My parents, like me, are very much into food. I get my love of cooking and eating from them (I think they have fabulous taste!). Knowing that my parents were (1) in Nashville and (2) hungry, I had the opportunity to make reservations! At any place I wanted! Also, it was my birthday dinner after all! I opted to schedule my early 30th birthday dinner at the newly opened Etch downtown. It is owned and operated by veteran Nashville Chef Deb Paquette. One of my dear foodie friends (Ana Beth I'm looking at you) recently told me about her great experience and I was ready to try!
Etch is located in one of the new downtown condo buildings that just seem to keep popping up. Because downtown parking can be crazy I was very happy that they offered complimentary valet parking which made things very easy for my Dad. The decor is simple and clean. I was a big fan of their large eat-in bar. I love restaurants that have a food bar overlooking the kitchen (City House). I'm hoping one day I can sit at the kitchen and watch my food being made. But this party of 3 had a table by the window overlooking the Country Music Hall of Fame. Not too shabby.
Of course I'm having cocktails for my birthday. I stuck with my go-to drink: the Old Fashioned. Etch made a good one. I especially like the addition of sweet dried cherries to the mix. Gave it a different flavor than the soaked kind. My Mom was feeling adventurous and opted for the Brandy Crusta which contained Courvoisier VS, Maraschino, Cointreau, Lemon Juice, and a Sugar Rim. I thought her drink was pretty good. The sugar rim added a much needed sweetness to the tart lemon juice.
I know what you are thinking: WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME A PLATE OF BREAD AND BUTTER?! Well, let me explain. Etch offers a butter tasting. NO JOKE. You get four types of specialty butter and some bread. The best part is that the type of butter is hidden under the cup so you are supposed to guess which one you were eating. I love food games! The butters displayed were truffle butter, smoked plugra butter, goat butter, and duck butter. My family's favorite (far and away) was the truffle butter. I was sticking my finger in that little dish trying to scrape out any remaining fat solids. This is a must order at Etch.
The second appetizer we ordered to share was the chilled mussels, which was a lot more than just mussels. There was a layer of pork loin that sat on the bottom with Moroccan spiced mussels and calamari on top. And for a bonus they sprinkled chunks of feta on top. It had a good kick, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it spicy. It was good, but very hard to split among 3 people. This is a 2 or less appetizer.
For my entree I ordered the duck. I'm a pretty boring dinner companion because if duck is on the menu, I normally order it. My birthday dinner was no exception. The duck was Moroccan spiced and served perfectly cooked. I like my duck breast cooked more like a steak with some red in the middle. Good job Etch chefs! It was served with ginger grits, cranberries and carrot puree. I have never had anything like those ginger grits before. Even my Mom who isn't the biggest fan of grits had to admit that these were damn tasty. I was a member of the clean plate club.
My jaw dropped when my parents entree arrived (yes, they both ordered the same thing). They ordered the short ribs and this is what arrived. HOW BEAUTIFUL. We had no idea from the menu description that they would be getting a very sushi-version of short ribs. Those sushi bites are short ribs that are braised and then rolled in panko and fried. They had the best texture! The green is not wasabi, but pea puree. The large bowl contained glass noodles, carrots, mushrooms, sugar snap peas and tons of shrimp topped with fresh cilantro. I usually think that my choice of entree was the best option, but clearly my parents won this round.
Seeing that it was my birthday celebration I had to have some sweets after all! This lovely creature that looks like a mushroom was the panna cotta. The panna cotta itself was a chocolate/chai mixture that was topped with pear sorbet and a lace cookie. The whole bottom of the bowl was covered with dark chocolate sauce and toasted hazelnuts. This was heaven- so good that I even shared a bit with my parents.
I loved everything about Etch. I know it's kind of a pansy review when you don't really have anything to critique, but I didn't. My parents both loved Etch and they kept talking about it the next few days. I know that this will be a place they want to visit on their next trip back. For my sake, I hope it is!