Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mary’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Mary’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que
1108 Jefferson Street

Mary’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que has been catering to lunch crowds and late night diners for years. The Jefferson Street joint keeps some amazing hours: 8am to midnight during the week and until 2am on the weekend. It used to be take-out only. Recently they expanded with indoor seating. Barbecue places tend to inspire fierce loyalty and criticism. Mary’s has experienced both. I think I’ll come down squarely in the middle on this one.

I’ve eaten at Mary’s several times. I started with the regular rib sandwich, which is a sizeable quarter slab on two pieces of white bread. The ribs are a bit chewy, a bit moist and with a nice flavor. They’re not the ribs of my dreams but I’d put them up against a lot of places in town. Mary’s is known for the pork shoulder on corncakes. You can choose between mild, sweet and hot sauce. The mild sauce has plenty of kick and I’m told the hot will really wake you up. I originally asked for the sweet, creamy cole slaw on the side. I took a couple of bites of my sandwich and quickly put the slaw on top where it belongs. The pork is pretty much straight, no smoke or spice. It’s moist enough, but you need the sauce to jazz it up. The same goes with the entire sandwich. I needed the slaw on top to really get it going. It’s not the best pork shoulder in town by any means. It is a fine lunch.

You can get rib tips, a full slab, polish sausage, fish and chicken. I know some people swear by the Mary’s chicken. That will be a good reason for another trip. I paid $5.50 including tax for the sandwich. The ribs run about $9 for the regular rib sandwich and $20 for the full slab.

Mary's Pit Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Knockout Wings

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Knockout Wings
1300 Jefferson Street

Knockout Wings knows how to turn out big orders. I arrived at 11:30am one weekday to find one person picking up an order for ten and another person picking up an order for 15 people. The Jefferson Street restaurant has a loyal following, including Fisk and TSU students. The owner is a TSU grad, so he knows what the college kids crave. They offer wings in Mild, Hot, BBQ, Cajun and something called Country Sauce. Whenever I try a new wings place I get mild to test the waters and get a better taste of the chicken. Knockout mild sauce is a buffalo style hot sauce that still has a nice kick and flavor. The wings themselves are meaty and fairly moist. I had my order to go and that meant a 20 minute drive home. They still tasted plenty good, but I suspect they are so much better right out of the sauce. Next time I’ll try the Country Sauce to see if it is a little more creative.

Everyone mentions the Honey Biscuits that come with wings and for good reason. They are a bit of biscuit heaven, almost as dense as cake, and still fluffy despite the honey glaze. Knockout also offers chicken tenders, Cajun chicken sandwiches, salads, cheese sticks, fish and burgers. It’s the kind of menu that could keep college kids happy for quite some time.

The prices are definitely right for the college student. I paid just $5.40 including tax for eight meaty wings and one of those awesome Honey Biscuits. Sandwiches are just four bucks or less and you can get more biscuits on the side for fifty cents a piece.

Knockout Wings on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gold Rush

Nashville Restaurants and Food
The Gold Rush
2205 Elliston Place

The Gold Rush has been turning out good bar food for years. It’s the type of place that draws loyal regulars, visiting rock and rollers and bar hoppers. They serve up a big menu that ranges from typical bar fare to more creative cuisine. The Bean Rolls are standouts and come in a variety of styles from spicy chicken to grilled steak. They also feature a basic Bean Roll that proved a hit with the Veggie Eater.

The burgers are good and juicy at the Gold Rush. The Patty Melt is a highlight. It’s nothing out of the ordinary in preparation. It’s just cooked right and topped with Texas toast and white American cheese. Other burger choices include Jalapeno Cheese, Mushroom Swiss and a veggie Black Bean Burger.

There are veggie choices all over the menu, including salads, a veggie wrap, several 7 inch pizza choices and appetizers. Back on the meat side there are a bunch of sandwiches including a Fried Chicken sandwich, Rueben, BLT and BBQ.

Entrees fall mainly on the meat side. They include Ribs, Barbecue Chicken, Steak and Biscuits, Enchiladas and Quesadillas.

The best part is the relaxed atmosphere at the Gold Rush. It’s a fun bar that manages to balance food and booze well. That’s not an easy thing to do. The waitresses are on the ball and keep the orders moving, not matter how thick the crowd.

Veggie Eater: We have frequented the Gold Rush on many an occasion. There is quite a bit a veggie eater can eat. I opted for the Gold Rush bean roll: a tortilla filled with refried beans, cheese, onion, sour cream, etc. It certainly filled me up, though it wasn’t terribly exciting. I would say that it falls into the Qdoba category of cuisine; comfort food on a budget (my roll was $6.95). As I stated above, they have many other things to try and I’m sure I’ll be back on another night when I’m hungry and I’ll venture to some new items.

Meat Eater: I'm not sure how much we paid on this visit. We were with friends and drinks and food just piled up into one big bill. Burgers and bean rolls are around $8.50. Appetizers range from $7-$9 and entrees from $8-$16. It’s not the cheapest place in town, but probably worth the money.

Gold Rush on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 5, 2007

Arnold's Country Kitchen

Nashville Food and Restaurants
Arnold's Country Kitchen
605 Eighth Ave S


There are plenty of Meat and Three joints in Nashville. Arnold’s Country Kitchen sits on top for one big reason: quality. They put quality into every dish on the menu. Everything is exquisitely seasoned. You won’t even have to think about reaching for the salt and pepper. It’s Meat and Three done right.

