We’ve had our eyes on that little grey building along 12th Avenue South since we heard the owner of Kalamata’s, Maher Fawaz, was opening a Lebanese bistro in the vacant building. Epice is the name of this exciting, new restaurant, which comes from the French word for “spice.” Epice opened quietly a couple weeks ago, but is now ready for full-on business. They are open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00am until 10:00pm.
When we stopped by, we had a chance to see Maher in action as the crew prepared to open for lunch. We’ll just say, he knows what he’s doing, which is no surprise from someone who has run the very successful Kalamata’s restaurants for over a decade.
According to CFO Andrew Fawaz, Epice is paving new ground in Nashville’s restaurant industry. “Currently, there are no true authentic Lebanese restaurants in Nashville,” he said. “Most Middle Eastern places have been westernized, but we have kept everything traditional. We use fresh ingredients on a daily basis. The fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, and limited frying are characteristics of authentic Lebanese food.”
If the menu is intimidating, take Andrew’s helpful advice: “For a vegetarian I would recommend Mujadara. If you like Fish, Sayadeya. If you like eggplant, Batenjan. For our meat and lamb lovers, the rack of lamb.”
Their Lebanese cuisine is known to be healthier than other types of food, which you may gather from the menu. Epice also has wine and will have a limited selection of beer in the near future.
The feel of Epice is minimalistic, with simple white and grey table tops, blonde wooden chairs and very little decor. The building is industrial with cement walls and few windows, except for the front window which allows guests to see the bustling 12 South neighborhood. There are beautiful, colored spices visible from the bar, tying everything back to the name and the food.
We knew the 12 South neighborhood would embrace a new restaurant, and Andrew expressed similar feelings. “12 South is similar to the neighborhood I grew up in back home. Nashville is such a melting pot of different people and cultures, and it’s very friendly and supportive of small business,” he said.
The feedback so far has been impressive. We’ve only heard amazing things about the food and service at Epice. We recommend checking it out for yourself. See you there.