Sunday, January 15, 2012

Willie Mae’s Barbecue

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Willie Mae’s Barbecue
200 8th Avenue East

Barbecue eaters know that to get the good stuff you often have to forage well outside the city limits. Willie Mae’s Barbecue in Springfield provides another good reason for a ‘cue road trip. They’re smoking some of the better barbecue this eater has sampled in the Nashville area.

The restaurant is located just off the court house square in Springfield. You can’t miss that smoke; it permeates the place and gives the joint a true barbecue atmosphere. The bluegrass/country themed decorating is simple road house barbecue style and yet clean and inviting. That smoke will pull you right up to the counter. It’s a familiar menu of pork, brisket, sausage, turkey and chicken. The hickory smoke and Texas-style dry rub provide great flavor.

They cook ribs up each day and they’re beauties: skillfully cut with a nice char on each side. The thick rub is mellow and compliments the ribs well. You don’t need sauce, but if you indulge the sweet red is a solid tomato-based treat. The mustard sauce is vinegary and spicy. The ribs were excellent, but the brisket proved to be the revelation. On this day it’s incredibly moist and tender, and if that holds true on other visits it’s some of the better in the area. The pulled pork has a lighter smoke and while very moist needs just a little sauce to kick it up a notch. There are bits of bark and the dry rub once again works well. They serve the sandwiches piled high on thick Texas toast. It’s not my favorite barbecue sandwich choice. It seems that squishy buns do a much better job of soaking up the juices. It’s still a fine sandwich.

It’s always cool to see a barbecue joint that takes sides seriously. The hand-cut red cabbage slaw is creamy, vinegary and addictive. It has an excellent kick and might even keep the Veggie Eater happy in a barbecue joint (not that I’m brave enough to ask). Cakey corn bread is a welcome accompaniment to the meal. Traditional Mac and cheese was sticky and good. The green beans had very great flavor.

Kudos to Joe Tuten and Gail Norman for their fine new addition to the Nashville area barbecue scene. This will be my new go-to spot in Robertson County. Right now they’re only open weekdays for lunch. Check the Facebook page for updates; they have been considering extending hours. This review was originally scheduled to run weeks ago; however they had an electrical fire in the pit that caused major problems. We decided to hold off until they were open again. We’re happy to report that Willie Mae’s is back up and running.

I paid $13 with tax and tip on one visit and $11 on another visit.

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