Nashville is a city that loves to say, "We go waaay back." Change isn't always considered good, and people who've been here fewer than 10 years are still considered "new." Newbies often hear about the "New Nashville" from natives and old- timers who either wax poetic about the diversity and fresh ideas or grumble over the influx of "outsiders." Sometimes people use the term "New Nashville" to describe a tacky new-money crowd. But it's also a reference to the up-and-coming, more urbanite generation. Finally, there are people whose "New Nashville" simply offers a variety of luxuries that weren't here 10 years ago.
Virago is one of those. Its clientele is more city-chic than socialite and prefers fusion cuisine and hot sake to thick steaks and expensive wines. Though Virago is still a trendy spot, owner Chris Hyndman wanted to push Nashville's nightlife envelope a little further. Since reopening just a week ago, fashionably frocked customers have flooded the swanky spot.
The sunken lounge looks out on the hostess desk and cocktail bar through several large, elliptical windows. The effect is something like being in a very plush submarine or spaceship, depending on whether land sharks or celestial bodies pass by the portholes. A 100-inch plasma screen TV adds a continuous dose of eye candy that can move and change with the pace of the music. Four tall, circular booths line one wall and contrast nicely with the opposing side of low, modular banquettes. Fans of retro decor will dig the '70s style "conversation pit" theme meant to encourage verbal intercourse among strangers. (Actual swinging is not recommended.)
The main dining room is still getting some finishing touches, including new tables and a mini sushi bar. Though there's only one DJ booth, the sound system allows each room to hear different music. Expect to see both familiar faces and fresh talent in the booth, with the music leaning toward jazzy house. Even with the new addition, Virago is intimate. What it lacks in square footage it makes up for in potential. It would be hella dope to see each room develop a separate atmosphere and identity, to create multiple experiences in a single larger space. Maybes and what-ifs aside, the new Virago is a must-see. Variety is the spice of nightlife, and novel ideas should be applauded. Sadly, Virago lacks outdoor seating. This weather begs for late-night drinks in the cool spring air....
If the witching hour rolls by and the Tree House and Red Door are still packed, head over to The Acorn. The nocturnal incarnation of The Acorn's spacious upstairs patio is relatively undiscovered. It's large enough to accommodate several groups and offers a great late-night menu with something for everyone. The open-air setting is laid-back. The only drawback is that the service at 1 a.m. can be equally languid....
One of the best things about spring is selecting a new wardrobe. Bamboo Boutique is hosting its third anniversary party and spring fashion show Thursday at Bar Twenty3. $10 gets you in the door, and early birds will be treated to a gender-specific goodie bag. The party starts at 8 p.m. with the models set to strut at 9 p.m.
By Amy Waddell, photos By Darek Bell
E-mail Amy at email@example.com.