With Gravy, Has Southern Food Officially Jumped the Shark?


It was only a matter of time before New York’s sudden surfeit of buttermilk biscuits, stone-ground grits, faux-homey “smokehouses,” and tastefully sourced, reservations-only fried chicken would be taken to its inevitable, shark-vaulting end. And thanks to Gravy, the end is nigh.

Gravy, per its ominous press release, is a 145-seat, 6,000-square-foot restaurant set to open on East 21st Street at some point this spring. When it does, it will bestow “flavors of the American South” upon New York. Those flavors will be the work of a “strategic operations-oriented restaurant management group.” A “culinary concept chef,” Michael Vignola, will oversee the menu, which promises to be “market-driven” (aren’t all restaurants, technically speaking, market-driven?) and deliver “modern riffs on Southern classics,” possibly in the same way a cow riffs on methane gas.

Now that the flavors of the American South are getting their strategic operations-oriented, 14-seat marble-bar treatment, it’s possible to look back at all of those seemingly innocent pecan hand pies and artisanal pimento spreads and weep retrospective tears. The South has fallen yet again, this time into a vat of corporate-branded drippings.