Review: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken of Nashville

Hattie B line

Expecting we would need plenty of energy for the night’s Nickel Creek and Secret Sister performances, dinner in Nashville was a high priority. We wanted somewhere local. I suggested hot chicken to my visiting friends from Kansas City. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken was (relatively) close to the Ryman, so off we went.

Hattie B’s rates well on the food sites, and I was eager to compare it to my earlier brush with Nashville’s hot chicken, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish. Hattie B’s is a much more respectable place than either Prince’s, which I had to drive around a ‘Road Closed’ sign to access, or Bolton’s, in a painted cinderblock shack. Hattie B’s is in the same building as a GiGi’s cupcake shop.

Hattie B menu Hattie B order

The line to order was out the door, which I took as a positive sign. While I had gone full-on hot at Bolton’s, I knew I had the rest of this evening to spend at the Ryman, so I opted to notch the heat back a little at Hattie B’s. There are five levels of heat at Hattie B’s, starting with no heat with “Southern.” I stepped past Mild/Medium up to “Hot!”for my small white meat order. It was the right choice.

The heat doesn’t register at first, but then it sinks in. As I discovered at Bolton’s, the key to handling the hot breading is to get plenty of meat in the same bite. The taste was good, the heat level was about right. According to the young lady when I ordered “Hot” is supposed to be 3X hotter than Mild/Medium. I would be willing to go up another heat level on another visit.

Hattie B chicken

My hot chicken compatriots tried the “Southern” (no heat) and Mild/Medium. The Southern still has a spicy taste, and I was told the Mild/Medium had kick without distracting with too much heat.

Hattie B banana puddingI chose standard sides, beans and fries. Both were fine, no complaints about either. The banana pudding was creamy and tasty, which lived up to the billing. I wish the sweat tea was a bit sweeter. My eating companions tell me that I missed out by not having the pimento mac and cheese. I won’t make that mistake next time.

I admit it’s tough for me to compare Bolton’s with Hattie B’s. I chose a much higher heat level at Bolton’s. Location and facilities makes Hattie B’s more accessible and eater friendly. I think if you like hot chicken you would be happy with either one.

If you’re new to ¬†Nashville hot chicken, Hattie B’s is good place to start. The chicken is tasty, the sides solid, and the banana pudding excellent.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
112 19th Ave South
Nashville, TN
Monday – Thursday: 10 am – 11 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 12 am | Sunday 11 am – 4 pm

A Visit to Birmingham’s The Alabama Biscuit Company

Alabama Biscuit front

Since I first read of the impending opening of Birmingham’s The Alabama Biscuit Company I couldn’t imagine a better name for a business. I was eager to visit, and the opportunity finally came for me to stop by.

Alabama Biscuit is nestled in a row of shops in Cahaba Heights over the hill behind The Summit from 280. I admit, it was tough to ignore the smell of barbecue from the joint a few doors down. But biscuits were my goal, and biscuits I would have.

The restaurant is a minimalist mix of wood and steel industrialism. Old Try prints decorate the walls. There were only a couple of other customers when I arrived around 11:30, but the hours are geared toward the breakfast crowd. A young lady was by the window working on her MacBook, and I can see how Alabama Biscuit could be a welcome alternative to the standard Starbucks.

Alabama Biscuit CubanI was prepared to order The Alabama, and was particularly encouraged when told that I could only eat it in (they won’t package it to go), when another customer’s Cuban biscuit was just coming out of the kitchen. As a known lover of Cuban sandwiches, I couldn’t pass up such a concoction–brilliant, I thought.

The Cuban was an off-menu special that came with sweet tea and a bag of chips for $10. The tea was not quite as sweet as I might have liked, but I understand they are going for a more subtle taste.

There was a several minute wait for the sandwich, but I had no complaints when it arrived. It was a well chosen option for a light lunch. The special came together as a restrained, but filling meal.

