4-5 August 2014
After a fabulous 2 days in Louisville (still remember the dinner at Seviche), a city I shall soon return to, I headed south to Nashville. Originally planned as a detour to visit a friend, but sadly she did not feel well enough to meet up this time. Not to worry, I had a few places to check out in town anyway.
To be honest I am not a fan of Nashville, even though I like country music. It’s like a living theme park, a tourist trap from hell really in so many ways. So for the first day, after arriving, I kept away from the crowd and walked off to find a raved-about barbeque joint called Peg Leg Porker.
Well, it wasn’t the smoothest of walks, going through some of the nastier parts of downtown Nashville. Nevertheless it was entertaining, watching one of the street characters shout abuse at a church door, screaming “that is why I am a fucking atheist!” Had to laugh at that…
Peg Leg Porker is a barbeque joint that has some good stuff, and seems to have a following in Nashville. I ended up just having some drinks and a rack of dry ribs.
Honestly the ribs were not done well. Burnt and dry and the rub had no flavour. I guess only Memphis does dry rub right. But it’s a friendly bar with some good whiskey, so I had a few before dragging myself through the fun neighbourhood again back to my hotel.
I rested for awhile as my dinner booking at the much hyped Nashville location of Husk was not until late. Honestly I thought the Charleston location is a bit overhyped, but had to give this one in Nashville a try.
I was a sweaty mess when I got there, as the walk turned out to be longer — and up a steep hill. The building housing Husk looked like what I thought it should look at, a very souther-style manor-ish house. I agreed to sit at the bar for dinner instead of my reserved table, just to get a better feel for the place. Headed downstairs to the not-too-packed bar and enjoyed a fine evening of drinks and food.
It didn’t start too well, as the bar service was a bit slow and the first dish was a bit off, the fried chicken skins.
Sounded good, but it was all breading and sauce. What’s the point? Imagine ordering a pepper-crusted steak and you get a thin sliver of beef with about 2 inches of pepper. It just defeats the purpose. These did nothing for me and it really got me worried.
But it got better. The service moved, the drinks got better, and my main course — catfish — arrived.
This was a nice piece of catfish, not as good as in Richmond’s Roosevelt — now that was an excellent bit of catfish. Nevertheless it was enjoyable. But just like the Charleston location, I felt the food didn’t live up to the hype. Not even close.
I stayed around and drank with the staff until they closed, chatting about the local scene and so forth. Was a good evening. I was pretty blotto when I stumbled down the hill back to the hotel…
I woke up with yet another raging hangover…ugh, these gotta stop. My friend was still not feeling well so I had a free day. I decided to force myself for a long walk, and I strolled for about an hour, trying to avoid tourists and deal with the hills on a hot day — and my head was pounding still. I walked to the Tennessee Capitol and wandered the grounds for a bit.
The grave of President James Polk was on the grounds, as well as a few statues and small monuments. But it was a nice high vista to look at the rest of the city. I wandered back and stopped for lunch at a much-hyped fried chicken place. I won’t elaborate as it turned out disastrous with birds so spicy they were inedible. It almost burned a hole in the rubbish bin, and took me 2 hours to get the sensations back in my mouth — despite taking 1 single bite. Ugh…
I headed out to dinner early as I was hungry. My mouth had recovered but my stomach had not, so needed to fill it. Damn that spicy chicken… I decided on something close to my hotel for dinner, Etch. The menu looked interesting, so why not.
I ended up sitting at the counter and had a decent meal. Not spectacular, but pretty good. I begain with a very, very rich serving of pork belly.
Even I thought this was a bit on the rich side… Sometimes just too much of a good thing, as it weighed on me pretty quickly. My main course was the lamb.
This was a porterhouse cut (hidden by the pastry in the photo, sorry). It was cooked well but a bit on the bland side. Maybe I expected too much even with local lamb, oh well. What can I say, it was satisfactory.
I went for a dessert as they had tokaji on the drinks list, and had a nice peach brown butter cake. This was the highlight of the meal — and you know I don’t say that often about a dessert course. But this was flavourful and portioned just right. Excellent stuff.
I headed back to home base as I was still reeling from the hangover and the horrible spicy chicken, and needing to get up early to drive back north. Avoiding the tourists once again, I slipped into my hotel and zonked out.
Nothing’s changed my impression of Nashville. Didn’t really care for it in the past, don’t really care for it now. Food was so-so, nothing near Louisville’s quality. And worse, it was in Nashville when travel fatigue started to creep in…and I’m not even half-way into the roadtrip…
Peg Leg Porker
903 Gleaves Street
37 Rutledge Street
303 Demonbreun Street