Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Clyde's on Church (Nashville, TN)
Even though Clyde's on Church (an offshoot of a popular, similarly-named Chattanooga, Tennessee joint) has only been open since early March, it's already developing quite the reputation amongst Nashvillians. Maybe it's the food; maybe it's the foosball, shuffleboard, and ping pong tables; maybe it's the general funky attitude. Whatever it is, I was certainly intrigued. I could have easily walked the mere half-mile from my office to Clyde's, but considering the heat and the humidity, I embraced my inner laziness and drove.
Predictably, my party of one resulted in seating at the bar, which I actually prefer in these scenarios. The atmosphere here is even more lively than I had imagined. Great classic rock tunes and neon signs surely play well during happy hour, but they made my lunch run more enjoyable as well. I briefly considered attempting a solo game of ping pong against the wall, limited only by persistent thoughts of "what would my wife say?" Maybe next time...
The menu at Clyde's ranges from fried chicken, bahn mi sandwiches, and jerk pork to baked potato soup, veggie/vegan burgers, and kale salads. A motley assortment indeed, although I was most interested in their smoked selections. Clyde's doesn't have any barbecue combos, unless you count their Pork and Wing plate, but that never stopped me before. I started with an appetizer of BBQ Potato Skins. These bad boys come topped with pulled pork, house-made pimento cheese, green onion, and sour cream. I asked for my barbecue sauce on the side, just in case.
Without question, the potato skins looked incredible. A decent amount of smoke shone through, despite the gooey cheese and luscious sour cream. I could also see ample evidence of pink smoky pork jutting out. The crunch of green onions and crispy potato peel added a great texture to each bite. Suffice to say that I never once considered using my side of barbecue sauce.
For the main event, I ordered their Texas Style Smoked Brisket plate, which comes with Texas toast, baked beans, and your choice of slaw. I decided to rock the boat a little bit. Instead of beans, I subbed in some gouda creamed corn (at a slight upcharge). As for the slaw, my options here were for mayo and hot mustard varieties, but not being a fan of slaw in general, I politely requested red potato salad.
The potato salad came with big hunks of red potatoes and only minimal dressing. I found the acidity of the pickles very prominent, perhaps the most dominant flavor present. It was served differently than most potato salads I've eaten, and I really enjoyed it. The creamed corn was absolutely spectacular. The mass of melty gouda on top paired perfectly with the al dente kernels beneath. It was worth every bit of the $2.50 upcharge.
Their brisket is allegedly slow smoked in a sweet and spicy marinade of sorts, which they describe as "traditional". Perhaps I'm simply a barbecue purist, but, when it comes to Texas brisket, the only traditional marinade is no marinade. The same holds true for barbecue sauce, incidentally. [end rant] My brisket came out in regrettable chunks rather than the expected slices. That being said, it had an awesome smokiness and was very tender to boot. I also received my meat from the fatty point (aka deckle), which helped to soak up even more yummy smoke. There was plenty of delicious black bark mixed throughout, all of which had a ton of seasoning. I didn't notice any spiciness from the marinade, although it did make things a little more liquidy than I prefer. Regardless of this minor nitpicking, the brisket was exceptionally tasty.
Clyde's on Church may be more of a bar or local hangout than it is a traditional barbecue joint, but, when it comes to smoked meat, these guys definitely know what they're doing.
Clyde's on Church
1700 Church St
Nashville, TN 37203