Food is an interesting thing. Two people can sit down to the same meal and one person think it is amazing and another not-so-much. This has been my experience several times in the past. This past week was a good example. We love BBQ. Last year we had the pleasure of trying BBQ in Texas, along the southwest, and up through the Carolinas. We had some amazing BBQ and some not so amazing BBQ in our opinions. When we headed out of Florida to our summer jobs in Des Moines we drew out our path to include Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, and Kansas City so we could try the different flavors that the different regions included as well as some non-bbq options.
Upon arriving in Nashville we looked at the list we made over the years before we got the RV. We have watched dozens of Travel Channel and Food Network shows about the best things to eat and as we watched we started a list of places to go and things to eat when we were there. Some have been hits and some have been misses.
Nashville brought us a few winners. Pancake Pantry and Loveless Café. The Pancake Pantry is a nice little place down in the University area of Nashville that serves 20-some different types of pancakes. When we arrived the line was out the door and around the corner at 1 in the afternoon. We finally were seated and order our Sweet potato pancakes and some other items. The pancakes were the suggested item from the show we had seen. They were very good but I think I would prefer other items on the menu from personal preferences. I would return. Bill said it was “okay” but he is also not a pancake guy.
Loveless Café on the other hand Bill absolutely loved. He got the Hashbrown cassarole that they are famous for as well as a pulled pork with eggs; I had the ham and eggs that comes with a side of “Red-eye Gravy”. What you may say is Red-eye Gravy? A combination of coffee, brown sugar, and ham drippings that make more of an au jus that sweetens up a salt cured ham. He also got to try sorghum for the first time. Their store carries bottles of it and so I snatched up some to take home. So good and I have read it is really good for you. Win Win!
Raz’z was on the Best Thing I Ever Ate Spiciest Foods. Their Jambalaya Pasta is supposed to be amazing and so spicy. Bill just loves spicy and he loves him some jambalaya but he said was not spicy at all but had good flavor. Very good andouille sausage but no spice at all. I had ordered a cup of gumbo and that was AMAZING! It was almost a touch too spicy for me but with the help of the crackers on the side and the beautiful dirty rice on top I plowed through that bowl in heaven. Real Okra! Oh my!
Memphis was a big stop for us. We had the “World Famous” Rendevous ribs that have been on every BBQ show and food channel special of best things. There was also Interstate BBQ that has also been on many lists. We had Interstate BBQ the day we arrived in Memphis. The sauce was fantastic just the way I like it a little spicy, tomatoey and a touch of sweet to mellow the vinegar that gives it the bite. The pork ribs were great! I didn’t care much for the beef ribs but I rarely do. Their beans though were out of this world. Tangy and sweet and vinegar so scrumptious! I also loved their mustard-style potato salad.
Rendezvous… Rendezvous… Rendezvous… I just don’t know what to do with you. It seemed like every time I turned on a travel show someone was raving about this place. I try not to go to these restaurants with overly high expectations but it was impossible not to. BBQ Paradise said you had the best ribs in the country. Man v. Food raved. On the Best Thing I Ever Ate- Tyler Florence counted your ribs as the best BBQ he has ever eaten… Tyler Florence! The Chowdown Countdown put you as #24 of the top 101 things to eat in the entire United States of America. No other place had this much hype. We arrived and the line was substantial. We waited in the bar for our table and were finally seated. We ordered “the best ribs in the world” with sides of beans and coleslaw and I had the sweet tea. First problem the tea. I would call myself a sweet tea connoisseur. I love me some sweet tea. I have had sweet tea in every state that serves sweet tea and their sweet tea, while sweet, was also bitter. I have a notion it was left over from the day before. Blech. This institution that some say all ribs should be compared to… sucked. The problem is they started right. The rub was exquisite some chili powder added a touch of spice, the celery seed was a surprise add in the vinegar that is blended with the spice to make it stick, yum, the ingredients were obviously mixed well and the ribs were hand rubbed into perfection… until instead of a slow smoked heaven they are thrown on a hot grill and dried out to within an inch of their lives. When they hit the table they were almost cold. They were so tough that the little plastic knife we had almost broke trying to cut through them. No juice, no meat falling off bone. Bite down and pray your teeth don’t come out before the meat gives! Sadness fell around me. These… these scrawny dried out ribs are the best in the country? I think somebody needs a lesson in smoking because these poor ribs were not good. Sad because the rub had so much promise.
Gus’ Famous Chicken on the other hand was scrumptious. Fried spicy chicken heaven! The breading was crunchy without being too crunchy with a touch of spice that I believe was cayenne but that was not excessive. No afterburn unless you wanted to use the provided hot sauce. Their sweet tea was amazing. Heh