I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
May 2, 2022
I know our collective thing now is to bemoan the loss of Old Nashville, but come on you guys, there are also plenty of good things that have come out of eleventy billion people all moving here at once.
Okay, okay. There are actually only two:
And since I am a person who tries to focus on the positive, I’ve been going to a lot more restaurants lately. And a lot more bars. And I’ve been enjoying them both very much, thanks.
Seriously, People Who’ve Lived Here Longer Than Five Minutes, remember when a hot new bar opened here back in the day? We’d arrive to find it packed, seven deep at the bar, zero seats remaining. Maybe I was born a little old lady, but there has never been any part of me that wanted to drink cocktails standing up. It seems dangerous. And so we’d leave. And we’d wait to go to that bar again until it was less popular. And that wasn’t very fun or interesting.
Today, though, the coolest bars in town almost always have seats available — only because there are so damn many of them. I’m not talking about the bars on Broadway, of course, which are typically filled to overflowing with tourists and general mayhem. I’m talking about the kinds of bars impossibly cool people like Jack White or Mitski might frequent — bars like Chopper. Attaboy. Bastion. Old Glory. Bar Sovereign. The Dive Motel. Pearl Diver. And our latest favorite…
Love & Exile.
You’ll find Love & Exile inside a restored East Nashville garage about a mile from downtown Nashville. Outside, there’s plenty of parking and a sizable patio with fire pits and comfortable seating. Inside is a dimly lit bar with tables, chairs, cozy sofas, and even a fireplace. I tend to immediately size up a bar by its patrons and the friendliness of its staff and on both these points, Love & Exile is a winner.
There’s always a nice mix of people and a real neighborhood feel here and the bartenders are knowledgeable, chatty, and excited about the drinks menu, which I’ll talk more about in a minute. It’s worth noting that we’ve ended up chatting with other people at the bar on both of our recent visits — something that happens less and less in this town, sadly.
Love & Exile has a nice little cocktail menu, a sizable dinner and brunch menu, and a full bar, but what really sets this place apart is that it’s actually a winery. When Canadian Tyler Alkins sold his construction business a few years ago, he needed to start something new or face exile back to Canada — And that’s how Love & Exile Wines was born. Tyler’s idea was to take the pomp and fussiness out of wine drinking and instead create something that was drinkable and attitude-free — the kind of thing a bunch of bros could chug together in front of the big-screen TV instead of beer, without things getting weird.
Tyler learned the art of wine-making from experts, searched the globe for just the right grapes, and brought them back (the grapes, not the experts) to his renovated car garage to turn them into bottled and canned wine. When the garage was damaged in the 2020 tornado, he renovated and rebuilt the space and reopened it as Love & Exile in September of 2021 as a bar, restaurant, winery, and shop. And while his wine is, indeed, very drinkable, what makes this bar next level for me is that Tyler and his team have just started making… *drum roll*
Not just any vermouth, either. Incredible vermouth.
Long ago, I was introduced to dry vermouth on the rocks and since then, the drink has been a go-to for me. Dry vermouth is typically a little nutty and a little sweet and it has about the same alcohol content as wine. Hoping for the best, I ordered Love & Exile’s housemade dry vermouth on the rocks and discovered that it was absolutely divine — far better than any dry vermouth I’ve ever tasted. It was crisp and tart and slightly spicy and utterly to die for. It was sophisticated and a little unusual, yet totally drinkable. It was the perfect summer drink. In other words, I LIKED IT. Can you tell that I liked it?
Next, I ordered the ginger mojito vermouth, and to my delight, it was just as good. Maybe even better. Once I finished it, I was more than ready to officially declare the next four months Hot Vermouth Summer.
But wait. It gets better. It gets so much better. In fact, I may have buried the lede here for some of you.
If you go to Love & Exile, I must insist that you go on a Monday night, because that’s when Oh So Ricey is there, serving up the best sushi I have ever eaten in Nashville. Hands down.
The first time we ordered, the couple sitting next to us told us in no uncertain terms to get Bill’s Kill – a plate of salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and shaved truffles drenched in Ricey’s signature honey truffle soy sauce. We did and it was phenomenal. We just had incredible sushi at Sugarfish in Los Angeles last month and I’d say Bill’s Kill easily rivals anything we had there.
My two favorite Ricey rolls are the Shogun Assassin — Salmon, goat cheese mousse, avocado, and honey, all wrapped into a tempura-fried roll — and the Brides Roll — shrimp, crab, avocado, sesame, yuzu aioli, and crunchies. Oh So Ricey also has delicious starters and table specials like Bang Bang Shrimp, tuna poké, and squid salad. Honestly, it’s all good… so good that my husband and I had an real-talk conversation about having dinner at Love & Exile every Monday night, forever. And we weren’t kidding.
Not much else is known about Oh So Ricey except that they do a whole lot of catering for very fabulous rich people and celebrities — I follow them on Instagram and their account, featuring the most decadent sushi spreads in the most MTV Cribs-worthy homes, is the very definition of added value, if you ask me. So consider Monday nights a rare opportunity to feast just like Jack Harlow, who says of Oh So Ricey: “This is the best sushi I ever had.”
Same, Jack. Same.
If you haven’t added Love & Exile to your date night calendar for next Monday, then I have no idea what you’re waiting for. AN INVITATION? Sorry, it’s been a day and that slipped right out.
Just go. You’ll be glad you did.