Before Nashville was filled with cocktail bars, award-winning restaurants and hipster-friendly coffee shops, Deb Paquette was on the culinary scene as the first woman in Tennessee to qualify as a certified executive chef. Three decades later, she’s still there, helming the kitchen at her restaurants, Etch and etc., and mentoring a cadre of chefs along the way.
Chef Deb Paquette has built a loyal legion of fans from her years cooking at local favorites, such as Cakewalk Cafe, Zola, and her current home, Etch. Though the city was all atwitter at the announcement that she had plans to open a second restaurant in Sylvan Park, that project, named Truss, unfortunately never came to fruition thanks to a series of zoning and codes disputes. It turns out that Sylvan Park’s loss is Green Hills’ gain, as Paquette and her restaurant partners decided to focus their attention on a new opportunity in a mixed-use development tucked behind The Mall at Green Hills, where Crestmoor and Bedford Avenue come together.
In 25 years covering restaurants in Nashville, I’ve accumulated enough menus to load two large file cabinet drawers so full neither one will close. They chronicle the evolution of our city from the pre-Food Network hey-day of fern bar chains through the emergence of a new generation of chefs with youthful creativity stoking the genesis of independent restaurants transforming urban neighborhoods, to our current state of a dining destination town bursting with new restaurants, celebrity chefs and an enviable national profile.
Digging through those drawers, I find reminders that in some cases, pioneering restaurants suffered from being ahead of their time, their pre-gentrification location or the immigration of enough diners to appreciate their vision. In some cases, their contributions towards transforming a neighborhood led to their own demise as they were bulldozed or priced out of existence. A moment of silence please for Sasso, Ombi, Radius 10, Six Degrees, Mirror, Rumours Wine & Art Bar, Mambu, Laly’a Rul and tayst.
And a resounding “Cheers!’ to a chef who came to town more than 30 years ago and, after an inauspicious start at the revolving restaurant atop the Hyatt Regency Hotel, carved a niche she has owned ever since.
Fusion, molecular gastronomy, farm-to-table and snout-to-tail define certain decades but Deb Paquette has religiously followed her arrow — regardless of the trends. Every menu I own could be stripped of the name of the restaurant and I would still be able to pick hers from the pile, whether it be Third Coast, Cakewalk, Bound’ry, Zola or Etch.
“We know the Green Hills traffic debacle but there are so many back ways into Green Hills — and our diners know the back, back ways to get here,” Deb laughs. “We’re very happy to be in a neighborhood that is appreciative of nice and fun dining.
“I’ve seen lots of faces I haven’t seen in a while, lots of people from Zola days who didn’t want to venture downtown to Etch, or maybe went once but don’t want to deal with that again.”
It’s easy to spot familiar faces in a restaurant as intimate as etc., with the nicely spaced indoor seating and 12-stool bar — all contained in one gorgeous room of eye-popping surfaces: copper, matte wood, sculpted cobalt blue ceramic tile and white marble. Credit Katie Vance of Powell Architecture for designing a space both striking and serene. Carpet on much of the floor allows parties to converse comfortably, an accomplishment in modern dining, as is the confidence to eschew a television over the bar.
There are six featured cocktails, simply named for their dominant spirit — bourbon, mescal, aged gin, gin, rum and vodka — and heady with generous pours.
Lacking an olive or nut option to absorb the booze while reading the menu, we ordered the Bread and Butter and were rewarded with lightly grilled slices of superb sourdough from Bella Nashville — renowned for their pizza at the Nashville Farmers Market but very selective in their bread clientele.
I could have gone through an entire loaf, myself, poring over the menu. Looking back at a 15-year-old menu from Zola, the etc. descriptions of each dish are more succinct but no less global, exotic and unfamiliar to even the most worldly diners. Please resist whipping out your phone at the table and consulting what Deb calls “the Google machine;” your server will explain all.
Throughout her career, some diners have lobbed criticism that “There so much going on in her dishes,” and “Her food is just so complicated.” To that, Deb replies, “They’re right! I grew up in a creative family and was encouraged to express myself. I was allowed to paint the walls in my room how I wanted and to paint a scene in our bathroom of a kid flying a kite and a big tree. When you’re a creative person, you have to give yourself the opportunity to express yourself.
