PWI–Parenting While Intoxicated

…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work

Hattie B’s – When Hot Chicken Goes Classy

Cursive means that you might not get hurt...

Cursive means that you might not get hurt…

One of the great joys of living in Nashville is getting to partake in one of our famous indigenous foods – Nashville Hot Chicken.

Now I have spent some time talking about my love for Bolton’s, which is one of the original hot chicken joints here in town, but there is a new kid in town that is giving the old guys a run for the money.  And it isn’t the first time a new kid has come on the scene, we’ve had a bunch of new contenders over the years, but Hattie B’s is the first joint to offer something truly new and fresh to the scene.

A hot chicken joint with merch?  Whaaaaa?

A hot chicken joint with merch? Whaaaaa?

At first I was kind of conflicted, because I love my hot chicken served in a shack.  That means minimal amenities; including crappy plastic ware, limited paper towels/napkins, and bathrooms are optional.

This place is clean, bright, and has a cool patio that overlooks the Midtown Nashville area (you too can watch assholes trying to get into Chuy’s).  And yes, it has a nice clean bathroom.  Two of them to be exact.

So yes, the rebel part of me wants to decry that this is a sanitized hot chicken experience, devoid of the standard adventure.  But it turns out that you can get used to that.  Especially for one key reason:

Beverage of champions

Beer: Beverage of champions

And all good* local beer on draft at that!
*(Except for the “wildly inconsistent but popular because it is run by girls *swoon* Jackalope beer“)

You can’t beat a good pale ale or a brown/amber ale with hot chicken or fish.  And prior to Hattie B’s you were either carrying in or rushing home as quickly as possible to get a carry out order home before it gets too cold.  And while I have no compunctions bringing a 40 into Bolton’s, it sure is nice to have an option on site.

Choose your poison

Choose your poison

So here’s the rundown on the food.  They have a number of chicken options, white and dark meat, huge tenders, wings, different sides, and reasonable prices.  Chicken is served in the standard style, with dill pickle chips and laid atop white bread.

Heat levels are as follows:

  • Southern
  • Mild
  • Medium
  • Hot
  • Damn Hot
  • Shut the Cluck Up
Damn Hot - and it mostly is

Damn Hot – and it mostly is

Southern is pretty much plain-Jane Southern-fried chicken.  And while I am a spicy freak – I have to tell you that the hottest “Shut the Cluck Up” is pretty damn hot, it just isn’t as tasty as the next level down.  Damn hot is the best option here.

Shit the cluck up - just not as tasty as the next level down

Shut the cluck up – just not as tasty as the next level down

The other thing about Hattie B’s is that it is slightly sweet – I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it has certain sweet notes on top of the spicy.  But it is so tasty – perfectly juicy on the inside and the outside has a great crispness to it.  The sides, while OK, are not amazing.  I really have enjoyed the pimento macaroni and cheese, but the greens are kind of weak – they really need some more pork in there and to cook it longer.  The potlikker was lackluster to say the least.

Mac n Greens

Mac n Greens

They also do a great job with catering – I ordered a couple of trays of wings, and I should warn you, they are HUGE wings, not the puny stuff you get at your local hot wing joint.  And both the tender and wings trays are served on a slices of white bread.

That used to be bread...

That used to be bread…

All-in-all, Hattie B’s is a great experience – but I should also warn you that parking here sucks royally, as it does in much of Midtown, so come in with a plan or it could get hairy during peak times.

And well, here’s my original review with a funny story of what happens when you drive and eat this stuff

“Allllllright.

Let’s get this out of the way.  I’m a Bolton’s man.  I’ve eaten the best and worst of what this town has to offer, and I always go back to Bolton’s happy.  I mean, where else can you get a fantastic spicy fish sammich with everything on it (onions, yellow mustard, hot sauce and dill pickle chips – I hope you didn’t say cheese or I’ll just have to cut you), AND some badass chicken on a stick?

Oh yeah, back to Hattie B’s.  So anywho, I was opening a new location, and I decided to get my opening crew some hot chicken, because dammit, it is Nashville’s indigenous food.  I had just read about Hattie B’s in the paper news, and I was interested in giving them a try.  I ordered 36 tenders, half hot, and half regular (because we had some wimps on the crew), and then decided to try some of the hottest they had for myself (I offered to sign a waiver or insult his parents/favorite sport team if he promised to make it hot as hell).  The friendly guy on the phone explained that they were out of the hottest stuff, that some expo guy had knocked over the stuff accidentally, but he would still try to mess me up.  I accepted the challenge.

I cruised over about the time that they said that it would be ready, found parking at the  Noshville back lot, and snuck through an alley to Hattie B’s (because there is no place to park if you are a square).  They had my stuff ready to go in two big-ass steamer pans, I tipped the hell out of them, met the owner Mr. Bishop, politely declined the offer of helping me to get my food back to my car, and scooted back out to my ride.

In the car, for the sake of making sure I wasn’t going to kill my employees, I tried out the ‘hot’ while driving.  Well that was about as stupid as eating a Gabby burger while driving a car, because juicy fried chicken juice and crust went all over my formerly clean car.  There was mess everywhere, and that was some good, juicy fried chicken.  That was also when I noticed they had given me 36 wings instead of 36 tenders.  No big deal, but brothers and sisters, those are some big-ass wings.  Like from the chickens that beat up the other chickens.  All of them were nestled on perfect white bread – great presentation.

I cleaned myself up before I got back to the employees, though I’m pretty sure I had chicken juice and grease all the way down to my undershirt and britches.  The hot was not really that hot.  Didn’t try the non-hot, but the crew loved it.  I went back and tried my half bird that was extra extra hot, and it sure looked like a Bolton’s or Prince’s extra hot.  It was great, juicy, pretty hot, and strangely… sweet?  That was strange.  Not really what I expected.  The macaroni and pimento cheese was exceptional, but the greens were kind of… un-funky, almost like a pile of greens that graduated from MBA. I like Bolton’s, dripping with pot liquor and meat that you don’t want to know about.

So anywho, this place has BEER.  Going back when I’m not in the middle of a work day.  For sure.  But I like my hot chicken served from holes in the wall, with paper towels, no bathroom, and funky everywhere.  But not a bad joint.”

Hattie B's Hot Chicken on Urbanspoon

About Sparky

Sparky is a salaryman for an unspecified Fortune 200 company. But more importantly, he has a smoking jacket and entertains fellow bon vivants in his secret lair, The Manitarium. He believes in booze, charcuterie, bbq, bourbon, villainy, craft cocktails, ascots, the Oxford comma, and freedom. He is married to a beautiful attorney who is a life-long vegetarian and was raised as an experiment by her meddling nutrition scientist parents. He can be found trying to save his kids from a life of vegetables...

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This entry was posted on January 15, 2014 by in Where Are We Eating?.
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