Saturday, September 19, 2015
Curley's Carryout (Nashville, TN)
A few weeks ago, I discovered a new purveyor of pulled pork near my house called Curley's Carryout. To be honest, I didn't exactly have high hopes for this carryout restaurant, but I decided to give them a shot anyway. Besides, investigating barbecue in all of its forms is why I began writing this blog in the first place.
You'll find Curley's in a small strip mall, sandwiched between a dry cleaner and some sort of urgent care thing. Despite the "Carryout" name, there are in fact four small tables inside. There weren't many customers when I came in though, but Curley (the man himself) was extremely friendly and upbeat nonetheless. He also seemed to take pride in his food and the mom-and-pop nature of his business, which I always appreciate.
The menu I had seen on Yelp was mostly focused on burgers, hotdogs, and wings, with no plain barbecue as an option. I did see a "Pulled Pork Burger" and a "Pulled Pork Dog" that sounded interesting, but they were nowhere to be found on the in-restaurant menu. In fact, there were no longer any hotdogs on the menu at all. Luckily, I did find a decent combo: a pulled pork sandwich, 8 wings, and fries. Curley wasn't making smoked wings until Tuesday, and he was also out of the smaller wingettes, so I received 4 large honey barbecue wings. Not perfect, but it would have to be good enough. I upgraded my fries to their Garlic-Parm variety, which I was sure would be worth the small upcharge.
During my thirty-minute wait for food (it seems to be just a two-person operation), I was asked for my preferences on barbecue sauce. Normally I wouldn't even bother, but since I saw no evidence of an actual smoker anywhere, I feared that I might need the sauce today. I picked mild over spicy and Carolina-style over honey barbecue. Curley was nice enough to put the sauce on the side at least.
The handcut Garlic-Parm fries were fantastic! As their name suggests, this "Super Side" comes loaded with garlic and parmesan. They were crisp, flavorful, and infinitely better than the standard frozen crinkle fries. I should have ordered more of them.
Smoked wings would have been more my style, but I still looked forward to trying their honey barbecue version. These were coated in a thick layer of sauce, which was sadly a little bland aside from its pleasant sweetness. The wings themselves were cooked well and had a crispy skin. Maybe a sauce like lemon-pepper would work better, so I'll have to remember that for next time.
I tried to keep an open mind about the "pulled pork." The bun tasted homemade (well, homemade by someone), but the pork inside definitely had more of a crock-pot quality to it. There was a decent amount of flavor from their seasonings, though no smoke whatsoever. As expected, sauce was necessary here. It ended up being a runny vinegar-based sauce rather than the Carolina Gold I had hoped for. I liked it ok, but I'm just not a sauce guy no matter how hard I try to be.
Some of the toughest reviews to write are those which require me to balance the friendliness of small business owners with subpar barbecue. I will say that the burgers I saw coming out of Curley's kitchen looked as phenomenal as my fries had been, so perhaps that's really their forte. Curley's also has a great selection of homemade milkshakes, including salted caramel and a red velvet "cake shake" made with actual chunks of cake. I'll definitely be back to try those, but I probably won't be back for more barbecue.
2275 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37217