Just when you think that the Nashville dining scene already has at least one of everything, it occurs to you that downtown is missing a really great bakery, which is a big hole considering how many people now live in the urban core. At least that was the case until last year when talented chef David Andrews opened his D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe. Andrews is a Nashville native, but learned his culinary chops cooking in New York City where he practiced both sweet and savory cooking. He returned home to open what he describes as “a modern bakery with Southern sensibility” at 555 Church St. near the downtown public library.
Large windows allow plenty of light into the bright and airy dining space, although there are only seats for a couple dozen customers. That’s fine since the majority of D’Andrews business is carry-out as guests line up to check out what’s in the display cases and counters of the bakery. While Nashville does have some great pie, cake and cookie bakeries, rarely have we seen products made with the sort of finesse and creativity that Andrews brings to the pastry party.
Morning baked goods make for a perfect breakfast on the go with selections such as a flaky double-baked croissant filled with cherry and pistachio jam or Andrews’ inventive Tennessee Twist, an unrolled croissant coiled around a stuffing of Tennessee prosciutto and housemade ricotta that makes for a great walking treat. A decadent Pain au Chocolat is not a pain at all, with croissant dough folded over vanilla pastry cream and caramel pearl chocolate. The bakery’s take on a pop tart is actually a delicate Pâte Brisée enveloping a filling of housemade jam.
If you really want to get in good with someone, don’t just take them a box of grocery store cookies. Gift them a single morsel from D’Andrew’s that lets them know what you really think of them. Made using premium ingredients, the cookies are genuine works of art that rise far above what you could expect to find in some supermarket’s adjunct bakery. More traditional varieties like double chocolate chunk and oatmeal cherry are delightful, but Andrews’ double chocolate dulcey made with 100% dark chocolate and caramelized white chocolate is a genuine show-stopper!
The showcases at D’Andrews are also filled with an ever changing variety of pastries and cakes based on the whim of the chef, but they don’t last long, so get there early if you want first choice. D’Andrews also dabbles in the savory side of cooking, especially around lunchtime when they offer some of the most elevated salads and sandwiches in town. For not much more than you’d pay for a sandwich chain named after a subterranean transport system, you can instead dine on much more delicious options like a chicken and avocado sandwich with lemon chicken breast, smashed avocados, roasted tomatoes and dijonnaise or a roast beef sandwich dressed up with mozzarella, pepperoncini, toasted sesame seeds and garlic mayo. Vegetarian options include D’Andrews’ broccoli sandwich with portobello mushrooms, broccoli stems, white cheddar pesto and roasted tomato mayo as well as a “build your own” salad selection.
Some things you just don’t know what you’re missing until you actually discover them. That’s the case with D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe. Now that it’s a part of downtown, we can’t imagine living without it.