The biscuit sandwich certainly wouldn’t be confused with a Tampa pressed Cuban, but it was a well done variation on the theme. Quibbling, I might say it was a little too heavy on the mustard. And Alabama Biscuit has chosen to go with a more crumbly biscuit than I make myself, but it’s clearly what they’ve decided is best for their purposes.

I left somewhat sorry that I didn’t try one of the sweet biscuit options like The Alabama of my original intent, but I was not disappointed at all with the Cuban. It only means I need to go back again.

Give The Alabama Biscuit Company a try if you’re in Birmingham. The well appointed shop comes with plenty of Southern hospitality. It seems to me that these are folks who are trying to do good work, and they ought to be supported.

Review: Decatur’s The Brick Deli & Tavern

Brick signMy friend Seth wanted to meet for lunch this week and suggested Decatur as a meet-up point. Locally based food guru Christy Jordan plugged Decatur’s The Brick, particularly its Banjo Picker sandwich, awhile back on her Southern Plate website. Our destination was set.

Downtown Decatur is a pleasant place with old brick buildings and clean streets. The Brick occupies one of the–yes, you guessed it–brick buildings, with exposed brick and ductwork on the interior. A stage sat idle in the corner awaiting their live music nights. For early lunch it was already busy; we grabbed a table by the large windows.

I went with Jordan’s recommended Five Finger Banjo Picker sandwich with Polish sausage, Swiss cheese, and kraut on toasted rye. At Seth’s suggestion I substituted the standard side for a cup of their Wisconsin beer cheese soup. We also couldn’t resist trying the banana pudding.

Brick Banjo Picker

They were all solid choices. The sandwich was flavorful and tangy, the soup creamy and tasty–an excellent choice on a cooler day. Banana pudding is a standard for the area. The Brick’s version, although not spectacular, won’t leave you disappointed. The serving is not large so is a nice dessert option when you don’t want anything too heavy.

If you find yourself in Decatur give The Brick a try. Their menu offers plenty of options for explorations. It will be worth your time.

Review: Wallace Station & the Inside Out Hot Brown

WS building

There’s no drive more enjoyable than Old Frankfort Pike, which connects Lexington and Frankfort, Kentucky. The rolling hills, horse farms, and stone fences are quintessentially Bluegrass. But I had a new destination on this trip: Wallace Station.

WS stepsWallace Station is a sandwich shop in an old former country store in essentially the middle of nowhere (it seems that way, but it’s actually quite accessible, and a joy to drive to).¬†I had come in search of their Inside Out Hot Brown, a sandwich take on the Kentucky classic. I have documented my favorite hot brown from Ramsey’s in Lexington. Would Wallace Station live up to high expectations?

I arrived a little past peak lunch time on a Saturday, but the line was still out the door and down the stairs. The line moved quickly, though, and I spotted my target on the menu board.

WS menu board

Also calling to me was the pie and pastry display. Wallace Station brings in baked goods from its nearby sister shop the Midway School Bakery. I resisted as much as I could, but allowed myself a Woodford cookie, named after the county the restaurant is in. As a former resident of Woodford County myself I couldn’t really pass that up. And while I’m still not exactly sure what the Woodford cookie is, I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

WS pies

Cookie collage

After placing your order at the counter, you can find your seat and wait for the food to be brought out to you. Inside seating is limited; most dining is on the back deck and at picnic tables in the yard. The weather was wonderful that day, the scene idyllic, so I didn’t mind the wait for my Inside Out Hot Brown.

WS backyard

And, indeed, it was worth the wait. The Inside Out Hot Brown is just that. While a traditional hot brown is a baked open faced sandwich with bread, turkey, ham, tomato, bacon, and mornay sauce that you need to eat with a fork, the Wallace Station version puts everything inside the bread like a traditional sandwich. The fresh Wallace Station bread from their Midway bakery really takes the sandwich to the next level. This is a serious sandwich that competes on its own terms with the best traditional hot browns. The size is large enough to split with a friend. I ate half and packed up the other for later.

Hot Brown

While the menu at Wallace Station is deep, it will be hard to order anything else. And there’s that pie and cookie display to explore. I look forward to driving down Old Frankfort Pike again.