In Bartlett, TN (a suburban city of Memphis) and just across the railroad tracks from the old Pig N Whistle BBQ store, Brad’s BBQ is a country bar-b-q sandwich shop that’s been around for over thirty five years. It was many years ago, when I first stopped in for a sandwich. The lightly smoked, tender meat was chopped with bits of barbecued crust mixed in, topped with a common Memphis-style tangy sauce and a slaw that complimented the sandwich. I like more smoke, but the overall sandwich was good. I was only there for about three minutes. The sandwich was gone in a jiffy and so was I.
My second trip was for ribs about a week later, which I picked up from the drive-thru. The meat was sloppy tender, as though it’d been parboiled. It was difficult to discern any smokiness and there was no bark to speak of. Perhaps that was why the bones were served drenched in sauce. I like my ribs either dry with sauce on the side, or wet with sauce glazed on in the last few minutes of cooking so that it caramelizes onto the meat. Nonetheless, this “barbecue gravy” style of serving the ribs was gratifying as a sort of bbq comfort food, and many still like them this way. I just didn’t care for the ribs overall. That was sometime in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Fast forward several years…
About ten minutes outside of Bartlett on highway 64 in Oakland, TN, I discovered another Brad’s Bar-B-Q on my way to do taxes from a tax preparer recommended to us by a friend. This store is newer and updated from the Bartlett location, reminiscent of a cabin-style lodge with all of its wood and rustic decor. We sat right below a double-barrel shotgun, which was hanging on the wall above our table. Oversized log chairs in the waiting area were so big that the boys had to climb into them for pictures. Place an antique motorcycle right on top of the front entrance and a wooden Indian statue in the foyer to guard the place and you’ve got a great little bbq tourist spot. Here the shoulder, like the first Brad’s, was only slightly smoky and served with the same tangy sauce. Overall it was a decent bbq sandwich, but mostly because I enjoy that sauce. Fast forward yet a few more years…
Each bbq joint has its own vibe, whether it’s part of a local chain or not. So when I had the opportunity to make it out to the Moscow location of Brad’s, I took it. Once again, I just didn’t get the smoke flavor that I enjoy. I really enjoyed the tangy sauce, which complimented the pork well. But I really think it’s just the same sauce that Tops BBQ uses-a cajun bbq sauce, originally out of Louisiana, called Blue Plate. It’s the same company that makes Blue Plate Mayo. It’s actually a popular sauce that several bbq restaurants here use, but I dare say that Tops was the first, since they opened in 1952. Brad’s came across to me as something like Tops BBQ, only, not as smoky, and therefore, not as good.
Check out my Quick-Fire Guide below. Also check out full reviews and Quick-Fire Guides of other bbq restaurants from my BBQ Guide
Here are a few notes about the ‘que:
- Ribs-sloppy tender, like parboiled meat.
- Shoulder-tender with bits of bark.
- Ribs-none discerned.
- Shoulder-only light smoke.
Sauce-tangy-I think it’s Blue Plate BBQ Sauce
Slaw-slightly sweet, tangy, finely chopped, crunchy-complimented the pork.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Tim Shirley