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A carved wooden bar with teal bar stools. In front of the bar is a coral colored couch with black side tables.
Bad Idea aims to introduce diners to unique wine and Lao dishes.
H.N. James

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Bad Idea Opens in East Nashville With a Spotlight on Lao Cuisine

The highly anticipated new restaurant — which opened on October 10 — will also offer wine classes by owner and advanced sommelier Alex Burch

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones is the editor of Eater Nashville. She has over a decade of experience writing, editing, and leading content teams in the food, drink, travel, and tech space.

East Nashville gets another culinary feather to add to its already stacked hat in the form of Bad Idea, a new neighborhood destination for intricate Lao dishes and a dizzying array of interesting wines. The restaurant opened yesterday, October 10.

Alex Burch, a CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) advanced sommelier who’s led the wine programs at beloved local standouts Bastion and Henrietta Red, decided to take a leap of faith and debut his first solo project as an owner inside a former church sanctuary.

Colby Rasavong, a 2022 StarChefs Rising Chef Award recipient, is the restaurant’s executive chef and brings his knowledge and passion for the history of Lao cuisine to the project. The menu opens with shareable starters like nam khao croquettes served with jeow mak len (a Lao tomato dipping sauce) before segueing into scallop-stuffed crepes with nam prik blanquette and Anson Mills broken rice porridge served with egg, wild mushrooms, and ginger. Larger format dishes include a bucksnort trout served with turmeric crepes, Bear Creek pork collar with scallion crepes, and chicken served two ways featuring khao piak (wet rice noodles) prepared with local Proper Sake udon and pickled dark meat and a serving of chicken rice with fold-in crispy skin and chicken fat.

Several different sized white plates holding crepes, fried fish, salad, and condiments Bad Idea
A hand pulling a lid off of a white pot filled with thick white noodles and broth. Bad Idea

With his extensive wine background, Birch decided to focus Bad Idea around a wine program that celebrates variety in style, origin, and availability, with plans to offer educational and exploratory experiences such as classes and regional dinners. A custom wine cellar keeps up to 3,000 bottles properly stored at all times, and the wine list features around 125 selections with plans to expand it over time.

Interiors were handled by local studio Design Object and feature a sprawling horseshoe bar in the middle of the dining room, emphasizing comfortable lounge and bar seating. The church’s original windows and soaring ceilings were left intact and lend the light-filled space a sense of ethereal elegance. Warm tones are complemented by pops of rich color, with custom installations from local art and design studio New Hat adorning the expansive space. Two intimate private dining rooms flank the dining room, while an upper-level balcony will be made available for semi-private dining and large parties.

A wooden door set against a teal wall with gold metal work. The sign on the door’s window reads “Bad Idea” H.N. James
An entrance with a bright yellow wall, a wooden door, and blue-cushioned banquettes H.N. James

The restaurant is open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 1021 Russell Street. Reservations are available online.