Andrew Fawaz, Gabe Reyes and Bradley Ryan of Siège Hospitality have graced Nashville with something this growing town has truly been missing: Great dining with a great-service slant. When visiting the space before its grand opening, I felt like I was sitting at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, or even in one of Tulum’s stylish and friendly dining concepts. But the ambiance of the place—warm and inviting with a minimalistic feel—is only the canvas for what they’re creating, according to Reyes: “It’s all about the food at the end of the day. Food, guests … these are the things that are important to us.” Although the food and guests are what is most important to the owners, we can’t ignore that every piece in the restaurant was chosen with intention. The design has aspects incorporated from all over Europe, with a specifically modern, clean flair. The concrete and tile add a Grecian splash, the brass fixtures bring a touch of Italian, and the walnut details are a nod to Spain. Even the linens are unlike any you might see at other restaurants in Nashville, their deep blue hue adding another touch of the Mediterranean to the decor.
With just 50 seats available inside and another 20 first-come-first-serve spots on the patio, Santo will be the place for both community and intimacy. Santo’s General Manager, Doss Posey, is one for the books. His calm but attentive demeanor reflects the overall vibe of the restaurant, and his passion for creating the perfect experience for the Santo diner is unmatched. “Elegance without warmth is perceived as arrogance 100 percent of the time,” Doss explains. “We want to create really special relationships through the restaurant. We want to be involved, to know our guests.” Which, for Santo, starts with the food. The group relocated Executive Chef Jason Heiman all the way from Chicago to bring their vision for the menu to life. With over twenty years of experience, this classically trained chef brings his European sensibilities to the forefront of their Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.
“Elegance without warmth is perceived as arrogance 100 percent of the time.”
– Doss Posey
When I noted that most restaurants with a trendy aesthetic tend to sacrifice either the food or the service, Fawaz nodded along, adding, “[In this industry] you’re either perfect or you’re not.” This explains why not one detail has been overlooked at Santo, from the atmosphere to the placement of the food on each plate. As I was sitting with this band of brothers talking about their concept for Santo, I was served a plate of Panisse. With one bite, I was sold.
“Sharing a meal is the ultimate way of creating community,” Reyes explains from across the table. For many of us, creating that community involves a glass (or two) of wine that can take us to Europe in our minds. The wine list at Santo will do just that. While the selection is a small-focus, curated list, there are 50 by-the-bottle wines from countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. They also pride themselves on their reserved wine list, which focuses on high-end producers and spectacular vintages from all over Europe. Don’t let them fool you though—Santo has a fully stocked bar as well, giving as much attention to their drinks menu as they do at Epice.
Santo wants to be that “sexy space,” as Posey calls it, to grab a nightcap before the end of your evening in Nashville. With great wine, fantastic service and a design to rival all others, I know I’ll be calling Santo my home away from home starting late this spring. Be on the lookout for more concepts by Siège Hospitality—I have a feeling we won’t want to miss them.
Read the full article in our digital issue here.