It’s a long road from Puckett’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork to Deacon’s New South steakhouse in the iconic L&C Tower on Church Street in downtown Nashville. Andy Marshall has traversed that path, dotting the map with success after success, and always with huge servings of humility.
Deacon’s, Marshall’s ninth restaurant, raises the bar from down home to uptown. But it does not stray from Marshall’s building blocks of quality, hospitality and atmosphere. It’s not even his first rodeo in downtown Nashville; he has a Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant just one block down the street.
Deacon’s is a treat to the senses before the first nibble or sip. Urban, chic, yet warm, it’s very citified. From first glance inside the door, it feels like Chicago or New York but still smacks of the South.
Sprawled across 7,000 square feet, it’s a mix of industrial chic and old school. Seating is a collection of tufted leather, hardwood and metal. Walls look and feel like old layered plaster. One hosts a mini library of old books on dark wood shelves while another showcases aging meats dangling on the other side of glass panes in the aging room. Others host bottles of wine, a key feature of this steakhouse concept.
While it’s a large space, it is by no means cavernous. The mezzanine level hosts a very well stocked bar, a contemporary seating area and private dining behind glass paned doors. It’s a space conducive for private dining and events, from an office party to a rehearsal dinner.
The main floor of contrasting tables and chairs are lit by an interesting collection of contemporary fixtures dripping from the ceiling. The open kitchen concept is spot on for this casual upscale space and is anchored by a wood-fire grill.
The hardscapes are multi-layered. There’s so much diversity which combines to create intimate dining spaces.
Marshall, who built the Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant brand beginning in Leiper’s Fork, has strayed to other concepts from a modern pub to a Gulf-inspired boathouse. Deacon’s, the newest in the collection, has long been on Marshall’s drawing board.
“I’ve toyed with the idea of a steakhouse for years; it has been a matter of timing and the perfect spot to place it,” he said. “Nashville dining has exploded in recent years. It has become a foodie city. My Puckett’s team has traveled extensively in the last five years for research and development. We’ve visited New York, Chicago, Charleston, Austin and a wealth of other spots recognized for food. All that research has helped define the steakhouse concept.”
Deacon’s serves both lunch and dinner, showcasing dry-aged and wet-aged meats along with robust vegetables, interesting sides and desserts. Wines from around the world populate the deep list of vintages. Jenn McCarthy, a level two sommelier, has been involved in the project from the beginning.
As to the menus themselves, classically trained chef Travis Sparks brought his schooling, travels and talents to the creation, and now execution, of dishes served.
“We chose Travis specifically for Deacon’s,” said Marshall. “He was first a consultant with us during development and is now the executive chef. He’s critical to our success.”
While dinner is the piece de la resistance for this modern steakhouse, lunch earns its own spotlight. Starters juxtapose an Italian inspired house bresaola with crispy chicken wings. An arugula salad is listed alongside a chicken and hominy dish.
Main courses, but of course, include an offering of steaks from filet to a bone-in ribeye. Sandwiches and entrees range from burgers to steamed shellfish along with chicken and pork as well as fire grilled vegetables.
Desserts range from Cola Cake to seasonal baked hand cakes. Think fried pies baked, not fried.
Dinner beckons foodies and oenophiles. The benches are deep for each. More than 140 labels of vintages are there for the choosing. And if you can’t make a decision, the sommelier is on hand to help.
The wine lists highlights Pinot Noirs and Cabernets specifically, alongside impressive French selections. Craft cocktails and spirits are headliners at each of the two bars.
Among the starters are skillet yeast rolls, served in a cast iron skillet. They may well become what corn cakes have long been to Jimmy Kelly’s. A platter of house cured meats accompanied by cheeses from around the world is tantalizing. And how creative is this … chicken fried lobster tails? Very. Coal roasted oysters, another wonderful option. When isn’t oysters and steak not a good combo?
House made soups and crisp fresh salads are the prelude to the stars, dry-aged fork tender steaks and other meats. The porterhouse is Marshall’s own favorite. Other enjoy-every- morsel options include the photo-worthy tomahawk ribeye, filet, New York strip, a serious park chop and my most favorite of meats, rack of lamb.
Non-carnivore, you’re not forgotten. The red carpet is rolled out for you with robust roasted vegetables as well as creamed and braised versions.
Other show stopper entrees include bourbon short ribs that Marshall raves about, roasted duck breast, diver scallops, roasted steelhead, braised Tennessee rabbit, roast chicken and pork shoulder.
Not to be overlooked is the meatloaf which has been elevated to new heights using trimmings from in house aged meats and subtle spices.
The sweet finishes include the baked hand pies, lemon ice box pie breakdown and house made sorbets and ice creams.
Dinner at Deacon’s makes for a delightful evening in its own right, but pairs nicely with the arts and sports in Music City.
And here’s the thing: dinner doesn’t break the bank.
Deacon’s New South
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dinner Sunday through Thursday 4 to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday,
4 to 11 p.m.
$5 valet parking drop off and pick up from front door on Church.
Special events and private dining/parties dates available for the holidays.