When someone thinks of a word (or words) that characterize the Southern United States, they may think of the heat, the hospitality, sweet tea, BBQ or even rampant kudzu. However, the first thing I think of is good ‘ole country cookin’. Although I’m from a Korean family, I’ve had my fair share of country cooking through my mom (who learned a few recipes here & there), my friends’ parents, and meat and three restaurants from all over. While some may argue that Kentucky isn’t a part of the south, we could argue all day but all I know is that while growing up, I’ve seen, smelled, and tasted the foods associated with country cooking… so I know what to expect.
For those of you that don’t know what a meat and three is, Wikipedia defines it as the following:
Meat and three or meat and three veg is a staple of rural cuisine throughout the world, though most notably in the Southern United States, Australia and England. The name is taken from the choice of any meat and three vegetable side dishes. In the Southern US it often comes with a piece of cornbread, while in other places it includes potatoes as the main carbohydrate. Often, the menu is set, and in some places, affixed to the wall. The menu is usually prix fixe; the price is the same no matter what selections are made. While similar to the blue plate special, blue plate specials can deviate from this format to be anything the management desires to feature. The fundamental philosophy of an affordable yet filling meal is the same.
So as you can see, the term meat and three is used to describe food that your mother or grandmother used to make and can incorporate different dishes originating from soul food recipes, such as country fried steak, fried chicken or fish, biscuits, and cornbread. Examples of this on a more popular scale are dishes served by the restaurant chain, Cracker Barrel.
Moving further south, Tennessee boasts dozens of meat and three/soul food restaurants and many of them are found within (and around) the Metro Nashville area. Some of these restaurants are even world famous! I’ve actually been to a few of them but this was before HyoungryMan.com, so I’ll have to go back one of these days for an official review. Today’s a meat and three restaurant is Kleer Vu Lunchroom, located in downtown Murfreesboro, TN.
According to locals/fellow coworkers, I was told Kleer Vu Lunchroom is P-O-P-U-L-A-R, offers some of the best country food around with lots of greasiness, and gets very busy. They weren’t lying either. Upon arrival (around 11:40 AM), there was a line literally out the door. Luckily the line moved fairly quickly.
Kleer Vu Lunchroom is restaurant arranged in a cafeteria style layout with simple tables & booths sprinkled throughout the establishment. One sign on the wall listed the categories of items you can get with prices and then another sign features the food items offered for that day. Tuesday’s featured meats were fried chicken, pulled pork BBQ, broiled chicken, various fish entrees, and then of course other “uncommon” (to me) soul food fare such as pig’s feet and chitterlings. They had a handful of veggie sides to offer and for my meal; I got fried chicken (one of my favorites) with turnip greens, cabbage, and green beans.
Leading up to this point, I was expecting something to knock my socks off just based on various reviews I’ve read and word-of-mouth praise. Did it do the job? Sort of. It’s not to say that the food wasn’t delicious (it was) but it wasn’t the best I ever had. My fried chicken was crispy and the seasoning was great, but the meat was a little dry. It was so dry, I had to use a bottle of Texas Pete Hot Sauce to moisten it up a little. The cornbread was just plain cornbread. As for the sides, my favorites were the cabbage and turnip greens. However if I had to compare it to another, I’d say that Cracker Barrel has much better sides. Unfortunately though, I didn’t get to try any of their desserts, which I was told was really good as well.
Despite my description of the meal, Kleer Vu Lunchroom did hit home as authentic homestyle cooking. It tasted like how it was supposed to and I left satisfied. Just like when I had homestyle dinners at my friends’ houses, you don’t have to like everything that’s offered to you. There are times when dish X at person Y’s house was better than dish X at person Z’s. Not everything is perfect every time. It’s the fact that the food is good enough to make you content about the meal you just ate. That’s how I felt after my visit with Kleer Vu Lunchroom. So would I return again? Definitely.
Do you have any meat and three restaurants you would recommend? Let me know!
|Kleer Vu Lunchroom
226 South Highland Avenue
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
Bill Total: $9