Are you from Tennessee? Cause you’re… really chowin’ down

You know the saying – when in Rome…
Or Tennessee.
I went down to Tennessee this past weekend for my brother’s wedding to a rockin’ chick.
I flew from Laguardia International Airport to Nashville International Airport at 8 am on Friday. Do you know what godawful time you have to wake up to make an 8 am flight, even if you already were in Queens the night before because of said flight? REALLY, really early. Especially if you’re traveling with my Dad, who likes getting places even earlier than I do. But the traveling wasn’t bad and it was a direct flight.
So we end up in good ole Nashville, Tennessee around 9/10 am. Picked up the rental car (which was WAY awesomer than we thought a compact should be – no complaints there!), and were soon on our way to tour around Nashville for a little bit before heading to Clarksville, TN for hotel and wedding goodness.

Of course, we had to hit up the Grand Ole Opry. It was ole all right. We opted for the more economical (cheaper) touring of just going in their free museum of country hall of famers. Dad liked it, I was getting hungry.
Seriously, where is the food, dude?
There were a lot of chains in the mall surrounding the Grand Ole Opry. We didn’t go into the mega mall, but it pretty much looked like chain restaurants, an RV/Outdoor sales place and other things of mass size. Tennessee has a lot of chain restaurants, so I wanted some local joints.

Dad was on a mission for some Tennessee barbeque, ribs to be precise. We ended up hoppin’ back in the car and driving into downtown Nashville, where we eventually stumbled upon Logan’s. It looked chain-y. But it was a barbeque joint, Dad wanted to go, and hell, I was starving, so anything looked good to my snobby stomach.

There was a barrel of peanuts you could eat, and toss the shells on the floor!!! Yes! And they were really good peanuts too. We waited around, eating peanuts, and then we got a table. Dad got ribs, of course. He wanted to split a whole side, but I was kind of skeptical.

They started us out with a plate of fresh buns. They were really sweet, fluffy buns. I liked the texture, but they really had no flavor other than sugar.

I ordered grilled tilapia with chipotle salsa. They both came with 2 sides. Dad and I both got grilled veggie skewers. He also got broccoli, while I got a house salad. The house salad was… covered in cheese and bacon. Not bad, but just a general salad thing. Hey, I was trying to keep it moderately healthy!

Those ribs were freaking AMAZING! Holy crap, they were smokey, they were moist and they were fallin’ off the bone goo-ood! And they had the inner pink, which equals tasty in smoking land. I had plate envy.

My tilapia was equally good. It was moist, and really well cooked. I was expecting 2 tiny fillets grilled to death, but I got 2 plump fillets that were cooked juuust enough. That said, what is up with this chipotle salsa? Doesn’t salsa usually involve tomatoes? Or just not ranch/creamy sauce? I ate around that part, since it really didn’t appeal to me. The veggie skewers were outta sight! There was good flavor to each one.
Now, I might be blowing this place out of the water since, well, I was starving, and I had really low expectations.
Then we drove to Clarksville, checked into our hotel rooms, and went to the rehersal.
The wedding rehersal dinner was at this really good Chinese buffet in Clarksville. It’s China Grill or something like that (If you know/were there, fill me in) and had great sushi. Which was a great surprise, but also kind of bummed me out to know that Tennessee has some of the best sushi I’ve had (philly roll!), and places in Upstate New York have worse quality. Sure it’s a bias, but, when I think Tennessee, I don’t think Chinese buffet sushi. Touché Chinese buffet, touché. Anywho, it was really good stuff.
The owner ended up sending out a pot of special tea to my Dad and me. We were basically sucking the stuff down anyway, Asians that we are. O.M.G. This was the best tea I have ever had in my life. It smelled like delicate, fragrant jasmine. It tasted clean, smooth, and just a hint of flower. It also felt like it brushed my teeth just by drinking it. Oh, it was good, and now I’m dying to find it on my next Chinatown excursion, except I know it’s going to cost a pretty penny.

The next day, we picked my brother up to drop him off at the church on time before the wedding. We happened to go grab some brunch at Kelly’s Big Burger, a little hole in the wall diner my brother loves.

The prices were dirt cheap.
I started off with a sweet tea. It was cold, sweet tea. That’s about it. I still don’t get what all the hubub is about, unless you add some lemon. And maybe a smidge of vodka.

My brother got biscuits and gravy. They were tantalizing, but the biscuits were a bit pre-fab and had a fakey aftertaste. But still, that white gravy… it mesmerizes me!

He told our Dad he had to try the brains and eggs. So Dad got the brains and eggs. They were scrambled together, so it really resembled ham and eggs. It tasted like ham with 99% of the flavor sucked out of it, and really blended in with the eggs. Well, at least it wasn’t an ‘eww gross’ kind of thing.

I decided to order the grits, since, hey, it’s a southern thing. They were SO good! Imagine a combination of couscous-oatmeal-cereal, and you’ve got grits. Except, grits come smothered in butter or cheese. Then again, most people have had them. I’ve only had bad instances of grits before this, but oh, baby was I glad I ordered it!

