[Nashville, TN] Mission BBQ

Of all the countries we visit, America is the most “foreign”, even though we share a common language. I find cultural and other differences that I don’t find when I visit, say, other European countries. The differences are one of the fun things about travel. Eating at Mission BBQ is a good example of the difference. It’s “mission”, apart from serving food, is to honour the military and, indeed, other emergency services which protect communities. They do this in a number of ways – for instance, playing the national anthem each midday. Now, all that seems very foreign to me. I can’t see that anyone would even think of opening such a restaurant in the UK, or any of those other European countries I visit, let alone think it might be a success. But success is what this small chain has got going for itself (fortyish branches).

It’s a sort of fast food set-up. You order at the counter and they shout out your name when it’s ready for collection. We ordered a pulled pork plate and another of brisket. And we both took sides of fries and coleslaw (or “coldslaw” as they have it). Fries were particularly good. Unfortunately the meat wasn’t. The pork was lacking in flavour and was dry. It needed a heavy dose of one of the battery of six sauces on the table. Perhaps the least interesting pulled pork I’ve ever eaten, in the many years of visiting America and eating BBQ in the south. The brisket was better – moist, tender slices of beef but, again, lacking in any depth of flavour. And nothing was quite as hot as you might want.

A rather disappointing experience – although the military photos, etc, on the wall were interesting. As was the army mobile field kitchen parked outside.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold