Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Drifters Update, New Arnold and Food Trucks

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Drifters Update, New Arnold and Food Trucks

We appreciate it when readers give us a heads up about a changed or revamped menu at a restaurant we have reviewed. Restaurants develop over time and sometimes those developments deserve a second look on our part. Thus we did the East Nashville Five Points bar hop last weekend and made a visit to Drifters. The reader tipped us off to the fact that Drifters is now actually smoking their barbecue. The original incarnation of the menu featured barbecue staples: brisket, ribs, pulled pork and chicken. However, the cooking method was a bit unusual- a slow roasted method done in a cook and hold oven made by a company called Alto-Shaam. They may still use the oven, but they are quick to point out the smoked meats. The difference is appreciated. The juicy ribs have a solid flavor. The pulled pork is a noticeable improvement with taste accompanying the moist meat. The Johnny cakes served with the barbecue are very good and studded with corn kernels.

Matt Charette and crew have also expanded the commitment to vegetarians with a number of new offerings: a fried tofu sandwich, veggie burger, barbecue veggie burrito and even a vegan burrito. They have even kept the barbecue tofu entrée on the menu. With all these choices you would figure the Veggie Eater would branch out, but her heart was set on the barbecue nachos.

Veggie Eater: I promise that next time I’ll branch out to another item, but I remembered the barbeque nachos to be among the best bar food nachos in Nashville and I remembered correctly. The chips are fresh fried. There is now an option to select black beans as a protein and the chips are heaped generously with beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese, and the Texas barbeque sauce. I would come back for these alone, not to mention the additional veggie items on the menu. Of note, we are told the veggie burger is made on premise.

Meat Eater: The patio space has also greatly expanded, making this an excellent outdoor dining destination. We’ll add this update to the old review and remember if you think a restaurant deserves another look make sure to let us know.

In other news, Arnold Myint will be opening a new eatery in the Nashville Farmers Market. There is a big sign inside the market announcing the new venture as “gourmet grab and go.” Sounds like a great new addition to the Farmers Market line-up. We’re still waiting for the new Asian restaurant, announced some time ago, to open.

We agree with the Nashville Scene folks  that it’s tough to keep up with the burgeoning Nashville food truck options. There’s a new Philly Cheesesteak truck and Barbie’s burgers, first reported with glee by Lannae Long. The Scene points to hope in keeping up with the barrage of mobile food joints- a new blog called Nashville Food Trucks: 

They offer the locations of several food trucks each day- a great service. They also have short postings on new food trucks. We wish them the best of luck with the new blog- it’s a much needed addition to the Nashville food blogging world.

We have been watching to see if the state of Tennessee would put restaurant inspection scores back up on the web. It appears the Department of Health has done so. You can now find the searchable database at:

We have also updated the link on the right hand side of the screen. We also have a link there for the Metro Nashville inspection score database. Just please remember that scores alone are not enough to judge the safety of a restaurant, knowing the exact problem is important. In the state version you can click to find the specific citations and perhaps more importantly the history of the scores.


Anonymous said...

I have a naive question regarding these trucks.. Actually many. Clearly these vehicles have secured some manner of legal permission to operate. However, when it comes to where they operate what are the rules? For instance, I once observed one of these vehicles completely blocking a handicap access in front of an establishment. Another blocks a fire hydrant regularly. Do you call the cops or what? Another topic is where can they operate? I've seen messages and requests from some of these operators looking to park in places they are clearly not welcome (management companies looking out for their brick and mortar tenants?) Lastly, these are surely not "green" in any sense as they often have their engines running and/or generators roaring away. I, for one, am not impressed with any establishment that I must have Internet access to be able to even find where they are at anytime, a very flexible schedule and plenty of my own gas to get to them.

Eric and Katie said...

All valid concerns anon. As the food truck thing grows here there will undoubtedly be questions. I did some checking and found plenty of complaints in LA...most from people who have homes or businesses the trucks park in front of:

I for one love the entrepenurial spirit of the food truck, but have issues with running all over town to find them. Perhaps one day we'll do like San Francisco and have food-porium set ups for new restaurant vendors to get a start. That way it's all in one location and yet still a reasonable start-up costs for chefs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the state health scores. However, it looks like a lot of these state scores are for the initial opening of the restaurant. From what I'm gathering, the inspections are then handed off to the local authorities for subsequent inspections, at least for the handful I looked at in Nashville. I browsed the last few months of scores on the local Nashville site, and found some drastic drops in scores between restaurant launch and recent inspections, enough that I'm probably going to have to stop going to some places that I've frequented for a while. One of these places i was one that got a great review on your blog within the past year, and has only been open for 15 months. Intial scores in the high 80s, most recent score from March was a 47. Ouch.
I guess my point is, the state site is good for checking out a brand-new restaurant, but doesn't seem to be updated after that, and things can quickly go downhill. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

Eric and Katie said...

That's a good point anon. I'm not sure what the exact process is, but we used to use the Metro site and then the State site in conjunction, before the state stopped putting scores online. In all, we take the scores with a grain of salt. The reality is that on a bad day many great restaurants in town could have violations that would lead to one awful score. It depends on what's going on when the inspectors visit. Now we're in complete favor of the system itself, because it does forces restaurants to be vigiliant. The worst cases of e-coli and food poisoning I have heard of didn't come from small mom and pop places, but national chain restaurants. Cutting open a watermelon on a cutting board that was used for ground beef killed kids in Wisconsin due to e-coli.