Saturday, February 21, 2015
Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant (Nashville, TN)
The wife and I had tickets to see Jason Aldean over at Bridgestone Arena, and an early pre-concert dinner seemed like a great idea. Since the tickets were part of my birthday present, I also had the privilege of choosing a restaurant. Puckett's was only a short walk from Bridgestone, which my wife was agreeable to despite the rain and cold temperatures. With several enticing barbecue options on their menu, how could I resist?
Puckett's has a really lively atmosphere, but I suppose that's par for the course in downtown Nashville. It has a much more relaxed feel than a lot of the other restaurants on Broadway though. They sat us right next to the stage. Too bad we were a few hours too early for the live music, which occurs nightly at Puckett's. The music is part of what makes this place popular, so reservations are a must for dinner, even on a weekday.
Our waiter was an extremely friendly local, a "good 'ol boy" as my mother-in-law would say. He gave us some really knowledgeable tips about the menu items, as well as some minor tweaks to make our selections even better. We never had to wait for a drink refill, and he came to check on us fairly often. I always appreciate service like that.
We had skipped lunch in preparation for our 4:30pm dinner, so my stomach was already rumbling. An appetizer was definitely in order. We decided to try the Fried Pickles. Yum!
The pickles were thinly sliced, making them more like chips. They had a mellow pickle flavor, and since I only like pickles in limited quantities, it was just right for me. Some pickle fans might find them lacking though. My wife thought they were a touch too salty, but it didn't bother me. Their fried pickles come served with some sort of chipotle-bacon ranch dressing. The ranch was an awesome compliment to the pickles, though the mild flavor left me wondering where all of the chipotle went.
I had originally planned on getting some of the dry-rubbed, cherry wood-smoked ribs, but at the last minute I decided they might be too messy. After all, I didn't want to spend the whole concert covered in rib juice. The menu says that the "Puckett's BBQ Platter" comes with your choice of pulled pork or chicken. Neither of those are my first choice when it comes to barbecue. Fortunately, our waiter told me (unofficially, of course) that not only could I get beef brisket on the platter, I could also make it a two-meat combo. Done and done. I ordered a duo of brisket and pulled pork. The platter also comes with sweet potato fries, baked beans, and coleslaw, but I substituted potato salad for the slaw.
The fries tasted fresh and homemade. They had a great sweet flavor, which was even better when dipped in the leftover ranch from our fried pickles. Puckett's beans were somewhat spicy and only slightly sweet. They were actually much better than the baked beans I normally encounter. The potato salad was full of big skin-on potatoes, giving it more of a German potato salad quality. It had a nice flavor from the pickles, and the low mayo content let the veggies shine.
I've been trying to acclimate myself to pulled pork ever since moving to Tennessee last summer. It's been a hard row to hoe. My affinity for beef aside, Puckett's pulled pork was nice and tender, with only a moderate amount of smoke. Although, I eventually found some nice pink pieces which had soaked up more smoke than others. The meat also had a nice seasoning blend mixed throughout. I would have liked more bark, but that's a personal preference.
Even though the brisket came out chopped, at least it was chopped into large pieces. And to be fair, I think they usually only serve brisket on sandwiches, so I can't really complain in light of my special menu request. The brisket had more smoke than the pork. It was also decently tender, especially the fattier bits. There was a commendable amount of flavor considering that the seasoned bark had all been trimmed away. I still prefer my brisket sliced, but this was still very tasty.
I tried a bite of my wife's smoked chicken sandwich, along with its jalapeno cornbread pancake bun. It tasted like there was molasses baked right into the bun, although I didn't taste much jalapeno. The chicken was both tender and juicy. There wasn't much smoke that I noticed, but that's not altogether unusual for chicken in my experience. She was happy with her meal, which is all that really matters.
The dessert menu includes something called a Deep Fried Brownie Sundae: brownie batter mixed with their triple threat cookie dough (chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch chips, and pecans), which is then battered, fried, and topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Apparently this dessert took home the blue ribbon at the Southern Fried Festival. As full as we were, there was no way we could resist such obvious deliciousness.
Holy crap it has bacon on top!!! This thing was absolutely incredible. There were so many scrumptious flavors all piled on top of each other. With its state fair-style crispiness, the deep-fried brownie was even better than I imagined it would be. The salty bacon was great with the chocolate, and I really liked the crunchy pecans, too. Not even a crumb was left by the time we were done.
Puckett's isn't a traditional barbecue joint, but they're serving up some really tasty 'que nonetheless. I'm really glad we gave them a try, and I'll definitely be back.
Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant
500 Church St
Nashville, TN 37219