“With cooking, that allowed me to give myself permission to put something on a plate that is a guessing game. This is the food I do. It’s a little bit of cray-cray. My mantra has always been to give people food they can’t make or don’t want to make at home.”
When it came time to do the etc. menu, Deb first wrote “pages and pages of ideas,” then sat down with Etch sous chef Jess Lambert, now etc. chef de cuisine. Together, they edited it and did their R&D in the Etch kitchen. For desserts, she turned to Etch pastry chef Megan Williams, who now does the same for etc., as well.
Just as she painted the scene on the bathroom wall as a child, Deb paints a plate like nobody’s business. The old adage, “We eat first with our eyes,” comes to mind every time a Deb plate is set before me. As a writer, I don’t always agree that a picture is worth 1,000 words but when you have this spectacular a subject, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.
Deb Paquette is the first to admit that her food is not for everyone and she’s fine with that. “My food is not always easy or understandable, but you have to have that one edgy, wacky restaurant — and that’s what I signed up for a long time ago. This is how I express myself. I’m happy to still be doing food that’s different and unexpected all these years later — and grateful to the people who have come along for the ride.”
etc. is located at 3790 Bedford Ave., Nashville, TN 37215. Hours are: Lunch: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday brunch hours are coming soon! Learn more at etc.restaurant or (615) 988-0332.
Traditions are one of the things that make holidays so special. Recalling a certain smell or taste can transport you back to your first Thanksgiving together or that winter you got snowed in. In anticipation of the upcoming festive season, we’ve enlisted the help of five fabulous Nashville chefs who know a thing or two about melding extraordinary flavors with memorable moments.
Blue cheese sweet potato casserole with roasted pineapple butter and grated apple pie with foie gras Angel’s Envy ice cream
For more than 30 years, Deb has been a trailblazer on Nashville’s culinary scene. After 13 years as the award-winning chef and owner of the critically acclaimed Zola, Deb closed the restaurant and took a break in 2010. She returned to Nashville in 2012 to open Etch downtown, and her newest endeavor, Etc., opened in Green Hills this summer.
Deb’s cooking is an amalgamation of tradition and flair. Wanting to change things up because of the “yahoos” in her family who have been “food geeks since day one,” Deb threw some blue cheese in with the sweet potatoes one day, and the foundation was born for the blue cheese sweet potato casserole. The apple pie, on the other hand, is a recipe passed down from her grandmother. It’s the recipe that made her fall in love with apple pie — “and it reminds me of a really great woman!”
Blue Cheese Sweet Potato Casserole
4-5 medium sweet potatoes
½ cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Amarillo (Peruvian hot sauce)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
¼ cup candied ginger, macerated
3 ounces blue cheese crumbles
2 cups finely crushed corn tortilla chips
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon cayenne
Preheat oven to 350 F. Microwave sweet potatoes until halfway cooked (about 4 to 5 minutes). Allow to cool. Peel and dice into small to medium cubes. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to brown. Add sweet potatoes. Stir often and cook the hash until sweet potatoes are soft. If sticking occurs, add a splash of water. Add 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper, Amarillo, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and candied ginger. Taste and add salt if needed. Place in a casserole dish and let cool. Crumble blue cheese over top. In a mixing bowl, stir together crushed tortilla chips, remaining teaspoon of cinnamon, butter, cayenne and remaining ¼ cup brown sugar. Taste and add salt if needed. Top casserole with tortilla mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve casserole at room temperature with roasted pineapple butter.
Roasted Pineapple Butter
½ large ripe pineapple, grilled, cooled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups unsalted butter
In a small sauté pan, heat sugar and grilled pineapple over low heat until sugar melts into pineapple. Cool and chop well. Soften unsalted butter and whip with the pineapple. Add a pinch of salt. If too thick, add hot water one drop at a time.
Grated Apple Pie
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust, chilled
6 ounces pecan pieces
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grate apples on a box grater and dump into a strainer over a large bowl. Place a heavy weighted bowl on top of shredded apples for 30 minutes to press out excess liquid. Apples should be fairly dry. Drain off juice. Combine sugar, lemon juice, egg, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and drained shredded apples in a bowl and mix well. Spoon the apple mixture evenly into pie shell. Combine pecan pieces and melted butter in bowl and toss to combine; spoon evenly over top of pie. Set pie on a baking sheet, cover lightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is bubbling and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing. Serve topped with foie gras Angel’s Envy ice cream.
