Thursday, May 27, 2010

McCabe Pub - Higgins

"I rose politely in the club / And said, "I feel a little bored; / Will somone take me to a pub?"
G.K. Chesterton 'A Ballade Of An Anti-puritan'

McCabe Pub on Murphy Road in Nashville… this is another one of those places you would have gone when you were little and your parents had friends to entertain. OK that’s MY family. It’s a PUB, but it is a meeting spot. That Dark paneled look just takes me back.

The Digs: The lunch crowd was hopping by 11:30. It looks like a mix of duffers from the course practically across the street, neighborhood folk and business people who are looking for the specials. A bit of an older crowd but everyone was friendly.

At First Sight: It was another fix-it-yourself burger and I had Dijon mustard at the table (ooOOoo!) I had cheddar on the burger and it was nice and melty, a good sign they put the cheese on the burger while it’s still on the grill (I like that.) It comes with chips (fries or another side are extra) and I am fine with that, it’s all about the burger anyway.

At First Bite: It was a bit on the rare side of medium rare. In fact, I bet if I had ordered a Medium burger it would have been a perfect medium rare. The menu says the burgers are served well-done unless the customer specifies otherwise, I bet they don’t get too many medium-rare requests. The taste has a good burger burst. I usually do not like red onions but these were sliced thinly and it seemed to work.

The Finish: It was too rare. But I liked the flavor… great melty cheddar. I want to try this one again medium rare this time, not moo-ing.

Score: 6.8

Hard Rock - Higgins

"The regulars can’t keep away from the Hard Rock Cafe” Carol King

Hard Rock Café Nashville certainly does NOT feel like Nashville. I hadn’t opportunity to go since they remodeled. It looks hip in a we’re-not-really-trying sort of way, cool and expensive… Coupling the new look with the fact that the Hard Rock kept their employees on payroll while they shut down to remodel (all they had to do was put in the same hours with a volunteer organization.) I really should be coming here to support that kind of franchise.

The Digs: The new place looks bigger and really pulls you in. I noticed in my conversation with Mary that the music was loud ‘above our head’ but not so loud that we could not talk at the table. You can get a private conversation in without a bunch of people hearing it. Took a sec for the server to get to us, but hey they opened 5 minutes late too.

At First Sight: I went for the ‘regular’ 8-dollar burger. Medium rare done nicely. I HAD TO PUT ON MY OWN MUSTARD. That’s not a hardship but it’s just nice when they ‘make’ a burger how you ask them! Toasted bun - It was a burger ready to go.

At First Bite: The medium rare meat had good flavor but was reminiscent of a ‘good patty’. The bun was toasted but I think it had been toasted during prep and held so it could be fresh. It was NOT stale mind you but it seemed to be ‘pre-toasted’? It didn’t soak up all the burger juice I was getting from that burger. The condiments (mustard, pickle, onion) mixed well.

The Finish: I would not turn this burger down. Add to that the feel of the place and it’s a great place to get a burger or anything else you might want to pay a little more to look cool whilst eating. In the end, the burger was fine but not the greatest. Given the surroundings, I am glad to say I want to come back and have another. Cool Place.

Score: 6.8

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 6: Hard Rock Cafe - Mary's Notes

Oy! Sometimes you get an idea into your head and it's just hard to let go. When Nashville's Hard Rock Cafe re-opened earlier this spring, after closing several weeks for renovations, the restaurant that first made us drop our collective jaws with a $7 burger (oh, how innocent we were in 1994) has raised the stakes by offering a $13 burger ($13.95, actually). Although I wasn't there for a burger at the discovery visit, just as Lux Interior once asked, "What's inside a girl?" I wanted to know what was between the buns. This afternoon, in the name of gastronomical investigation, I found out.

Juiciness: 5. This was not a dry burger by any means, but apparently the buns are pre-grilled for "fronts" and stored warm. As a result, maybe the bun soaks up whatever juice the burger would normally drip onto the plate. Or my shirt. No drippage at all.

Flavor: 7. Okay, tough call here. It was a good burger. It had a clean, fresh taste. It was well-seasoned with pepper. But it didn't have a very beefy flavor.

Attractiveness: 7. Nicely put-together and good looking but I have to admit: it was just too much for me. The difference between the $8 (inflation) and the $13 burger at the Hard Rock appears to be about 4 ounces of meat and a matter of toppings.

Atmosphere: 10. The Hard Rock re-designed everything about the place and the new look is fantastic. Even with all the eye-catching displays, the overall look manages to be comparatively minimalistic for Nashville, with lots of clean lines. Major props.

Digestivity: I'm giving it a 6, but it's just hard to tell how much is because I just ate fatty red meat and how much is because I ate 10 freaking ounces of it of my own free will. I suspect it could be much worse.

Overall Experience: 7. Thank you sir, but if I do have another - and I likely will - it will be the 6 ounce deal.

