Thursday, May 20, 2010
Betty's Bar and Grill
Saturday May 15th 2010
Betty’s Bar and Grill, 49th and Charlotte, Nashville, TN
Betty’s Bar and Grill is a lot of things. It’s side patio serves as home to a couple dozen feral cats who survive off ranch dressing sides, food scraps, and sips of beer donated by the customers. In the daytime it serves as a NASCAR viewing destination for the crowd of early drinking Tennesseeans. And at night the youth in training pour in for pool and an at times strange combination of traditional and experimental music. The first time I came here, back when I lived in town, I looked over the drinks and decided to go with “Betty’s Bitchin’ Brew”, for two reasons: 1- I’d never tried that beer before, 2- it was the cheapest. As I sipped it I thought, “Wow, this beer is total garbage.”, which for $1.50 is pretty much what I expected, I just found it strange that a small bar in West Nashville would take the time to brew their own swill or ‘pinche’ as I’ve heard it called. Once I thought about it for a minute and realized how ridiculous and unreasonable that was I asked the bartendress what it actually was.
“Oh, it’s Natty Light.”, She responded. It’s funny that they changed the name of the beer in the first place, but what’s even funnier is that I would never in a million years spring for a Natty Light in any bar or in any store, but every time I’m at Betty’s that’s what I get, and I don’t like it at all, but for some reason the name switch makes it a little more tolerable.
When this town was my home and trips to Betty’s were a little more frequent than I would have cared for, I never tried the food. Something about the overwhelming amount of swimsuited beer model posters and haze of cigarette smoke just didn’t get my appetite going. It wasn’t until my second return to town, when two good friends of mine, Crom and Leslie, had taken over the night shift, that I decided to go for it and have a burger. Crom, despite being a self proclaimed ‘man of leisure’ with a Ferris Bueller poster to prove it, can really get crazy in the kitchen. You’ll be sitting on the porch together for an hour in complete silence and then suddenly he’s serving you a plate of Fettuccini Alfredo with turkey meat balls. He’s got some tricks. The burger was for lack of a better term, insane. I instructed him to put ‘everything’ on it, which he did, and when I came to an hour later after a sudden full body incapacitation, I was ready to start hitting those “Bitchin’ Brews”, and knew very well that food would not be necessary for quite some time.
This time around Leslie made me one. To get a little shit started I told Crom, “Leslie said she makes a better burger than you.” Initially he shrugged it off, but came back at me a couple minutes later.
“Was that a direct quote? ‘I make a better burger than Crom.’, did she say that?”
My burger came cut in half like so (I apologize for the darkness of the pictures, it’s not the kind of place where bright lights would go over well), and I showed the cross section to Crom to get an opinion on how the meat was cooked.
“Where’s the pink?”, he said, “I don’t see any pink. Show me the pink!” He continued on, referring to how the burger was, not over done, but thoroughly cooked whereas he prefers and makes for everyone who orders one, a medium rare. I offered him a bite, which he at first declined, but then I insisted suggesting he try it to see how he felt. “Where’s the meat juice?”, he added. I proposed a throwdown, but neither party seemed interested. Or were they just scared?
Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the “Lazlo Burger”. It might not have been as juicy as Crom’s, but it was lighter, which I was glad about because there aren’t many good places to lay down at Betty’s. After letting it settle for a few moments a feeling of pure triumph washed through me, and again I had the intuition that eating would not need to be done again for a long while, and truth be told it carried me through the long night, my slumber, all the way up to our mid afternoon breakfast.