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I once asked an old man who grew up in and around Memphis if he could think of even one bar-b-q restaurant around that I had not been to or at least heard of. After several minutes of dialogue and numerous bbq shops all throughout the Memphis area, he came up short. Then one day he approached me and asked me if I’d ever heard of the Gilt Edge Café. “Guilt Edge?” I wondered. He described it as a place really way back “in the sticks” and not easy to find. All the more reason I wanted to get there. That’s when I learned that it’s actually the Gilt Edge Café, not Guilt Edge Café. It’s an old country diner, about forty five minutes from my house, deep in the heart of West Tennessee country. We’d already planned to take the boys near Gilt Edge Café to see a drive-thru holiday display called ‘Christmas City’ that opens annually at the Rose of Sharon church campgrounds, so we made a trip of it. It has lights, props with both classic and contemporary cartoon characters, biblical characters telling the Christmas story from the birth of Christ to His future return, concession booths, a gift shop and Santa, all nestled right into this church camp in the woods. Make sure you have a GPS app before you go.
The piggies painted on the restaurant sign happily, yet naively welcome people in for smoked pork meat, despite their certain fate. And there is a reason the female piggies with all their swagger outnumber the lonesome male piggy. Flame-grillin’ female and owner Pat Holland is the pit-master. It may sound surprising to some, but she’s not the only one. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for woman around these parts to be great bbq pit-masters at home, in restaurants and at competitions. Helen’s BBQ, Melissa Cookston’s Memphis BBQ Co. and some of the Tops BBQ’s around town have women pit-masters.
What I liked about Gilt Edge Café more than anything was the atmosphere. It was a cozy, cabin-like place on a cold winter night. The boys played Checkers in the corner. We talked and admired the old plates on the walls. The rustic décor, soft lights, wood-planked walls and even the old-tyme outhouse-like indoor bathrooms created a nostalgic country ambience. I ordered a ribs and pork shoulder combo for a double shot of Gilt Edge’s barbecue since we were out so far. The ribs looked great and had a nice lightly crisp bark exterior with tender meat, but smokiness was too light for me in both cuts of meat. I didn’t care for the sauce either. It had a peculiar taste that I didn’t think accompanied the pork very well. The seasoning however was tasty and I thought flavored the meat well. I enjoyed the meat more without the sauce. The star of the evening was actually Patrick’s burger. It was prepared just the way I like my burgers, crusty, juicy and cheesy. If I’m in the area again, I know where to get a great burger.
Note about the photos: the pictures were taken with a really crappy cell phone camera years ago. I included these because they tell part of the story of my barbecue journey.
Here are a few notes about the ‘que:
- Ribs-tender with nice, well-seasoned bark.
- Shoulder-tender and moist
- Ribs-light smoke flavor. I prefer more smoke flavor.
- Shoulder-light smoke flavor. I prefer more smoke flavor.
Sauce-The sauce had a peculiar flavor that I found off-putting. I didn’t think it complimented the pork very well.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Tim Shirley