Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Neighbors of Sylvan Park (Nashville, TN)
Neighbors of Sylvan Park isn't a place that I've necessarily heard much about, but lately I've had a desire to expand my lunch options beyond the usual walking distance radius around my office. Located in (surprise, surprise) Nashville's Sylvan Park neighborhood, Neighbors would certainly provide a change in scenery, and I'm always anxious to expand my barbecue horizons.
This place is fairly dark and dingy, with a dive bar look that's matched by its dive bar smell. I guess Neighbors is technically a non-smoking establishment, but with all of the employees taking cigarette breaks out on the back patio, I sure couldn't tell the difference. The patio itself is actually pretty nice, all things considered. The decor here is probably what you'd expect: old cracked bar stools and about as much random crap as they could possibly fit on the painted cinderblock walls. I also noticed more flies circling around than I typically care to see while dining. Their music choices were pretty rocking, so I suppose that's something to be grateful for.
The menu at Neighbors is mostly an assortment of barbecue and Tex-Mex, with a few salad options tossed in for the lady-folk. I ordered a six-pack of mild smoked wings for a quick appetizer, followed by their pulled pork sandwich lunch special. All of the specials automatically come with chips, and since a substitution apparently wasn't possible, I added on a side of potato salad as well. Because the only thing better than meat and potatoes is meat and double potatoes.
My wings came out piping hot, which generally a good sign. These little fellas are dry-rubbed and smoked on a combination of hickory and apple wood for about five hours, and although that sounds great in theory, I couldn't really pinpoint any smoke here. The flavors I did find, however, were very savory, with almost an extra-peppery Old Bay seasoning thing going on. The chicken was rather tender, but the skin, while flavorful, could have been a little more crispy for my liking. I suspect that the excessive powdered spices in their dry rub prevented it from crisping up properly.
I had my option of barbecue, salt and vinegar, or jalapeño chips, but I stuck with regular. Super adventurous, I know. Not being overly excited about run-of-the-mill bagged chips, I simply took them home to include with another day's lunch. The potato salad was exceptionally thick and viscous. There wasn't much in the flavor department, but at least they tried to spruce things up with a dusting of paprika. Spicy Hungarian paprika may have been a better choice though.
The massive pile-o-pork was quite literally spilling out of its toasty brioche bun. There was plenty of bark to go around, and it was spectacular. The meat itself was juicy and seasoned well. A moderate smoke level was just enough to make things interesting. Their barbecue sauce comes on the side by default, and there's no reason to add it to the already delicious pork. I appreciated the use of brioche, which was infinitely better than the unfortunately-standard grocery store hamburger bun that I normally find on my barbecue excursions. In my opinion, a little bit of crunchy slaw would have really completed this sandwich, but it was still impressive even without it.
If you can get past the visual and olfactory shortcomings, the barbecue at Neighbors of Sylvan Park is actually pretty good, and certainly better than expected. But it's definitely not the kind of place you'd take a girl on date night, at least not if you intended on having a second date. Food-wise, Neighbors is probably more like a solid three and a half stars, but the awesome pulled pork was enough to spur my generosity today.
Neighbors of Sylvan Park
4425 Murphy Rd
Nashville, TN 37209