“One of the new trends in the restaurant business today is providing “farm to table” food, but what does that mean? ‘Farm to table’ refers to using local ingredients as the source for the restaurant’s food-a trend toward being both health conscious and environmentally friendly. Makenzie Jones (pictured) reviews some Nashville restaurants offering this new approach.
Farm to table ingredients typically include fruits, vegetables, and meats that are fresher because they do not have to travel far from where they are harvested to where they are served. Shorter travel time also means less pollution. This process helps local farmers and producers compete with the larger wholesale suppliers. The emphasis is on quality over convenience.
Nashville is home to many such restaurants, with venues and prices for a variety of personalities and lifestyles. A more extensive list can be found on www.localtable.net, but these are some of the top ‘Farm to Table” restaurants Health & Wellness found:
ACME Seed & Feed
Located at 101 Broadway, ACME is one of only two buildings on lower Broadway listed in the Federal Historic Registry.
As part of the “22,000 square feet of cocktail, culinary, and entertainment space,” the first floor is classic honkeytonk with eclectic, fast and casual cuisine and beer served around communal tables in the presence of live music. The first floor menu serves meals including farm-raised catfish, hand-cut fries and slaw. “The Hatchery” includes curried chickpeas, coconut rice, cashews, a sunny side up egg, and bread; the “Broken Spoke Meatloaf” is gorgonzola meatloaf with chive mashed potatoes, southern green beans, rosemary and mushroom gravy.
The second floor is the lounge and bar at street level for all sorts of social activities including the share-size menu items. Vintage games are out to play, photo booths open for snapshots, and TVs for sports and events. There is also a fresh sushi bar and an extensive cocktail list. On the menu for the lounge you will find items such as chicken wings (a Nashville favorite); cheese, fruit, nut, and cracker trays; and chips and salsa.
ACME Feed & Seed
Nashville, TN 37201
Fin & Pearl
Sister property to ACME Feed & Seed, Fin & Pearl is Nashville’s first fresh seafood restaurant ‘committed to sustainable sourcing and environmentally friendly practices.’ Going beyond the menu, much of the furniture and glassware is also sustainably sourced. Refresh Glass used for the drinkware is made from recycled wine bottles. The furniture, counters, and ceiling come from Masaya and Company which is dedicated to offering handmade products from sustainably sourced solid wood.
Using the line “sea-to-fork concept,” Fin & Pearl attempts to use the freshest seafood in all its meals. Aside from specializing in seafood, the menu also caters to vegetarians. Fin & Pearl works with suppliers that provide the fish caught by small, privately owned boats who practice sustainable fishing. In addition, local Nashville farms are used as sources for ingredients whenever possible.
At the Ocean Bar, there is a large raw bar menu including both hot and cold oysters, stone crab claws, fresh poke, and caviar.
The breakfast and brunch menus range from farm eggs or chicken and waffles to more elegant options including the hash with fennel lamb sausage, root vegetables, kale, apples, fingerling potatoes, and sunny eggs; or a lobster and crab omelet with ricotta cheese, grilled zucchini, herbs, béarnaise, and house potatoes.
Lunch includes sandwiches and entrees including a po’ boy, the trendy avocado toast, tacos, and jambalaya. There are also smaller midday plates, many appetizers, and a variety of salads.
The dinner menu includes both wild-caught and sustainably farmed options. One entree called the “sweet tea brined pork chop” has roasted sweet potato, collard greens, black cherry gastrique, and apple bourbon chutney as an example of a plate that doesn’t come from the sea.
Fin & Pearl
211 12th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
The Café at Thistle Farms
The Café at Thistle Farms is preparing to re-open September 18-23 when there will be special discounts and events to celebrate. The Café is part of the Thistle Farms community, a nonprofit founded by Becca Stevens in 1997 with a mission to ‘heal, empower, and employ women survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution.’
The food they serve is locally sourced and prepared. Executive Chef Martha Stamps says, “I embrace the healing quality of food as a spiritual act of nourishment. It feeds the cook as well as those who eat.” Along with local ingredients, she also honors local traditions with the meals focusing on using the freshest ingredients to enhance the goodness the food already provides. Working with local providers bolsters the Café’s intention of ‘stewardship and sustainability by being responsible with what the earth gives.’
They work closely alongside one of their farming sources, a part-time manager at the Café who works and lives at Long Hungry Creek Farms during the week and brings deliveries when he comes to work for his shift.
The Café at Thistle Farms
5128 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN 37209
As one of Nashville’s first coffee culture shops, Frothy Monkey also became one of Nashville’s first restaurants to earn a REAL certification-the only national nutritional and sustainability best practices program. Eat REAL (Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership) Tennessee was launched in Nashville in 2013 as part of a statewide initiative aimed to reduce obesity. This allows a REAL representative and Registered Dietician to review the menu and benefits to stay in line with the nutrition and sustainability criteria.
For example, substitutions are available for items such as chips or fries; customers can opt for fruit on the side and omelets with egg whites. Many items are also available in various portion sizes to further assist customers. No soda fountains or deep fryers are in the facility. Higher quality oils such as olive and grapeseed are used in cooking, and dressings are made from scratch.
Many ingredients including dairy, coffee, meat, seafood, eggs, and produce come from local farmers such as Willow Farms, Bloomsbury Farms, Bear Creek Farm, the 12 South Farmers Market, and Bob White Springs. The menu also features seasonal items, which means that the ingredients are at their freshest and most readily available when picked.
Chef Chase Ingalls has crafted a menu that serves the community and the people’s health and happiness. For a taste of the menu, breakfast and brunch are served daily until 5 p.m. and include options like the “Bob,” two whole grain pancakes and sides, customizable bagel sandwiches, parfaits, oatmeal, eggs and meats, omelets, salads, sandwiches, and soups, most with ways to make it just to your taste.
Locations in Nashville, Franklin and Chattanooga
Located in the heart of East Nashville, Wild Cow was opened to give people food that was not only delicious to eat but also healthy and humane. Local farmers provide the produce, much of it organic. The restaurant does not own a microwave or freezer! The menu is designed to serve vegans and vegetarians. Not only those who eat at the restaurant benefit, as Wild Cow chooses a charity each month to donate 2.5% of their sales from every Thursday of that month.
The name Wild Cow comes from the disapproval of the factory farm system that is so harmful to animals. Further, the restaurant owners have chosen not to sell meat and only limited dairy, but the owners have publicly stated that “this is not to shame anyone who is not vegetarian.”
The Cochrans have opened up another restaurant in East Nashville called Graze, which is also ‘plant-based.’
The menu includes appetizers, small plates and sides, a variety of salads all with dressings made in-house. Entree bowls are a unique section of the menu such as “The OG Beans and Greens” with sauteed garlicky kale, pinto beans, and organic brown rice with garlic aioli. The tacos and wraps also have a creative spin with options like sweet potato and black bean tacos and peanut tempeh tacos. Sandwiches are mostly veggie-based, while some have tofu options. All items on the menu are vegan unless the customer chooses to have dairy cheese. The majority of their produce comes from local White Squirrel Farms. Wild Cow is a certified member of Eat REAL Tennessee.
1896 Eastland Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206