Food & Drink

Simple and Delicious Plates Thrive At Lunch


In the small Middle Tennessee Town of Sewanee, hearty seasonal meals carry on tradition.

Words BY JENNIFER JUSTUSPHOTOGRAPHY BY HOUSTON COFIELD

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A slice of Lemon meringue pie at Lunch. Chef-owner Mallory Grimm teaches pie making at Cumberland Folk School in nearby Sequatchie.


Published

3 May 2024

Reading Time

5 Minutes

Between Nashville and Chattanooga, Interstate 24 rambles over a ridge so steep and treacherous that Johnny Cash cut a track about all the truckers’ lives it’s threatened. But if you brave it, then exit at the top and head west, toward the college town of Sewanee, you’ll find yourself in a forested land of country stores and pottery shops. And eventually, you’ll arrive at a 1930s bank turned restaurant with trim painted the color of moss.

The place is called Lunch, although inside it feels as welcoming as a dinner party. Vases of mountain laurel brighten antique tabletops. Tapers glow. A John Prine tune wafts through the room, along with the aromas of simmering beef stew and fresh-baked brioche.

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Lunch's exterior.
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Lunch time at Lunch.

The slim menu changes weekly and flaunts no excesses. Creativity is expressed within a framework familiar to regulars: students, faculty, hikers, tradespeople. There’s always a frittata, a sandwich, a soup, a salad. Then the main event, a “plate lunch” in the meat-and-three tradition of the region, with modern Appalachian flair and bows to what’s in season.

“I think there's something special about having a nice nourishing meal at lunchtime,” chef-owner Mallory Grimm says. “A treat. A good little reset in the day.”

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Mallory Grimm, chef-owner of Lunch.

Grimm graduated from Sewanee's University of the South in 2015, with a degree in environmental studies. A lifelong cook, she was living in Nashville during the pandemic when she started selling baked goods, pies and prepared foods at a farmers’ market stand. Then she and her partner, Trapp Tubbs, felt a call back to “the mountain” and a life outside the city.

A recent plate lunch at Lunch: a rich pork ragu brightened by preserved summer tomato. It's the collaborative labor of a chef and local farmers, the ethos of a place giving midday comfort. “I want it to be a nourishing meal,” Grimm says. “Wholesome and unique.”

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A colorful Charcuterie plate with chicken liver pate, local Sequatchie Cove Coppinger cheese, pickles and toasted brioche.
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Lunch's charming interior.

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