You be the Judge
Finally, I think the Judge found an appropriate place to call his restaurant, it is in a former bar building located in Brentwood, TN. It is not in Davidson County, Nashville, which is a shame for those of us living in Nashville, but the drive down I65 or 8th Ave/Franklin Rd is not too bad. This new location had been a long time coming after the Judge had to move out of his little house restaurant on Wedgewood. I really liked that little house Wedgewood location, but I guess the residential neighbors to the right and left of the restaurant did not care for loud live music and patron's cars blocking their driveways. Then the Judge moved downtown to an old Jody Faison's space in the upper Gulch area. The space was great for the Faison concepts, but not for BBQ. The space was kind of too uppity for the Judge food, and it never felt right. I didn't go the downtown Gulch location, all but 2 or 3 times because I could never get over the disconnect of the atmosphere (still Faison-esque) and the down home Texas BBQ food. Then the Judge moved to Greer Stadium. Honestly, I never went there because it was just a bit weird for me to do that. So, now, I really like the Judge Bean space now in Brentwood, it is not fancy, it is what I want in a Texas style BBQ joint. There is a bar, plenty of TVs for what ever UT sport you want to watch, the tables are bit mis-matched, just the way I want in a BBQ joint, and Judge has put up some great decorations on the walls which really makes think Texas BBQ. The only thing that would make this place better is if somehow the Judge could move the building and parking lot to a Nashville location, closer to where I live.
My recommendations are the smoked tomato salsa and chips for $5. Yes, it looks like a lot of money for chips and salsa, but this salsa just is outstanding. The tomatoes are put in the smoker, along with jalapeno peppers (I am guessing) and probably onion, and then they are whirled up an food processor to make this salsa that is served warm. I cannot get enough of this salsa! It is really full flavored, smoky, spicy, and surprising in a good way. The chips have a little bit of seasoning sprinkled on them, and are a great compliment to the salsa. Chips and salsa from the Judge travels well, so then next time I am at the Brentwood Maryland Farms area, I am getting some chips and salsa to go. I also tried some pork ribs, beef brisket, fries and baked beans. Texas is better known for beef BBQ, and that is what I would recommend. The ribs were not "on" the day I went, and actually served to me a bit cold. I suspect the ribs were done being smoked much earlier in the day, put in the fridge, and then possibly microwaved or stuck in an oven when I ordered them to reheat them. The brisket was good though. It had a nice reddish smoke ring and nice smoky flavor. The baked beans were good, and I think they are made with small bits of smoked brisket. They were not that icky sweet caramel stuff you get out of a can, they are more hearty and savory. I liked the beans.
Another visit to the Judge, we got the brisket tacos and catfish tacos. The catfish taco, I think are lightly breaded and fried, salsa, and guacamole on a deep fried fresh corn tortilla. The guacamole tasted homemade with nice chunks of avocado, and the salsa was the Judge's delicious smoked salsa. The brisket taco is chopped brisket with guacamole and salsa. I really enjoyed the brisket taco a lot! I think I found my dish at the Judge, the brisket taco. This trip, the mound of brisket on the taco was really high, possibly 4 oz of meat high. For me, 2 tacos plus a side, plus a little cup of guacamole was plenty for my dinner. There is an option for 2 tacos or 3 tacos, and of course Tuesday night is all you can eat tacos if you are hungry.
The one thing that is absent from this iteration of the menu is the smoked chicken wings. The last I remember the wings, they were at the Gulch location. I remember the smoked brisket and wings being really good from all those years ago. I wonder if I can ask the Judge to bring back those wings, maybe one night per week, or bring them back for me. Eh, if it isn't profitable for him to have wings, at least there is the smoked tomato salsa, beef brisket and the baked beans.
Labels: Nashville Eats