Chef Sean Brock has opened four restaurants in Nashville in the last two years, an amazing accomplishment made only more so because it took place during the pandemic. June, his latest and most ambitious project yet, completes a quartet that includes Joyland, The Continental and Audrey. This latest addition to his roster, located in the McFerrin Park building that also houses Audrey, is not to be missed.
At June, guests savor a tasting menu of 18-22 courses, each exploring the ingredients of Sean’s Appalachian roots and also creating a vibrant, modern cuisine that builds bite after bite. “It’s a beautiful way to cook, to show hospitality,” says Sean, who admits to being obsessed with tasting menus. The experience unfolds in acts, beginning canapés, followed by dishes inspired by water — abalone recently — and earth — think Waygu beef — and ending with desserts. The menu changes every six weeks for eight menus a year, which not only takes advantage of familiar and unique ingredients at the peak of quality but also provides a delicious reason to return on a regular basis.
What to Expect
Diners need to plan ahead as reservations are released on the first of the month for the following month. For example, reservations for December open on November 1. The tariff is $250 per person, with the option to add a remarkably delicious, zero-proof pairing or regular drink pairing. In spite of tasting menu reputations and price tags, June has an unexpected relaxed feel. The dining room is filled with natural wood and bathed in natural light, with subtle pops of color from the artwork. There are only 32 seats at nine tables and five at the bar, and every guest can see into the open kitchen as chefs, including Sean, create and plate dishes.
Sean takes a scientific and creative approach to working with organic, biodynamic and sustainable ingredients in new creative and scientific ways. The research and development lab, on full view from the dining room, provides a look at how his team breaks down ingredients, seasons and intensifies them, and unlocks their hidden flavors. In the lab, “we've found unique ways of using the remains of products," he says. "[We] salt it, evaporate it, squeeze out the juice and make a syrup of vegetable byproducts that would otherwise go into the trash.” The result is delicious.
The dining experience alone is unbelievably satisfying, but those wanting a little more can always arrive early to enjoy a beverage at the Bar at Audrey. Adjacent to June, the zen-like setting offers a short menu of five cocktails created by Bar Director Jon Howard. The offerings change daily, and beverages are made from only three seasonal ingredients, all locally-sourced and reflecting the Appalachian-inspired spirit of June. As a bonus, patrons get a sneak peek at the lab.