CLOSED – IvyWild Brings Seasonal Fare to Sewanee

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IvyWild Restaurant

Editor’s note: IvyWild closed in 2018. A new pizza place, Octoπ, has opened in its location.

Keri Moser’s idea of opening a restaurant in Sewanee, Tenn., was met with groans, most with a common thread, from family and friends: “Here we go again.”

After having owned a deli-style eatery in nearby Cowan for two years, she shut its doors with a case of burnout. Five years later, she opened IvyWild in an unassuming gray building, a former dry cleaner. Now celebrating its fourth year in business, it has rapidly grown to be one of the most-popular restaurants on Monteagle Mountain. In getting there, though, she’s learned a valuable lesson: The work is difficult and never-ending.

“You can’t work as hard as you have to work to own a restaurant and not believe 100 percent in what you’re doing,” Moser says.

She describes IvyWild’s menu as progressive American with a focus on local, seasonal foods, such as burgers made with beef from Tennessee’s Sequatchie Cove Farms. Equally important, though, is the creative edge she applies to every dish.

“Each one is a work of art,” she says.

IvyWild Restaurant

IvyWild chef Keri Moser

IvyWild’s menu is ever-changing, so it’s hard to name favorites, but patrons never fail to ask for the Smoked Gouda Grits made with grits from nearby Falls Mill.

“We try to offer our guests a taste of cutting-edge food,” Moser says. “Our team is dedicated, passionate and excited about the food we serve.”

Owning a restaurant in a college town – the University of the South is right next door – intrigues Moser. “The people who live and pass through here are world travelers with sophisticated palates,” she says. “This town was hungry for serious food.” And Moser gives it to them with dishes like Peaches and Pork Cornbread or Rabbit in the Rye, made with rye whiskey and fiddlehead ferns.

 

IvyWild Restaurant

“Keri is original and passionate about creating a dinner to be savored,” frequent diner JoAnn McKiernan says.

“We’re working hard to educate travelers about Sewanee and the amazing array of restaurants available here,” Moser adds. “Word is definitely starting to spread.”

In fact, culinary magazine StarChefs.com recently named her a rising star. “IvyWild is the best little restaurant you’ve never heard of,” they said. “We guarantee it’s worth pulling off exit 134 for a chance to eat Chef Keri Moser’s playful, offbeat cuisine.” After all, what other restaurants serve duck pastrami?

Moser says the award has garnered a lot of attention. “It’s opened so many doors for us,” she says. “I feel like we’re on a new trajectory that will bring more attention from the world outside Tennessee in years to come.” – Anne Braly

The Dish on IvyWild

Location: 36 Ball Park Road, Sewanee, TN 37375
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. (central time) Thursday through Sunday
Phone: (931) 598-9000
Website: ivywildsewanee.com
As always, please call ahead before making plans or traveling long distances.

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