Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sol's Hot New Sister Restaurant Has a Southern Twist

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Jason McConnell, the chef who's made a huge mark on downtown Franklin with Red Pony (casual, Southern-influenced fine dining) and Sol (colorful, authentic Mexican cuisine) is about to bring a new concept to the downtown square.

click to enlarge 55south-front-temp_opt-1.jpg
On Jan. 20, McConnell plans to open 55 South, a rustic take on down-home Southern comfort food. The chef is supervising major construction, but he isn't taking on a new space. He's carving out part of Sol to accommodate the new restaurant.

McConnell (who has a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and spent five years at F. Scott's in Nashville) said that despite Sol's popularity, it's been a challenge to run a single restaurant in such a large, sprawling space.

"We are bringing the building back to the true essence and character of downtown Franklin, offering two intimate, quaint and charming options," he said in a release Wednesday.

The new restaurant will occupy the part of the building that faces Main Street. The cafe's name, 55 South, refers to the highway that connects Memphis and New Orleans, and McConnell is giving the room a rustic Southern makeover, with weathered wood and reclaimed materials.

Fresh oysters will be a big part of the menu, along with Southern-inspired bar snacks (fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade) and New Orleans cuisine (gumbo, crawfish étouffée, spice-dusted redfish). Check the restaurant's site to get a PDF of the menu.

After the renovation, meanwhile, Sol will reopen in the part of the building that faces Fourth Avenue. In its new, more intimate form, it will seat 65 diners. The menu of fresh, upscale Mexican fare and lineup of premium wines and tequila drinks won't change.

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