Southern Agenda

All Sizzle, All Steak

An illustration of a person with a fork and knife behind a steak

Illustration: Tim Bower

So many contemporary steak houses are shiny, clubby affairs, where the asking prices for massive hunks of beef climb to upwards of a hundred dollars. But Nashville’s iconic Sperry’s Restaurant, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, is a more approachable old-school outfit, despite its tony Belle Meade address. In the English-inspired dining room centered around a large stone fireplace, even the choicest cuts top out at around fifty bucks. And locals line up for the five-dollar martini happy hour. “Steeped in Nashville history, Sperry’s is like your favorite pair of old shoes: It’s comfortable and reliable; there’s no intimidation factor,” says the co-owner Al Thomas, who runs it along with his wife, Trish. Thomas purchased the place from his father and uncle in 2000 after stints at the Hillstone Restaurant Group. “I spent months fine-tuning our recipes,” he says, because until his arrival, the haphazardly jotted-down instructions for Sperry’s standards like twice-baked potatoes and creamed spinach only existed in notebooks and on napkins. “We don’t want to be doers of all and masters of none. Consistency is key.” You might say it’s also the secret to the restaurant’s success and why Nashvillians continue to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, and holiday dinners here, stopping to chat with friends and neighbors on the way to the venerated salad bar or lingering over that last bite of homemade peppermint ice cream running with rum-spiked chocolate sauce.