Foie Gras Angel’s Envy Ice Cream
4-5 ounces B-grade foie gras, cut into morsels
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup butter, browned
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
2 cups cream
¼ cup Angel’s Envy bourbon
In a medium sauté pan, warm half of sugar with 2 tablespoons water over medium heat. Let melt until light brown, only stirring once or twice. Add foie gras and turn once to lightly brown. Add rest of sugar and milk. Bring to a light boil and then reduce heat to low. In a small mixing bowl, whip egg yolks to ribbon-like texture. Slowly drizzle (temper) a few ounces of hot milk into the eggs while continuously whisking. Add eggs back to milk, continuously whisking. Add to blender. On high, add cream, browned butter and bourbon. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before churning in an ice-cream maker.
Name: Deb Paquette
Current occupation: Chef/Owner of restaurants Etch and etc.
How long there: Etch: 4 years. etc. just opened last week!
What’s the last meal you ate?
An unidentifiable quesadilla or it could’ve been arugula with pulled pork and lots of red onions!
What’s your favorite recipe to cook at home?
No recipe, just roasted chicken with lots of fresh herbs, a big-ass salad with all the garden goodies and my husbands incredible red wine vinegar.
What’s your favorite dish at a local restaurant?
Japchae at Korea House
What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?
Cooking tool you can’t live without?
A wooden spoon…it does everything!
What 3 things are always in your fridge?
Who’s your chef hero?
Those Volt brothers are incredible!
What’s your favorite food city (to visit) and why?
Miami – for all the different types of Latin cuisine that is not a taco!
What 3 words would you use to describe the current dining scene in Nashville?
Glowing, tempting, confederated!!!
Name one place you think is a hidden gem in our city?
I love an old-school patty melt at the Filling Station in Kingston Springs, and the music is great!
Is there a food-related business/type of restaurant that you think Nashville is missing and hope to see in the future?
A real New York Deli…with lots of noise and orders being screamed out and a badass pastrami sandwich!!!
Favorite thing to do in Nashville on your day off?
Spend time with my loved ones, clean the house, garden and drink!
What drink starts your day? Ends your night?
To begin: intravenous coffee
To end: grapefruit juice with vodka or tequila
In your three decades of cooking, you’ve seen a lot of restaurants come and go – any one you particularly miss?
Roasted Beets with Caraway Cream & Smoked Apple Sauce
Recipe yields enough for 6 salads
Enough beets to give each person 3 slices
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salad oil
2 Tbsp. water
Peel beets and be sure to trim the root end well. (It gives you that dirt taste!)
Slice about 3/8″ thick.
Place beets in 11″ x 8″ roasting pan and season. Cover with foil and roast in a 400-degree oven until tender.
Let cool before placing in fridge.
2Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup strained yogurt
pinch of celery salt
pinch of granulated onion
Pulse-grind seeds in spice grinder. Stop before it’s a dusty consistency!
Put all ingredients n a bowl and mix well.
Smoked Apple Puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup smoked cider vinegar
¼ lb. butter
Pinch of salt
Smoke apples at 86 degrees for one hour.
Place sugar in small pot on medium heat until sugar browns. Do no stir until the next step – do not leave alone!
Add vinegar carefully, for it may sputter.
Now stir and keep on low heat until sugar re-melts.
Add apples and butter.
Cover and simmer until apples are slightly cooked (remove from heat before they get mushy).
Add salt and puree in blender till incredibly smooth!
More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? What are the newest and hottest restaurants? For that very reason, we offer the Eater Heatmap, which will change periodically to highlight where the food and drink-crazed masses are flocking to at the moment. This month Butcher & Bee and Vui’s Kitchen come off the list, and we welcomeDose Cafe & Dram Bar, Deb Paquette’s latest venture Etc.and Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint’s epic new SoBro location.
Did we miss your favorite? Is there an egregious omission? Take to the comments and make your opinion known!
Deb Paquette’s Etc. is a much needed addition to the Green Hills dining landscape. Open for lunch and dinner, the food is classic Paquette, drawing on influences from around the world. And it’s easily the best dining space in the neighborhood.
If you’re a family with kids, you’re trying to hide that smile as they board the big yellow bus of joy.
