Sunday, January 1, 2012
2905 12th Avenue South
It’s not unusual for a successful owner/chef to start a new restaurant. Jeremy Barlow of Tayst certainly has the credentials and reputation in Nashville to start a new joint. What’s cool is that he is tackling a whole new concept in the process. The focus of his new 12 South sandwich joint Sloco is quality, locally sourced food, served quickly. Barlow describes it as his vision for what “fast food” can be.
Sloco is a narrow space and that doesn’t leave much room for dining. They have seating for about 8 or 10 people at a sliver of a counter. But Sloco is primarily designed for take-out. The neighborhood seems to have embraced the concept. The restaurant put a call out for cool lunchboxes and people have responded. Witness the array of cartoon and movie boxes displayed above the prep area. We’re there when a woman brings in a Star Wars lunchbox that stops the sandwich making for a moment as everyone oohs and ahs. The joy in that little exchange shows the connection that Sloco has already built with neighbors and visitors alike. It’s a comfortable and warm vibe.
Sandwiches come wrapped in brown paper for recycling. Pick a re-purposed tomato jar to fill a glass of water, sometimes flavored with herbs or whatever strikes their fancy. Tayst has been at the forefront of the environmentally responsible, locally sourced food movement for some time now. At Sloco the effort means that you’ll find seasonal, locally grown and raised ingredients. We arrived at chicken roasting time and the aroma was magnificent. Mustards and other sauces are house-made. They bake their own bread in house and take great care in selecting ingredients.
The menu is simple: just 12 sandwiches. The Pastrami is juicier and mellower than the usual and given little bursts of extra flavor with a unique pickled relish and micro herbs. The chewy roll is sized just right. It’s not a huge sandwich and some have complained about price versus portions. We found the portion size to be just right for lunch and we’ll trade quality over quantity any day. The $8 for the pastrami feels like a fair deal. The Redneck Reuben substitutes pork and slaw for the corned beef and kraut. The pork is corned, and yet subtly so. The slaw proves tangy and melds well with the pork.
There are three vegetarian options on the menu and all three appear to be vegan. The Slow Roasted Veggie sandwich is served on thick, herbed multi-grain bread which is really good but rather overwhelms the delicate marinated veggies. There’s enticing flavors there, just not well-balanced in this particular construction.
Veggie Eater: As noted above, Sloco had three veggie dedicated sandwiches when we visited and I opted for the Vegan Meatball. The balls are nutty and spiked with little pearls of red quinoa, and topped with a creamy vegan daiya mozzarella. The sauce is sprightly and accented with minced fresh parsley. It’s a filling and satisfying affair. The “dining” area is bedecked with posters espousing their philosophy about locally sourced food, in reasonable portions, for realistic prices. It’s a great place to duck in for a quick meal, stock up on left over mason jars, and take in the rapport between staff and patrons.
Meat Eater: The crumbly cookies are worthy deserts in either chocolate chip (huge chunks of chocolate) or peanut butter. Right now sides are limited to avocado oil potato chips and pickles. We appreciate the simple menu, but perhaps one day they’ll add more sides to the menu. We would be excited to taste what Barlow and friends cook up.
We paid $22 with tax and tip on one visit and $16 on another visit.