The reception food the next day was a bunch of finger foods. You KNOW I love finger foods! Meatballs, chicken fingers, mini egg rolls (ok, how can you not love mini food?), shrimp, deli meats and cheeses, crudite and bread. Mmmm. Also, their cakes were awesome, especially my brother’s groom’s cake:

A Guitar!

The reception ended around 6 or 7 pm. We chilled in our hotel rooms, when suddenly… I needed a sandwich. Not just needed. NEEDED a sandwich. Dad was down for a fooding expidition. There was a Logan’s by our hotel, and he was on the border about it, but decided he didn’t want anything heavy late at night. He’d never eaten a slyder from White Castle before, so we went there and ordered a pair. Evidently this does not happen very often, since the counter girl gave me a wierd look and said: ‘Just two??’

They were White Castle slyders alright. Dad liked them, cause really, you can’t hate anything in mini form. Except maybe mini Hitler.

After White Castle, Dad had decided he needed to bring some of Logan’s ribs to my Grandfather and Uncle back in the city, since they HAD to have some Tennessee ribs. I won’t venture how authentic these are, but they were good, and my family does love good food. So, yes, here we are at Logan’s with a take-out order for a rack of ribs. And also a bucket o’peanuts.

The open grill was fun to watch while we were waiting and shelling peanuts. However, for my Dad… this just increased meat temptation.
“Ooo, that steak looks good. Did you see that steak?”
“Hunh, yea, Dad, it looks fine,”
“Man, I kinda want a steak now…”
“Well, we just ordered ribs…”
“Yea, but that’s for bringing back for Grandpa and my brother to try,”
“Well, maybe you could flag someone down and put in an order again…”
“Hey, let’s split it!”
“Dad, I do NOT want a steak at 9 pm,”
“C’mon… it looks SO good. We can try some Tennessee steak. Mmm, man, that looks good!”
That went on for the entire space of time until we received the ribs. My Dad was really hell bent on having that steak. I guess I know what I’ll be grilling up for Father’s Day.

So after we pick up the ribs, I decide to check out Captain D’s. It’s a local-ish fast food seafood type place, but anything with ‘seafood’ on it’s door will get me in. It seemed like they type of place where everything is fried, but they had some sandwiches for $4, so I gave the tilapia sans cheese a whirl. Seriously, who decided tartar sauce PLUS cheese had to be on there.

Dad was still talking about steak, and seeing as how Logan’s was still just across the street, I opted to hightail it back to the hotel. It wasn’t very far, but still, I really didn’t want my Dad pining over steak until I ate my sangwich.
As soon as we got back, we took a bite of the ribs (hey, they were good before!) and my brother called us. He and his new wife wanted to meet us at the local Waffle House for a quick bite before we left and they went on their honeymoon. God, they are such good people. But, my sandwich was still in it’s wrapper. I took a few bites, and wow – they know how to cook their tilapia here – Moist, and full of flavor. I wouldn’t mind a Captain D’s here. So after trying it, I chucked it in the mini fridge and watched some Food Network until we went to Waffle House.

Waffle House, if you don’t know, is a big time chain in the South. Kind of like an IHOP. I’d never been into one before, so it was time to see what the big deal was. My new sister-in-law and I ordered the mega-super-gigundo waffle meal. Oh, you know that seals the deal. My brother got a burger/melt type thing and some chili. My Dad split with me, which was a surprise since ALL I’d heard before was about getting a steak. Oookay.

So this meal came with: waffle, toast, 2 eggs, hash browns or grits and bacon or sausage. The eggs were really good, but the hash brown things were like mini spaghetti sticks made from potatoes that were overcooked. And only one side was crispy and browned. The bacon, however, was perfectly crispy and just salty enough. The waffle was rather disappointing for being the namesake of the restaurant. It just tasted like a waffle shaped pancake, with no crispy outside bits. Awww, seriously, Waffle House, what gives? However, if you ate a piece of egg with bacon on said sad waffle, your mouth danced with happy flavors all they way down to your belly.

Our plane ride back held a great surprise – we were supposed to have one connection, but got bumped to a direct flight! When does this happen?! Freakin’ awesome! So what did we do when we got back? Ate some more of course. We went to Flushing for a lunch of hollow veggies(which were way too oily), beef chow fun, shanghai rice noodles, ginger chicken, and jook/congee.

Nashville and Clarksville were a great time. The wedding was wonderful, as were the people who were married. Guys, I wish you the best life possible from here on out.And it’s not just because I want to come visit you and eat southern food again.

4 thoughts on “Are you from Tennessee? Cause you’re… really chowin’ down”

  1. Yum! There’s nothing quite like that artery-clogging southern food. If God has a favorite breakfast place along the highway, I bet it would be Waffle House.

  2. Hey- I left a message on the LS page for you.. but I thought I would leave one here as well. I moved out of town for a new job and ended up erasing my blog. I guess someone else took the name/address. Either way, you can surely erase my blog link if you’d like. Keep on blogging, I still really enjoy reading your posts when I have a chance!

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