You can tell how good the place is by the line. I arrived at 11am and found a short line. By 11:15am it was quite busy and tables were filling up. When I left at 11:30am it was starting to get a little crazy. It’s always like that and that’s okay. The line moves quickly and the staff is full of smiles. This is one Nashville institution that doesn’t rest on any laurels.

Arnold’s has a lunch line service that’s really hard to choose from, since everything looks so good. The roast beef has a peppery crust and au jus gravy that is just about perfect. In the squash casserole the squash gets to do the talking. It’s lighter than the usual southern standard, a little sweet with onions for tang. The mac and cheese is thick and rich and has a peppery kick to it. I also sampled stewed okra, tomatoes and onions. Combined with corn bread muffins it’s a great lunch start to finish. I didn’t leave a thing on my plate and sopped up every last bit with more cornbread. I would have liked to find the room to sample the chicken, pork chops and ribs on the menu; however that will have to wait until another day.

They do offer a four item veggie plate for $5.82. Given the sides I had I’d say most vegetarians would be pretty happy here. Aside from the items mentioned above you can also get mashed potatoes and green beans.

The only downside to any of this is the hours. Arnold’s is a lunch spot and that means they are only open from 10:30am-2:45pm Monday through Friday. I paid $8.89 with tax for the Meat and Three and a big old lemonade.

Arnold's Country Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 1, 2007

Meet the Working Girls

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Meet the Working Girls

Okay, so we’ve been busy lately and we haven’t had any exciting new restaurant reviews. So, we thought we would introduce you to the working girls and the fine sandwiches they helped Katie create the other day.

The working girls are our chickens, Pinky and Laverne. The fancy Polish guy is their new rooster friend Lenny. The new Lenny replaces the old Lenny, who died recently protecting his ladies from what we believe was a daytime coyote attack. We’ve heard from other chicken owners that this has been a real problem this year due to the drought. We always lock the chickens up safely at night. A day attack by coyotes is rather rare.

The new guy is named Lenny in hopes that we won’t have to explain the nastiness to two of our nephews, who love visiting the chickens.

Lenny and the ladies live in a metal and plastic coop called an Eglu, which we got from an English company called Omlet

It’s pretty easy to clean and keeps the chickens quite safe. You can lock them in the plastic part if it’s cold. Otherwise we leave them in the run at night. It’s sturdy and we’ve never had a problem with predators when they’re inside the Eglu. It’s kind of embarrassing having a yuppie chicken coop in Joelton, where plenty of people have good old fashion coops. Many people use the Eglus in normal suburban backyards. While we don’t like the idea of keeping the chickens locked up in the run all day, it does allow people to have chickens in urban areas, if the zoning allows it. If you do this don’t get a rooster, they will annoy the heck out of your neighbors. The main reason to have a rooster seems to be for protection or reproduction.

Usually the girls get free range of the back acres, which they enjoy. They have been locked up lately until we can fence a smaller pasture that is well away from Coyote territory.

We get seven or eight eggs a week on average. Laverne, The Rhode Island Red, is the better layer of the two. Fresh eggs were a real surprise for us. The taste is unlike anything you can find in the store. It’s much richer and more intense. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do it’s tough to go back. You can taste the difference in almost every dish. It’s an easy way to make good food great, especially things like homemade mayonnaise.

The egg shells are thicker with Laverne and Pinky’s eggs and that makes peeling after boiling a bit of a chore. Here’s Katie with her recipe for the Egg Salad Sandwiches we had the other night:

Veggie Eater:
Actually, it’s the freshness of the eggs that makes them more difficult to peel. Eggs dehydrate over time, which allows the egg to pull away from the shell. Since we have eggs all of the time, we eat eggs all of the time, and we never have old eggs. So our eggs aren’t real pretty when peeled and are better as egg salad than as deviled eggs.

When you have fresh eggs available all of the time, you get quite adventurous with your various egg recipes. Saturday’s version was this:

6 hard boiled eggs (I’ve found the best method is to place eggs in cold water, bring to boil, boil 10 minutes, rinse in cold water; this prevents the yolks from getting that icky green color around the edge of the yolk)

1 tablespoon pickled hot pepper rings (we make our own and have them on hand)

1-2 tablespoons sweet hot mustard (my mother works at Balducci’s in Connecticut and brought me Hay Day Country Market, which is fabulous)

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Mayo to desired creaminess

Lots of freshly ground salt and pepper

Mix until you deem it right. Feel free to add and subtract on portions as desired.

I just want to add that the chicken thing was my mother’s dream; she kept sending me articles from Martha, Bon Appetit and Gourmet about chickens and eggs; we finally relented and I don’t think I’ll ever be without chickens again; they have amazing personalities and can be quite friendly; nothing like drinking wine in the back yard and watching them scratch about. And the best thing of all, I have a safe egg supply and can make all sorts of things that call for raw or barely cooked eggs (mayo, egg nog, eggs over easy, etc).

Meat Eater: Okay, let’s not talk about the cost of all this for us, with our fancy Eglu. However, if you do your own coop it could be quite cost effective. Laying hens cost about $10. Our fancy Polish cock was a Tennessee State Fair purchase for just $15. Just make sure you really like eggs. We get so many we often give them away to friends.