The ikinari steak (served on a sizzling plate) at The Green Pheasant is composed of four key ingredients: skirt steak, corn, onion, and miso brown butter. The miso, a traditional, often funky, Japanese ingredient brings salty, layered flavor to the Marmilu Farms American beef, and the miso plays a central role in the dish while telling a story of Japanese cuisine with regard to local-to-us ingredients. Since opening over a year ago, The Green Pheasant has come to represent an imaginative approach to dishes spanning cultures. Luckily for design-minded diners, they adopted the same perspective with their interiors.
The 184-seat, Japanese-inspired restaurant balances an upscale approach with playful colorways for an overall vibe that is less predictable than many of its Downtown neighbors. Its layout revolves around a 24-seat bar that, according to Seed Hospitality Founder Patrick Burke, feeds the high energy of the restaurant. For the full experience, Burke suggests starting at the bar with a cocktail and moving to an oversized booth, wallpaper-wrapped private dining room, mezzanine, or window-side table for your meal. Although, he also admits you can enjoy the entire menu, which is moving towards a focus on sushi, steak, and seafood for dinner and is driven by ramen and bento boxes for lunch, without leaving the bar.
Named the winner of Eater’s 2019 Design of the Year Award, The Green Pheasant flaunts a fresh perspective signifying a welcomed shift away from minimalist interiors. Partners Patrick Burke, Jess Benefield, and Trey Burnette recruited Powell Architecture + Building Studio for the restaurant’s design needs. The boutique design-build firm has earned a reputation for their eye-catching interiors displayed in restaurants around the city (including The Green Pheasant’s sister restaurant, Two Ten Jack.)
“I have never been scared of color, but Nashville maintains a pretty restrained palette,” Powell Architecture + Building Studio Partner Katie Vance explains. “We wanted something new, different, and bold, and it felt like we could take that risk on this project.” Led by Vance, the firm is responsible for bringing jewel tones and touches of local craftsmanship into The Green Pheasant while borrowing inspiration from Japanese culture. The focus was on creating inviting dining spaces where guests are encouraged to stay awhile; the restaurant is divided into a handful of bustling sections that flaunt unexpected elements of design.
Lush mustard yellow bar stools establish a bold color palette of deep turquoise, plush red, and pops of yellow against softer blues and natural hues. Above the bar hangs an origami art installation by Nashville’s own New Hat Projects as a somewhat subtle reference to the Japanese art. The screens between the bar and riverfront-facing dining area are the patterns from the unfolded origami pieces — a more understated nod. A painted mirror in the Kitto Katsu parlor shows that the place doesn’t take itself too seriously, and ruby red plush velvet banquettes are a welcoming place to sink in and soak up your surroundings. Oh, and the toilets are heated. With details like the metalwork by Ferrin IronWorks; furnishings by Matt Alexander (Holler Design) and Chris Barber (Barber Woodworking); architectural concrete by Set in Stone; and electrical by Adam Gatchel/Southern Lights Electric, the interiors evoke all of the originality of the cleverly constructed menu.