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Love, Indian Style, at Chauhan

And yet, the arrival of Maneet Chauhan and the opening of her restaurant Chauhan Ale & Masala House is cause for big celebration among Nashville’s curious epicureans. Not because she is a celebrity chef — which she is, particularly to Chopped fans—though I suspect the eminently approachable and down-to-earth chef might regard the label with the same eye roll I do. But because her stunning  restaurant fills a void long missing from the Nashville dining portfolio — informed yet daring interpretations of an ethnic cuisine that also embraces local products and regional specialties.

Mad About Saffron

Maneet Chauhan was destined to open Chauhan Ale & Masala House. Her restaurant in Nashville, which debuted in November of 2014, celebrates her adopted city’s cuisine through the filter of India, the country where she grew up and first learned to appreciate how the cooking traditions of one region could be enhanced by blending them with the customs of another.

There are no sacred cows at Chauhan Ale and Masala House

At various times during my visits to Chauhan Ale and Masala House, I could have been in a gastropub, a steakhouse, a bistro, a sports bar, a local Indian joint or a tasting-menu restaurant. In the hands of chef and restaurateur Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale and Masala House presents not so much an identity crisis as a lesson on the many meanings of “Indian fusion,” two words that don’t actually appear on the menu or website. With her team, Chauhan, who arrived in Nashville on clouds of praise for her Latin-Indian cooking at Vermilion in New York and Chicago, buttons up details on food, style and service.

Celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan writes a love letter to Nashville

In May, Chauhan shared some details with me on the restaurant’s menu and vibe, which she described as a “British pub with Indian influences.” She was especially excited about the restaurant’s custom beer offerings, citing flavors like an English toffee cayenne, a Chai porter, saffron cardamom and a garam masala spiced brew. As revealed in the HuffPo letter, she’s teamed up with Cool Springs Brewery for the custom brews.

“Believe me, I am a lifelong advocate of the Big Apple, yet somehow Nashville weaved its magic around me. It completely drew me in,” Chauhan wrote.

 

Music City Food + Wine Festival brings the unexpected

Nashville itself and Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill inspired Waxman to open the restaurant Adele’s here earlier this summer. And he’s not the only renowned chef planting roots in Nashville.

“Top Chef” contestant Dale Levitski is executive chef at Sinema, which opened in June. “Chopped” judge Maneet Chauhan is expected to open Chauhan Ale & Masala House this fall. “Top Chef” contestant Richard Blais also is opening FLIP Burger this fall, and James Beard Award winner Donald Link is bringing Cochon Butcher next year.

 

Love Letters: Nashville

Nowadays when people ask me where I call home, I say I am a “Nash-Yorker”. After all, home is where the heart is and my heart is now divided. Only one thing is certain, every time I return to New York from Nashville, I walk down the streets with a silly grin, just smiling at everyone I see and more often than not, receiving a suspicious glance in return… but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way, y’all!

 

Fall restaurant openings to look forward to

 Nashville’s trendy neighborhood The Gulch will become home to Chauhan Ale & Masala House this September, a gastropub-style space with Indian fare. Chef Maneet Chauhan, a judge on Food Network’s Chopped, joined members of Nashville’s North Gulch Hospitality Group to bring the fusion restaurant to the city. The 5,000-square-foot

space with pub will boast accordion-style windows for an al fresco feel. Chauhan’s eats reflect those on the streets of Jaipur with authentic foods paired with Southern favorites, like traditional Gol Guppa, Garam Masala pork belly, Indian-style “meat-and-three” and an Indian-spiced twist on Nashville’s famous hot chicken.