Heading down the home stretch. I figure that some folks may need a musical accompaniment to get through the last chapter(s) of this epic journey, and nothing seems more appropriate than[url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwzRm_Ut7HM']this[/url]. Stardate 1312.4 - Denver, CO to Nashville, TN
TTM's log: The impossible has happened. I have separated myself from my Earthly companion and journey on to my next destination – Nashville.
Today is a really weird day, as I am completely reliant on American Airlines to get me to my destination, on time, with little room for error. Surprisingly enough, I arrived in Nashville a few minutes before my scheduled arrival time. Since BNA is a relatively small airport, the rental cars are still located right on site with no need for a shuttle or anything. I was on my way less than 15 minutes after wheels down! That, unfortunately, is where my good fortune ended. Despite Poverty Pete’s
fine directions from the stadium to the ballpark, I somehow ended up lost – making concentric circles around the stadium and extending myself farther and farther away each time. Unfortunately, Greer Stadium
is not well marked with signage – but, you would think I could have seen large light stanchions? Nope. I still got there with plenty of time before the game, found quick and easy parking, and caught up with PP
quickly, but my poor navigation skills did bleed into quality eating time at Judge Bean’s BBQ
Tell me that this doesn’t have my name written all over it – a bbq joint inside a baseball stadium! I could think of no finer place in all the land to break bread with Roadfood.com’s only ” super-duper roquefort-stuffed rotisserie tenderloin.”
Keep in mind, this is not a booth set up on the concourse, it is a full-scale restaurant that overlooks the playing field.
The Judge puts out his menu in plain talk – and doesn’t appear to take too much crap from anyone, least of all the customers! I wish my photo of the menu turned out better – because it is humorous to read. One menu item prompts customers that the beef brisket will contain a little fat – and for those who may not like their brisket a little fatty to order something else – like chicken! The menu also notes that all drinks (yes, even water) are free, but glasses run $1.50. Since the place is obviously themed as a Texas barbecue joint, I did what any self-respecting, Texas BBQ eater would do – I ordered a frosty-cold Shiner Bock, on draught, while Poverty Pete
lined up some food. This is what remained before I remembered to take a photo.
[/img] Poverty Pete
was ready to take away my “man card” – because I am pretty sure that these were the hottest items to set themselves on my tongue
on quite some time! Top – “Texas sushi” - sausage and cheese stuffed jalapeno wrapped in brisket; bottom – “Shrimp Diablo” - jalapeno pepper stuffed with smoked shrimp and cheese and wrapped in bacon. They were good, but I could not eat these in quantity. The very attractive blonde waitress also thought I was a Yankee wuss.
I didn’t get to try anything else on the menu, as we had to head downstairs to meet up with some of PP’s friends who were joining us at the game. PP secured us some fabulous seats – directly behind home plate, in lovely heckling distance.
Knowing that I prefer ballparks with some character, as opposed to those newer stadiums that all look alike, the first thing I noticed was the ultra-cool edifice out in left-centerfield.
Ladies and gentlemen…THAT is a minor league scoreboard, if ever I’ve seen one!
Unfortunately, all of the charm of their older stadium seems to be lost on the locals, who seem to want that new-style, downtown, amenity-laden park – complete with Ferris wheel. At Greer, most of the fans were once again dressed up in empty-seat costumes.
One of the teams won, one of the teams lost, the guy we heckled hit a towering home run (true story), but you all don’t care about any of that. Once the sensation returned to my tongue, I really enjoyed my visit to the ballpark. PP has some great friends who all thought I was completely nuts for ending my vacation with a one-day stop in Nashville – only to drive to Louisville. PP also has an inordinate number of friends who think that he needs “watching,” as I was told on more than one occasion to make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble.
I needed some food at this point, so PP led me to a spot right across the street from my hotel. Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery
was easily the best of the lot of the brew pubs I had visited in the last week and change. I’ll admit, it probably helped that I had something of a beer connoisseur with me, and my usual caveats about brew pubs still apply (overpriced, Yuppie, ordinary food), but this was the best of the bunch. PP and I split an order of their piping hot, fresh soft pretzels (2 for $4.50). I believe that PP was really impressed with their homemade mustard – I did not partake. As for the beer, I ordered a Nut Brown Ale
, which was awarded the Gold medal at the 2000 Great American Beer Festival. When I asked PP if I was making a good beer selection, he informed me that he was one of the judges at the aforementioned 2000 Great American Beer Festival and was one of the judges who awarded that gold medal – so, yeah, he thought I was making an OK choice. PP was not really hungry, but I needed entrée food, so I ordered a menu item called “steak and biscuits.” These were four slider-sized sandwiches consisting of a slice of filet on a fresh, fluffy biscuit($11). Au jus sauce accompanied, and our bartender rustled up some extra, as these made for a pseudo-French dip-style meal. The sandwiches were good and filling. PP had two or three of their different beers, but I’d be darned if I could remember what they were. I am sure that he will chime in with the details. Monday – the day after the last day – Nashville, TN to Louisville, KY
I knew I had an early wake-up call to meet up with Poverty Pete
for breakfast at the legendary Pancake Pantry
near the Vanderbilt University campus. I knew I was close – which was good, as I am not always up at the butt-crack of dawn. I made it close to on-time, but unfortunately, I was distracted while I was getting dressed at the news of George Carlin’s passing. A sad day, indeed.
For all you regulars…when was the last time you saw this? No line outside...I guess this is what happens when you meet at oh-dark-thirty for breakfast. Who knew?
How about this sight?
PP and I were pretty much the only ones in the whole place – the whole time we were there. PP was pretty clear that this would not be the case on any weekend morning. Still, even in a mostly-empty restaurant, the employees move fast!
Hmm…what to order? I think I’ll go with the pancakes.
The Caribbean Pancakes, to be exact. Five buttermilk pancakes covered with whole banana, shaved coconut, chopped pecans and powdered sugar. Dollops of butter also accompany. Bottles of hot "maple flavored" syrup (tall, dark bottle) and cold sweet cinnamon cream sauce (shorter, light brown bottle) are on the table to use at your own discretion. Wait until you see the butter start melting into these bad boys…
Make no mistake about it – these are some serious Grade A USDA Prime pancakes
. The combination of flavors worked perfectly. I usually just douse my pancakes in butter, as I don’t much care for the super-sweet syrupy stuff so early in the morning. These, however, begged for a little bit of the sweet cinnamon cream sauce (not a lot – but, some!). Poverty Pete
had a great-looking non-pancake breakfast, himself. I’ll be darned if I recall the name, though, but it looked like it could have been called “the kitchen sink.”
This was one heck of a breakfast – just the kind of thing to fill up before a nice lengthy drive. A few minor complaints that keep Pancake Pantry from a “perfect 10”: (1) for the kind of money they charge for their food, REAL maple syrup should be automatic. If Cracker Barrell can do it….and (2) about that cost…
$16, including tax and tip, for a pancakes and eggs breakfast is just this side of obscene. For that kind of money, they BETTER be the best pancakes I’ve ever had. They were excellent, but I am not sure that they were THE best, as I really enjoyed the ones I had last summer at the Cozy Corner Diner and Pancake Pantry
Still, this is an absolute winner – and a must-stop for anyone traveling through Nashville.
[url='http://www.judgebeans.com/']Judge Bean's BBQ & Steakhouse
4th Floor - Greer Stadium
534 Chestnut Street
Nashville, TN 37203
[url='http://www.blackstonebrewery.com/restaurant.html']Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery
1918 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203 Pancake Pantry
1796 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212
(right by Vanderbilt University)
Off to Louisville....