Nashville Reviews: Creative Spirit and Fresh Ingredients Shine at Hathorne

Stoney Keeley enjoys a fine meal at Hathorne on the latest installment of Nashville Reviews.

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A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. The stars didn’t align for us to take a trip out of town to celebrate the occasion, so we decided to treat ourselves to a a restaurant we had yet to try. Hathorne has been in the back of my mind for quite awhile now. The casual fine dining establishment calls Nashville’s Sylvan Park neighborhood home, and every time we’d drive by it, I’d keep reminding myself, “gah, we gotta try that place babe.” Hathorne’s reputation precedes itself. It seems like it’s been popping up on the ‘hottest restaurants in Nashville’ lists for years now. You can give ’em a follow on Instagram and see that the food looks top notch. So, I was thrilled to make reservations…the day finally came that we could sit down and enjoy a meal at Hathorne. And, I might add…a quick stroll through L&L Market prior to dinner, followed by a short trip out to McKay’s after dinner made for one nice, leisurely date night. For more on Hathorne, check out their website here.

Pics

Golden beets
American wagyu steak
Housemade sausage
Brioche doughnuts

Ratings

Food: 9.88/10 – As you might expect from a place like Hathorne, the food itself was the star of the show. The creative spirit behind the menu was evident with one glance. When I saw “golden beets” listed on the ‘smaller plates’ menu, it felt like a challenge. Are you kidding me? You somehow made beets pass for an acceptable appetizer? But, I quickly found that ‘acceptable’ was far less fitting than ‘extraordinary’ was. The beets tasted of the Earth themselves. From the first bite, it felt like history in my mouth. How could this possibly taste so good? It doesn’t make sense. The tahini and green onion puree gave the dish some sauciness, that paired nicely with the slight tang of the fresh parmesan. The olive oil gave it a smooth, rich texture and flavor. All in all, the combination of the savory, earthy beets and the zest of the sauce and parmesan made for one of the most unique small plates I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine how many people have eaten this dish and said, “y’know…I don’t like beets, but I love this!

My wife saw the house focaccia on the smaller plates menu, and as a bit of a bread savage, I knew we weren’t going to get through this meal without her trying it. So, we conceded to simply gorge ourselves and eat to the point that we were miserable. I’m not usually a bread guy, but since I knew I was going to be writing this piece, I had to at least try it, right? Well, I don’t know how else to describe it, but it is bread with an intense bread flavor. It was grilled in a manner that made it crispy on the exterior, but light and fluffy inside. Accompanied with a rich creamy ricotta dip and the freshest butter I may have ever had in my life, the house focaccia had me amazed by how they can do something so simple so distinctly.

For our main entrees, my wife ordered the American wagyu steak. Thankfully, in order to get a complete review, she allowed me to have a bite. It was a bite that juiced with flavor, and the steak essentially melted in my mouth. It was one of the best-cooked bites of steak I’ve ever had. I was content to let her handle the asparagus, but it looked fantastic. For me, I ordered the housemade sausage. It was similar to my feeling when I saw the golden beets on the menu. This sounds crazy. How are y’all going to make sausage interesting? Challenge accepted. The plate was pretty. The presentation was nice, but I forgot all about that the moment I took the first bite. The sausage itself burst with flavor – it was savory, had the slightest bit of a kick to it, and tasted fresh. The basil coconut sauce was the star of the show, though – it brought a creamy and cooling sort of balance to the spice of the sausage. It was fantastic – a rich and zesty meal.

To polish it all off with some brioche doughnuts with a blueberry glaze and sassafras whipped cream was a delight, even if we were beginning to need to unbutton our pants. You don’t read ‘sassafras whipped cream’ and pass on that experience. Maybe my waistline wouldn’t be bursting at the seams if the folks at Hathorne didn’t make such intriguing stuff. Whipped cream that tastes kind of like root beer is awesome enough. But, I found that these doughnuts stirred up all the comfort of a funnel cake from the county fair, while the blueberries harked upon the spirit of the summer season approaching. A fitting end for a meal I would describe as ‘poetic.’

Booze: 8.46/10 – Hathorne’s cocktail menu is littered with unique drinks and the classics alike. My wife had the Selena – tequila, passionfruit, and smoked pineapple, while I had the Gabriel – Angel’s Envy bourbon, Port Demerara, cherry, and tobacco bitters. Both were fantastic. I’m a sucker for anything tobacco flavored, and I don’t know what that says about me.

Value: 8.57/10 – We got out at $147 for two entrees, two apps, two cocktails, a beer, and dessert. That’s insane for this quality of meal. The portion size was just right – it was in that sweet spot between feeling satisfied and feeling gross. But, the quality, the creativity, and the freshness of the food itself reminded me of meals I’ve paid thrice for. An absolute gem of a restaurant.

Atmosphere: 7.56/10 – Our service was splendid. Our meal very much felt hand-crafted with care. Our cocktails were delivered quickly. And, the vibes inside Hathorne were calm and comforting. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a peaceful meal (especially if you eat at 5PM like old people, the way we do).

Overall: 8.62/10 – I left that meal immediately thinking it was among the best in town in terms of its creativity and the clear freshness of everything we ate. The value of what we got for our money made it a top tier dining experience in Nashville. The calm nature and impeccable service of the restaurant made it a comfortable experience that will undoubtedly keep Hathorne at the front of mind any time my wife and I are looking to enjoy a quality date night.

CURRENT NASHVILLE RESTAURANT RANKINGS

  1. Audrey (8.82/10)
  2. Hathorne (8.62/10)
  3. Butcher & Bee (8.5/10)
  4. Nectar: Urban Cantina (8.44/10)
  5. Barcelona Wine Bar (8.23/10)

You can check out our full Nashville restaurant rankings here. I’m always looking for new spots to try – don’t be afraid to hit the comments with suggestions!

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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