Holland House is now permanently closed.
Holland House is one of my favorite restaurants in the Nashville area. If I lived in this East Nashville neighborhood, I would be a regular, frequenting their rather huge but friendly bar which also serves small bites, dinner and a nightly happy hour.
Holland House is the fruit of a good idea, shared by Terry Raley and Dutch businessman Cees Brinkman. Together they restored an old building, and married smart, Epicurean cocktails with rustic yet eleganty food, which I put under the heading of modern, lighter, comfort food.
When cocktails are made as well as the Holland House makes them, the food has to compete and stands the chance of falling short by comparison. No worries here. Over two visits, I’ve experienced several cocktails, five different entrees, appetizers and desserts and I’m happy to say the food is just as worthy as my favorite cocktail, the blackberry lemon old fashioned.
The design maintained some of the materials of the original building, including lots of wood and a sultry feel, illuminated by no less than sixteen stunning chandeliers. Yet, even with that little bit of ceiling bling, it’s a welcoming, approachable neighborhood place, special enough to drive across town for.
I’ve eaten both inside (love the decor) and outside. This particular night we finally had a weather break in a rather cold Spring, and it was warm enough to sit outside. We jumped at it, and although we were outside, the wait staff was very attentive, and was spot on in helping us choose our dishes and select our cocktails.
We decided to forgo wine completely and stick with two cocktails each. We liked the first round so much, we were almost hesitant to switch, but we like to try as many options as we could.
Blackberry-Lemon Old Fashioned: Bourbon, Blackberry, Lemon, Honey, Bitters (this was my personal favorite, and one I’m sure to make at home as soon as blackberry season comes).
Reunion: Four Roses Bourbon, Nardini, Fresh Lemon, Vanilla, Cinnamon Ticture, Chocolate Housemade Bitters
Toronto: Rye Whiskey, Fernet Branca, Maple Syrup, Orange Bitters, Twist of Orange Peel
We were just as happy with the second set of cocktails, but the Old Fashioned and the Toronto far exceeded our expectations. Are you as into the old fashioned as much as we are? I’m going to figure this drink out and serve them at home very soon. The next weekend, we kept talking about the cocktails and went out and purchased various bottles of bourbon to start making our own Holland House type cocktails. Once I’m happy with my version of the blackberry lemon old fashioned, I’ll share it here. I’ve already made the first step in buying true old fashioned glasses, which shows just how much Holland House inspired me.
Carondolet 1862: Rye Whiskey, Cafe du Monde-Cinnamon Cordial, Pineapple, Citrus
Base Burner: Four Roses Bourbon and House Made ginger Ice Cubes, showing off of the specialty ice cubes Holland House is known for. We are trying to figure out how to make these ice cubes, as this was quite an enjoyable sipping cocktail.
The Beatnik: Rye, Amaro, Cia Ciaro, Broadbent Madeira, Coffee-Pecan Bitters Made in House
Holland House takes their cocktails seriously, but they put that same passion into the food.
Our server suggested the charcuterie plate and he was right. It was not the same old, same old. Pork Rillets, grainy mustard, fois gras mousse, goat cheese, blue cheese, marcona almonds made it hard to choose where to start because each bite was a good bite. The fois gras was divine and not overwhelmingly rich. Although we like to try new things when we revisit restaurants, this would be a must reorder.
We went straight to entrees after this, but would have loved more appetizers if we could have fit it in, such as the roasted marrow bone or warm chevre tart.
The open ravioli of rabbit fricasee was tender, flavorful, robust, yet light and the celery puree perfect. It’s not easy to portray tan colored food to convince you, but one bite of this rabbit dish and you feel like you are in a country kitchen in France eating food made with love.
The trout was tender, the skin crispy, but those potatoes (which I don’t usually eat) were spectacular. Baby potatoes, left whole, in a sherry cream sauce should never leave the menu.
Mr. ST had the duck sausage made with candied carrots inside, just as good as it looks. I like to see an elevated sausage dish be treated with this kind of respect as sausage making is an art. It was balanced, not too salty, yet full of delicate flavor and you can see the grill marks. Skin crispy, duck goodness inside.
We finished off the night with a bread pudding dessert that was made with the same care of balance and nuance that went into the cocktails. Normally a bread pudding is heavy and off putting as a dessert following a goodmeal. In this case, it was light, not too sweet, and we all fought over the last bite.
I highly recommend the Holland House if you appreciate old time, smart cocktails that nod to the speak easy era, paired with good rustic food that is not ordinary. I’ve read some reviews where some diners felt intimidated and I can’t share that sentiment. The wait staff has always been friendly, helpful and mindful of the combinations of food and drink.
The happy hour offers $5 cocktails and wine, $2.50 beer and food items I can’t wait to try such as the nola fried oysters or truffled frites. The hours are limited, and you can check them out here. Thursday night is happy hour all night long.
Holland House is located in East Nashville and is the place for delicious food and smart cocktails.
Location: 937 Eastland Avenue, East Nashville. Phone: 615-262-4190.