Friday, August 04, 2006

Judge Beans BBQ: Nashville, TN

After getting back to Nashville for a length of time and getting off the road, I decided to head down to Judge Beans. I had heard about them from a friend and we decided to check them out. I wanted to give these folks a fair shake because I intend on being pretty picky about a place that claims to have authentic Texas brisket, especially in Nashville. You can read the whole story on their web site which I have a link to for this story.

I actually went there three times before I did this official review.

The first time I went I had a combination platter and the brisket was a little tough. I was told that this was very unusual and I should give it another try. The ribs to me were OK, but they were not a match for an authentic Memphis rib place. The second time I came back I decided to have just the brisket and it was tender and it had more flavor and I liked it a lot. I also noticed that I spent the rest of the day and into the evening with about the worst case of indegestion I can remember. You know the kind where it seems like there is something just at the back of your throat and you try to burp to get it out but it never really goes away? That kind.

I suspected that perhaps I ate to much or it was something else that caused it so I went back the third time. This time I had the brisket plate again. It was not as good as the second time but better than the first. So that tells me that you can't really judge this place on one particular day.

I also ordered the "Texas Sushi" which is basically a jalapeno popper wrapped in their brisket. For $3.50 (it could have been more, I can't remember), I thought this one piece was a little over priced. I would have thought at least two would have been on the plate.

Here is a picture of my buddy's plate:

Now after the third time I noticed the indigestion was back for the rest of the afternoon. I had a conversation with one of the cooks there and they told me that they cook their brisket for 24 hours using Mequite wood that they have brought in by the truck load every few day, and they put an injection in it. I figure its the injection that gives me the indigestion. Another buddy of mine had the same problem. I suspect it may be packed with MSG or some other concoction that messes me up. So if this happens to you, they you'll know why. I don't think it affects everyone that eats it though. That's why I don't like to eat at places that use MSG in their cooking. My wife is allergic and so is my father. And I can tell if I have eaten a lot of it I just feel crummy and bloated for several hours. Why people cook with it I will never understand. If you need that much help with flavor you ain't a good enough cook. Get out of the freakin kitchen. Bu sometimes (and I think it might be the case with Judge Beans) that it is one ingredient in something that they use and isn't labeled and they probably don't even know it.

The Q here does have flavor and it is one of the front runners for Nashville BBQ you will find. It also stands alone (as far as I am aware) as the closest to authentic Texas Q that you can find in Nashville so it stands out. The sauces are OK, but most people who know Texas brisket won't use a sauce on it. Its mainly for the ribs. The sides are OK. They seems authentic. Nothing to slap your grandma over, but decent. Overall it is a well put together meal. It gets a 6.5 (would have been a 7 if I did not get indigestion every time I eat it). I would love to come back and try it again but I am afraid to eat any more of it. But if you don't think you are allergic to any of those injections and you like Texas BBQ, you should head over there and give it a try.

Here are the smokers in the back that they cook on:

Here's a look at the mequite wood they get brought in for the cookin of the brisket:

I will have to give them the points for the 24 hour smoking and using real smokers and the right kind of wood. You can't get brisket that slow cooked anywhere else around here, that is for dang sure! I wish their ribs was as good as the brisket because I think they could be one of the best places in Nashville if they could change just a couple of things. The waitresses are very friendly and sometimes you will see the owner hanging out and talking to folks. I did like this place. I think I just have a strange reaction to the meat. Perhaps I could just take some Pepcid with me when I go next time and just get it over with....

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