For nearly a century, the 1876 Victorian building located at 332 Main St. in historic downtown Franklin, was home to the town pharmacy, Gray Drug Co. Now, the three-story, meticulously renovated building is home to Gray’s on Main, offering food and cocktails with a nod to the past while still keeping things current.
Gray’s on Main works hard to pay respect to the rich history that is Franklin’s. The folks at Gray’s use its storied past to seed the inspiration for fresh food and drink menus, which change with every new season. This fall, the changes evoke images of cozy dinners in a romantic setting, with craft cocktails and leisure meals of seasonal food prepared in delightful and unexpected ways.
While history is important to Gray’s on Main, owners Joni and Michael Cole also believe that the menu must be refreshed and updated as the seasons change. The fall menu at Gray’s, in the words of Chef Donald Counts, has some serious game … literally, as he’s referring to the wild boar, duck and pheasant that will be plated up.
“Fall is the season that you turn toward foods that are rich and have depth. But in addition to the usual steak, we turned to game protein,” says Counts.
The menu change means new offerings that still follow the Southern tradition with locally sourced foods, a mantra that serves as the backbone of everything Gray’s does. Along with the Coles and the rest of the staff, Counts spends weeks perfecting and tasting for each menu change.
“We sit family-style and pass plates. Sometimes it is universal … everyone loves a dish. Sometimes we tweak it and try again,” laughs Counts.
The dishes that made the cut for fall include a pheasant breast stuffed with grilled jalapeño and smoked white cheddar, wrapped in Benton’s bacon with a fig and bourbon barbecue sauce, and a marinated wild boar chop with hazelnut and fig vinegar.
Counts says that sometimes the simple offerings, based on what is in season, are the surprising hits at the tastings.
“Everyone loved the sautéed kalette, a vegetable that is a mix of kale and Brussels sprouts. Simple and seasonal, but it pairs with the richer proteins beautifully,” says Counts.
The food isn’t the only thing getting a fall refresh at Gray’s on Main. The cocktail menu is also enjoying a facelift. Gray’s works with Jon and Lindsay Yeager, who own PourTaste, a beverage consultancy, to create seasonal cocktails.
“The prism of the entire bar program is viewed through what people were drinking when these bricks were laid. There is a lot of history in the mix,” says Jon Yeager, who creates housemade tonics, syrups and even kola (yes, that is the spelling!) for Gray’s.
“Our Gray’s House Kola is a homemade kola syrup with sparkling water, ground African kola nuts, cardamom, ginger, Demerara sugar and citric acid. We make the syrup, add Armagnac and cherry brandy. It is an upscale, grown-up cherry Coke,” says Yeager.
Other fall cocktail favorites include the Boneset and Spruce, a cocktail created for the 2014 Heritage Ball, that Yeager says was conceived with a nod toward Franklin’s history.
“There was a DIY alcohol movement 150 years ago in Franklin. We are interpreting those flavor profiles … cognac and rum with lemon and molasses. Boneset is a local wild plant that, when dried, becomes a bitter-ing agent. We make bitters out of it,” says Yeager.
Taste all of these flavors and more for yourself with a visit to Gray’s on Main. Tell them you read about them on StyleBlueprint!
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