In late summer, leading into the fall of 2019, I attended a small gathering with the owners and friends of a new concept in the area most of us consider Hillsboro Village. While that neighborhood used to be the only real nightlife happening for local adults, it has given way to more college-driven businesses and retail outlets over the years. I had gotten to grab a green liquid fix at Juice Bar with Jeff LaRoche when he was in town helping to set up what was to become E3 Chophouse, so I was anxious to check out the finished space. We had mutual friends in his brother, Adam LaRoche’s Nashville restaurant partners, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. The alliance seems unique but smart, and I knew it would be unlike any other steakhouse concept in the area. To that party, I took my husband, who basically stood in the corner watching the onsite butcher cutting steaks for us to take home (what is it about men and raw meat?!), and the entire EDIT staff later ordered more steaks for our potluck and cookout articles which you can check out here. Unfortunately, the whole world shut down before we got to experience this well-situated outdoor dining space properly. It has been such a treat to revisit the location to find that the space, the service, and the sips exceed all of our expectations.
What to Order
Libations: While E3 has truly stepped it up in the vino department with over 400 wines (including some of the best bubbly around), we like the craft cocktail options for that end-of-the-workday fix. The bartender explained that his specialty as of late is creating unique scotch-based concoctions, but we’re saving that for our date nights with the guys. The cocktails at the top of our list are the Coco Rose Blackberry Smash, which transports you to summer in an instant with a hint of coconut cream, fresh blackberry, Heroes vodka, and lime. The ‘We’re Not in Kansas’ rum creation was also a surprising favorite due to the splash of Old Forester, house-made, ginger-infused syrup, and passionfruit.
From the Dinner Menu: Patio diners can order anything from the nightly dinner menu, but we stuck to the appetizer and green veggie offerings. Ordering beef here is much healthier and more sustainable than you will find in other high-profile steakhouses. They raise their own on the E3 Ranch – these are happy, grass-fed cows who get to roam on vast tracks of land without ever being shot up with antibiotics, chemicals, or enhanced feed. That puts their menu right up on the ‘approved’ list of our healthy eating stops like those on this list.
Our sample included some of the best carpaccio we’ve ever tasted (and that’s saying a lot as it’s a dish we frequently order at random destinations). The real star was the Fruits de Mer – ice-cold layers of superior shellfish, including an enormous crab leg, equally oversized prawns, and generous lobster tails. The garnishes and sauces made this naturally delicious combination even better (as did the fact that they split and cut everything so that patrons don’t have to work with the shells or peels).
With Tennessee’s spring involving a series of random temperatures, pop-up thunderstorms, and cold-snaps followed by August-like heat, this patio has even more appeal due to the thoughtful design. After enduring the pandemic, we were just happy to be on any patio – even those thrown together with plastic chairs on sidewalks. That’s the opposite of E3’s elevated roof space. The chophouse is the go-to when there’s no guarantee of clear skies or ideal temperature. When conditions are fair, it is open-air bliss but also still heated and cooled for comfort. More than half of the patio (which includes the entire bar display and ample conversational seating areas and tables) is completely covered, so rain isn’t even a concern. Here are a few other things to know before you go. Our guess is that for anyone seeking solace in the city, that will be sooner rather than later!
The Vibe: The décor is what I would describe as casually elegant. The interiors are a bit rustic in materials, but the design also has a bit of that ‘30A Beach Feel’ from the napkins to the cozy but light throws placed on the covered bench seats.
The Crowd: With the weather beckoning, there’s no doubt that the professionals in walking distance (Vanderbilt University and Hospital, Music Row) will be regulars in no time. But, with celebrity owners including professional baseball personalities and top recording artists, tables will just as likely be filled with famous faces.
The Playlist: With all of that Country Music influence in the investor pool, E3 has an advantage on snagging acoustic talent for live music nights. This is the only steakhouse in town with this lineup, making it a top choice for those who like to be entertained. That goes double later on weekend nights when Dejay Silver is in the house spinning
The Dress Code: Casual, but chic is the way to go here. Dress up your jeans with a stylish blouse and strappy pair of heels (ladies) or throw on a well-cut jacket (guys).
The Takeaway: We really like the fact that there are so many choices that keep things light as we head into swimsuit season. The steaks are the big draw, of course, but our sights will continue to set on the incredible seafood and salad selections. That doesn’t mean we are skipping the superior steak cuts all together. In fact, you can order a stash directly from E3 to raise the bar on your grilling game at home—so much better than what you’ll find at the grocery store!