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rotier's - Higgins View

"Comfort is the only thing our civilization can give us." Oscar Wilde

Every time I walk into Rotier's I wonder why I don't go there more often. The wood panelling and 'stuff' cluttering the walls reminds me of those diners and cafes my grandparents took me as a kid. It's a comfort food palace. The crowd is a very familiar one, even if you only show up now and then... same for the wait staff.

The Digs: A little dark in the place, at least that is how it FEELS. You really aren't a stranger when you come in. Mary and I get there early, the place is already filling up. Jay Phelps (former Lightning Traffic Anchor) joined us on this outing and HE ordered a meat and three... he went for the comfort food, not the burger-joy.

At First Sight: I got the burger on the french bread. I can honetly say I never had this burger before. It was poppy seedy, and didn't look like french bread much. The burger itself was already dripping - juicy in the plate. The condiments were on the burger and correct. They let you get a 1/2-1/2 order of fries and onion rings here, homey and economical.

At First Bite: French bread a little hard, burger a little soft. A very juicy squish. The meat tasted like hamburger but that is about as far as I can go. Not really flavorful and maybe a little flat. It WAS medium rare and very juicy, maybe one could call it greasy. I actually used the french bread to soak up the juice but I must say it didn't add to the flavor much at all.

The Finish: Lots of 'juice' without much flavor. I have said that the white bread buns make the burger, maybe I should go back to Rotiers and try it with a regular ol' bun? After all of the hype about that french bread roll burger, I am not ecstatic. And if I have the grease, I want the flavor. I won't try to interpret the 'How's and Why's' of it... It was a diner burger and that is about all I can say for it. I was really 'rooting ' for Rotier's as I have had the cheeseburger over the years. However, today's visit was a disappointment.

Score: 6.0

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 5: Rotier's - Mary's Notes

Today we took on Nashville's most famous burger joint in its most infamous neighborhood (prior to the rise of East Nashville, Elliston Place was renowned as the "Rock Block" for decades). What makes the Rotier's burger is that it's one of the few - maybe only - in Nashville that's freshly ground on-site; you really can taste the difference.

Juiciness - 10. When you pick up your burger and two-three teaspoons of deep reddish, brownish juice spill out on your plate, you know you're in good hands and the cook hasn't been flattening your patty with the spatula. 

Flavor - 4. I've had Rotier's on several occasions and while today's burger had as much old-fashioned hamburger taste as any other day's might, it also carried a trace of "meat sat in the refrigerator one day too long" taste. Not enough to send it back, but to make me think that I might not want to return early in the week, if you know what I mean.

Attractiveness - 6. It looks like a real-burger burger, but the French bread bun it's supposed to be famous for was disappointingly un-French breadlike. Next time I'll happily settle for the plain-bun bun.

Atmosphere - 9. Awesomely divey, with wood paneling, Christmas tree lights, neon signs and booths.Good beer selection, too.

Digestivity - 4. Another area that disappointed me today. Maybe the meat did, indeed, sit one day too long.

Overall experience - 6. I want to specify this being judged on today's - and only today's - meal. Now that we're comparing all these great places side by side, or meal by meal, this was a real disappointment. Come on, Rotier's, you can do way better than this.

Rotier's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 4: Ruby Tuesday - Mary's Notes

Thanks to life and then the May flood, this review was so late in writing, I needed to go back for seconds and get a fresh take. I didn't mind having to, for the record. As most are aware, Ruby Tuesday is a national chain restaurant serving up acceptable food trends to Americana eaters, with a slightly modern approach to presentation.  The menu offers regular burgers ("Classic") and more upscale, USDA prime-beef burgers. We had those. I also had their signature drink, the "Ruby Relaxer" which, in spite of having a name that sounds like an adult toy, has earned a place at the table.

Juiciness: 7: Granted, much of the juice was rendered fat ("grease" just isn't fair to use when we're talking about prime) but there was some color on the plate and there was plenty of it, overall. I went through two napkins.

Flavor: 7: This burger had a big beefy taste that was enhanced by cheddar cheese. However. I don't normally order burgers with tomato anymore, because what comes on them is some hard, pinkish or orangish thing that's been in a refrigerator. Ruby Tuesday's menu says they use seasonal vine-ripened tomatoes, so I chanced it. It did add a little to the overall beast, but still didn't come anywhere near to what local tomatoes would add.

Attractiveness: 8: Look at that pic. Doesn't that look like something you want in your mouth?

Atmosphere: 7: Your basic chain restaurant. Solid. Dependable. They have a few booths. 

Digestivity: 9: In spite of it being a rather large size, no sluggishness to report. Perhaps it was the cocktail.

Overall: 8: I'm not entirely sure this is a $10 burger but the whole experience — good burger, good fries that automatically come with it, good drink, good service — easily makes it returnable.

Rotier's on Urbanspoon