Nearly Native Eats: Henley

What is a “brasserie” anyway? Rooted in French tradition, it’s a restaurant serving hearty dishes with a relaxed setting. It’s a pretty broad definition if you ask me. When I think of French restaurants, I automatically jump to escargot, French onion soup, and loaves of bread, covering tables so packed on the sidewalk they’re almost spilling onto the street. But brasserie is simply a term to convey style, to set expectations for patrons that, when they arrive, will feel comfortable. Henley’s blend of contemporary, yet classic esthetic and service with brasserie ease lets you indulge in a setting that isn’t stuffy.

While a typical French brasserie might spread its relaxed accoutrements all over the sidewalk in front of you, Henley happens to be quite hidden inside the ground level of the new Aerston Hotel in the Midtown neighborhood in Nashville. Parking can be a chore, as the neighborhood has been flooded with new commercial attractions, but once you’re able to find a spot, look for the entrance to this intimate eatery to the right of the hotel valet and before its neighbor, Caviar and Bananas. Once you enter, you’ll be met with a set of sultry eyes drawing you in from their place perched over the bar. Whether you prefer the sunlit dining toward the front or the cozy library in the back, Henley can help you set the mood for your dining experience.

After you’ve embraced the vibe, you can choose to share some savory small plates to get a taste for a broad range of dishes, or focus on the communal items if you’re looking for larger portions. The menu is rooted in seasonally basic elements with a twist, like the mouth-watering Chicken Fried Chanterelles that will totally change your perspective on mushrooms. And don’t forget the hand-crafted cocktails that’ll give you the courage to stare right back into those sultry eyes overlooking the room.

This spot is perfect for a date, for impressing your parents, or for catching up with a friend. It’s not overwhelmingly loud and there’s no chance of distraction via television. The only thing you might catch yourself look at aside from the flavorful food is the contemporary décor that seems just right for the space. Definitely a must-visit, Henley welcomes you with the open arms of a French brasserie without actually being French at all.

Check out their website on the Eat Like a Native page!

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