Big fun on the newly opened and soon-opening front this week, from sushi and cocktails to chef-grade knifery.
The latest East Nashville news:
Maru Sushi & Grill opens in East Nashville on Fatherland Street
The former AMOT Eatery space in the Fatherland District is lit up once again: Maru Sushi & Grill opened Monday at 1100 Fatherland St., Ste. 101, serving sushi, teriyaki dishes and a mix of favorites from owners Rita and Harry Lee’s native Korea, like Bulgogi and Bibimbap.
Sushi-side, you’ll find the gamut of fan favorites like spicy tuna and spider rolls, alongside Maru specialties, like a shrimp, eel and crab-stocked sushi burrito and a Nashville-restaurant-scene-appropriate Baja Fresh roll, with yellowtail, jalapeño, cilantro and avocado.
The new eatery is an all-around family affair, with Rita Lee at the front of house, and Harry and Rita’s brother, MK, in the kitchen. All three have years of Nashville restaurant experience (if you’re a longtime Samurai Sushi patron, you likely experienced former head chef Harry Lee’s gifts there), though East Nashville is a new frontier for the Brentwood-based family.
They just happened to come across the Fatherland space — still fresh, bright and new after AMOT’s nearly three-year stay — and felt smitten.
“It was so great,” Rita Lee says. “Me and my husband, we said, ‘We have to have this place.”
The ramp-up was a quick one — the Lees closed on the restaurant in February, added the few things they needed to accommodate their cuisine and got the Maru banner up on the door for their March opening. (Along with a lot of the decor, they kept a bit of AMOT’s culinary influence, adding a mix of gluten-free options to their menu.)
The early response was similarly quick, and surprising.
“I don’t know how people knew,” Lee says, marveling at their second-night dinner service, and motioning across the bright space. “From here to there, the bar, full.”
That East Nashville energy gave Rita a challenge — the part-time nurse and mother of two started as the sole, Maru ramp-up-season server, and she worried about providing the nimble service they’re aiming for as they work to hire more staff. But a room full of empty plates made for a happy start.
“I told my husband, ‘I’m so happy to have this place,’” Rita Lee says. “…I just want to make (our customers) happy — make them happy, give them good memories. That’s our goal.“
Maru Sushi & Grill is open now 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more, visit Maru on Facebook.
Coutelier kitchen shop coming to East Nashville
East Nashville chefs and home cooks should have a fun new haunt soon: Coutelier, a New Orleans-launched, “chef-driven, professional-grade kitchen cutlery store” is aiming for a mid-April opening at 933 Woodland St.
Owner Jacqueline Blanchard tells us that the Nashville outpost will have a similar thrust to the NOLA shop, with a custom selection of hand-forged Japanese and American knives (extra focus on the Japanese), along with a curated mix of pro cook’s tools and accessories, and a full wetstone sharpening and repair service for your cutlery collection.
“We are chefs ourselves, working in Michelin restaurants and fine dining our whole careers,” Blanchard says, “so we have that perspective when selecting what we offer to our customers: only the best. We wanted to create a one-stop shop for the professional cook and chef, as well as for serious and dedicated home cooks.”
East Nashville shoppers can expect to get acquainted with the work of rising homegrown artisans, with Coutelier serving as the first retail location for some to-be-named American blacksmiths’ work. All those picks, and longtime Coutelier choices, come with the same focus on what’d do a full-time kitchen pro right (and thus, what’d make an avid home cook plenty happy too).
“We have been all over Japan, and go there often to meet our blacksmiths and their families and learn more of them and their stories,” Blanchard says. “We’re very connected to the process so we can translate the quality to our clientele.”
Learn more about the shop at couteliernola.com, and follow along on Coutelier’s Instagram feed for the latest.
Walden bar opens its East Nashville doors
East Nashville bar Walden — the new resident of 2909B Gallatin Pike, the former Hop Stop space — opened its doors this week, offering a menu stocked with classic cocktails, beer and wine, along with affordable but still crafty snacks, like brie and fig jam sandwiches and three cheese/hummus-topped pita pizzas.
