If you are in middle Tennessee and did not get to eat for Thanksgiving, here is another Dive of the Month by Steve Carter. I was draw to this one for two reasons. First, I went to many places like this all over the South in my childhood and still find them hard to resist. Also, my great grandmother lived in Murfreesboro, TN during the Civil War as a teenager. She had an encounter with Sherman’s army as the marched through on their way to Georgia. A Union soldier tried to take her pony. She put a fight. An officer admired her courage and let her keep the horse. She was living with her Uncle’s family and he was off in the war as a doctor. His sword was passed down to me. So here is Steve’s commentary in his own words. I just looked up the links. Thanks to Stan Garfield for passing this on.
Tennessee is one of my favorite states to pull a chair up to a table for some great eating. I have the opportunity to visit Nashville from time to time and I am torn between Jack's Bar-B-Que in downtown Nashville, Rotier's which is hard by Vanderbilt University, or The Loveless Café which is in far Southwest Nashville. These are all great joints and worthy of a visit, but if I find myself with a couple hours to spare I will head south on interstate 24 towards Murfreesboro to visit the Kleer-Vu Lunchroom.
The Kleer-Vu is a great example of a cafeteria-style meat-and-three restaurant. Everyday there are specials that feature a meat selection along with three sides of your choice (you could downsize to a meat and two, but why bother?). The Kleer-Vu is located at the corner of E. Sevier and S. Highland in a small frame building that served as a neighborhood store before becoming the home of some of the best southern home style cooking I have experienced.
I have had the pleasure of visiting the Kleer-Vu on many occasions over the past few years. I have yet to be disappointed. There is a special every day. A list of at least six meat selections which could include roast beef and gravy, baked ham, BBQ pork, broiled chicken, liver and onions, BBQ Ribs, or baked chicken.
You will always find whiting fish, catfish, pig's feet, and fried chicken (ohhhhh that fried chicken). The sides also change from day to day but you will always find fresh turnip greens, black-eyed peas, country style green beans, macaroni and cheese, okra of some variety, sliced tomatoes, potato salad, and hot water cornbread. From day to day you might find creamed potatoes, cabbage, breaded tomatoes, spaghetti, baked apples ... well, you get the idea - this is no minor league meat and three.
Whenever I go I make it into a two meat and five kind of place and I don't think I could spend $12.00 if I tried! The normal meat and three will set you back right about $7.00 and you might be taking some home with you. Being a guy from the north I don't get this sweet tea thing, but I kept on trying. Tens of millions of people can't be so wrong. I finally get it - it tastes great with this kind of cooking.
Whatever you do, make sure you get the peach or cherry cobbler and a piece of homemade pie. Prepare to stand in line to eat here. You will meet the face of Murfreesboro as the Carhartt wearing city employees, newspaper reporters, cops, college students (The Kleer is located just blocks from Middle Tennessee State), and neighbors from every walk of life imaginable start to line up at 11:00 AM six days a week. The Patton family has put the soul back into soul food! Fresh ingredients cooked with love and served with a smile. For at least a small amount of time you are taken to a place in which people are talking over their food and sharing experiences. This is what lunch should be. It is more than just filling up. If you find yourself in central Tennessee take the time to treat yourself to a special place just off the beaten path.
Kleer-Vu Lunchroom 226 South Highland Ave Murfreesboro Tennessee Monday - Thursday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM Friday - Saturday 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM 615-896-0520
Post Script. Grits and More blog provides these details, along with good pictures of the Loveless Cafe:
"I was told to order the “Famous” Loveless Breakfast, two eggs any style, country ham (which is cured, smoked and carved in the smoking house right next door), red-eye gravy, creamy grits, and fresh biscuits. I arrived at the café well after lunch-time, but for the purpose of “cookbook research” I ordered the breakfast. For the purpose of “wanting lunch food” (read: dying for homemade fried chicken), I also ordered the Fried Chicken platter with okra and squash casserole." I would do the same thing, although I would go for fried okra as the backed versions can be mushy.