We recently had an opportunity to visit a Middle TN institution, Carl’s Perfect Pig, known around the area as a hidden gem for pulled pork, smoked ribs, and the Middle TN specialty, meat & 3.
Sarah chose the pulled pork sandwich with fries, which featured a heaping mound of pulled pork, as well as some tasty, crunchy fries to go with it. Of special note is the BBQ sauce at Carl’s, which falls somewhere in between the traditional West TN, somewhat sweet tomato based sauce, and the slightly less familiar, Carolina style sauce that trends towards the vinegary, mustardy, “lighter” style of BBQ sauce. The traditional sauce has a tangy, vinegary kick, while the darker, hotter sauce was much closer to traditional West TN sauces. We both preferred the regular sauce, while the pork featured a very smokey taste, with good crunch bits, and really no need of sauce anyway.
I decided to give the ribs a try, which had been given great reviews by the research I had done online. Carl’s is special in that the restaurant is both a BBQ Joint and a meat & 3 all in one. I gave the “ribs & 3″ a try and got to try both at once. The ribs themselves are fall off the bone, with a thick, sauce that still allowed the smokiness of the meat to come through. Sides I tried included the fried okra, macaroni and cheese, and white beans. The fried okra were tasty and well fried while the mac & cheese had a thick, smokey sauce that reminded me of my grandmothers. The white beans were a little bland, but then again they were white beans, and the corn cake I got did a good job of soaking up the sauce from the ribs and the beans.
Desserts are a pleasant surprise at Carl’s as well. I tried the mini-fudge pie, which also reminded me of my grandmother’s desserts, while Sarah gave the peach cobble a try.
It may not show up on the picture here, but the peach cobbler was steaming hot and wonderful. The vanilla bean ice cream provided a perfect topping to the cobbler (and the fudge pie, no less), while the atmosphere at Carl’s is one that is purely focused on the pig. The pink and white booths as well as the pig-centric decor on the walls lets any patron know they are in a house ‘o pig, that can’t be found in many places these days.
Cary and Sarah: We’re fans and supporters of locally owned Middle TN restaurants, and love searching out places most people just drive right by. Whether it’s Middle Eastern, Meat & 3, or new southern cuisine, hopefully we’ll give you some ideas when others think their only options are Chili’s or O’Charley’s. We also hope you’ll join us as we write about our travels, which often involves some good eating at well. We’ve found that eating well on vacation isn’t as hard as it sometimes seems.We are not professionals. We just love food. You’ll never see a negative restaurant review on this blog. Our mission is to tell you about the good places we have eaten. Does this mean we don’t have bad dining experiences? No. We just choose not to write about them.
And as always, don’t be afraid to comment with your own thoughts or critiques, we’re open minded and always looking for something new to chew on!