Review: Tin Roof

Replacing downtown favorite J.Buck’s, Tin Roof is the 14th location in a small concept restaurant chain out of Nashville. It’s got a casual, cavernous atmosphere and elevated pub grub menu that leans heavily to Southern-style cooking with a dose of Tex-Mex. There are three separate bar areas— one of them on the large patio out back—and a casual atmosphere with exposed brick walls, streamers of multicolored twinkle lights and high bar tables. It’s just a couple blocks from the ballpark, making it a good place for a bite before or after games.

The food here is billed as made-from-scratch, which includes the barbecue sauce served with my ‘pub board’ of House Smoked Brisket ($16.50). I enjoyed the sauce’s unusual flavor, a dose of cumin. The beef, too, was flavorful, although super fatty. For my two sides, I chose Potato Salad, which had great flavor from ranch dressing, and Mac & Cheese, which is cooked with housemade cheesy nacho sauce and topped with bread crumbs and minced scallions. It had a little bite and was good. A starter of Fried Pickles ($7) was superb; the coating wasn’t too heavy and there was a hefty bite of cayenne spice. The Fried Green Tomatoes ($8) were less impressive, as they did not arrive hot and the tomatoes were a soggy mush inside thick cornmeal.

But the kitchen redeemed itself with a couple of very good dishes, especially the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich ($11). A meaty breast came crisped all around (but wasn’t greasy or overly breaded) and rubbed with cayenne pepper. It sat on thick Texas toast piled with the creamy potato salad and dill pickles. The combination was inspired: spice, cream, crunch and vinegar. A side of Street Corn added another layer of interest. A full ear came with the husk pulled back and tied off, the kernels rubbed with ranch dressing, spices and Parmesan cheese—as tasty as it sounds (and not over-the-top). Also really flavorful was the Voodoo Shrimp ($14), a ramekin of cooked shrimp in a meaty Creole sauce lightly dosed with cream. It tasted buttery and spicy, with minced onions, celery and scallions, and was dotted with corn kernels for extra texture and sweetness. It needed some bread or rice to sop up the excellent sauce.

A couple of items under the ‘Street Tacos’ heading were nice, especially for $4 a piece. The Left Coast included tempura avocado, lettuce, pico de gallo and spicy ranch sauce. The Loco Pez had deep-fried grouper, tasty pickled onions, cilantro, cabbage and Korean mayo. Both were tasty.

The desserts, unfortunately, were disappointing. The Cast Iron Cookie ($7), supposedly a salted caramel-pretzel chocolate cookie, tasted merely like chocolate chip. It came as dough baked in a single-serve pan, drizzled with chocolate sauce—much too sweet! The chocolate biscuits, more akin to doughnuts, came with butter pecan ice cream in the center and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. The live music we heard there was excellent, but check for start times as they can vary by day.

amuse bouche
the scene | Bustling Nashville-style bar/cantina with live music
the chef | Nowell Gata
the prices | $7 to $11 starters, $9 to $16 sandwiches and entrees, $4 tacos
the favorites | Fried Pickles, Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, Voodoo Shrimp, Street Corn, Potato Salad

food • ŏ • lō • gy
street tacos | Open-faced, easy-to-eat tacos in soft shells, these got their name when home cooks started selling them to city workers. Contents are usually simple.
korean mayo | Typically this refers to the Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie. It is slightly spicy, with vinegar, garlic powder, MSG and mustard powder among its ingredients.
street corn | A popular street item in Mexico, this comes on the cob, which is slathered in cojita cheese, mayonnaise and cayenne pepper.

1000 clark ave. | 314.240.5400

Photos: Bill Barrett