As in other interviews, the chefs offer some reasoned observations about what's good about Nashville and why they choose to work here out of all the food cities in the world. And never once do they use the dreaded word "hipster," though another controversial descriptor, "the new Brooklyn," does appear:
Eater: Did you feel it was a risk opening this kind of a restaurant in Nashville, as opposed to somewhere like San Francisco or New York, where it's more common?
JH: You know, I really liked the idea of opening here. The community is super supportive. In cities like New York it can feel like people are going out to eat just to talk about where they've been to eat. Here, it's really about doing it and having a nice time. It's not so much about showing off.
EA: If you're doing something well and aren't an asshole about it, they want to see you grow here.
On the rash of national Nashville coverage:
What's your take on this recent interest in Nashville's food scene?
JH: It's all really good for us and good for business. I don't think this is touched on in these articles, but I think it's important to point out that young people really want to change Nashville and do things in a cool, fresh way. That applies to all sorts of disciplines. There's renewal here. Nashville is the new Brooklyn, that's what I want to say [laughs].
EA: I think it's just emerging. It still has a lot to go. It takes time for people to readjust and for this to build.
Not sure if this can be answered, but what do you think makes these new, young places uniquely Nashville, as opposed to an emerging scene somewhere else?
JH: I think that's a great question. I think part of why our restaurant is working out is that we can do the format you see at restaurants like Ko and Brooklyn Fare but at a lower price, in a really interactive way, and it's extremely laid back, sometimes to a fault.
EA: Yeah, we drink and sometimes say things we shouldn't to customers. We don't filter ourselves so much. We try to be extremely engaging. We won't give you a one word answer. We'll try to make you understand what it is you're interested in, if you want to.
About their plans for the future:
You could feasibly have opened up a high volume restaurant with less ambitious food.
JH:Maybe down the line that'll be more of a priority, but right now we have the restaurant of our dreams.
EA: I'll do it as long as my knees hold up.
What are your goals for the restaurant? Do you see yourself staying in Nashville?
JH: We definitely want to stay in Nashville, especially if there are more opportunities.
EA: We still have a lot to do here. We started eight months ago. We don't really think about awards. We think about making it a better and better restaurant.
And on the issue of those pesky restaurant critics:
Finally, how do you guys deal with critics?
JH: There's nothing we can do differently, honestly. Except if [Esquire restaurant writer] John Mariani comes in, because that guy can suck a dick.
EA: He sends in a rider, like a band.
JH: But as far as the rest of them, we do look at a sheet that tells us who is coming in.
It's very few people a night, so if we want to know who someone is before they come in, we can.
EA: As far as local critics, we have like three, and they're all extremely nice.