Nashville: The SloCo Cuban Terrine Sandwich Could Save The World

Jeremy Barlow is the chef/owner of tāyst, Nashville's first green-certified restaurant. He is also the author of Chefs Can Change the World, something of a manifesto where Barlow asks everyone who prepares, serves, purchases or consumes food to consider how "our health, our environment, our energy, our economy, and our security are inextricably tied to the food system." He also calls for chefs to use their "purchasing power to achieve a food system that is not just sustainable, but restorative."

So it was no surprise when Barlow decided to open a small sandwich shop in Nashville's burgeoning 12South neighborhood that SloCo would be dedicated to creating food from local, organic sources while seeking to maintain as small of an environmental footprint as possible. Nashvillians have various theories as to the meaning of the shop's name. "Slow and local" or "that dude's Loco for trying to compete with all the sandwich chains in this town!"

Indeed, SloCo uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, even listing the total mileage traveled by all the elements of their sandwiches right on the menu. It's strictly seasonal: if an item is not available from a local farmer, don't expect to see tomatoes on your sandwich in February or lettuce in December. Instead, the creative staff substitutes whatever is fresh and delicious for their roster of sandwiches like Loafless Meatloaf, Shaved Seitan, Vegan Meatball Sub or the Redneck Reuben.

Don't let the menu give you the impression that Barlow doesn't like meat though. On the contrary, he is a huge proponent of whole-animal usage and even provides a virtual butcher shop for neighbors who would like to share in the animals he breaks down in his shop. That's why when it came time to choose the first sandwich special for his new venture, the Cuban Terrine was a natural pick.

"We called it a terrine because the words 'head cheese' frighten people," he admits. "They think of gelatinous goo with chunks of meat floating in it." Barlow receives a whole hog at the restaurant about once a month. "It's really a theater moment. Because there's so little parking in the neighborhood, we have to double-park the truck in the street in front of the store and wheel the hog through the front door."

Barlow butchers the hogs in the front window of SloCo, partly because there's no other space in the store and also as an opportunity to create an educational moment for customers that is true to the mission of the operation. "The only people who seem really grossed out are adults from age 20-40. Younger folks are fascinated by the process, and we try to teach them that this is a reality of where their food comes from."

Many of the younger kids want to take a picture with the head for their Lord of the Flies moment. Older patrons are more familiar with the fact that their pork actually comes from a pig and wax rhapsodic about the agrarian days of the past.

The terrine is made from the head cheese seasoned with coriander and caraway and served on a house-made whole wheat organic sub roll. Topped with a line of pickles and a dollop of mustard that are both made in-house, the Cuban is finished off with Coppinger cheese from nearby Sequatchie Cove Farm.

Not only is it a delicious sandwich, but Barlow is perhaps proudest of the fact that the total distance traveled by all the ingredients to his kitchen is much less than 500 miles. In most fast food environments, the average ingredient travels 1,500-2,500 miles. Since, the average sandwich has seven ingredients, this means that the average American sandwich travels a staggering 14,000 miles. Thanks to their dedication to "Makin' Rockin' Sammies Quickly and Affordably," more and more people are starting to travel the miles to visit SloCo.


2905 12th Ave S

Nashville, TN 37204