New bar and grille doesn’t disappoint

Tennessee Street Bar and Grille is located downtown and offers food, beer and pool tables. The bar also allows smoking.

It was a Monday night and I was excited to be sitting down at the counter of the newly opened Tennessee Street Bar and Grill. I had always known this space as The Smokehouse and despite many of the similarities that were still around, I would find out that this new downtown eatery was different.

As I sat down at the counter in front of the grill, I grabbed a menu and gave it a glance.  Most of what had been on the menu of the Smokehouse was on this menu as well. The trusty standards such as Half and Half (half chili, half beef stew) and chili cheeseburgers were available, to my delight, and everything is reasonably priced.

If you are a student on a budget, the Tennessee Street Bar and Grill is a place to consider because you can be fed and filled for cheaper than anything you’ll find in the GUC food court or anywhere else comparable. I had the chili cheeseburger and was not disappointed.

I looked around and started wondering just what all was new and what had been salvaged from the now defunct Smokehouse. There are three billiard tables in the back and a brand new snooker table as well.

Manager Scott Gresham also pointed out to me that the pool sticks are brand new, so no need to deal with warped tables or sticks anymore. There are new floors for the place, too.  

“There used to be places where you just about could fall through,” Gresham said.

There is an Internet jukebox in the back just below the balcony that provided the entertainment the night I was there. However, Gresham said they plan on having live entertainment soon, including bands, comedians and open mic nights.

Smoking is allowed in the spacious hall and they have a respectable selection of bottle and draft beers and liquor. One draft beer that you won’t find anywhere else in town is Old Brown Bear, which is from a microbrewery in Huntsville.

The whole place is clean. The cleanliness sticks out because The Smokehouse had gotten so far out of hand before it finally went under. And though the similarities still abound, Gresham said he hopes some of the riff-raff who used to frequent the old pool hall has moved on.  

“We’ve got new paint, new tables, new floors and new employees,” Gresham said. “If they used to work here, they won’t be back. We are starting new and we’re going to work hard to do it right.”

My chili cheeseburger was delicious and my beer was cold. I watched the young lady fry my food up right in front of me all while carrying on friendly small talk — just how this place should be. I’m glad someone reopened a bar and grill in this landmark space, and it looks like this ownership and staff might get it right.  

If the Tennessee Street Bar and Grill can stick to the simple stuff and do it well, I think it will be around for a while. The simple and hardy food is a good place to start and it tastes like they are doing it right.  

The young lady working the grill that night pointed out that the lunch regulars of lawyers and businessmen from downtown had started to return. And once they are paying the bills by providing for a dependable lunch crowd then maybe they can move toward focusing on weekend entertainment.  

I hope they don’t try and juggle too much too fast and find themselves with too many things in the air at one time. But if the owners and staff provide an atmosphere like they did the night I visited, I don’t think they have much to worry about.