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Rumours East Revived

A popular East Nashville hang gets an update that’s worth talking about.

Written By:  Chris Chamberlain

Photographers:  Danielle Atkins

When Jean Kimbrough took over as the new owner of Rumours East last May, she had no prior experience as a restaurateur. What she did have was more than a decade of business acumen from running a day spa, where she learned the importance of taking care of people and offering them a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.

Already a popular spot to enjoy a glass of wine or craft cocktail in the neighborhood surrounding East Nashville’s Five Points, Rumours East didn’t need a total makeover under the new ownership. Instead, Kimbrough decided to freshen up the ambience and menu. She researched neighborhood records to help choose historically appropriate colors to repaint the building’s exterior and interior. And now, patrons dine in the more formal front seating area while cool jazz plays softly in the background.

The front porch and back patio dining sections have always been a go-to choice for diners who know to request those tables. Kimbrough dressed up the garden space in back by stringing festive lights and installing diaphanous drapes from the already existing wooden pergola to add a little romance to the setting. The garden has become a popular spot for wedding ceremonies and receptions, and the whole restaurant can be rented out for rehearsal dinners or similar celebrations. A fire pit in the back corner often lures guests who want to enjoy a tumbler of bourbon along with a selection of cigars available for purchase at the bar. Kimbrough also has plans to refurbish the antique pizza oven tucked behind the new outdoor bar.

The indoor bar, meanwhile, is still bustling. Staffed with creative mixologists, it’s stocked with top-shelf spirits, which you might want to sample during happy hour (Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.).

As for the menu, new chef John Howard came to Rumours from Gatlinburg and brought with him a love of Southern cuisine and international twists. You’ll still find a focused list of dishes in each section of appetizers, salads, and entrees; go for the creative finds, like the crawfish gyoza or steamed biscuit bahn mi appetizer, both of which feature traditional Asian techniques applied to Southern flavors. Vegetarians can find plenty of options, but the dishes that fly the fastest out of the kitchen represent the realm of surf and turf—an excellent example is grilled swordfish served with Filipino street corn. Carnivores might prefer the center-cut sirloin covered in a hoisin demi glaze.

If everything old is new again, Rumours East is enjoying a bit of a renaissance under Kimbrough’s ownership. With just a few small changes to the vibe and the menu, a neighborhood favorite has become revitalized, and diners are reaping the benefits.

1112 Woodland St., 615-262-5346; rumourseast.com

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