Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mothership BBQ: Nashville, TN

I read about this new place that just opened up in Nashville in the Berry Hill area, from all places the Nashville Scene. I normally don't trust this liberal paper for anything except movie showtimes. However, this place peaked my interest because it is right around the corner from the music store I like to go to. So I had a good excuse for going.

Jim Reams, the owner, is big on blogging and he uses it as a marketing tool to bring people into the resturant (a great idea). I have a link to his blog on the site now. He is a very friendly guy and he strikes me as a person who is serious about what he is trying to do. When he found out I was doing reviews, he took me back to the smoker. Alright, that's 2 points right there.

I wish I had one that big. Jim cooks only baby backs, not spare ribs. He showed me that he uses authentic hickory and charcoal to do the ribs. He slow cooks them approximately 5 to 6 hours. He had started them that morning about 6 am or so. He uses a rub made of fresh home made ingredients. No MSG or other flavor enhancers. His rub and sauce are both very simple recipes. No liquid smoke or any of that other crap. Ok, more points and I have not even tasted anything. While we were waiting on our order he brought us some samples. I nearly ate the bone with th meat. Yeah, this is what I am looking for. Finally someone who gets it.

Not many people realize that even though there is this impression that TN is the place for BBQ, there are not any good places (or many) in the Nashville area. The closer you get to Memphis maybe, but not Nashvegas.

Cynthia had the rib plate:

and I had the combo (ribs and pulled pork):

Let's first talk about the sides. Not bad. The slaw was sweet, creamy, and crunchy. The beans were more of a western beans, not BBQ baked beans like I am used to. They did not have a sweet taste to them. I have not been convinced that this compliments the meat as much as some good baked beans would, but it was not a bad side and did not ruin the meal. The pulled pork is in the good category, with plenty of smoke. I think it needed a little more flavor, but not bad at all. The high point is the ribs. Very well done. The rub makes a decent bark and they stand on their own without any sauce. They come off the bone easily. I was very pleased with it. Only area of improvement was the sweet tea. It needs to be a little stronger (brewed longer perhaps) and a little sweeter. Not overtly, but a little more brewing would help a lot.

The sauce is very interesting on its own, and I like it because it has a hint of the North Carolina vinegar style - in that it has a tang and is not as thick. But it also has a sweet, tomato base that pleases the Memphis crowd. I think it is a great compromise and best of all, it does not cover the ribs taste, it compliments it very well.

Overall, I think these are probably the best you are going to get in Nashville. They are definitely the most authentic - done by the book.

About the only negative thing I can say about anything is that this place it too small. Jim is going to need to expand to a place with more parking and more seats because I have a feeling he is going to be overrun very soon. You can't get ribs in Nashville with this much attention paid to the quality and when people around here find that out, there is going to be lots of lines and cars parked all over the little nieghborhood it resides in.

I'd give Mothership an overall rating of an 8, so its in my top category for the time being. Needless to say, I'll be making more trips to the mothership soon!

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