Nov 11, 2017

Seafood and sausage paired perfectly at Rudie’s in Nashville

Even for a commoner with a travelling bug like myself, breaking the monotony of dinner destinations that all look, feel and taste the same can be a challenge.  A catchy name, positive reviews and good word of mouth can go a long way to getting on my radar.  When I first started working in Nashville, Tenn., a while back, Rudie’s Seafood, Sausage and Taproom won me over with all three.

Rudie’s was, if not the first, among the first destinations I visited in the trendy revived East Nashville section of the city.  And why not, really?  The Louisiana side of me obviously loves seafood.  The Midwest side of me loves sausage.  Add a taproom to it, and I’m sold.  As is turns out, the folks at Rudie’s take all three very seriously, and it’s apparent they share a passion for food and drink with their customers. 

As a stranger in town, it took some searching to find Rudie’s location on McGavock Pike on a dark and stormy night.  Parking seemed to be limited, but open spaces were hard to come by, which I took as a good sign. 

Once inside, I naturally migrated toward the bar to the left of the entrance.  The actual bar turned out to be quite a bit smaller than I anticipated, so with all seats already occupied by local craft beer enthusiasts, I settled for a pub table along the wall.  The bartender was quick to greet me, however, and after learning he was also from Illinois originally (and highly recommended the jambalaya, as well) I felt immediately comfortable there.  I ordered a Blue Point toasted lager from the tap – another bartender recommendation – and studied my surroundings. 

I quickly learned the owners had operated a popular delicatessen and sandwich shop where Rudie’s is today.  They’ve since moved that successful business down the road, but I can kind of imagine how they’ve re-purposed the old layout today for the oyster bar. 

I also got a quick appreciation for the proprietors’ sense of humor that adds to the cool vibe of the place.  A framed picture of your pet for a free drink sounds like an excellent trade-off to me.   

Then there’s the men’s bathroom.  With sausages painted all over the wall, you’d be hard pressed to mistake this for the ladies’ room.  I can only imagine what’s painted on the walls of the women’s restroom, but given the restaurant’s specialties I bet I can make a fairly educated guess.    

Onto the food, the first item other than the jambalaya that got my attention was the fried oyster platter under the “small bites” section.  From the oyster shucking in the background to the variety of fresh oysters available on the menu – with an emphasis on Alabama gulf oysters – I discerned this was no ordinary Midwestern “seafood” restaurant – they knew their stuff. 

My suspicions were true.  These beauties puffed up perfectly inside their cornmeal batter once fried.  One bite into them, and they practically dissolved in your mouth.  And the spicy remoulade dipping sauce they provided was the perfect complement for both the oysters and accompanying fries. 

For the main course, the jambalaya proved to be a spot-on representation of the dish I consider Cajun comfort food at its best.  The andouille, sourced from a nearby Amish pig farm, was seasoned perfectly and grilled just as well.  Every bite of sausage provided a good “snap” through the casing and a solid kick of flavor.  They weren’t light-handed on the seafood, either.  I found a tasty crawfish tail in almost every bite, and the light and flavorful whitefish blended well with the rest of the dish. 

All in all, this was one of the best jambalayas I’ve ever had anywhere, including the heart of Cajun country.  I think the fact that I even remotely came close to finishing my plate even after enjoying a full oyster appetizer speaks for itself.   

Jambalaya is a signature seafood and sausage combination dish, and Rudie’s quite simply nailed it.  But I left with the impression that you wouldn’t go wrong with just about anything here from the swine or seafood categories.  And there are plenty of fine beverage options to wash it down.  Rudies’s Seafood,Sausage and Taproom is worth finding when you want a taste of what the locals eat in the Music City.

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