Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nashville Institution

Brown's (2)You’ve probably heard me mention George Motz and his book, Hamburger America. A must read for any and all hamburger aficionados BTW. Around Christmas time I bought the eBook version for the iPad and I’m glad I did. We were heading home from the in-laws a few days after New Years and thought a burger for lunch was a good plan. But where in Nashville should we go?? Well, pull out the iPad, check the eBook and see where George had been. We found Brown’s Diner both convenient and well recommended. Plot a course on the GPS and away we go.
Some may scoff at all the newfangled technology that inundates us these days but these hi tech gadgets led us to one of the most low tech of places I've seen. Brown’s is easily the antithesis of the iPad. It’s as basic as basic can be. It's "Oldfangled." It’s what’s so great about it.
Brown's (1)In 1927 Charlie Brown (no not that one) parked a mule drawn carriage that was part of the old Nashville trolley system on a corner in Nashville and opened a restaurant. He got what is now Nashville’s oldest beer license and sold hamburgers as well. Over the years Brown's has changed hands but little else has. It's still locally owned. Musicians, both struggling and renown still play. The beer is still as cold as ever and “New” owner Jim Love (he bought it in ’72) still cranks out what is often cited as Nashville’s best hamburger.
Brown's (3)Since I’ve started writing this blog I’ve been in some really nice places. I’ve been in some dime a dozen places. I’ve been in some, “Bless their hearts”, dumps. The latter I mean with a great deal of respect. As I’ve said before, they ooze charm, ambience and credibility as far as I'm concerned. Browns falls squarely in that latter, dishevelled category. Much like the other places I’ve mentioned and seen on Triple D, it wears the “Dive” title with pride.
Brown's (4)Brown’s original rail car sits prominently on a grassy knoll in the south end of town. Approaching from the south it almost looks like someone’s home. There's a patio with wrought iron fencing and an awning above a "front door." Save for the Browns Diner name, on first glance you'd swear someone lived there.
The parking lot is around the side and back and reveals a second trailer of some sort as well as a more conventional addition. It’s pale grey colour with black trim are again as basic as basic can be. It’s just portends what’s inside.
Browns InteriorThe more conventional part and where the door from the parking lot is, is the main dining room. There's a seating for a few dozen or so. Regulars really just see this as “the room you walk through to go to the bathroom” as Love once remarked. All the action is up front in the bar area housed in the old rail car. At any given time you can find a cast of characters laughing, joking and talking football (or whatever) with Jim or one of the other staff members. A place like this has so many long time regulars they almost become part of the furniture. Definitely a part of the experience. There are a few TV's scattered about for patrons to keep up to date with the Titans, Predators, Commodores or whoever they may cheer. The kitchen and storage areas are basically housed in the old trailer.
So let’s have a look at what’s coming out of that kitchen.
Frito Chili PieThe Frito Chili Pie posed an interesting conundrum for me. Do I like it because it tasted really good or dislike it because it absolutely is not Frito Chili Pie?? Heck, it doesn’t even have Frito's in it. (Though I understand there once was). FCP is quite simply a pile of corn chips topped with chili topped with grated cheddar. Garnish with minced onion if you like but that’s it.
Anyway, what we have here is Nachos. As Nachos go, these are really good. I’d like more cheese on them but this is a tasty way to start.
As an aside, the chili is a house specialty as well and it’s quite good. Very heavily chili flavoured and quite rich.

CheeseburgerThe Cheeseburger is great. It’s as simple as it can get and that’s absolutely what I like about it. Quality ground meat, hand formed, simply seasoned and done on a flat top (ding). It’s not over thought. It’s not trying to be anything more than it oughta be. It's how I remember my mom making them in a fry pan during the winter months. It's just a simple thing of beauty.
The fries were from a bag and good enough. I'm not a french fry snob so I'm okay with that. As was Mrs. Sippi.

So there you have it folks. One of the best burgers Nashville has ever produced. Served up in a legendary place.

You can find Browns at 2102 Blair Blvd. in Nashville, Tn.

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You can also find them on the web and facebook.
Brown's Diner on Urbanspoon
Brown's Diner on Foodio54

Well that's all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.

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