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The Old School Farm to Table

Bells Bend welcomes a restaurant that matches—and utilizes—the community around it.

Written By:  Nancy Vienneau

Photographers:  Ron Manville

It is used so often that the term “farm-to-table” might seem like little more than a watered-down marketing tool. But The Old School Farm to Table restaurant in Bells Bend embraces the movement in its truest form. Housed within the restored Depression-era Wade School, the charming eatery and pub draws on the bounty of its own farm (which sits, literally, right outside the door), as well as its surrounding community of farmers, for meats, poultry, and produce. Chef Brittany Kane creates seasonally driven menus using hyper-local ingredients: food grown just up the road, over in the hollow, and in nearby backyard plots.

The restaurant, bar, and live music-entertainment venue is another component of MillarRich, a nonprofit whose mission it is to empower developmentally impaired individuals. The school complex also houses offices and a conference center, and the surrounding acreage has been amended to become a producing organic farm, where these individuals learn all facets of sustainable farming.

With a dining hall renovation in keeping with the rest of the 1930s building, The Old School taps into old school sensibilities—in a fresh way.

Sidle up to the bar for a cold brew, or have Jason Noe craft you one of his signature cocktails: The Farmarita is mezcal-based, sparked with kaffir lime cordial, dry curacao, hibiscus syrup, and rhubarb bitters. The heady Nashville Sour floats red wine atop George Dickel Tennessee whiskey swirled with farm honey, bourbon cherry, and lemon juice.

Take a seat at the community table, set with fresh herbs and flowers, for your meal. Throughout the menu are greens of all kinds. Fresh as it gets, they show up in lush salads (like Bells Bend watercress and lettuces paired with blue cheese and fig vinaigrette), as sandwich embellishments (such as mizuna on the lamb burger), and in side dishes (with braised turnip greens, stir-fried baby pak choi, or rapini.)

Burgers are the crowd-pleasers, and you can’t go wrong with a grilled, grass-fed beef patty on a brioche bun, stacked with white cheddar, bacon, pickled onions, and—now that summer is here—a thick slice of heirloom tomato. Another favorite is the fried half chicken. Prepared using free-range birds from neighbor Sulphur Creek Farm, the batter-dipped pieces arrive crunchy and succulent in either traditional or Nashville-hot styles. Summer crops of corn, okra, peppers, and squashes bring vibrant color and flavor to the plates.

Recently expanded to include a live music room, playing host to jug bands, bluegrass, old time fiddlers, and even trivia nights, The Old School has evolved into a convivial gathering place that fits right in with the community of Scottsboro-Bells Bend. And, perhaps one of the best parts, it takes mere minutes to get there.

5022 Old Hydes Ferry Pk., 629-888-9284; theoldschoolnashville.com

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