Ed­ley’s Bar-B-Que is pure South­ern com­fort

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - DINING - BY CHRIS ZELK STAFF WRITER

Given an op­por­tu­nity, I’m un­likely to pass on the chance to try a new bar­be­cue restau­rant. Few food choices bring the sort of in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion I feel when sit­ting down to a plate of ex­pertly smoked bar­be­cue and a cold beer.

The Chat­tanooga area boasts sev­eral top- notch pur­vey­ors of this culi­nary art form, and I visit them on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis, but there’s al­ways room for one more in my book. En­ter one of the more re­cent ad­di­tions to Chat­tanooga’s food scene: Ed­ley’s Bar- B- Que. This fam­ily-owned out­fit orig­i­nated in Nashville in 2009 and now in­cludes three lo­ca­tions in metro Nashville, one in Lex­ing­ton, Ky., and the Chat­tanooga lo­ca­tion, which opened in Oc­to­ber.

Ed­ley’s slo­gan is “A trib­ute to all things South­ern.” I found this to be de­li­ciously ac­cu­rate when I stopped by on a re­cent af­ter­noon. The proof of the pud­ding is in the eat­ing, as they say.

THE SPACE

Housed in the for­mer Knit­ting Mill An­tiques build­ing on Chat­tanooga’s North Shore, Ed­ley’s ex­udes a rus­tic, folksy charm.

The first thing you’ll no­tice, aside from the mas­sive brick fa­cade, is an ex­pan­sive front porch with lots of ta­bles and um­brel­las and a huge stack of wood for the smoker. Many more ta­bles ( nav­i­gat­ing could be a bit dif­fi­cult at peak vol­ume times) crowd the low-lit in­te­rior, and there’s a good- sized bar in the cor­ner ad­ja­cent to the porch. Dis­tressed wood col­umns dot the room, and ran­dom pieces of folk art and South­ern cul­tural ar­ti­facts adorn the walls here and there.

THE FOOD

Bar­be­cue an­chors the menu, of course, but the breadth of of­fer­ings is im­pres­sive. Pulled pork, beef br i s ket , r i bs — Ed­ley’s does it all. You can or­der most of these as plat­ters, sand­wiches or ta­cos and they come with two sides.

Hot chicken, shrimp and cat­fish dishes are also on the menu. The restau­rant has eight to 10 sides avail­able each day in­clud­ing stand­bys like potato salad, cole slaw and mac ‘ n’ cheese but they also mix it up with sea­sonal items.

I was dis­ap­pointed that the cov­eted Burnt Ends were al­ready sold out by the time I got there, so I opted to try the BBQ Na­chos ap­pe­tizer topped with beef brisket ($10) and the pork plat­ter ($10).

The na­chos con­sisted of a gen­er­ous plate of thick, ket­tle- cooked potato chips topped with a good amount of moist and ten­der brisket, sweet red sauce, toma­toes, sour cream and scal­lions. Not only did it taste great but this sub­stan­tial ap­pe­tizer could re­ally make a meal for two peo­ple.

The pork plat­ter was as suc­cu­lent as any bar­be­cue I’ve had and then some. Ed­ley’s pit­mas­ters are bar­be­cue tra­di­tion­al­ists, utiliz­ing low and slow smok­ing with White Oak wood to fully re­al­ize the fla­vor of the meat, and you can re­ally taste it. The pork’s in­ter­min­gling of smoky fla­vor with the red sauce was pure gold.

The sides I chose — mac ‘n’ cheese and black­eyed peas — were mostly good but not on par with the pork. The black-eyed peas had a nice, sub­tle fla­vor, yet the mac ‘n’ cheese was bland. I don’t see how the sweet corn­bread that rounded out the plat­ter could have been any bet­ter un­less they gave you a sec­ond piece.

Eat­ing bar­be­cue re­quires some­thing cold to wash it all down and, while I was tempted to or­der a Ya­zoo draft or one of the other craft brews on tap, I wanted to check out some of the bar’s spe­cialty cock­tails.

First up was a half Bushwacker cocktail ($5), which is kind of Ed­ley’s

Housed in the for­mer Knit­ting Mill An­tiques build­ing on Chat­tanooga’s North Shore, Ed­ley’s ex­udes a rus­tic, folksy charm.

sig­na­ture drink and served in a Ma­son jar, as are all of their drinks. A Bushwacker is like an al­co­hol- laden milk­shake that’s mixed with a com­plex recipe that typ­i­cally in­cludes rum, vodka, Irish cream, creme de ca­cao, amaretto and cof­fee liqueur. I liked the Bushwacker, but it’s re­ally more of a dessert-type drink in my opin­ion, so I set that aside and or­dered the Bour­bon Tea ($ 9), which con­tains Evan Will i ams bour­bon, cit­rus, pineap­ple, tea and lemon­ade mixed with torn mint leaves. This drink of­fered real re­fresh­ment with a kick, and I will def­i­nitely be or­der­ing one next time.

THE SER­VICE

There are two ways to or­der food at Ed­ley’s. Grab a menu and check out the day’s spe­cials at the back counter be­fore plac­ing your or­der, or you can or­der food as well as drinks at the bar.

Af­ter plac­ing my or­der at the counter, I de­cided the porch was a bit too crowded and the sun too bright to my lik­ing, so I found a spot at the bar. I didn’t catch the bar­tender’s name, but he was friendly, made some small talk and didn’t make me wait that long as I sampled some of the bar’s spe­cial­ties. Even though the place was busier than I an­tic­i­pated for a late Sun­day af­ter­noon, the food ar­rived fast and at the right tem­per­a­ture for max­i­mum en­joy­ment.

THE VER­DICT

You don’t keep f ive restau­rants in op­er­a­tion with­out the goods to back it up. What­ever ex­pec­ta­tions I might have had about Ed­ley’s were ex­ceeded. Great food, great pre­sen­ta­tion, great prices — it re­ally doesn’t get much bet­ter than that.

STAFF PHOTOS BY CHRIS ZELK

Ed­ley’s Bar-B-Que’s BBQ Na­chos with beef brisket.

Ed­ley’s Bar-B-Que’s Bushwacker cocktail is an al­co­hol-laden milk­shake that’s mixed with a com­plex recipe that typ­i­cally in­cludes rum, vodka, Irish cream, creme de ca­cao, amaretto and cof­fee liqueur.

STAFF PHOTO BY CHRIS ZELK

Ed­ley’s Bar-B-Que’s pork plat­ter.

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