Boom, she’s done it again. Deb Pacquette, the culinary queen behind Etch has tickled our culinary fancy. Sure, some of the food is slightly quirky, some of the plates are a little confusing with unusual combinations, but all in all, I think the food at Etch has universal appeal in a broad and deep fashion. Most people will love the food, no matter if their favorite meal is tacos, burgers and fries or they have more sophisticated tastes and have enjoyed the Catbird Seat’s artistic creations. It’s simply good food, but it’s not exactly simple food.
Etch is a handsome restaurant with pleasing acoustics, a nice change from the noisy newly constructed restaurants in the area. This makes this a great place for business dinner or a first date.
Starters at Etch, a Downtown Nashville Restaurant
truffle butter, smoked plugra butter, goat butter, duck butter. Each different and each one giving promise to an exciting meal full of different flavors.
I didn’t know what to expect when we ordered the butter tasting, but who doesn’t love butter. The butters were delightful, and ample in size, served with only a few tiny bread slices and a basket of rosemary rolls. The rosemary rolls clashed with the flavored butter, but on their own were good. It might have better to serve more plain bread and not the rosemary rolls when a person is ordering the butter serving.
There is always one dish that stands out above the others and the winner of the night was the banana soup. It sounds not so good, but it’s memorable, as in best bite of the year memorable. The soup is really a dessert soup in my opinion but sold as an appetizer. It’s a bit rich and it might be a better idea to offer the table tiny bowls of this as a way to start the night. It was perfect, and garnished with strawberry puree, and a dollop of beet puree. Truly spectacular and my only hesitation in ordering it would be the size.
Shrimp & Filo
hot & spicy shrimp, apricot baklava cigar, carrot swirl, yogurt, pomegranate
We chose the shrimp and filo baklava cigar to share and it was tasty, but a little confusing because the baklava was clearly dessert like. There seems to be a theme of incorporating dessert like items into savory items, and while I like a little savory with my dessert, I’m not sure I like dessert with my savory.
(7oz) horseradish celery creamed potatoes, red wine gravy, asparagus whisps, smoked duck butter $36
I ordered the filet (not something I usually order out) because the asparagus whisps sounded so appealing and they were.
My filet didn’t make itself known right away, until I uncovered the shaved asparagus that lay over it in a big mound. The horseradish celery creamed potatoes were swooped on the plate like a garnish, but I liked it that way. By the end of eating half of the filet, I was fully satisfied and I loved every single bite. This is my ideal proportion, with an equal amount (almost) of vegetables to protein.
trio of grilled, confit and tempura mushrooms, smoked shallot vinaigrette, bacon, greens, butternut garlic essence, beet sriracha
The scallops are sliced through the middle and placed upon a salad as a dinner entree, but inside the salad is a tempura fried mushroom which adds the necessary oomph and depth to the plate. Of course, the scallops are cooked perfectly and salad is lightly dressed with a edited hand for balance. This is a pricey at $33 and looks more like a lunch item.
porcini dusted with manchego, caramelized onion, potato, chorizo, spanish mountain mushroom sauce, truffle oil
The desserts were not the desserts presented on the on-line menu and I can’t remember their exact descriptions.
Peach Upside Cake
A Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Tart (I can’t remember the actual name). This was rich, good, balanced.
I want to return and order more food. The dessert choices didn’t appeal to me. Both of my dining companions ordered and finished to the last bite, but I wasn’t wowed. I ordered a small servicing of the hazelnut ice cream, which was creamy and nicely flavored.
I am a savory cook who bakes a lot, which makes me quite unique in the home cooking world. I always plan my meal backwards starting with dessert first because I think the last bite you leave someone with is critical to their pleasurable experience. My view of Nashville restaurants in general is that the quality of desserts never matches the excellent quality of the entrees, but it needs to. If the baklava cigar and the banana soup was moved to the dessert choice, it would be a double wow.
The espresso was very nicely presented with a lemon twist, which brought me back to childhood, watching my family rim their cups with lemon.
The Service at Etch is Exceptional
A good attitude began at the front door with a very nice valet man parking our car. Our server was exceptionally classy, knew a lot about the food and was always there when we needed her, but we never felt rushed.
Here’s the caveat: Even though it was CMA week, the place was not crowded. In fact, the whole 3 1/2 hours we were there, half the tables remained empty. They forced us to take a 5:30 reservation which because of the CMA traffic was difficult. Two very influential people that were part of our party never made it because of traffic, but could have made it at a later time. When I questioned them about the tables never being filled I was told “we do that on purpose, as we don’t want to burden the kitchen.”
I want to return to Etch because the food is smartly prepared, creative, surprising, and approachable and I’ve been waiting a long time for it open having been a big Zola fan. I hope the attitude in seating people changes and people visiting Nashville will positively experience our creative culinary scene and enjoy our Nashville hospitality.