The Food Biz: Cafe creations

8th & Roast to add kitchen, offer beer and expanded menu

Lesa and Brad Wood, who’ve built a reputation for high-quality coffee roasting over the past four years and opened a coffeehouse, 8th & Roast, in a charmingly renovated storefront on Eighth Avenue in November, always seem to be coming up with new twists to make their ventures more interesting.

By next month, 8th & Roast will be serving both beer and a wider selection of food, prepared in a new kitchen that’s being installed in the 100-year-old building — with a popular local chef at the helm.

The Woods just secured a permit from Metro to serve beer, which will add a welcome accompaniment this Sunday, March 17, when the coffeehouse hosts a pop-up dinner with Otaku South, Sarah Gavigan’s gourmet ramen operation, from 4 to 9 p.m. (No reservations are necessary; it’s a walk-up event.)

Lesa Wood said 8th & Roast’s beer selection is a work in progress, but it will be geared toward products from smaller craft breweries, like the Lily Flagg Milk Stout from Straight to Ale brewery in Huntsville, Ala.

Meanwhile, work is under way on that new kitchen. The Woods are teaming up with respected local chef and baker Sam Tucker, most recently of Watermark, to expand the cafe’s food offerings. The menu is still being developed, but Tucker said he’ll be baking bread and pastries and preparing items for breakfast and lunch, including sandwiches and soups. On Friday and Saturday evenings, he’ll cook up family suppers at the cafe.

Just as the decor delivers a nod to Nashville history with furniture made from wood salvaged from a bygone bowling alley and a downtown lunch counter, Tucker expects his cuisine will acknowledge Southern foodways. But he’s also planning healthy country European options like roasted vegetables. Fresh local ingredients are a given. (“Farm to table is the new norm,” he said.)

Tucker’s known for his skill with gluten-free baking (his wife and son are celiac sufferers), and he said we can expect gluten-free and dairy-free options. It’s part of his philosophy of inclusion when it comes to cooking for people.

“Food is supposed to be a reality show where you’re voted in, not out,” he said, laughing.

8th & Roast is at 2108A Eighth Ave. S. The phone number is 730-8074. The new menu is expected to roll out in mid- to late-April.

• Last month I told you about The Row, a Music Row-themed restaurant and bar in the works to replace Pie in the Sky Pizza in Midtown.

The Row is now a go. It opened Saturday, March 9, after about a month of renovation. The owner is Kelly Black, who also owns Pie in the Sky. He decided to change the site to a concept celebrating the space’s long history as a Music Row hangout.

The Row has a draft wall of local and regional brews, and a “classic and Nashville-themed mixology menu” along with Southern-inspired fresh cuisine.

The Row is at 110 Lyle Ave. The phone number is 321-1224. It serves lunch and dinner daily and brunch on weekends. The patio will open soon.

• Over at the Nashville Scene, my colleague Chris Chamberlain notes that Off the Bone BBQ has taken over the former King Fish space on Monroe Street, just off Eighth, in Germantown.

Ribs, chicken wings, pork shoulder and a less-common specialty, rib tips, are all smoked on the premises. Though King Fish is gone, the Off the Bone menu also includes a whiting sandwich, along with catfish and tilapia.

Off the Bone BBQ is a 708 Monroe St. The phone number is 915-1406.

• Finally, a reminder. The window is closing on the voting for Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef awards. Two Nashville chefs, Roderick Bailey of The Silly Goose and Matthew Lackey of Flyte, are in the running. Go to the Food and Wine website if you want to cast a ballot, but act soon. Voting ends Monday, March 18.