Morales says the menu draws from everything he's learned traveling to world to feed crew and cast members on movie and TV shoots. But as the name suggests, The Southern is at heart an homage to the foodways of the South, something Morales and his general manager, daughter Kendall, have the bona fides to deliver.
And after all, the food of our region has surged in popularity in points far north. "Southern food is hot," Fox notes. "And not just in a cayenne-crusted, cast-iron kind of way."
But what's especially unique about The Southern is its location:
Housed in the ground floor of the gleaming Pinnacle building, in a sunlit room adorned with dark woods, tiny tiles, architectural salvage and black-and-white photos of the city's recent and distant history, The Southern needs little embellishment to convey its sense of place. It is, after all, located at the crossroads where the Country Music Hall of Fame meets Schermerhorn Symphony Center, down the street from the sprawling Music City Center. Surely no address in town more picturesquely embodies the merger of Nashville's musical past and present and its significance as a center of commerce, entertainment and tourism.
In the shadow of almost a billion dollars of recent capital improvement, Morales & Co. provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to the cast of characters — locals and tourists alike — filtering through the city's newest civic landmarks.
As befits the name, The Southern serves a bounty of oysters from different regions, and locally sourced grass-fed beef:
On the beef side of the ledger, The Southern is a welcome new answer to the popular request for steakhouse recommendations. Grass-fed offerings from Bear Creek Farm in Leipers Fork include a ribeye with fries and asparagus ($29), 24-ounce T-bone with onion rings and green beans ($48), strip steak, and filets available in 8- and 12-ounce portions.
For the Nudie Suit — a playfully named homage to the country music wardrobe designer — the customer takes a trip to the copper-clad back counter by the open kitchen, where she tells the butcher exactly how thick to cut the steak. It's a festive way to order your meal, since you get to parade through the bustling room to select your percentage-of-pound of flesh on a Himalayan salt block.
That can get a little expensive at $3.75 per pound (the market price that night), but Fox says there's a wide spectrum of price points on the menu. "We found both the best value and the most culinary intrigue on the so-called "Anytime" menu. Ranging from $4 to $14, the all-day offerings worked well for lunch, happy hour or dinner, with small plates that could be shared, or paired with salads to make a larger meal."
And unless you're a hardcore biscuit hater (we have a few of those amongst our readership on Bites), "You're going to want to budget some appetite for soft-baked cheese biscuits that melt in your mouth," Fox says.