The Food Biz: Sloco sandwiches

Tayst owner takes aim at 12South with deli concept. Also: Sperry launches online steak sales

Chef Jeremy Barlow has spent the past eight years building up his business Tayst as a fine-dining destination and Nashville’s first certified green restaurant — while gradually attracting national notice, including cooking a prestigious invited dinner at the James Beard House in New York earlier this month.

Now he just wants to sell you a nice $7 sandwich — with a side order of environmental awareness, if you’re interested.

Barlow has staked out a storefront in the 12th & Paris building at 2905 12th Ave. S. (which formerly housed LB’s Market House and before that Greenlight Market) and is turning it into a lunchtime-only sandwich stop called Sloco. He hopes to open by mid-October. The plan is to make nearly every part of the sandwich — meat, bread, toppings — in house using local or organic ingredients.

The chef said he’s now using 90 to 95 percent locally or regionally grown produce and meat at Tayst, and the relationships he’s built with nearby farmers are helping him put together a creative sandwich menu that sources all the ingredients affordably.

He said that by buying whole hogs and cattle, and using every part of the animal, he can both reduce environmental waste and craft a gourmet lunch at fast-food prices. He’s already preparing to cure the bacon and prosciutto, and he’s fine-tuning the recipes for other things — the “loafless” meatloaf with beef gravy, and a novel alternative to corned beef for the Reuben sandwich: corned pork.

While $7 might not be the exact price for every sandwich, Barlow said his target is to offer a complete lunch featuring a sandwich, chips and a drink for $10. He’s auditioning organic potato chip brands and organic bottled drinks to stock in the cooler at the beginning of the lunch line at Sloco.

There will be only about 15 seats at the counter, but Barlow expects the pace to be brisk. He estimates most sandwiches will take just five minutes to prepare. Steaming will be his heating method of choice for sandwiches. For folks who don’t have time to venture to the 12South neighborhood, Barlow plans to eventually offer delivery via bicycle.

The menu won’t be huge: Barlow’s shooting for 10 “straightforward sandwiches” with beef, pork, chicken and vegetarian options. (There will be a kids’ menu, too. Watch for house-made peanut butter and jam.) There will be some “funky and creative” daily specials as well.

Two of the three breads — sub roll and multigrain loaf — will be made in house, but the gluten-free bread will be baked elsewhere to reduce the risk of accidental contact with wheat spoiling the product.

Each Sloco sandwich will be accompanied by generous heaps of information: what farm raised the veggies and meat, what the farm animals were fed and how many miles the food had to travel to reach your plate. (The goal is to reduce the mileage to save fuel and cut pollution.) And not only will the customer be able to order online, but the environmental info will be listed on the website menu, including the mileage. If an ingredient changes, the site will recalculate in real time.

“We’re all about transparency,” Barlow said. The chef grows animated when talking about his ambitious goals of educating customers about food policy and sustainable farming practices. He’s already contemplating expansion, keeping an eye out for future Sloco locations, possibly downtown.

But as a chef, he has a top priority, saying: “First and foremost, it’s gotta be a kick-ass sandwich.”

Sperry’s online spread

Sperry’s, the longtime steak stalwart with locations in Belle Meade and Cool Springs, has branched out into an unusual direction: online butcher sales.

Last week, Sperry’s announced it has forged a partnership with Kansas-based Creekstone Farms, which supplies the premium Black Angus beef that Sperry’s serves its restaurant clientele, and wholesaler Mattingly Foods to launch A. Thomas Meats.

It’s a store within the Sperry’s website where customers can browse and purchase Creekstone cuts, including filet mignon, center-cut New York strip and prime rib. The steaks come in packs of four or more, in various USDA grades, starting at $20.95. At the risk of sounding like a Sperry’s advert, I will report that the company is currently plugging a 50 percent discount on the “A. Thomas Favorite” gift pack (six 6-ounce center-cut Black Angus Filets and four 12-ounce center-cut strips) that normally sells for $110. If you order in the month of September and use the promo code “steaks,” they’ll throw in a bottle of Sperry’s mysterious All-Purpose Seasoning with your order.