1524 Demonbreun St.
Nashville, TN 37203
by Reuben Dagwood
Having left Louisville, our spirits were all but broken. A huge traffic jam on the way out made matters worse. For the first time throughout the entire trip, music was actually played (loudly) so that we didn’t need to have a conversation. We were wiped out, spiritually and physically.
So, when we finally rolled into downtown Nashville, we were expecting to have everything go badly. Having come from Louisville, we just assumed that no one on the street here would smile either, and that no one would have anything to say to us, besides what their job required.
So, it was more than just a pleasant surprise when, within 15 minutes of arriving in the town we had already been involved in 10 minutes of (constructive) conversation with a local. It was more like a mental jolt of strong coffee than conversation, waking us from our Louisvillian stupor, which was appropriate, as we were, in fact speaking with the barista at a coffee shop downtown.
We were directed to a few different strips of bars at which to have the best times, given detailed explanations of what to expect at each different strip, and pointed in the right direction for finding a cheap hotel close to these strips. We walked down 4th Ave to the visitor’s center and had a marvelous conversation with a good ole’ boy named Frank. On the way there, I accidentally bumped into an older woman, as I was preoccupied with the Ernest Tubb Record Store sign, and with a smile, SHE apologized. Within one hour, we were back at 100 percent and in love with the idea of travel all over again.
Being that this is a sandwich blog, I will spare you all the details of just how much this city kicks ass. Just know that Nashville has officially made it to my number one spot on the favorite city (to visit) list.
In this euphoric haze of city worship, we stumbled into a pub on “Music Row” right about dinner time. I had been trying very hard to eat a damned sandwich at this point, but until now, it had simply not happened. The problem is that after waking so late in the day, and crushing a giant breakfast each day, it was well into the night before any small inkling of hunger occurred again, which was well past the time that the libations had started flowing (hard).
In truth, what sent me over the edge in the sandwich buying department was that I had seen all along the trip south, at truck stop restaurants, diners, and proper restaurants an intriguing side dish: deep fried pickles. I had wanted to get them at a few different places along the way, but the cheapest I had seen them at this point was $10, and I just couldn’t justify paying that much for one sliced pickle, regardless of the breading and glorious grease. But, at The Closing Bell, these wondrous little delights came along with the sandwiches.
So, it was sandwich time. I ordered a Club Melt with the fried pickles and got a great deal on a Yeungling on draft, which is always such a treat. When, finally, I was able to satisfy my curiosity about the pickles, it was with relief. Being an avid fan of pickles, I assumed that I’d have to start adopting the practice of breading and deep frying them once I got back home. I had been mistaken.
The breading and frying of interesting items is nothing new, and as anyone who’s been to a state fair will be able to confirm, the pickle is not any sort of groundbreaking addition to the lustrous roster of fried goods already circulating. The first bite was wonderful. They just looked like thick potato chips, and protocol dictated that I dip them in ranch. It was great. But, very quickly, the allure fell away, and I was suddenly just eating vinegar flavored bread, dipped in ranch dressing, which is as bad as it sounds. Looking backwards, I should have known that a fried pickle would be a horrible idea, but I simply hadn’t seen one before, and was seduced by it’s mystery.
To be fair, this sandwich was everything that it was supposed to have been. It was a greasy Denny’s knock off, made to go well with the booze. If I had been less mentally exhausted, I’d have known this going in. But, when I read the menu, I saw Club sandwich, not Club Melt sandwich. So, in reality, maybe this review is actually a dissertation on shattered expectations. I had a hankrin for a nice, crisp, dry little sandwich, and instead got the club melt. I brought this on myself.
So, what is the Club melt? Well, what it is not is a three layer sandwich, and it is not cut into fourths, and there are no toothpicks, and there are no tomatoes. Does it still deserve the moniker of “club”? No. It is a fried turkey sandwich with bacon on it.
The bread was huge. I was put off by this, because the function of huge fried pieces of bread, half an inch thick each is to soak up as much of the frying grease as possible. So, in your mind, go ahead and substitute lard sponge for bread. Between the grease was a small layer of turkey, covered in bacon and melted all together with American cheese. Again, I feel I must do my diligence and declare that I’d have loved this sandwich, were I deep in the throws of a morning hangover. But, I wasn’t, so I didn’t. And, as a result, especially coupled with the greasy globs that were the pickle chips, I felt like three new zits appeared on my face and I gained 10 pounds.
When I ordered my next Yeungling, I answered the “How was it, guys?” question with a stolid thumbs down, and the classic third grade “pee-yeuh” face. He laughed and apologized and then filled me back up. We stayed there long enough to chat up a nice older couple, help a group of friends finish their “Pub Tower” (self refrigerating 120 ounce beer cups), and get into a playful argument with some Michigan football fans. Throughout all of this, sandwich and all, a smile never left my face.
Regardless of the sandwich, we loved that bar. Hell, we loved every damned bar we set foot in for those three days. So, even having not particularly cared for the damn thing, I still loved it, and was happy to have eaten it.