If you’re in college, you’re back on campus with old friends and new as you navigate life away from your parents.
In other words, it’s time to celebrate with a great meal.
If you’ve been away or were just sleeping all summer, you’ll find a lot of new dining options. And guess what? There are more on the way.
So let’s dig in. There’s a whisper of cooler temperatures and football’s around the corner.
— Jim Myers, Food & Drink columnist
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
The godmother of Nashville’s chef scene, Deb Paquette, has opened up her latest venture, calling it Etc. as a play on the name of her downtown spot, Etch. Get it? Etc. gives you a new excuse, besides shopping of course, and our love of traffic, to head to Green Hills. Read more about it here.
Sisters with a twist
Alexis and Britt, the fabulous Soler sisters who brought us No. 308 in East Nashville and then Old Glory near Vanderbilt just got on an impressive list. Great. Now everyone’s going to want to come here. Check it out.
It’s a bar. It’s a barbershop. It’s a bar in a barbershop. Okay, it’s not a turducken, so don’t act like it’s that crazy. And before you even ask, yes it’s in Wedgewood Houston. Find your shot and shave here.
Hut one, hut two, hike
We love it when they call restaurants “huts,” like the old China Hut in Brentwood. Now we have an Indian version serving dosas, the wonderful thin, rolled pancakes stuffed with all kinds of spicy goodness. And you’ll never guess what they’re calling it.
What’s the word? Not Thunderbird.
Ms. Cheap got her moniker because Ms. Booze was already taken, but that doesn’t stop her from sussing out some good wine bargains. Bask in the fermented fruit of her labors and you might find a tasty deal or three. Get the scoop here.
It’s almost patio weather again, at least the kind where you’re clothes don’t stick. One restaurant is adding a rooftop dining area downtown, where you can mellow out and enjoy the view. Find out where it’s going here.
Farm to burger
Charlotte Pike’s getting another gourmet beef patty place to join Flip Burger along the rapidly evolving corridor. It’s called Farm Burger because the name Feed Lot Burger just doesn’t sit well with a lot of folks. Look for it to open next month.
People like to bitch about Green Hills and its traffic. Yes, it’s congested a lot of the time but truth be told I love living in this area and since I’ve lived here for 12 years the traffic doesn’t really bug me. What I do think is a flaw to this area is a serious lack of good, local fine dining restaurants. Emphasis on good.
However that’s all changed – well-known and respected local chef Deb Paquette (etch) has opened a new restaurant in Green Hills. Called etc., It’s a lot like etch but cozier and, most importantly, right around the corner from me.
The food is signature Deb with lots of texture, color and flavor to each dish. etc. serves different menus for lunch and dinner. If you’re a fan of the desserts at etch, you’ll be happy to know that Megan Williams is still heading up pastries at etc. so you know you won’t be disappointed.
Lunch highlights: the Tuna & Watermelon salad was probably my favorite. I shared it with my lunch date but its plenty if you want to order it for yourself for lunch. I hope this stays on the menu for a while because it’s delicious. The New Orleans flatbread shrimp sammie, in spite of it being called a sammie, was also delicious and my Patty Melt (not pictured. Made with a Bear Creek Farm burger, bacon, cheese, secret sauce, mushrooms, onions, pickles on white bread) was a substantial main. We bumped into friends while there and they recommend the Indian Chicken Tacos. Take a look at their lunch menu here.
Dinner highlights: The Husband and I ordered the Vietnamese shortribs and the bread & butter duo appetizer to start. The Husband ordered the steak which was massive and so delicious. Because I rarely skip a good seafood dish, I ordered the Portuguese Ravioli Ensopado. That one was shrimp, scallops, mussels and fish piled atop a giant pulled pork ravioli. It was almost like a bouillabaisse, the shellfish were super fresh and plump and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again the next time I go. Other items that come highly recommended are the grilled tuna and the Fowl Trio. View etc’s dinner menu here.
etc. is now open Monday – Friday 11am – 2pm, Monday – Thursday 5pm – 10pm for dinner and Friday – Saturday 5pm – 10:30pm for dinner. They provide valet parking if you can’t find any parking either on the street or in the lot at the rear of the building. If you’re concerned about traffic, it’s accessible from the back roads so open up a map and make life easier for yourself.
