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