Friday, April 15, 2016
East Nashville BBQ Co. (Nashville, TN)
East Nashville BBQ Co., one of the newest players on the Nashville barbecue scene, represents the continued revitalization of Nashville's once-ailing eastern borough. When I was in college here a decade ago, one did not venture over to that side of the Cumberland River, especially not at night. Now things are looking up, and I've been eager to experience more and more of what East Nashville has to offer.
The big covered patio was perfect for a beautiful, cool day like today. I'm not sure what this building housed in its former life, but I like what East Nashville BBQ Co. has done with the place. It's a simple counter-order joint, no fuss. That being said, the lively red/black/gray paint scheme gives it a more modern feel.
Options for smoked meat are pretty limited here, with the choice being confined to pulled pork or barbecued chicken. The menu board says "More Coming Soon," although they've been open for six or seven months, so I'm not sure what the holdup is. As their logo features a pig rather than poultry, I decided on the showcased offering and ordered a BBQ Plate of pulled pork. They were sadly out of potato salad, so I settled for baked beans and mac and cheese as my two sides. I also received a cornbread muffin and a portion of their spicy slaw (which I originally thought only accompanied the barbecue sandwiches).
The macaroni was standard blue-box mac and cheese. I don't have any major complaints about it, other than being fairly boring. The beans had a decent sweetness to them but not much else. Some black pepper and/or jalapeño would really make this dish pop. It, like the macaroni, just sort of fell flat. I'm not normally a coleslaw person, but I gave theirs a try anyway. The slaw had a great spiciness. It also tasted fresh and had an equally fresh crunch to the veggies. My cornbread muffin was just as tasty. There was a pleasant sweetness to the muffin, which crumbled nicely without being dry or dense. If East Nashville BBQ Co. put as much effort into the beans and the mac as they had the cornbread and slaw, they'd be in good shape.
I made sure to request my pulled pork sauceless so that I could get an accurate feel for their barbecue prowess. My taste buds kept searching for both salt and smoke, but were thwarted on both counts. I couldn't find any bark, pink/red smoky bits, or anything that would remotely suggest seasoning. The pork itself was also fairly watery. Not juicy, watery. At least it was tender.
After I'd finished as much of my meal as I was able, it occurred to me that there was no smell of delicious smoke in the air, inside or out. I peered through their fenced work area on the side of the building, and I could make out a pit and a few cords of wood, though none of it appeared to be in active use today. More troubling, one of the pictures featured on East Nashville BBQ Co.'s own Facebook page (they don't have an official website) includes the caption, "BBQ Chicken fresh out of the oven!" Wait...oven??? Surely this is just a poorly-conceived figure of speech, but sadly I have my doubts. Regardless of the cooking method employed here, the end result is disappointing.
East Nashville BBQ Co.
829 Lischey Ave
Nashville, TN 37207