26 June 2010

NASHVILLE BARBECUE: Part 20 - Places We Missed

Over the last 19 months, in this series of reports, we've visited over 50 barbecue joints in Nashville and the surrounding counties. Over the course of that time, it's occurred to us that we've missed some that should have been included in one place or another. Some of these have opened (or reopened) since we started reporting, and some have been there all along, but have just been overlooked. We'll get half of them in this report, and half of them in the next one.

We begin in West Nashville, in a neighborhood called "The Nations". Boss Hogg's BBQ is on Morrow Road, across from West Park. This used to be the West Park Dairy Dip.

They are cooking on an old smoker right in the parking lot.

No ribs at Boss Hogg's, at least on the day I was there. But of course they have a pork sandwich. The meat was nice and tender, but didn't have much flavor - smoke or otherwise. It's a workman-like barbecue sandwich that would be aided by a squirt of barbecue sauce.

Next we head to Antioch for two barbecue joints that I have heard good things about from local blogger Joltin' Django on his blog, A Man's Gotta Eat.

Fat Boy's BBQ is on Murfreesboro Pike near the intersection of Bell Road.

Like Boss Hogg's, Fat Boy's is cooking on a big offset smoker right out in front of the store. I like it. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and a rib sandwich.

The pulled pork has very good flavor. It's well-seasoned, with a hint of smoke. The meat was not as successful on tenderness. On this day, at least, the pulled pork was more than a little dry.

The ribs were country-style ribs. I don't know if this was just because I ordered a rib sandwich, or if all of their ribs are country-style. But I have never seen this at barbecue restaurant before. Anyway, they were very tasty - super tender and juicy with a great bark, and a nice smoky flavor.

Over in Hickory Hollow, Ron's BBQ & Fish is tucked away in a corner of the Kroger shopping center at the corner of Bell Road and Mt. View Road. They are cooking in a smoker out behind the shopping center (see photo at top).

The friendly folks at Ron's had already sold out of pork shoulder by the time I got there, but they gave me a heaping to-go box full of pork ribs. These ribs were absolutely cooked to oblivion - impossible to even pick one up - but they were delicious nonetheless. They had wonderful simplicity of flavor - well seasoned pork and plenty of hickory smoke, no sauce. A tasty treat.

Over in Brentwood, vagabond Texas 'cue proprietor Aubrey Bean has found a home on Church Street (this is Judge Bean's fourth location if you're scoring at home). You'll recall that we tried to visit the Greer Stadium location last Spring as part of our "Texas Barbecue" report, but had no luck. Anyway, Lannae said it last week, and it's true - Judge Bean's has finally found a proper home. This location delivers an atmosphere that matches the funky, feisty character of the food - the ceilings are low, the decorations are tacky, the country music is loud, and the help is good lookin'. Now what about the food?

As we did with the other Texas-style barbecue joints in this area, I will judge on brisket and sausage. This brisket looked okay, with a nice smoke ring, and it tasted okay, with a nicely formed bark, but it was dry as could be. Maybe brisket was just having a bad day? The sausage I liked very much. Again, let me stress that I am no expert on sausage, but I found this to be very juicy, and with a nice snap in the casing. It had a nice smoky, garlicky flavor.

I know we're just judging meat here, but I can't talk about Judge Bean's without mentioning the brisket tacos. These have been a favorite of mine since Judge Bean's was on Wedgewood Avenue. Even if the brisket is a little dry, if you team it up with fresh guacamole and a little homemade salsa, and serve it on a grilled corn tortilla...that is good eatin'!

The folks at Bacon & Caviar have opened a second location of their B&C Barbecue in Melrose. We reviewed their farmer's market location back in 2008, but wanted to see how things were going at this new location.

Two years later, I still think B&C's pulled pork is great. It's cooked to a nice tenderness, it's seasoned perfectly, and it's got plenty of tasty bark pieces.

The baby back ribs (only offered on weekends) were not as successful. They lacked any real smoke flavor, and the sauce/rub had an odd overly peppery flavor. Also, they could have been cooked a few more degrees, as they were still kind of tough.

One other note about B&C is that their side dishes are still head and shoulders above what you'll find at most barbecue places. I know the meat is what counts, but I'm just sayin'.

Disclaimer: Please note that these reports are based on particular servings of barbecue at a particular day and time. Barbecue can be prone to fluctuation. Your experiences may vary.

More reports in this series:
Part 1 - The Legends
Part 2 - The Chain Gang
Part 3 - Local Chains
Part 4 - Jefferson Street
Part 5 - Clarksville Highway
Part 6 - East Nashville
Part 7 - The West Side
Part 8 - Memphis Imports
Part 9 - T for Texas
Part 10 - Williamson County
Part 11 - Murfreesboro
Part 12 - La Vergne & Smyrna
Part 13 - Wilson County
Part 14 - Catching Up in Nashville
Part 15 - Hendersonville & White House
Part 16 - Portland & Gallatin
Part 17 - Robertson County
Part 18 - Dickson County
Part 19 - "Barbecue by any other name..."
Part 20 - Places We Missed
Part 21 - More Places We Missed


Unknown said...

Great write up, and I gotta book mark this post and try some of the places I do not know about! The Judge, yeah, there are consistency issues. The last 2 of 3 times, the brisket was good, not dry at all. 1 of 3 times, the brisket was hard, dry and gray. It is a mistake to get the pork ribs at Judge Beans, as the last time they were really terrible, and that just kicked in my memory of the ribs at the 12th and Porter location which were also terrible. But, I am willing to risk 33% of the time of bad brisket to get 66% of the time good smoked brisket.

HeatBeads said...

The photos are so hard to look at when we're in the office! Comprehensive report - we look forward to the second half of it.

Happy barbecuing from us in Australia!

Damien Daniels said...

Great reading yourr blog