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Sean Brock’s Sprawling Project Will Feature Casual Dining and Upstairs Tasting Menu

The Nashville restaurant will be a temple to Appalachian cuisine

Sean Brock Sean Brock

Today WSJ. Magazine gives a glimpse into what Sean Brock has in the works for Nashville dining — and it’s his 10,000-square-foot dream project — an Appalachian-focused compound featuring an approachable downstairs dining room and an upstairs tasting menu.

The two-story building (the name is still pending) is a converted industrial building in East Nashville, and it will be a temple to the cuisine and culture of Appalachia — where Brock was born and raised.

Garnering national spotlight at McCrady’s Tavern and Husk in Charleston, Brock is known as a king of Southern and Lowcountry cooking, but Brock has spent the last few years getting reacquainted with his home in Virginia’s Appalachian coal country bordering Tennessee and Kentucky for his next phase. Brock told the WSJ that growing up he didn’t realize the food he was eating qualified as a cuisine, saying that sour corn, greasy beans, pawpaws were “just what you ate.”

Downstairs, Brock plans an approachable, casual dining room doubling as a Southern folk art museum showcasing his personal collections. An open kitchen with a modestly priced menu “building on Appalachian cooking’s focus on fermentation and mix of Cherokee and German-immigrant traditions.”

The second story 26-seat tasting menu set-up will take a “minimalistic approach to exploring what the future of Southern food is,” Brock told the WSJ. Progressing through three distinct spaces — diners will be welcomed with snacks served on a screened-in porch, then move to a dining room surrounding an open kitchen, then close in a comfortable living room lounge.

Drinks using fresh-pressed produce will be the focus of the second story’s stand-alone cocktail bar. Brock says he’s taking the nonalcoholic pairings he’s been experiencing the last two years and seasoning them with alcohol.

Handling the exterior design is Pfeffer Torode, and Powell Architecture is working on the interior — which intends to combine a modern Japanese aesthetic with vibes of an old-fashioned Appalachian tobacco barn. Construction is set to start this spring.

Last year Sean Brock revealed his plans to double down on Nashville, calling officially Music City home and dreaming up his next restaurant. Since then, he’s spent time returning to his roots to collect stories, recipes, and heirloom seeds — something he says will be vital in the new project.

A podcast on Appalachia called Before It’s Too Late (produced in an on-site recording studio), an heirloom seed bank, Appalachian art, and a mindfulness center focused on mental health for his team are all added elements of the complex, expected to open in late 2019 or early 2020.