Edley’s Bar-B-Que – Nashville, TN

Name: Edley’s Bar-B-Que
Address: 908 Main Street, Nashville, TN
Order: Half rack of ribs, green beans, corn bread (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Speedy: Recently, I got a surprise call from John Tanner of John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog letting me know that he and wife Nancy were coming to Nashville for a weekend and wondered if I wanted to join him for a meal. We initially decided to go to Shotgun Willie’s – a joint I’ve been meaning to get back to, with Edley’s as a backup plan if there was rain (as Shotgun Willie’s did not have indoor tables last time I was there). Well, sure enough, it was a pretty nasty Saturday, so we moved our lunch to the backup spot. 

Monk: John and I grabbed lunch last October at Midwood Smokehouse while he was in Charlotte visiting relatives so I was happy it worked out for Speedy to meet up with him. John’s a smart, cultured guy who knows his barbecue but also a heck of a lot more. I was certain he and Speedy would get along famously. 

Speedy: I don’t go by Edley’s often, as it’s not among my favorites in Nashville, but the last time I had gone, the brisket sandwich was above average, so it was time to go for a proper review. The restaurant now has four locations (three in Nashville, one in Chattanooga), and this visit was to the East Nashville location, which is a decent sized restaurant with a nice patio and good craft beer bar. 

Even arriving by 11:30, the restaurant was starting to get a little crowded. John and I went up to order while Nancy secured a table.

John and Nancy both opted for the pork plate, but I chose the half rack of ribs, as I’ve never ordered that from Edley’s before. The food came out quickly and it was time to dig in.

Unfortunately, this meal didn’t do anything to change my opinion of Edley’s. The ribs came well seasoned and drizzled with sauce, but were a bit overdone. The flavor was fine, but didn’t stand out as anything special. I did have a bit of pork as well, which came sauced with a brown sugar-y sauce that sweetened the pork a bit too much. Another average offering. The green beans were good, and included chopped bacon, and the cornbread was very good (and a little spicy!).

The highlight of the meal was definitely the company; I enjoyed hearing about John and Nancy’s travels, and particularly their visit the previous day to Ramey’s – a whole hog joint between Nashville and Memphis that I haven’t had time to visit yet (but definitely will). John, I hope we can have another ‘cue meal soon.

For more on Edley’s Bar-B-Que, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!
John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

Rudy’s Smokehouse – Springfield, OH

Name: Rudy’s Smokehouse
Date: 10/3/20
Address: 2222 S Limestone St, Springfield, OH 45505
Order: Monk: 3-meat combo with pork, ribs, and brisket; hush puppies, mac and cheese, and fries; Speedy: 3-meat combo with pork, ribs, and brisket; hush puppies, collards, and fries; Rudy: 2-meat combo with brisket and pork (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Speedy: After our terrible experience at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, all it took was a billboard advertising “award-winning BBQ” for us to give Ohio one more chance. So in the town of Springfield, we found Rudy’s Smokehouse (unrelated to the Texas Rudy’s). Rudy’s looks very much like a small town restaurant – think a Shoney’s or Cracker Barrel (minus the country store), which did not leave me with high hopes. Still, we marched up to the counter to place our order.

Monk: What Speedy has yet to mention is the reason we were in the Springfield area: I dragged the other bros (plus friend of the blog Boomsauce) an hour west of Columbus in the middle of western Ohio to hike and check out the town of Yellow Springs. I was actually very much against going to Rudy’s and wanted to check out Yellow Springs although I didn’t voice my opinion in time so before I knew it we were headed to Rudy’s. 

Nevertheless, getting out of the car I did smell some smoke from the parking lot at least, which was a promising sign. The interior reeked of kitschy barbecue restaurant decor but the prices weren’t bad and we went into barbecue review mode, each ordering multiple meat combo platters. 

Turns out, the pork was much better here than at Ray Ray’s while not being amazing. “Not being amazing” is probably as good as you’re going to find in Ohio based on this trip.

Rudy: The pulled pork was pretty plain and needed a decent amount of sweet sauce to make it something to eat. But it was not dry, so just because it wasn’t the pulled pork that we are used to in North Carolina, doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just ok.

Speedy: After our rib experience yesterday, I was nervous. Rudy’s ribs certainly exceeded the low bar previously set. While they were way overdone, they had a nice flavor and smoke taste, and were sauced nicely. Were they the world’s best ribs? No – far from it, but they were passable. The sides were fine as well, rounding out a perfectly average meal. 

Rudy: I agree, I thought the ribs were pretty good, but that may have been because of the jerky that I had experienced the day before.  We were given an order of the turkey due to them adding it in the order by mistake.  I tend to stay clear of turkey at barbecue restaurants because at best they can be ok, at worst they can be dry.  Rudy’s was very good, probably as good as you can do with turkey, moist and flavorful, but still just turkey.  

Speedy: The brisket was another meat that exceeded the extremely low bar from the previous day, but wasn’t really that good. So while I have repealed my “never order brisket outside of Texas” rule, on this weekend, a new rule was born: “Never order brisket in Ohio!”

