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Saturday, March 15, 2014
Jack's Bar-B-Que (Nashville, TN)
My nearly inedible lunch left me absolutely starving by 5:00pm. I did the only sensible thing and hit the road in search of more barbecue. Jack's was a bit of a drive from my hotel, but I hoped it'd be worth the journey.
I caught the scent of delicious hickory smoke wafting through the parking lot. This was a good sign. Apparently I came at just the right time. Within minutes of my arrival, the dinner rush was on and the line of customers was out the door. Luckily, I was at the front of the line and there were still plenty of seats available.
I "checked in" on Yelp and received an offer for "1 free Hand Rub." Despite the obvious and hilarious double entendre, I declined the offer. I prefer to make my own rubs.
After a quick perusal of the menu, I decided to make my 3 Meat Combo a true cross-section of America: Tennessee pork shoulder, Texas beef brisket, and St. Louis pork ribs. For my two sides, I picked potato salad and mac & cheese. Their combos also come with either cornbread or toast, which is a no-brainer of a decision. All meats came straight from the smoker and were sliced to order, the only way it should ever be.
The mac & cheese was a pretty basic elbow variety. It was creamy and cheesy, but nothing special. The potato salad had a great texture and great flavor. It was slightly sweet, with just enough mustard to help the taste without being overpowering. Their cornbread has a flaky consistency similar to pound cake, and was equally as sweet. This was a great palate cleanser in between the side dishes and the main event.
I had intended to ask for fatty brisket with extra bark (my favorite), but the knife man didn't give me the chance. I ended up with a leaner cut, which despite my fears was actually very tender. My slices had a dark black crust and a deep red smoke ring. The flavors were really nice, and there was plenty of smoke. It wasn't quite the Central Texas brisket I hoped for, but it was still very good.
The pork shoulder had a nice smoky hue and lots of bark mixed throughout. The meat was tender, but bordering on mushy. The bark packed the most flavor, though the rest also had a nice taste. There was a decent amount of smoke here too. I took this opportunity to sample a couple of Jack's various sauces. The mustard-style Carolina sauce was nice and tangy, with sweet overtones. The vinegar-based Tennessee sauce was slightly spicy and had a good acidity to it. I really wanted to try their horseradish and mayo Music City White sauce, but it was nowhere to be found.
Their St. Louis ribs had a good crust and a decent smoke ring. They weren't as meaty as I would have liked, but the flavors were great. Each bite had ample smoke, although some coarse black pepper would have made the crust even better. The meat was tender, succulent, and juicy, but not falling off the bone. And yes, that's a good thing.
Surprisingly, the pulled pork shoulder was my favorite part of this meaty trio. I usually find myself unimpressed by pulled pork, but Jack's proved that any meat can be fantastic if you know how to smoke it.
334 W. Trinity Ln
Nashville, TN 37207