Henley, a new modern American brasserie, will open in the heart of Midtown Nashville at 21st Avenue S and Broadway in late Spring 2017 with James Beard Award-winning executive chef RJ Cooper at the helm. Chef Cooper’s menus will feature shareable dishes and innovative communal courses highlighting seasonal and regional flavors. Additionally, Henley’s full bar, wine and cocktail program will evolve seasonally with a strong emphasis on whiskey, bourbon and Southern spirits.
The restaurant’s name, Henley, pays homage to the iconic shirt made popular during the early 1900s. Originally a symbol of rebellion against the plain and rigid clothing of the era, Henley felt a perfect fit for the restaurant, similarly representing its approachable style but inventive cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere. Nods to this inspiration will be woven throughout the design and décor of the restaurant, the culinary and cocktail menus and the staff and service.
“Nashville is an incredibly spirited place and Midtown is a particularly exciting part of this city, which is why we decided to open our first restaurant here,” says Avi Rathnakumar, Regional Director of Restaurant & Bar Operations for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “The proximity to Music Row, world-class colleges and the bustling downtown make this location an ideal spot for both Nashville natives and visiting guests to experience Henley’s cuisine and cocktails.”
Chef RJ Cooper joins Henley after working for more than 20 years as a chef. He is perhaps best known for his work at Vidalia in Washington D.C., for which he was named Best Chef Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation in 2007. He has recently relocated to Nashville after lending his hand to restaurants in Atlanta as well as Charlotte, North Carolina. Chef Cooper’s menu at Henley will put a special emphasis on sourcing ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. Menu highlights include a 9 Year Tennessee Cheddar Agnolotti with country ham, sour apples, black pepper and bread crumbs; Whistle Pig Farm Duck Carved Tableside with johnny crepes and bitter orange-sweet potato; Southland Farm Lettuces with goat feta, pickled beets, spring onions and buttermilk dressing; and Smoked Vidalia Onion Bulbs with spicy honey and caraway.
“There are so many excellent food resources in Tennessee and throughout the South that I am looking forward to incorporating into the menu at Henley,” says executive chef RJ Cooper. “I’ve spent my time in Nashville meeting with growers and local producers and have built a menu around the standout ingredients of this region.” An example of the one-of-a-kind dining experience, Henley will also offer a snack trolley at the start of each meal. Guests can choose a la carte starters and have them prepared and served tableside. Options like the 45 Day Dried Sirloin Tartare with puffed tendon and horseradish ice cream; Radishes with smoked hemp butter; and Potted Pork Rillettes with red hot pickles, grilled spelt bread are just a sampling of the cart’s options. Henley will also offer a range of country hams and cured meats from across the South, plus a variety of bread and biscuit options, all baked in-house.
Throughout Henley, rich textures and elegant furniture find balance within a contemporary and functional dining space. The design, led by interior design firm OZ Architecture, features handcrafted pieces commissioned from local artisans and makers to celebrate the vast creative talent found in Nashville. Serving dishes from Handmade Studio TN and charcuterie boards by Holler Design are a few of the custom standouts that will be exclusive to the restaurant. The space, designed to evoke the comfort of a private home, will draw guests in as colors and textures transition from light to dark while moving through the bar and dining room. Visitors will be encouraged to explore the entire restaurant when visiting Henley to fully experience the one of a kind design elements and discover hidden spaces.
In addition to dinner service, Henley will be open for breakfast and lunch daily. The restaurant will also feature an outdoor dining space that faces Broadway and a private dining space called The Snooker. This space will offer a standout tasting menu that will showcase Chef Cooper’s culinary talents.