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.
September 29, 2021
After months of anticipation, Justin Timberlake’s Twelve Thirty Club is finally open for business in downtown Nashville. But does it live up to the hype?
I really struggle when out-of-towners ask me for restaurant recommendations in Nashville. Most of them are staying downtown and don’t want to have to drive or Uber somewhere — but the majority of restaurants downtown really aren’t representative of the incredible food scene that’s taking the rest of the city by storm.
So when we were invited to the soft opening of The Twelve Thirty Club, the hotly anticipated new restaurant from Justin Timberlake and Sam Fox (who launched True Food among many other restaurant concepts and sold his business to the Cheesecake Factory in 2019 for $308 million, CASH), I was excited, but also… wary. The majority of downtown restaurant experiences I’ve had over the years have been good in the way that Disney World’s finest restaurants are good. They may be the best the tourist district has to offer, but compared to restaurants in other Nashville neighborhoods, they’re totally mediocre.
Plus, I’ll be honest — It didn’t seem possible for the Twelve-Thirty Club to live up to the hype because the hype in this case was EXTRAORDINARY. In addition to a powerhouse business partnership and a $25 million investment (the most Sam Fox has spent on any of his restaurants) the new restaurant has three levels and three separate venues and it fills a city block. The supper club employs more than 200 staff members and has 400 seats. Unlike its raucous, beer-drenched neighbors farther down Broadway, it is sleek and luxurious and feels very much appropriate for an anniversary/birthday/honeymoon dinner. At the same time, is vast and cavernous and ten years ago, it would have been considered a disastrous investment, because there would be no way in hell all those seats could be filled most nights.
That said, I’m always down for a soft opening! It’s an exciting time! We made a reservation and showed up, ready to give it a go.
Right off the bat, locals will appreciate the fact that they can actually come here without getting caught up in the traffic nightmare of Lower Broadway. The parking deck for The Twelve Thirty Club (and for Fifth +Broadway next door) is just a couple of blocks away from the I-40 Broadway exit, so you’re able to skip most of the traffic snarl that’s just a little farther down the street. Even on Saturday night when traffic was at its peak, it took us only about five extra minutes to make the left turn into the deck. Another plus: Unlike other decks downtown, you won’t be shocked by $30 parking when you arrive. Parking in the private deck is six dollars an hour, which is incredibly reasonable compared to pretty much every other parking situation we’ve encountered downtown lately. The deck also stays busy and feels very safe. I’m sold.
You’ll enter the restaurant from the sidewalk on Broadway. On the first floor is Honky Tonk, a large street-level bar featuring live country music and filled almost entirely with tourists. Climb the stairs and you’ll pass the 50-seat private cocktail lounge for ‘Honorary Members’ — It’s not clear how to become an honorary member, but you can fill out a short application on the website that includes your occupation and social media handle and a ‘committee’ will decide whether you’re worthy.
On the third level, you’ll find the supper club. When we arrived, a band was playing on stage and it was my first indication that things here were going to be very different from the usual downtown restaurant experience. For one thing, instead of country music, the singer was crooning big band and easy listening favorites — all songs that perfectly matched the restaurant’s retro, supper club vibe. For another, the volume of the music wasn’t so loud that you couldn’t hear your dinner companion talk. Both were signs to me of meticulous attention to detail, which at a restaurant is a very good thing.
The restaurant itself is absolutely gorgeous, with a rich, Art Deco feel. Although the space feels seriously huge, the seating manages to feel intimate, with lots of nooks and crannies, velvet-upholstered chairs, and leather banquettes.
If the weather’s nice, I recommend you try and score a table outside on the balcony. It overlooks the crowds of people and flashy bars on Broadway and I think these may just be some of the best tables in town for an impressive night out.
Inside the restaurant, the employees are everywhere and they’re all highly trained — There are no staffing shortages here! The hostesses are dressed to the nines, and servers wear distinctive maroon dinner jackets. Because there were so many staff members on hand, our server felt as if he’d been personally assigned to us. He was always available to answer questions and walk us through the massive menu and he never seemed rushed.
The cocktails here are expensive and close to $20 (it is the tourist district, after all), but potent and delicious. No complaints here.
As for the menu? It’s seriously decadent and includes a variety of specialty breads, starters, sushi rolls, seafood towers, steaks, upscale entrees, and desserts. Early favorites include sweet cream cornbread, wagyu steak tartare, double smoked bacon with maple glaze, and iced Maine lobster. And if you really want to go all out, order the wagyu tomahawk ribeye for $225! But while there are a few high-roller items on the menu to be sure, most entrees are in the $30-$50 range. High for Nashville, probably just about right for downtown.
We started our meal off with the short rib potstickers, which Dennis selected. I was skeptical because I’ve found that for the most part, all potstickers taste alike, but I have to admit that these particular potstickers were extraordinary. Inside the dough wrapper, the short rib was flavorful and a bit crispy and it melted in my mouth. The ponzu sauce added a little zing to the potstickers without overpowering the flavor of the short rib. This appetizer could have easily vied with starters at any of the best restaurants in Nashville.
Next up was the warm butter poached king crab, which came in a jar with charred sourdough on the side. Admittedly, this dish doesn’t look all that interesting, HOWEVER once we’d eaten up some of the crab, we dipped our bread in the butter sauce which still had plenty of crab chunks in it and that was so incredibly delicious that I will probably order this dish every time we come here from now on. It was divine.
For our main course, we chose the wagyu beef bolognese. This entree was easily big enough for two people, especially since we’d had two starters. It was good, but I probably wouldn’t order it again. Honestly, it tasted a lot like high-quality Hamburger Helper and once I made that mental association, I just couldn’t drop it. The bread, though, was phenomenal. Of course, I dipped it in the crab butter, which made it taste even better.
We finished up with the molten butterscotch angel cake, a stellar dessert that, again, could go up against the desserts at any of Nashville’s best restaurants. Warm caramel was drizzled over the top of the cake before we ate it and on the inside of the angel food cake was more hot caramel. It was innovative and absolutely delicious.
Do I recommend this restaurant? Absolutely. For locals, it’s perfect for a big night out and I think it would be really fun to make dinner reservations here, then venture down Broadway afterward to people watch — if you dare. I’m also excited to have another fantastic recommendation for visitors who want to stick close to downtown.
There’s no real dress code here as far as I know and given its location, you’re likely to see a mixture of people dressed for a special occasion and tourists in tee-shirts and denim shorts. I’d personally recommend upscale casual — The vibe here is definitely a dressy one.
After dinner, you’ll definitely want to head outside to the rooftop bar if the weather’s nice. It’s lovely and I’m hoping it stays on the less crowded side since it’s a little out of the way compared to the other rooftop bars downtown.
Hoping to see celebrities while you’re here? Our server told us Justin Timberlake was there the night before, and Sam Fox was on hand while we were there, making sure things were running smoothly. We’ve heard that he’s hoping to turn this restaurant into an upscale chain, so it’s no wonder he’s so personally invested in its success. If celebrities are on hand, they’re likely to be seated in the private dining room to the left of the stage if you’re facing it, which has several large windows facing out into the restaurant. The room is big enough to host all of NSYNC and their significant others! Just sayin’! 😂
And that’s it. That’s my review. Got questions or comments? Contact me. I’d love to hear from you! And to keep up with all our Nashville adventures, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.