The new spot shot for a nature-themed decor, and nailed it, with an eye-grabbing, grass-covered marquee out front leading into a space stocked with leafy/floral murals put in place by local artist Tarabella Aversa, and lots of fun and subtle, natural touches (favorite: the glass pendant lights above the bar have pretty blooms inside).
The Walden team — led by co-owners Robyn Donnelly and Katie MacLachlan — takes an uncommon approach to cocktailing, serving time-honored favorites like Old Fashioneds and Vieux Carres from a tap. Lest you think that’d leave the flavors muddled (in the non-bartendery sense) or diluted, we did a few test runs, and Walden cocktails are crafty, complex and booze-forward. The big bonus with that streamlined delivery: All of their on-tap cocktails run under $10, many priced at $7.
Walden hours as of opening week: 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, and noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
To check out the cocktail/food menus and learn more, stop by waldenbar.com, and read the piece we did when Walden announced their East Nashville intentions.
Top Knot merging with Toro
Come March 24, East Nashville vintage spot Top Knot Vintage will be closing its doors at 307 N 16th St., but the brand isn’t going away. According to an announcement, Top Knot's taking its selection of “fun, cool vintage clothes” online to topknotvintage.com, and the current storefront will be merging with Toro Nashville, a new/vintage clothing and music shop that opened in late 2017 at 917 Gallatin Ave.
“We’re excited to see what comes next,” the Top Knot announcement said. “Thank you for welcoming us with open arms and letting us dress you for the past few years, and we hope you’ll allow us to do the same at Toro.”
They opened in that East Side space in the spring of 2016.
While Top Knot transitions into the new Toro space/into ones and zeroes, they’re hosting a bunch of big sales — this week/weekend, it was 25 percent off everything, but keep up with the Top Knot instagram feed for sale updates.
Nonprofit Jessi Zazu, Inc. gets to work
Singer/songwriter/artist Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins, who passed away in September of last year from complications due to cervical cancer, was known inside (and well outside of) Nashville for estimable musical and creative talents, and for efforts to use those talents toward broader ends, like supporting social and racial justice, and raising awareness about women’s health care issues.
The newly launched Jessi Zazu, Inc. — “a nonprofit supporting arts & humanities, social justice, & women’s health” — is aimed at carrying her mission forward, through collaborating with existing organizations and launching events and workshops that nod to her passions.
The organization kicked off its work early this year, fittingly, in rock-show form, with a benefit show celebrating Jessi Zazu’s music, performed by an array of friends and fans, including Becca Mancari, John McCauley, members of Those Darlins and many others.
The next Jessi Zazu Inc. event is set to kick off March 15: an Art + Activism workshop series led by Nashville artist Marlos E'van, focused on budding local artists (ages 13 to 17), and held Thursdays 4 to 6 p.m. at the Oasis Center, through the end of April.
Attendees will learn digital collage and graphic design techniques while working on a zine project together, focused on issues they care about. Participation is free; registration is required.
For more about the Art + Activism workshop series, and about Jessi Zazu, Inc. in general, visit jessizazu.org.
— Y’all hear about Kris Kristofferson doing three days of East Nashville club shows at the Basement East? Yup. Happening. Everybody go high-five the Beast staff.
— Speaking of high-fiving the Beast staff, they also have Guided by Voices coming here in May with Nashville’s own Bobby Bare Jr. in the mix.
— They also have a prom for zombies in April, in case you’re into that kinda thing?
— Conde Nast Traveler ran down the “19 Best Restaurants in Nashville,” and East Nashville eateries Mas Tacos, Butcher & Bee, Fort Louise and Treehouse all made the list.
— Save the date for the East Nashville Hope Exchange's 16th annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction: It’s going down Friday, April 20, at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, featuring wines from around the world, and benefiting the organization's work to strengthen the literacy of at-risk children here in the neighborhood. Lots more (and tickets) at enhopeexchange.org.
— A big happy second birthday to East Nashville clothing shop Whiskey Water, who’ll be celebrating at their place (1006 Fatherland St.) Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with new arrivals and Buffalo Trace booze on hand.
— New name in the neighborhood: nine12 design is now Nine12 Architects. Same neighborhood-focused, collaborative approach to creating homes and buildings, just a fresh, focused moniker. More at nine12architects.com.
That’s all for this week. Have East Nashville news tips to share? Please email Nicole.