Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blind Pig No. 55 (CLOSED--update 3/3/11)

   This restaurant is the same location as one of my favorite restaurants of all time, Mirror.  Obviously, that place is gone now, and I understand why.  They attracted the hipster and 20-something professional crowds.   The original menu concept was Spanish tapas and small entree plates with upscale Southern influences:  bleu cheese polenta fries, spicy fried green tomatoes, and prosciutto wrapped cipollini (which were all absolutely amazing!)  In the attempt to draw a more diverse crowd including the aging money-loaded socialites from the nearby Belle Meade and Brentwood (Nashville suburbs), the menu focused more on the upscale Southern then they threw in some weird curve balls of Italian and Asian.  And it was all down-hill from there.  The old money farts didn't want to rub elbows with 21 year old kids that could be boy, girl, or both, and they didn't want small plates of "foreign" food or mango-mint infused rum (which was to die for, by the way.)  Last I heard, Mirror was moving to Miami and went back to their original menu.  Good for them.  Honestly, they were a little too cool for Nashville from the beginning (and that is coming from someone who loves this city.)

   Any who... Blind Pig No. 55 owned/operated by the illustrious Watermark Group.  I have never liked BBQ.  Being from Nashville, that may sound odd, but you'd be surprised at the lack of BBQ joints around here.  Sure there are quite a few, just not as many as you would think.  The main reason I never liked bar-b-que is that I don't care for BBQ sauce: sticky, sweet, ketchup-y.  Also globs of fat and bones tend to be an overall issue for me.  In theory, I always like NC-style BBQ that is smoked and finished with a vinegar sauce.  I had never had that kind of BBQ, which is why it is just a theory.   

   But then we went to Blind Pig!  My dad ordered  the most expensive thing on the menu, a full rack of the St. Louis style ribs with 2 sides for $21.  Not too shabby.  The ribs are rubbed twice with a savory rub and slow smoked in-house (so all the fat melts into the meat and doesn't remain in globs, yay!)  Then you get to choose the sauce you put on it (or don't put on it).  Each table has a caddy with 6 sauces ranging from a mild, sweet ketchup based sauce to a super spicy, vinegary concoction.  I ate 300x more ribs that night than I had ever eaten in my whole life... meaning, I ate 3 ribs.  My mom and I had the pulled pork plate that includes a pile of pork and 2 sides for around $11.  The pork is smokey and delicious.  I don't really have anything else to say except that it is a prime example of what pulled pork ought to be.

   The sides were definitely hit and miss.  The hits were dead on and the misses were just shy of dismal.  The fries are great.  Hand cut and fried to perfection and liberally sprinkled with sea salt.  It's good they didn't mess those up.  My mom and I were both intrigued by the blue cheese sweet potatoes, but were sorely disappointed.  It was a soupy mash that tasted mostly like cream with just hints of sweet potato and bleu cheese.  I love fried okra so I sweet talked the bartender/waiter into letting me have the okra as a side instead of as an appetizer.  It was ok, but I feel like it was a Northerner's interpretation of fried okra.  It wasn't sliced; it was whole pods that were dipped into batter then fried.  We don't batter okra in the South; we bread it.  Big difference.  And we slice it.  The tops are tough and kind of bland and not terribly pleasant.  However, the remoulade sauce that came with the okra was fantastic beyond all belief!  Now we come to, what I think, was the best thing of the night.  "BBQ'd Cabbage."  Really it is just cabbage that has been smoked along with the meat in the smoker.  Holy.  Shit.  I realize that cooked green cabbage is not every one's favorite because of the sort of dirty sock odor it emits, but if you love cabbage that doesn't bother you.  And I love cabbage!  Once you get past the smoky sock smell (which, I'll admit, makes my mouth water... if I know it is coming from cabbage) the leaves are tender with a bit of crunch and mildly sweet and earthy.  I would absolutely recommend the BBQ'd cabbage to anyone!

   There is great potential here with a friendly staff, in-house smoker, impressive draught beer selection and full bar.  The atmosphere is relaxed and family friendly.  The opposite of pretentious.  There are problems though.  The expediting (timing of orders and sending out food) needs a bit of work.  We sat at the bar and waited too long for our food.  Luckily the bartender (formerly of Mirror) was amazingly nice so it made the wait less of an issue.  (I was REALLY hungry by the time we got our food though.)  The menu obviously needs some tweaking.  I think they have the meats down, but the sides..... yeah.  Good ideas fail in poor execution.  After reading other customer's reviews, the quality of the food and service seems to be inconsistent at best.  Yet, based on my experience, even with the flaws, I would recommend at least trying it.  There are some true gems on the menu!  The future is hazy for Blind Pig No. 55.  Unfortunately, I'd only give it a 55% chance of making into a second year. 

Blind Pig No. 55 
2317 12th Ave. S.--Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 292-2655

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