Tapas-style restaurant Little Octopus in January graduated from pop-up to a brick-and-mortar with a permanent storefront in Nashville, Tenn. The full-service menu, developed by chef Daniel Herget, is Caribbean-inspired and leans toward bright, clean flavors. (Pictured: shrimp ceviche.)
No strangers to the neighborhood, Little Octopus owners Sarah and Brad Gavigan also operate Otaku Ramen down the street.
Here’s a look at Little Octopus.
Little Octopus has two bars, a chef’s table, and a retro Miami vibe. A giant gold octopus, designed and painted by a local artist, adorns the back wall. The Gavigans took four months to remodel a former sushi restaurant just doors down from their ramen joint to make a permanent home for Little Octopus.
Peachy stained-glass, gold mirrors, plants, and white-marble and brass accents punctuate the 2,700-square-foot space. Loft-style ceilings reach 30 feet and feature built-in skylights. The restaurant seats 100. Dishes range from $8 to $40.
At Little Octopus “we work with as much local produce as we can, and that absolutely dictates what goes in our food,” said chef Herget. Customers can expect a lot of seasonal rotation in the tapas-style menu.
A titular octopus dish features fregola, a type of pasta, and smoked fingerling potatoes; cactus at Little Octopus comes with red onion, fermented coconut, and almond; and a hamachi dish infused with romanesco and olive is served with burnt bread.
Pictured: an eggplant dish at Little Octopus features garlic, scotch bonnet peppers, and tomato.
“Next week, we will be introducing some more sandwiches, bringing in Caribbean roti to the lunch menu,” said Herget. He also has plans for a Caribbean-style sandwich made with bread similar to pita bread but heavily spiced.
The Caribbean vibe extends to the beverage program, where rum-based cocktails such as the Mojito and Dark n’ Stormy take center stage. Even traditionally gin-based drinks like a Tom Collins receive a touch of rum, and the Cuba Libre features fermented lime. Beer and select wines are also available as well as a full selection of teas from Stumptown.
The brunch menu at Little Octopus designates “cool” and “warm” offerings. On the cool side, the beets (pictured) feature sunchoke puree, avocado and sunflower seeds. For warmth, consider the maduros: masa cornbread served with chihuahua cheese and, on the side, lime preserves.
At Little Octopus the aim is “clean, vibrant” food. The menu offers options for the most strict vegan to the dedicated carnivore. Pursuant to diet transparency, items on the menu at Little Octopus are labeled, GF for gluten free, for example, and V for Vegan. Herget sees this practice carrying past trend toward necessity.
“In the next three to four years, you’ll be hard pressed to find a menu that doesn’t have that kind of denotation,” he said.