Monk: I always love new rules from Speedy. We didn’t expect a ton out of our Ohio barbecue experiences, but Rudy’s Smokehouse partially made up for our poor experience the day before at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit. Though I would still like to know what award it won…perhaps this is a Pabst Blue Ribbon-type situation. 

Oh, and here’s proof we actually did that aforementioned hike.

(L-R) Monk, Speedy, Rudy, Boomsauce

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 1.5 hogs
Turkey – 3 hogs 
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

Rudy's Smokehouse BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, KS (mail order)

Name: Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Order: Ribs, Brisket, Burnt Ends Combo (1 slab pork spare ribs, sliced brisket – 1 pound, chopped burnt ends – 1 pound, 1 bottle of barbecue sauce)

Speedy: After a successful mail order from Black’s Barbecue, and considering I was still sheltering in place, it seemed like a good idea to order some more ‘cue. After some serious Googling, I decided on Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Like Black’s, the order came super quick, and packed very well, and took several sittings to eat. The meat came with a detailed instruction book that recommended warming the brisket and burnt ends in boiling water, while using the oven for the ribs. I went first with the brisket, which came pre-sliced in pretty thin slices.

After warming the package in boiling water (as directed, while still in the packaging), I cut open the package and got a good smell of smokey ‘cue. I tasted first without the sauce, and it was just OK for me. With such thin slices, there was no bark, and it missed that peppery seasoning. While the taste was good, it felt like more high-end deli roast beef, as the thin slices made it seem like it was made for sandwiches, and not sliced thickly as proper brisket should be. Everyone knows that bark can make or break a brisket, and without it, the brisket was lacking. Adding the sauce helped with the flavor, but having to do that tells you all you need to know. 

Monk: From my experience at the Kansas City-style barbecue at John Brown Smokehouse with native Kansas Citizen (City-an? City-ite?) Sean Ludwig of NYC BBQ and The Smoke Sheet, his guidance (for at least that place) was to stay away from the thinly-sliced brisket and go for the burnt ends if you wanted brisket. Guess the whole thinly-sliced deal for brisket is kind of a Kansas City thing based on this admittedly small sample size.

Speedy: I had a similar experience with the ribs, finding them underseasoned. These were warmed in the oven, which gave me the opportunity to add seasoning myself, I ended up not doing that, which was a mistake. While cooked well and tender, I just wanted more flavor. Overall, I didn’t find these to be any better than store bought pre-cooked ribs.

This leaves us with the Kansas City staple – burnt ends. Going in, I was most excited for the burnt ends, a meat I don’t often get a chance to eat. Reheating the burnt ends in boiling water worked well, leading to piping hot meat, which was tender, but also lacked the bold flavor I was hoping for. The sauce complimented the burnt ends very nicely, but in the end, I still found them to just be average. By no means am I a connoisseur of burnt ends, but I certainly expected more. 

Monk: I was going to order the same package from Joe’s KC but a week after Speedy since I already had ordered bulk barbecue from Jon G’s Barbecue for pick up here in Charlotte for the weekend. However, after his experience Speedy went ahead and let me know that I could probably skip them and spend my money elsewhere. Which is a shame because I too was looking forward to the burnt ends. In any case, thanks for the heads up, bro.

Speedy: At the end of the day, my second experiment with mail order ‘cue didn’t go off quite so well. I just felt there was an overall lack of seasoning, leading to a bland product. I’d be interested in visiting Joe’s KC Bar-Be-Que in person, but I won’t order from them again.

Ratings:
Experience – 2 hogs
Brisket – 2 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs

Kerley’s Barbecue – Lexington, NC

Name: Kerley’s Barbecue
Date: 1/21/20
Address: 5114 Old U.S. Hwy 52, Lexington, NC 27295
Order: Chopped barbecue tray with hush puppies, red slaw (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Down the road from Rick’s Smokehouse is another barbecue joint, Kerley’s Barbecue. Kerley’s opened in 1978 and certainly looks the part of a classic NC barbecue joint. Unfortunately, looks are deceiving in the case of Kerley’s as the brick pits in the back corner of the large brick building sit dormant, having long cooled.

And unfortunately, you can taste it in the barbecue that Kerley’s serves. Whatever gasser they use doesn’t impart a lot of smoke onto the chopped pork that came with my tray. As a side note, shouts to the the waitress who allowed me to order a smaller-sized kid’s tray even though she wouldn’t have realized I was on lunch #2. And this way, I didn’t have to feel nearly as bad if I were to not finish anything.

The red slaw was minced finer than I’d prefer and was on the sweeter side. A large tray of their small orb-shaped hush puppies was filled to the brim and those pups were the best ones I had that day. And the ramekin of sauce that came with the tray had a pronounced vinegar kick, even more so than a typical dip.

I’m not sure when Kerley’s Barbecue made the switch over to gas (or for what reasons), but as a North Carolina barbecue purist I certainly wish they hadn’t. When in Welcome, I’d recommend you head to Rick’s Smokehouse instead.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs