Reassuringly, there’s absolutely nothing fancy at Jack’s BBQ. Order at the counter, your lunch will be served up on a plastic plate, with plastic knives and forks to eat it with.
There’s a selection of meats – pork shoulder, beef brisket and turkey. And it’s served up by way of sandwich or a plate.
Texas brisket was ordered as a sandwich and was excellent. My partner had ordered a salad side, which came as lightly pickled cucumber, onion and tomato. This worked really well with the smoky meat.
Meanwhile, the guy serving up the meats had ID’d our accents and asked if we knew Coventry. He knew it well. We didn’t, only passing through the city once, 30+ years ago. Anyway, the chat hadn’t diverted him from heaping pork shoulder on to the plate. Baked beans and a portion of mac & cheese was added. As was a couple of slices of excellent cornbread. And, with a few squirts of their “original” Tennessee BBQ sauce, that was lunch. Good pork, good contrasting sides and a good zing from the sauce. Yes, this was a good lunch. Then it was back to touristing.
Capitol Grille, Nashville
I don’t like restaurants in cellars. There always seems to be “something” about them. In this case, the Grille is in the cellar of the Hermitage Hotel. And the “something” is that it looks like a medieval mausoleum . All vaulted ceilings and fake coats of arms on the cornices. Move the furniture out and move in a few stone coffins and you’ve set off a 14th century cathedral cellar perfectly.
But, unlike some cellar restaurants I know, there’s no faulting the food. Many restaurants offer their commitment to “local and seasonal” food but there can be few to match the commitment of this place. The vegetables come from their own farm, which is within the city limits. And the beef is also from their own herd. And, once they’ve got the produce, they know how to cook it. And cook it to a high standard. When you have ingredients like this, it’s important to let them shine through without too much faffing about with them. And it’s important to keep your menu short so you can concentrate on doing everything well. So, there’s only half a dozen choices at each course.
Before the first course arrived, there was bread to nibble on. Good bread – a sourdough with a lovely crisp crust; a rich brioche and another containing raisins.
Starters were absolute simplicity. A farm salad majored on mixed leaves, enhanced with radish, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomato and a scattering of peanuts. There was a little light buttermilk dressing which, truth be told, I’d have been happier to see in greater quantity and bit less light. The other plate was a “special” – thick slices of mixed heritage beef tomato, dressed with oil, seasoning and basil.
My main course was sorghum cured chicken which, in itself, was lovely. I had no idea what sorghum was and to Google it later. Even then, I don’t think I detected any specific flavour in what was a really flavoursome piece of chicken. It came with creamed squash – perfect for early September - and bread & butter pickles, which made a good contrast with the creaminess of the squash. The menu said peach would put in an appearance but I couldn’t detect any.
Hangar steak was excellent and definitely a tribute to the care the restaurant takes with raising its herd, butchering the meat and cooking it. The dish was their take on a classic French “steak frites”, in that the frites weren’t potato but vegetables – carrot, fennel and onion. A couple of smears of romesco sauce completed the plate.
Speaking of spins, there was another with a Peach Melba dessert. Now that’s a classic dish with, usually, a classic presentation but here the peaches came with meringue, a lemon poppy seed cake and a buttermilk sorbet. Absolutely delicious – I reckon Escoffier would have been impressed .
I’d ordered the intriguing 75-64-35. The numbers reflecting the percentage cocoa solids in the three elements of this chocolate dish. There was 35% in the praline and liquid milk chocolate; 65% in a chocolate caramel mousse and the 75% was in a cremosa. Pastry chef certainly knows what she’s doing – this was really good.
Service, as might be expected, had been particularly attentive, perhaps almost intrusively so. But I always try hard to remember that American styles of service are different from European ones.
Not a place for a relaxing intimate dinner. Puckett’s is large, very busy and very noisy. We could hardly hear each other across the table. Its plus point was that it’s near to the honky tonks of Broadway which is where we planned to spend the latter part of the evening. We weren’t that hungry, so decided on just ordering a main course.
A large portion of grilled salmon was cooked absolutely spot-on – just leaving the centre slightly rare and translucent. It came with a sweet potato mash which was OK, if a tad odd with the fish. There were also mixed steamed vegetables – mushroom, peppers and courgettes. All in all, a nice light dish
Across the table, a BLT sandwich had been given a Southern twist – the tomatoes being of the fried green variety. Breaded and fried, these added a little crunch and spicing. Alongside, some fries.
It set us up for a couple of hours bar crawling, listening to the music.