2706 12th Avenue South
Edley’s Bar-B-Que is off to a smoky good start. The crowds are flocking to the new 12 South restaurant and for one primary reason: these folks know their meat. Take a bite of the brisket: smoky and tender with just a little fat and bit of charred rub for flavor. Paired with a grilled, toasty bun, mild, tangy sauce and a pickle and you have a truly excellent sandwich. The brisket test is important- so many places abuse the cut by overcooking and drying it out. Launch into the pulled chicken and you have another winning combo. This time the smoky (thanks to white oak) and moist chicken is accompanied by a flavorful white sauce. The minced pulled pork also proves to be smoky and juicy. My dining companion Ben pronounces the catfish to be thickly bread, crunchy and tasty. There isn’t a slouch in the bunch. Right now they’re only doing ribs at dinner and that will call for a return trip. Wings, turkey, sausage and shrimp round out the main items. Check the specials board each day for creative sandwiches.
You’ll find a revolving line-up of sides also gracing that specials board. The regulars include mac and cheese, which is sticky and cheesy and perhaps lacking a bit in the seasoning department. The baked beans make up for the slight with a spicy, tangy flavor and a variety of beans for a fun texture. And those beans go miniature for the bean salad. It’s a unique blend of black beans, corn and diced peppers with a subtle and yet pleasing flavor. The pork chili is primarily pulled pork sauced savory and spicy with just a few bits of tomato and a couple of beans to remind you that this is chili. It’s a really good special on this day. Grilled cakey corn bread is well worthy of the plate.
Owners Will and Catharine Newman clearly did their homework and built the joint with the growing neighborhood in mind. The Edley’s feel is upscale road house. There’s the usual barbecue joint plank wood and loud rock and roll. The difference here is that some of that wood actually comes from an old Tennessee barn for an authentic heft and style. The full-bar seems a bit out of place at lunch, but one can imagine it making plenty of sense for the dinner crowd, especially on the weekend and even more so with the 11 p.m. closing time. The deck overlooking 12th Avenue will likely be popular for people watching once the weather warms up. The staff is fun and knowledgeable and there already is a pride evident when they talk about the food. They don’t hesitate to tell you how long something has been off the smoker and that’s appreciated. They also stress that they only smoke meat for the day, avoiding the day after nastiness that some folks in town ply on early diners. I arrived at 11 a.m. one day to find them almost fully up to speed in the offerings, fresh off the smoker.
There’s plenty of marketing platitudes on their website, not the least of which is the proclamation that they will be a “Nashville institution.” Of course the big question with barbecue is consistency. Great places manage to turn out quality cuts of meat each and every day, year after year. If Edley’s can keep it going, the location and the food should keep them quite busy and who knows, institution may follow.
I paid $13 with tax and tip on one visit and $12 on another visit.