig mocktails then let's talk). The special going on is a simple one. $15 gets you a drink and an  appetizer. They had three options - Shrimp Aquachile, Squash, Pork Belly. I opted for the Pork Belly.

 it took a miracle to edit this photo (pink neon sign behind me)

it took a miracle to edit this photo (pink neon sign behind me)

(Let me take a moment and just say how difficult it is to photograph a plate of food while a bright pink neon sign is behind me. This edit itself took me 3x longer than the other photos. This is why natural light is my best friend. Moving on.)

It was good. The presentation was beautiful. The actual flavor profile of it all was spot on. I am a mustard fan but I know many that just don't appreciate it. This mustard is tasty and subtle. It didn't carry that vinegar aftertaste. The greens on top were nicely sauteed. The pork was crunchy on the outside and delicate on the inside. It had random bursts of flavors that triggered some nostalgia. Not the best pork belly I have had in terms of cook quality but the garnishes on top brought out the deeper flavors. Contrast + Texture = Success. 

 bar area

bar area

Now here is my personal opinion on it all. If you aren't getting an appetizer, expect to spend $20+ on dinner - and that's the low end. Unfortunately, this place did not feel like I should be spending $20-$35 at. It honestly felt more like a tapas bar that specialized in cocktails. The scene was trendy (hipster), the ambiance was minimal, and that to me kind of put me off. This is rare. I really don't have this opinion on a location not meeting up to the food standards. It's usually the other way around. I guess what I am saying is that I actually had no problem with the food - it was more of the overall feel of it. 

 random sign

random sign

Last note: service was great. Server was Alex. Met the owner. All wonderful people who were able to accommodate me last minute. Perhaps if I sat on one of the regular tables my experience would have been complete. I mean, I did choose to sit on the tiny stools with the tiny table (pretty marble though). I'll go back. Hopefully, during the day, and I'll snag a big boy chair.

East Nashville Restaurant Week

Location: 1115 Porter Rd, Nashville, TN 37206