Tayst just reopened recently after doing some major renovations including increasing the size of the windows to allow more natural light into the dining room, and to convert the restaurant to be the 1st and only "green restaurant" in Nashville. Jeremy Barlow, chef and owner, has been cooking local organic foods ever since he opened Tayst in 2003. Some of the farms he sources his food from are the same farms I source my food from. When I cook local organically, I know who grew my food, how they grew my food, and where they grew my food. When I started being serious about eating locally in everything I make, I went to many of the farms to see how my vegetables and meat are raised. Jeremy has done the same, and he knows his food growers and he knows how the food he serves is grown and raised. Jeremy suggests everyone who are able to do so, go and see who is growing their food, and how their food is grown and raised and get really get back into touch with what is nourishing one's body. A couple years ago when we had an early spring followed by a freak week of a hard deep freeze, which killed all fruit blooms, I felt a sadness to my bones when there was no local fruit to be had because I had returned to being in touch with the weather, the land and the food I ate. With such variables as the weather, freeze, drought, flood, Jeremy has to be really in touch with the weather, farms and land to source enough food and variety of food to feed all the hungry patrons over the course of days, weeks and year.
Everything that Jeremy does with Tayst fits into my ideal (which I have not and most likely will never meet) way of eating locally and green. Jeremy is the 1st and still only green restaurant in Nashville, meaning he composts vegetable waste, recycles the recyclable materials like cans paper and glass, he has put 0.5 gal/min flow aerators on the bathroom sinks, and has gotten down to less than one bag of solid waste per day instead of 1/5 of an industrial dumpster per day. There are also conscious and sustainable product use for the table candles, the window treatments, the floor, the wall paints, and the candles on the table. The list goes on, and way beyone what I have done personally at home to go green. As people know, I am in the environmental biz, and I am an advocate for reducing, reusing, recycling and composting, and Jeremy and Tayst does this so well.
The menu concept at Tayst is that every dish is mostly made with locally sourced ingredients, and if they are not locally sourced, they are from sustainable humane sources. The menu is divided up into 3 menus, the small plate bar menu with snacks all under $5, a starter menu with soup, salad, cheese plates, and other smaller fun food, and then the entree menu. The most recent visit I went with the Meet Up group "Nashville Cooks and Jeremy let us use the main dining room to order whatever we wanted from bar to entree to dessert. I opted to do only small plates including wings, cheese, nachos and pork belly because I like to mix and match my food. It was fun, and really nice that the small plates were small enough to leave me room to try others. The nachos were homemade fried crispy tortillas topped with a lamb stew. The caramelized cheese was interesting because it seemed to have been caramelized like you would a creme brulee, with a little sugar. The caramelized sugar seemed to have coffee aroma to it, it was crunchy like a creme brulee topping, and it gave a contrast to the melted cheese bite.
It will be interesting to see what Jeremy does with salad dishes on the menu this summer. As a nation, we have gotten so used to having leafy lettuce at the grocery store all year long, but most lettuce does not grow in the summer heat, and lettuce is really a spring, fall and partially winter vegetable. I do not eat lettuce at home in the summer because it is not available at the farm or my yard. I would like to know what Jeremy does, so I can get ideas on how to make salads at home for the summer time. The last thing I want to mention about Jeremy's choices to serve foie gras and veal. He claims that the animals are humanely raised. The veal is not really supposed to be labeled veal because they meat is from a free range young cow which hung out in pasture. The "veal" on the menu is not from industrial veal fattening pens. Jeremy also knows the farm and raising practice where the foie comes from. It should be known, that geese will eat a lot if there is a lot off food offered to them, and if they have an abundance of food, they will eat it, kind of like pet dogs and some cats. My current pet cat will eat anything and everything in sight, and acts like I have not fed right after she finishes her food in the bowl. With excess food, geese livers become enlarged naturally because they behave just like dogs and cats (and behave like at least 1/3 of the humans in the USA for that matter) when there is too much food, the will over eat. It isn't necessary to gavage.
The last time I was at Tayst, I asked Jeremy if he could Pittsburgh a steak for me. It is thought that the original Pittsburgh rare steak happened on one of Steel City's sheet of steel and a blow torch, and the steak got really hot and charry on the outside while staying cold and rare on the inside. It would be great to be able to get a Pittsburgh rare local free range grass fed steak. Jeremy said he will make it on cast iron, the traditional way. I look forward to my future steak.