Snail of Approval

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Slow Food Middle Tennessee’s "Snail of Approval" program is our way of publicly honoring local restaurants that share our commitment toward “good, clean, and fair food for all.”

Through this program, we strive to create transparency for Middle Tennesseans around buzzwords like “local,” “sustainable,” and “farm-to-table” and to honor restaurants and eateries that live up to these ideals. Food must taste good and be good for us.

Congratulations to our summer 2018 Snail recipients! 

Our first-ever Snail of Approval recipients span a range of cuisines and neighborhoods, and we're honored to have them representing the Middle Tennessee region. Learn why we awarded each a Snail below.

 
Henley
| Nashville

When you first walk into this Midtown restaurant, you’re immediately struck by its lavish bar and Art Deco decor, but there’s so much more to Henley than what meets the eye. Henley reports that approximately 95 percent of its produce and meat is grown and raised within a 150-mile radius of the restaurant. Sourcing from the likes of Bear Creek Farms and Gifford’s Bacon, the meat served at Henley is pasture-raised and rotationally grazed. As it enters its second year in business, Henley aims to add more nose-to-tail dishes to its menu. Sustainability is one of the core tenants of Henley’s operations. It is about to start a composting program and only uses biodegradable, non-Styrofoam takeout containers. 

Henrietta Red | Nashville

In a landlocked state where catfish reigns supreme, finding quality seafood isn’t easy, but rest assured that what you’re getting at Henrietta Red is fresh. This Germantown hotspot serves sustainably caught fish, and its oysters are farm-raised, which are actually better for the environment than wild-caught oysters as farmers are careful to protect seafloor habitats when harvesting. In 2017, Henrietta Red diverted more than 36,000 pounds of waste from landfills through its composting efforts. Involved in the community, Henrietta Red has donated its space to Second Harvest Food Bank for its largest fundraiser of the year and raised over $8,000 for Share Our Strength in spring 2018. 

Husk | Nashville

“If it doesn’t come through the South, it doesn’t come through the door.” That’s the philosophy of Husk, a leader in the region’s farm-to-table movement. At least 60 percent of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced in and around Nashville, including nearly all of its produce, the majority of which is organic. The rest of its ingredients are sourced from neighboring states. What doesn’t end up on the plate is transformed into stocks, pickles, and preserves or is sent to Bear Creek Farm to feed its pigs. Husk is also known for using a variety of heritage ingredients in its dishes. Its coffee and chocolate is fair-trade, too.

Margot Café & Bar | Nashville

Before “farm-to-table” became a buzzword, Margot Cafe & Bar had long been Nashville’s standard-bearer. The restaurant has forged personal relationships with many of its local suppliers, and 50 to 70 percent of its produce and meats are raised within 150 miles of the restaurant depending on the season. It is committed to using every part of the animal that it receives, and it was one of the first restaurants in Nashville to ensure that its seafood is sustainably caught and farmed. Employees are fed, offered insurance, and paid $12 an hour — exceeding Tennessee’s living wage baseline of $11.24. 

Nicky's Coal Fired | Nashville 

Abiding by the Slow Food values best encapsulated by traditional Italian cuisine, Nicky’s Coal Fired cuts no corners. Nicky’s charcuterie is house-made, and many of its herbs comes from the restaurant’s own garden on the patio. The restaurant sources from Nashville Grown for the majority of its ingredients and has a close relationship with Bear Creek Farm. Chef Tony Galzin has been a supporter of Slow Food Middle Tennessee since day one, serving on the board of the chapter and offering up a space for our meetings. 

The Old School | Nashville

Situated on a sustainable farm in Bells Bend, just 10 minutes outside of downtown Nashville, The Old School restaurant prepares dishes that feature many ingredients grown just feet away from your table. The restaurant utilizes many different cuts of meats — from tails to trotters, livers to shanks — in an effort to reduce food waste. The adjoining Old School Farm is a nonprofit that provides employment to individuals of all abilities. The restaurant composts and recycles and has very little food waste due to a regularly rotating menu. 

Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile | Nunnelly

In the small community of Nunnelly, less than an hour’s drive west of Nashville, Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile has sought to be a haven for those with food allergies and intolerances. The restaurant’s fryer is kept free of gluten and its grill free of dairy. Once considered a food desert, the community can now look to the restaurant for nutrient-rich and nourishing meals. Pinewood Kitchen has its own farm, with 96 percent of its produce and 99 percent of its meat being grown and raised on the same land as the restaurant. The restaurant feeds all of its employees for free, including its farm crew, and it is common for locals to swap homegrown produce for a meal at the restaurant. Operating on a “pay it forward” system, no one is ever turned away from the restaurant due to an inability to pay. Meals are just $2 for first responders. 

Two Ten Jack | Nashville 

Best known for its innovative take on ramen and sushi, East Nashville’s Two Ten Jack sources much of its ingredients locally while still brining out the traditional flavors of Japanese cuisine. Roughly 70 percent of the restaurant’s meat and produce is considered local. While the restaurant can’t source its speciality fish and Japanese citrus locally, it seeks out small, family-run operations. Two Ten Jack’s seafood suppliers — Evan’s Meats and Honolulu Fish Co. — are both known for their sustainable practices by not supporting mass trolling, netting, or dragging. Two Ten Jack is also heavily involved with the community, hosting fundraising events and donating a percentage of sales to nonprofits such as The Land Trust for Tennessee, Nashville’s Sexual Assault Center, the Martha O’Bryan Center, and The Nashville Food Project. 


Apply

Are you the manager, chef, or owner of a restaurant in Middle Tennessee that embodies Slow Food's values? Click the button below and email your application to middletn [at] slowfood [dot] org. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The next round of Snails will be awarded in October, and applicants must apply by Sept. 14 to be considered.


Nominate

Know of a restaurant that embodies Slow Food's values? Tell us! 


FAQ

What is Slow Food? 

Slow Food is an international nonprofit organization that was founded in 1989 and believes in the importance of “good, clean, and fair food for all.” The Middle Tennessee chapter of Slow Food was founded in 2017 to serve the local food community. We believe in celebrating regional flavors, growing produce and raising meat in a sustainable and ethical manner, and championing food as a universal right.

What is the “Snail of Approval” program?

“Snail of Approval” is Slow Food Middle Tennessee’s way of publicly honoring local restaurants that share our commitment toward “good, clean, and fair food for all.” Through this program, we strive to create transparency for Middle Tennesseans around buzzwords like “local,” “sustainable,” and "farm-to-table" to honor restaurants and eateries that live up to these ideals. Food must taste good and be good for us.

Who is eligible to receive a “Snail of Approval”?

Restaurants in the Middle Tennessee area that have been open for at least one year and meet the criteria outlined in our “Snail of Approval” application.

Who can nominate a restaurant for a Snail?

Anyone and everyone in Middle Tennessee!

How does the application process work?

Applications and nominations are accepted on a rolling basis, but Snails are awarded quarterly.  

What is the benefit of having a “Snail of Approval”?

Let us count them!

  1. Special designation as a restaurant that meets Slow Food’s “Snail of Approval”
  2. Dedicated space on our website that notes your commitment to Slow Food values
  3. Official “Snail of Approval” window cling and/or plaque to display in your restaurant
  4. “Snail Spotlight” promotion on Slow Food Middle TN’s social media channels
  5. Opportunities to partner with Slow Food Middle TN
  6. Exposure to Middle Tennessee residents who care about food in the same way you do

If I patronize restaurants that have earned a Snail, am I supporting Slow Food?

While you are not directly supporting the organization, but you are supporting causes we believe in. Slow Food Middle Tennessee receives no financial gain from promoting “Snail of Approval” restaurants.

Can you guarantee that all food at approved restaurants is “slow,” sustainable, organic, fair-trade, etc.?

We vet all restaurants to the best of our ability and ask that applications are answered honestly, but we cannot guarantee that all food at an approved restaurant meets 100 percent of our criteria.

There are many facets of the Slow Food movement, and we wish to honor restaurants that are making strides toward real progress, even if that means there’s room for improvement. For instance, if a restaurant sources its produce from small-scale, local farmers and pays its employees a living wage but imports salmon from Alaska or wine from Europe, the restaurant is still eligible to receive a Snail. We judge applications holistically and believe that “perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of good.”

Whenever possible, we publish the exact qualifications each restaurant has met. In this way, we hope to promote transparency in the food community and encourage restaurants to take more measures to promote Slow Food values.