The Treehouse: A Favorite in East Nashville, Tennessee

For a creative meal filled with the freshest ingredients, The Treehouse in East Nashville, Tennessee is a wise choice.

Location: The Treehouse, 1011 Clearview Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee

Menu: Chef Chris Gianino brings his experience gleaned from working at Husk in Nashville and Northern Bell in Brooklyn, New York to the discriminating diners of Nashville. Chef Gianino came to The Treehouse in December of 2019, in the shadows of successful former chefs who garnered Eater Nashville’s Chef of the Year honors on two different occasions. Expectations were high, and he has met them eagerly and expertly. Gianino is continuing Treehouse’s commitment to using local ingredients and incorporates produce and meat from Greener Roots Farm, the Nashville Farmers Market, Stay Golden, and other prominent farms. The menu changes continuously to suit the whim of the chef and the availability of the best fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish.

The lunch menu offers both cold bowls and hot bowls, as well as sandwiches ranging from grilled vegetables to smoked bologna or spicy steak. Broccoli and pasta salads can be ordered as sides. A recent winner for the best appetizer in Nashville was the queso dip. For dinner, the choices expand impressively. Appetizers and shareables include potato fritters, coffee-roasted carrots and charred broccolini. Oysters are the most select and come from the Gulf of Mexico, Prince Edward Island, and the West Coast. Diners may order them individually. Entrees range from duck and lamb to shrimp or a Wagyu ribeye. Signature desserts are either a Peanut Butter and Jelly Hand Pie or Grandma’s Drunken Apple Cake.

Weekend brunch is popular at The Treehouse and suits the neighborhood full of young professionals very well. Brandy French Toast appears on the menu beside Bologna Benedict and bowls with vegetables, shrimp or chicken as headlines. Seasonal bellinis can be ordered from the adult beverages menu, while hibiscus fruit tea and mint ginger lemonade tempt diners from the offerings of non-alcoholic drinks. The full drinks menu consists of a wide assortment of wines, cocktails, draft and can beers, and even a couple of boilermakers.

Thoughts: Walking through the door of The Treehouse is like entering a well-worn and inviting homeplace. In fact, the building served for 25 years as the home of Buddy Spicher (pronounced “Spiker”), who is known in Nashville music circles as a fiddle virtuoso. He built the actual treehouse in the backyard for his then 10-year-old granddaughter, and the structure also served as his personal music room and practice oasis. When the decision was made to sell the house and turn it into a restaurant, the living space was completely gutted but many of the materials were salvaged and repurposed. The abundant wood, for instance, became tables and chairs. The front of the bar is lined with doors from the house. Several pendant light fixtures scattered through the rooms are actually converted flashlights, and former cabinet door pulls are now coat and purse hooks. A second treehouse was constructed to serve as an intimate dining area for parties of 10 or less. Fun, earthy colors were chosen, along with whimsical lights, and the startling sight of a tree in the middle of the bar still amuses guests.

The Treehouse opened in 2013 and has been favorably reviewed by such highly respected publications as Conde Nast Traveler and Thrillist, but the restaurant is clawing and scraping its way back after the double blows of being hit by a tornado on March 3, 2020, followed only a couple of weeks later by a global pandemic and economic shutdown. The owners have built back, and one new addition is more al fresco dining arranged with social distancing in mind. All servers wear masks, and the menu is accessed with a QR reader on your phone.

Words most often used to describe The Treehouse are rustic, low-key, cozy, and extraordinarily delicious.

Price range: Lunch items are $9-12. Brunch choices are $6-18 with the splurge being $50 for Koji Processed Coulotte. For dinner, starters range from $5-14, oysters are $3.50-4.50 each, entrees are $24-45, and desserts are $11 and $13.

Connie Pearson

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