Cheat Meal of the Week: Pepperfire Hot Chicken

12/04/2016
Joe Doino

This last tour was a blast.  We went back up north and I got to see all my old friends and family, eat some pizza and breakfast sandwiches (see my last post here) and had an awesome Oktoberfest at my parents’ house.  So needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  But I have to admit, I was jonesing for some hot chicken while I was up there.

I was on a flight a few months back and after being delayed for about an hour, I struck up some conversation with some other folks flying back to Nashville.  One gentleman highly recommended I head to the East Side and check out Pepperfire Hot Chicken.

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So I drove over there, walked in, and that familiar hot chicken smell hit me like a brick.  Kind of sweet, kind of savory, completely nose clearing, and certainly mouth watering.  The girl behind the counter asked what I wanted and I told her, “I have no idea.  The menu looks amazing.”  She replied with, “Well if you want the true ‘Pepperfire’ experience, you’re going to want to go with the ‘Tender Royale‘.”

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Pepperfire Hot Chicken ‘Tender Royale’

She goes on to explain that the “Tender Royal” is three hot chicken tenders, two sides of your choosing, and a DEEP FRIED GRILLED CHEESE.  My jaw damn near hit the floor.  I have to admit that I was a little nervous ordering it but after hearing that, there was nothing else on the menu I could imagine eating.  I could hear my arteries clogging as I stood there.  I heard they had really good fries, so I got those along with the baked beans.  She explained that each heat level was a step above Hattie B’s hot chicken.

If you don’t know what Hattie B’s is, it’s another legendary hot chicken place here in town and they don’t mess around with their heat.  I usually get medium but I said screw it and stuck to my guns.

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Chicken tenders, deep fried grilled cheese sandwich, baked beans and fries

The food comes out and I learned two things right off the bat.  The pepper in Pepperfire is there for a reason.  You can really taste the black pepper in the breading.  It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just very present.  The other was that they weren’t kidding with the spice being a step up from Hattie B’s.  This chicken was HOT.  I’m pretty sure I went to the soda fountain about four or five times to cool me back down.  The chicken was good.. really good.  It’s not as saucy as Hattie B’s, which I prefer, but it’s damn good and they definitely make the Nashville classic their own.

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The beans were good, not my favorite so far but very solid.  The fries were awesome.  They were well cooked, golden, crinkle fries – super simple but done well.  They weren’t soggy or anything.

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Onto the deep fried grilled cheese…. I honestly don’t know what to say.  This probably made it the cheatiest of cheat meals in the history of cheat meals.  Think about it… a fully cooked grilled cheese dropped in a vat of oil.  I looked at it like a worthy opponent in chess game… but fatter… and dumber… so I guess checkers would be more appropriate.  I definitely struggled to get through it.  As delicious as it was, there was that little voice in the back of my head yelling at me.  “Dude! You already ate 3 huge chicken tenders, fries, AND baked beans!  Are you outta your mind?!?!”  Yes, little voice… I am.  I will finish this meal because… well because I’m a fat ass.  I loved every bite yet hated myself.  But not really because damn it was great.

I didn’t really earn this cheat after the last few weeks but I damn sure wanted it.  Give Pepperfire a shot.  They’re not my favorite hot chicken spot so far, but they sure stand tall amongst the others.

Until next week…

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MY BACKGROUND

I’m Joey, a New York drummer living in Nashville, playing with the band, Arc & Stones.

I LOVE FOOD! Right after college, I gained a lot of weight and hit a whopping 267 lbs. Terrified that I could hit 300 lbs before I hit 30 years, I decided to take control of the foods I was eating and started taking the fitness thing more seriously. I keep a very strict diet, making sure I hit my macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) each day. I hit the gym six days a week.

But once a week I cheat and treat myself. Food is one of my favorite things in life. This regime allows me to have my cheese-stuffed, deep-fried cake and eat it too. My column will focus on these indulgent treats.