For a closer look inside etc. visit Nashville Guru or just go ahead and make your reservations online and go see for yourself. Be sure to check out the really sexy tile on the walls too while you’re there! Happy eating!
etc. | 3790 Bedford Ave., Nashville 37215| etc.restaurant
After a variety of real estate issues, Etc., the new restaurant from veteran chef Deb Paquette and 4-Top Hospitality (which also owns Amerigo and Etch) officially opened today in Green Hills. Originally intended to be Truss on 46th Avenue in Sylvan Park, the renamed restaurant is located in a newish development in Green Hills, just west of The Mall at Green Hills, on Bedford Avenue.
Though Green Hills traffic may discourage folks from the east side, the launch of Etc. is welcome news to residents of the western and southern parts of Nashville. Green Hills has numerous places to eat, but most are chain restaurants, and none has quite the flair that Chef Paquette puts in a menu.
During soft-opening training shifts late last week, I was able to check out the menus, which are similar in style to Etch only in that the dishes bring together a lot of different and unexpected flavors. The lunch menu offers starters, salads, sandwiches and larger main dishes, giving diners the option for a light lunch or something more substantial. My friend and I started the meal with sourdough (made special for the restaurant by Bella Nashville) with two flavored butters (celery truffle and malt vinegar). For my main dish, I ordered the “Faux Pas Crab Cakes.” A vegetarian dish inspired by crab cakes, it offers vegetable patties deep-fried in panko and served with fermented black bean mayo and wasabi aioli. A bed of greens with a sesame dressing accompanies the cakes, so it’s both decadent and healthy (also quite filling).
At dinner, I started with a chilled tomato soup flavored with ginger and coconut, which was a special. The bread and butter starter is the only holdover from the lunch menu that is also available on the evening menu (and which I suspect will become a staple, like the butter tasting at Etch). For my main course, I had the “Big Night Pie,” which is a four-cheese-filled phyllo roll with zucchini and some roasted vegetables. It’s got a black olive quinoa “caviar” tucked inside and is served with both an eggplant raisin sauce and a smoked red bell pepper and tomato sauce, which actually work well side by side. It’s also accompanied by an arugula salad topped with a garlic caper vinaigrette. There are a lot of elements going on with this plate, but it works together really well.
Desserts at Etc. are made by pastry chef Megan Williams, who also oversees dessert duty at Etch. We sampled two desserts: an orange-and-chocolate panna cotta with orange meringue (topped with a beautiful and delicate edible orchid) and an upside-down plum cake with goat cheese ice cream. Both desserts were delicious, but the chocolate orange panna cotta is something I would want to eat over and over again. It was perfectly chocolatey and satisfying.
My husband ordered the tuna, which was grilled to perfection (diners are asked to specify how they’d like the tuna to be prepared; my husband prefers rare) and served with a Caribbean-flavored sweet potato and salad. My daughter had the brie and berry napoleon salad, which was a perfect meal for a proper young diner. The restaurant features a brief cocktail menu, a small selection of beers, and a very good wine list.
Inside, the restaurant’s decor has elements of wood, metal and tile, and is clean and modern, though a bit dark (the lighting, however is very good, and a wall of windows helps lighten it up during the day as well). The decor suits the vibe as an upscale-casual neighborhood eatery.
Unlike Etch, the kitchen isn’t wide open to view, but there is still a long area of bar seating at the actual bar. Table seating is at a handful of booths, four-tops, and two-tops. Larger parties will definitely want to arrange seating at adjacent tables ahead of time. The restaurant is open for lunch and during the week; on Saturdays it’s dinner only. Etc. is currently closed on Sunday, but plans for Sunday brunch are in the works.
Check out the Etc. website for the full (current) menus, reservations and more information.
Etc., the latest restaurant concept from chef and restauranteur Deb Paquette, opened on Monday, August 15, 2016 in Green Hills at 3790 Bedford Avenue in the Atlas Building. Etc. (pronounced “et cetera”) is the sister restaurant to Paquette’s renowned restaurant,Etch. Nashville Guru got a look inside the new space.
The intimate, 2,400-square-foot restaurant has room for over 80 guests inside and 30 guests on an outdoor patio. There are 68 seats in the main dining room and 12 seats at the bar. The atmosphere is sophisticated and contemporary.