Strategic Hospitality, the group behind a collection of Nashville establishments including The Patterson House, The Catbird Seat, and Pinewood Social, announced the opening of Le Sel, a “New French” restaurant located at the base of The Adelicia condominium building in Midtown Nashville.
Led by Executive Chef Rene De Leon, formerly of Next and Alinea in Chicago, Le Sel both honors and challenges traditional French fare in its lunch, brunch, dinner, and bar menus. The multi-level space offers guests a main dining floor, a separate bar downstairs with its own menu, and a private dining room accommodating up to 24.
“Le Sel is our interpretation of a French restaurant,” says Benjamin Goldberg, co-owner of Strategic Hospitality. “Both the food and the atmosphere are created to feel traditional and familiar, with a very playful and forward-thinking vibe.”
Le Sel’s main dining floor is inspired by the late artist Donald Judd, a leader in the minimalism movement often recognized for his use of industrial materials and sharp angles. Designed by Nashville-based designer Benjamin Vandiver, shades of red, pink, and salmon are widely used throughout. Inside the main dining space, an oyster bar complete with eight bar stools and a long salmon-colored banquette serves as the anchor of the restaurant. Additional salmon-colored banquettes and black tabletops adorn the room and sit atop a black-and-white striped floor that runs playfully in various directions. The bar is crafted with shiny black penny tile and a pink grout, with a back bar composed of various boxes in shades of red, pink and salmon.
With access from the main dining floor or through a separate outdoor entrance, the Bar at Le Sel has its own bar menu. A long dark leather couch anchors one wall, while a collection of chairs, rugs, and side tables offers additional seating for guests. The moody room features a dark green back bar, a copper bar top, and mixed barstools to complement the array of furniture.
The private dining area, just steps off the main dining room, is a striking room with red walls, red carpet, and a repetitive abstract design painted on the walls by local artist Alic Daniel.
Le Sel offers a lunch, dinner, and bar menu, as well as a weekend brunch. De Leon’s menu was composed to entice diners to settle in for multiple courses. The previously mentioned raw bar offers oysters, varieties of roe, seafood platters, and crudo, as well as an elegant Seafood Tasting Tower and Grand Seafood Tasting Platter, both served in antique silver bowls. Salad courses at Le Sel include the Olive Oil-Poached Salmon Nicoise meticulously prepared using olive oil and served with white anchovy and the classic Bibb Salad, stripped down and tossed with a bright vinaigrette and fresh herbs. The menu also highlights several classic dishes, such as a French Onion Soup with cubes of bread, and a more contemporary version of Tartare with lamb, Dijon mustard, capers, fine herbs, and egg. For entrees, guests have their choice of a variety of meaty options such as the Duck Breast served with Madeira sauce, cauliflower puree, cooked kale, and topped with crispy kale chips, as well as beautiful fish preparations like the Skate Wing with creamy brown butter, roasted shallots, golden raisins, capers, and parsnip puree.
For dessert, creations include an Apple Tartine with thinly sliced, slow-cooked apples and crème fraiche ice cream set atop a caramelized puff pastry and a classic Opera with hazelnut and genoise soaked with coffee syrup, praline buttercream, and chocolate ganache.
De Leon’s brunch menu is equally as enticing as dinner. Mirroring Le Sel’s overall “New French” focus, guests can delight in the Croque Madame with toasted brioche, Gruyere cheese, slow-cooked egg, Broadbent cured ham, and a classic mornay; as well as a Lobster Omelet and Quiche, cooked similarly to a custard with cheese, bitter greens, and fondued leeks.
“Chef De Leon’s knowledge and experience lends itself perfectly to the traditional French fare, yet he’s been extremely thoughtful and careful with developing dishes that are lighter, brighter, and more vibrant,“ says Strategic Hospitality co-owner Max Goldberg.
The beverage program at Le Sel, developed by Strategic Hospitality Beverage Director Matt Tocco, showcases a wide array of wines, including sparkling and Champagne, as well as red and white wines and sherries. The menu also includes craft cocktails such as a Sherry Cobbler with dry sherry, cream sherry, muddled citrus and dry Curacao, garnished with blackberries and powdered sugar. De Leon’s small plate offerings in the bar include Foie and Pomegranate Pate de Fruit Cinnamon Macaroon, Pork Rillettes with sauce gribiche and Crab-Stuffed Squash Blossoms.