First Images: Jean-Georges’ New Nashville Restaurant Drusie & Darr is Absolutely Stunning

Over the last nineteen months of a global pandemic absolutely devastating the hospitality business, one could imagine that even major industry players might be licking their wounds and choosing to play it safe. Superstar Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, for instance, already had thirty-nine restaurants around the globe, from Miami to Marrakech, Shanghai to Singapore – so there was plenty to be concerned about, namely just keeping them all afloat during the on and off lockdowns.

But having built a career on intrepid forward motion – and despite this Delta Variant threatening to send us all back into isolation – he’s about to open Drusie & Darr, a particularly ambitious new eatery in Nashville’s legendary Hermitage Hotel. If the name sounds a bit curious, Drusie and Darr Hall were actually the children of Dick Hall, the original owner of the hotel, and lived a kind of storybook existence growing up on the property. The Hermitage itself was just given a top-to-bottom redesign, including the rooms and all of the public spaces – so a new destination restaurant seems certainly appropriate, whatever the public health crisis context.

And a destination restaurant is most certainly is. Under the direction of New York based interior designer Thomas Juul-Hansen (Jean-Georges’ go-to guy), the space that formerly held the not quite as special Capital Grille has been transformed into the sort of place you’d take someone when you have you no choice but to impress. And here, the spectacular arched ceilings were left in place, but given a kind of modern glow, via contemporary illumination by New York lighting specialists L’Observatoire International. And all of the furnishings, including the handsomely curved leather banquettes and mother-of-pearl pendant lamps, are all bespoke (note: proper use of the word “bespoke”).

The intimate, sensually lit bar area features a coffered ceiling, and an elegant beige/blue color scheme. But revisiting a trend from the early oughts, a good deal of the visual dazzle was reserved for the new ladies’ room, with its dramatically arched doorway, stripes of variegated pink marble, inlaid marble flooring, and rose gold framed mirrors – though don’t be tempted to bring your cocktail and just hang out for awhile in there.

A full menu has yet to be released. But expect it to revolve around Jean-Georges’ mastery of mating local culinary heritage (which Nashville has plenty of, surely) with international influences to unprecedented effect. There will be a wood-fired oven, so do expect a selection of elevated pizzas to be on offer.

For a more casual experience, The Pink Hermit will be opening on the property later this autumn (also under the direction of J-G), and will evolve from coffee-and-pastry takeaway in the morning, to chic lunch spot by day, to stylish wine-champagne-cocktail bar once the evening hours have commenced.

Drusie & Darr seems to be marking a fascinating almost-post-pandemic trend, with spectacularly designed “statement” restaurants by high-profile chefs opening around the country (Grana in Boston, Casa Limone in New York), despite lingering fears about a possible return to lockdowns. There’s actually something encouraging and optimistic about that, considering the anxiety and worry that has hung over the industry this last year-and-a-half.

So, we’ll see you soon in Nashville, obviously.

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