It would be easy to assume Maneet Chauhan and her family have been in Nashville for decades, given the number of restaurants and breweries she, her husband Vivek Deora, and Morph Hospitality are involved in around town. But believe it or not, it’s been just four short years since the opening her eponymous restaurant, Chauhan Ale & Masala House, and the rest is surely record-setting Nashville dining scene history. When asked the secret to success in these tumultuous restaurant times, she laughs charmingly and jokes “Because we’re crazy.” After shared laughs, she credits the passion they have for the food, plus the incredible loyalty of great staff and friends.
Chauhan also gives a lot of credit to the people of Nashville and those in the dining scene here for an overwhelming welcome and acceptance continued since their arrival in Music City from Chicago. “Nashville embraced us from the start,” said Deora. “We were blown away by the love and support we received and wanted to give back by providing diverse restaurants that fill gaps in the city’s culinary landscape.”
As a recap, Chauhan and Deora have thus far opened Chauhan, Tansuo, modern diner The Mockingbird, plus they’re also involved in Frankin’s Mantra Brewing and Steel Barrel Brewery, the largest craft brewery in the state. Their newest project — Sylvan Heights Indian street food spot Chaatable — is on target to open before the end of the year. Perhaps most exciting about their newest project is that Chauhan herself will be in the kitchen as executive chef.
When Eater shared rumors that Chauhan and her team were eyeing the Sylvan Heights space, the buzz around town was that Chaatable would offer Indian street food-inspired cuisine featuring nostalgic dishes from both she and her husband’s childhoods — and that is exactly what diners can expect. Chaatable’s menu will center around “chaat,” a flavorful category of Indian street food that means “to lick.” With an emphasis on regional flavors of India, the menu will be divided into several sections, including snacks, hot, cold, and spicy small plates and larger plates. Guests will be encouraged to order a variety of plates and dishes, meant for sharing among the table.
“Each region of India has its own version of chaat, typically served from street carts,” said Chauhan. “It’s not necessarily one dish but a broad variety of foods with flavor so amazing it will make you want to lick your lips.”
Chauhan grew up in Ranchi and Deora in Jaipur and each grew up enjoying distinctly different regional foods. The pair met during college in Manipal and have been married for ten years, marrying after enduring a lengthy long-distance relationship when Chauhan could’t travel out of the county. The obviously-compatible duo passionately described a few dishes, laughing about visits back to India the two compete to see who can eat the most street food. Chauhan and Deora both emphasize that “every single dish on the menu has a story.” The couple describes how vastly different cuisine is across India and say there will be heavy influences from dishes each of them grew up eating. Chauhan describes one of the dishes she’s most excited about — vada pav — spiced potato fritters on buttered pav (bread) with garlic chutney.
Beyond the food and drink, Chauhan says the interior will be, in true fashion “absolutely over-the-top”— designed to imitate feelings of stepping into India for the first time. Look for bright colors and whimsical sensory overload from the formerly understated Salt & Vine space. The dining room showcases elements of old-meets-new India, such as vintage Bollywood posters, a wall of vintage bangles and installations of colorful kites and umbrellas. The 4000-square-foot restaurant offers indoor seating for 100 guests, plus a private dining space that provides an intimate dining experience for 20 people. Chaatable is centered around a stand-alone chaat bar — an open kitchen area where guests can witness chefs in action.
Do Chauhan and Deora have anything else up their sleeves after Chaatable? It sounds like it isn’t entirely out of the question, given the beloved pair’s continued enthusiasm for Nashville’s dining scene, the opening of four vastly different restaurants in four years, and the obvious quick trajectory of Morph Hospitality as a brand.