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

Dinner Time Stories (Downtown)

The experience itself is unlike anything you and I have ever experienced.

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dinner time stories

not your average bedtime story

Let's start off by saying that my pictures just don't do the experience justice. It is unique and cameras can't catch what our eyes can. I also had taken photos of the food itself, but with the lightning, I was unable to capture shots that were flattering. With that being said, be ready to see some real interesting things.

a book is placed in front of you

a book is placed in front of you

I am going to keep this critique vague on part of the story itself. The experience itself revolves around the world's smallest Chef giving you an experience around the world. Images are projected, using the book as its canvas. The 3-D rendering is spectacular. That in itself is enough to justify the experience. A photo for how immersive it truly is.

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In between each destination, a dish is placed in front of you. All dishes are the same for all guests, except for the main course, which is one of three options that you choose prior to the experience. (I'll let you know which one to choose later in this)

I want to take a moment and address something that I feel needs to be in the forefront of the conversation. I feel that the experience, meaning the projectors and story-line greatly outweighed the flavors and dishes served. 

Because this is a unique experience, I do not want to spoil any details of the dishes and what they may be, but it seemed to me that 3 dishes were on par with the experience while the other 3 seemed to be an after-thought. What I find even more interesting is that it is the final three dishes that I find to be what I was expecting. Lucky for all of you, the main course (choose the duck) was spot-on. Well cooked, seasoned, and the vegetables served with it were both flavorful and plentiful.

The last three dishes stood out because they were exactly what I expect in an experience such as this. I do not have much to compare it to (as projector with food is a first for me) but based on multi-course immersive experiences, I feel that it fell a little short - until the end. 

BUT! - here are three points that I want to stress that helped me overlook the first three courses:

1 - the people we were with: you get to talk and network with so many people of different walks of life. It truly is a communal experience

2 - It owns the market when it comes to projector 3-d experiences. It stands on it's own and frankly, you are paying for the experience

3 - service. From the servers to the host, all are professionally trained to give you a smoothless evening. Drinks are poured correctly, dishes are placed over the correct shoulder and their is a sense that they choreograph their night very well. 

these are how some courses are served

these are how some courses are served

Here, you will be paying $162 + an $11 fee to book for 6 courses. It's worth depends on how much the audio/visual aspect of it interests you. If you have the money for a special event, this could be it. If you don't care about the story line and just want amazing food, it really isn't for you. 

If you aren't picky about food, this experience could be worth it. It truly is a treat for your eyes. Let's get all 6 courses to better represent the evening, and then perhaps the $162 pricepoint will be justified for me. 

dinner time stories

dinner time stories

Buy Tickets Here: (CLICK HERE)

Tin Cup Coffee (Downtown)

I do not drink coffee. Yet for some odd reason I always appreciate a good coffee shop.

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tin cup coffee

felt like family

You know that service is going to be fantastic when the moment you walk in, you are greeted, asked how they can help, actually care about your day and then proceed to do all that with a smile on their face. Not just one employee, not just two, but all three I interacted with loved being there. That is an amazing example of creating a workplace that prides itself in service. Seldom is service not a determining factor in the outcome of the overall feel of the restaurant. The food needs to be downright fantastic and life-changing for me to be good with bad service. 

interior

interior

I was expecting a much smaller space. The space is large and holds such a huge potential. This coffee shop has the ability to do some amazing things. I found that the pride that each of the employees instill in their work was unique. They each wanted to do their own tasks just a bit better. What holds this place back is the lack of a liquor license. It has a stage. It has the equipment. It just fails to bring in the people because it lacks the booze. I'm going to put this out there, hoping you pick it up (yeah you Tin Cup)... live music for brunch with some spot-on coffee and sparkling OJ. It could be a great way to bring a crowd looking for a little fun without the Mimosas. 

interior decor

interior decor

The decor is simple. It screams coffee shop. No doubt that you won't be transported to someplace else with this experience. It is made to help you feel comfortable. This is a location where you can plant yourself and just get to the work that you need to do (we all procrastinate, I know). Don't be expecting to take your instagram pictures here. 

coffee

coffee

Don't expect pretty art on top. Don't expect something that is worth sharing photo wise. I mean, it's a coffee place that seems to focus on serving you in every way. They are there when you need them, and know when to keep their distance. I really liked the vibe there. It was so much more calm. It did not have that loud hustle and bustle of people going in and out. Since the space is large, you can tuck yourself away in a corner. Now here is where this review gets slightly different.

Bahn Mi Tacos

Bahn Mi Tacos

This Bahn Mi is good, but it ain't special. It's nothing that is going to change your life. As a matter of fact, it just sort of does the job without complementing anything else. The ingredients used are simple, yet the pork inside carried just enough of its juice to hold it's own. Recently their was a change in back of house staff and from what I hear, things are in the up and up. I want to talk about the in's and out's of the restaurant industry for a moment. 

I constantly see new endeavors open up. We in a way, glamorize the restaurant industry. To some, it is a way to express creativity, and to others it is a way to make a bit of money. You have a range of people who all have different goals. The majority are looking for a way to make money, but it is when you find those special few that are honestly invested in creating something more. That is the way I felt about the creative chef here at Tin Cup Coffee. He took the time to come out, express his ideas and even mentioned that he is just getting the hang of things. He took notes and asked inquired on what I thought could change. Within him, I saw someone that actually cared. He wanted to source better ingredients (order the bacon so you can see) so that everything can be a bit more local. What he lacked in experience, he made up with the dream of becoming better. 

Overall the food just missed the mark but I feel like it is getting better. It reminded me of what it was like at the root of all creativity. It starts with something simple where you can expand out of. For now, I would stick with the breakfast options. I had two bacon strips and it nearly brought me to tears. Freshly hickory smoked that morning by Giffords bacon and finished on the flat top to create a thin caramelization. 

You will be able to find me from time to time - sitting in a booth, drinking some water, working on my laptop and enjoying some bacon. Feel free to say hi.

coffee menu

coffee menu

Location: 138 Rosa L Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37203