Thursday, November 6, 2014
Hog Heaven (Nashville, TN)
After a brutal day at the DMV and running other various mind-numbing errands, I found myself in need of some serious barbecue therapy. Hog Heaven is situated fairly close to Vanderbilt University, but somehow they managed to stay off my radar during my tenure there. This was the closest barbecue joint to my current location, so I thought I'd give them a try.
The spectacular Centennial Park across the street is the only ambiance you'll find at Hog Heaven. It's basically just a shack with a screened-in porch. Their two picnic tables offer enough seating for about 14-16 people, assuming you don't mind squeezing in next to strangers. I've eaten awesome barbecue from even more run-down spots than this, so I wasn't too worried.
I normally go for a combo of some sort, but they didn't have any on the menu. The only option for beef was a pulled brisket plate, and I wasn't really in the mood for chicken or turkey. That narrowed things down to pork, which is probably the most appropriate order at a place called Hog Heaven anyway. I got their Spareribs Plate, with potato salad and white beans on the side, plus the automatic pancake-style cornbread. I made sure to ask for sauce on the side and was presented with a handful of options, of which the white barbecue sauce sounded the best. The guy at the counter assured me that it was an excellent dipping sauce for ribs.
All of the sides looked pretty good from the outset. The cornbread was ok, though a tad dry. Luckily for me, the potato salad was creamy and rather tasty. There was a good blend of spices and plenty of bite from all of the red onion mixed throughout. My beans had an interesting flavor, kind of like a bean soup without all the liquid. They also had some mild after tones that I can mostly accurately describe as sweet, but I don't think that's quite right either.
The slightly-mangled ribs appeared to have a good crust. That being said, all of the meat fell off in my fingers, which is usually a bad sign. I found a decent smoky flavor, but otherwise the ribs were kind of bland. Even the crust was devoid of seasoning. Some parts of the meat were a little tough as well. Although I'm not a big sauce guy in general, I thought the white barbecue sauce might help jazz things up a little. This was just what the ribs needed. The white sauce was much zestier than regular red barbecue sauce. It was almost like a southwest ranch dressing, but better. It also added some heat, which played nicely. I know that white barbecue sauce is generally reserved for poultry, but I really enjoyed pairing it with the pork ribs.
My favorite part of this meal was definitely the white barbecue sauce, but it wasn't enough to salvage the mediocre ribs. Hog Heaven needs to spend less time on the condiments and more time on the meat.
115 27th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37203