Nashville Restaurants and Food
Old School Farm Bar
5022 Old Hydes Ferry Pike
Old School Farm Bar
5022 Old Hydes Ferry Pike
The former Wade School in Bell’s Bend (Scottsboro) has been transformed in the last few years into a sustainable farm, job-training site, CSA and now it includes an excellent restaurant. The Old School Farm is an intriguing idea and the brainchild of Rowan Millar and Susan Richardson. They converted the former school into a lovely space for offices and event catering inside, and nine acres of working farmland outside. That means that the produce and eggs at the Old School Farm Bar are sourced about a hundred yards from the kitchen.
The setting is ideal. The fields surround a spacious and grassy outdoor dining area strung with lights. We haven’t visited yet in warm weather, but we can imagine it is a fabulous atmosphere, especially when those fields are producing. Inside, you will find a warm and inviting dining room. The theme is stylish simplicity. The only misfire is wait staff in flannel and plaid. It’s fine if it’s a personal choice, but if part of an organized look, quite frankly clichéd. It doesn’t fit with the originality of the space or the concept.
Executive Chef Brittany Kane is leading the kitchen and to fine effect. She puts many dishes into high bowls, providing the perfect serving ware for comfort food. The pork belly in a brunch dish is sliced into small chunks and cooked crispy. They’re sprinkled into a dish of creamy grits. It’s a delicious and generous serving and that describes many of the offerings at Old School Farm Bar.
The burgers are standouts on the simple, American menu. The farm burger is topped with an egg and tomato relish. It’s perfectly cooked, juicy and melds with the Sweetwater Valley cheddar cheese and brioche bun for a rich and satisfying sandwich. The thin cut wedge Irish potatoes are herbed and nicely seasoned. Just about everything we tasted was seasoned well. You’ll find this very item served at a number of restaurants in town these days. This version is one of the best in Nashville.
A hummus plate comes out on a huge butcher block serving tray, heaped high with produce to accompany the herbed hummus and inventive take on baba ganoush (almost pesto-like). Those farm fresh carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and mustard greens are an excellent treat, in and of themselves. You can see the advantages to having an onsite farm. It means summer visits will be required to see what Chef Kane does with abundance.
As the name implies, they have a full bar at the Old School Farm Bar. It’s a limited selection, but they put together creative cocktails. A bourbon Old-Fashion is well balanced. A Mezcal margarita is super-tart and smoky. Not for the faint of heart, but a cure for those sugary margarita blues.
Veggie Eater: Aside from the hackneyed plaid shirts, I found little to bitch about. (This is her way of saying she loved the place. –M.E.) I was especially enamored with the fact that the brunch and dinner menus include veggie friendly items-not just as an afterthought, but as part of the innovative foods. Although they do have the obligatory veggie burger, there is nary a portabella sandwich option. (she has become strangely upset by portabellas and veggie burgers in her vegetarian old age-M.E.) Brunch started with a bloody Mary, touting homemade mix. I would have liked mine with more spice, but did not object or speak up. The sweet potato hash, on the other hand, was perfect. Think of sweet potato hashbrowns topped with a hash of chopped wild mushrooms, peppers, and onions. This is adorned with one of the farm fresh eggs. Chorizo can be added for an additional fee for the meat eater’s of the world. By the time I had started with brunch, I was excitedly assessing my menu options for dinner (which occurred less than a week later). For dinner, I was torn between the spaetzle versus the eggplant soufflé. The spaetzle with mushroom goulash ultimately won. Again, I found an ample serving with tiny homemade noodles, wild mushrooms, fried leeks, beets, and tomatoes. I coupled my meal with a mezcal margarita, which provided a nice smoky glow to round out a fine winter meal.
Meat Eater: The Old School Farm Bar has been open for three months. The waitstaff are still settling in, but they are affable and seem proud to be part of the Old School Farm concept. The blackboard lists of cocktails, beers and wines are too far away for us old folks to see. We know it’s a paper waste, but they really do need to be printed.
This Bell’s Bend model for the community shows what the northern end of Davidson County is becoming. It has been home to organic farms for many years. It could provide a rural addition to Nashville’s farm to table effort as well. We hope more people will take a chance, as Rowan Millar and Susan Richardson have done and create other unique ties between the land and the restaurant community. Several of the top restaurants in Nashville are experimenting with their own farms. This takes the concept to a new level. Blackberry Farm and some of the high-end restaurant farms in Tennessee are lovely ideas. We appreciate the fact that Old School Farm is a bit more accessible to the community.
The Farm is easy to get to from almost anywhere in Metro. Simply take Highway 12 exit off of Briley Parkway and head north. Take a left on Old Hickory and then an almost instant right. You’ll see the school next to Scottsboro United Methodist Church.
They serve brunch on Saturday and Sundays. We paid $51 on a brunch visit and $72 with tax and tip on a dinner visit, which included four drinks and an appetizer.