Papa Turney's Old Fashion BBQ (Hermitage, TN)
After several months of being cooped up on a temporary house-husband gig, I desperately needed a change of scenery. Papa Turney's Old Fashion BBQ (I'm pretty sure there's an "ed" missing somewhere, but I digress) isn't too far from my house, so I thought I'd give them a try. That way I could indulge my inner barbecue lover and still make it back home in time to do a few loads of laundry. Sigh.
The official address for Papa Turney's is a bit confusing. The restaurant itself isn't on Bell Road, although the turn-in for the Nashville Shores Marina is. Papa Turney's opened up this new location less than a mile away from their old spot, but it wasn't until a few months ago that the original operation shut down completely. Their new home overlooks Percy Priest Lake and the marina, which is certainly a nice change of pace. It was far too cold for any aquatic activities today, but I'm sure this location will be booming come springtime.
This seems to be a family operation. Papa Turney (aka Mike) himself came over and chatted me up for a bit. I learned a little about the history of the Turney family, which was pretty cool. He also described their quality control standards and said that he has no problem throwing away a whole rack of ribs if something doesn't look or taste just right. Papa Turney struck me as a genuinely friendly guy who really loves what he does.
By the looks of things, Papa Turney's has live music fairly regularly. I'm sure that plays well (no pun intended) with the marina crowd. The cool dude on acoustic blues guitar today was pretty decent, and it definitely livened things up a bit.
I ended up with a combo plate of brisket, ribs, and hotlinks, with potato salad and mac and cheese on the side. I also made sure to request sauceless meat, and they were happy to oblige. Part of me really wanted to tack on some of their "brisket butt" (basically the thicker end of a beef tenderloin), but $60.00 per pound is too rich for my blood. According to some old menu pictures I found online, they've raised the price of this specialty meat by $15.00 a pound. That's kind of a steep jump, but I guess they're trying to pay for the new location. Too bad.
The macaroni looked like basic Easy Mac, but it had a nice cheesy flavor. It was also great comfort food on a chilly day. I could see plenty of diced pickle scattered throughout the mayo-based potato salad, and I could definitely taste the hard boiled egg. It was a little too sweet for my liking, but otherwise very good.
Truth be told, I had originally intended to order pulled pork as part of my three-meat combo, but my Texas Trinity reflex must have kicked in and instinctively ordered "brisket, ribs, sausage." I actually didn't realize it until my order came out. Oh well. The hotlink sausage was good, though not overly spicy. It had a good crisp casing, too. The finely-ground meat was a tad mushy, almost like boudin without the rice. I couldn't pinpoint all of the spices I was tasting, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. It was definitely different than the East Texas hotlinks I'm used to.
Sadly, their brisket comes chopped, and it also came inside a mini slider bun. Barbecue sandwiches are fine in certain circumstances, but I feel like a combo plate should contain slices. When Papa Turney learned that I am a native Texan, he instantly told me that they serve the brisket chopped because it actually comes out too tender to slice properly. That makes sense, and even though the meat was lean, it was definitely tender and juicy. I also found a decent smoke level, as well as good pieces of chopped bark and smoke ring. The seasoning was simple, but tasty. Their brisket was much better than I had anticipated.
The pork ribs had a nice crust and a dark pink smoky hue. The rib meat fell off the bone with almost no effort, but still clung to itself nicely. It was moderately smoky and had a good amount of salt. The pork was also very juicy. Something about the texture wasn't quite right, but then again I'm also accustomed to Central Texas barbecue, so who knows.
For no reason in particular, Papa Turney offered me a free mini Chess Pie to take home. I definitely wasn't turning down his generosity.
In a word, delicious! The pie was very gooey and flaky, despite being prepackaged. It had a diabetes-inducing amount of sugar and butter, which can only be found in Southern desserts. I also noticed hints of what I think were brown sugar and vanilla. Next time I hit up Papa Turney's, I'm buying at least a dozen of these!
I'm really glad I decided to give Papa Turney's a shot. These guys truly care about their craft, and it shows.