It’s very hard to judge a restaurant on opening night, so I try not to. But, my first impression of the just-opened W Nashville’s restaurant, The Dutch, was so strong that I fully expect it to be an exceptional and enduring addition to the Nashville dining scene. Reservations are now open through the end of October, and I highly suggest you do yourself a favor and grab one now.
Their opening night soiree was this past Tuesday evening and the service was so good that I left wondering if they flew in staff as there were plenty of people on hand to make sure our experience was a great one. From a well-oiled serving team to greeters throughout the building, we were never reminded of the staffing shortage that is plaguing America, including service-heavy cities like Nashville. Everyone oozed genuine Southern charm and hospitality. Drinks flowed and delicious food was served in abundance.
If you are wondering who was in attendance on this opening night, it was a mix of media, influencers, and business leaders in Nashville. The age range was 30s and up, and this was a crowd serious about being in the know of all-things-Nashville, but not a crowd that would necessarily get caught up in any hype. This was a crowd looking to be impressed with enough experience to know what that should entail.
There is a reason our experience here was so good and why I immediately booked a reservation for two weeks from now. The reason is Chef Andrew Carmellini. His resume includes highlights such as training at a three-star Michelin L’Arpège in Paris, being the opening sous chef in 1997 at Le Cirque in NYC, and the winner of “best chef NYC” by the James Beard Foundation in 2005. He’s also published two cookbooks with his wife. The Dutch concept first opened in NYC, in SoHo, in 2011 and launched as one of the New York Times‘ “Top 10 New Restaurants of 2011.” Another location at the W South Beach, Miami, opened that same year. And, now, Nashville has the third location of The Dutch.
Located in The Gulch, on the corner of Laurel Street and 12th Avenue South, The Dutch is found on the north side of the first floor of the W Nashville and boasts a large central bar, a beautiful terrace for outdoor seating with a view, and plenty of tables with private nooks tucked in. It was at one of these nooks – almost like a booth built into the wall – that we were seated as a group of six. The gorgeous, supple leather upholstery was oh-so-comfortable making it hard to ever leave. (Note: this leather does make it difficult to slide to the far end of the table as it almost grips you. But, if you luck into one of these tables, it’s worth the extra few seconds it takes to scoot down the booth’s bench in this intimate nook!)
We had a variety of appetizers, including cornbread, beef tartare, eggplant dip, and smoked beets. I would order all of these again.
For dinner, we sampled their seared scallops (my favorite), served with sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, and mezcal butter; AC’s famous fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits; and Brussels sprouts. It was a great variety to get a taste of the caliber of food being delivered by this kitchen, and it was top-notch.
When I go back for my reservation in a couple of weeks, I’m excited to try a few things from their raw bar, including oysters and their chilled Atlantic red crab salad with Bloody Mary dressing. And, for burger lovers, it’s worth noting that their cheeseburger is made with Bear Creek Farm dry-aged beef and Clothbound cheddar cheese. Their menu has ample seafood and meat dishes, but is curated so as to not overwhelm.
I especially enjoyed that when we were seated in the private booth, we could all hear each other. It’s something I always look for in a restaurant as I go out to connect with the people I’m with, and enjoy a good meal — in that order. So many places provide good food, but to sound like an angry old lady, you can’t hear the people at your own table and it ruins the evening. That was not our experience at our table and I made a mental note.
PROOF ROOFTOP BAR
After dinner, we walked through the hip lobby and took the elevator up to the rooftop bar, Proof. There, we found one of the best views of Nashville. As you likely know, it’s the views from The Gulch that are the dramatic ones in Nashville. Think Bourbon Steak at the JW Marriott and L.A. Jackson at the Thompson. You get to see the whole of Nashville’s skyline, fairly close-up. That is also how Proof is, and it’s glorious.
The elevators have large leather cutouts with W Nashville branding, and I always appreciate such attention to detail. Details like this allow you to imagine that everything in the entire building has been purposefully thought out.
Overall, as a first impression of a hotel, restaurant, and rooftop bar experience, the W Nashville hit all the high marks. This is a wonderful addition to Nashville for locals and visitors alike. I can’t wait to go back to the hotel, stay the night, and see it from that side. But, from a dining perspective, The Dutch and Proof are off to a strong start and I have high expectations for their place in the local dining scene.
Make dinner reservations through OpenTable here.
See the W Nashville website here.
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