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First Bite: Moe’s Original BBQwww.moesoriginalbbq.com 9050 Carother’s Parkway Franklin Reviewed By Clay Dined 5/2/2013
When I heard several months ago that Moe’s Original BBQ was opening a new restaurant in the Nashville area I was immediately excited. Having lived in Birmingham, Alabama for several years I was already familiar with Moe’s, and was definitely a fan of their B’ham locations.
Well, the Moe’s Original BBQ in Cool Springs is now open, and I was fortunate enough to have the chance to attend their media tasting event recently.
Moe’s is a small, but growing chain of restaurants, mostly in the southeast, but that actually got its start in Colorado. I know, Colorado isn’t the first place I think of when someone says BBQ either, but don’t hold that against them! Moe’s was founded by Mike Fernandez, Ben Gilbert, and Jeff Kennedy, three friends who met at the University of Alabama. After learning how to smoke meats from Moses Day in Tuscaloosa, the three took to Colorado and set up shop. After starting out as a catering and concession business in Minturn and Eagle, Colarado they were able to expand their business each year, being invited to serve at Vail and Beaver Creek resorts before opening a seasonal restaurant in Vail’s Lionshead Village, and eventually a year-round restaurant in Eagle, CO in 2005.
In 2006, MOB returned to Alabama with a location in Orange Beach, and they have been expanding throughout Alabama and Colorado ever since. They have recently expanded their footprint with locations in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and even Maine. The Nashville location, owned by three more ‘Bama Boys, Alston Noah, Andrew Clark, and Jordan Winn who spent six years working with the original founders, is one of the newest locations and the first in Tennessee.
After months of mouth-watering anticipation, I finally had the chance to try Moe’s of Nashville, and it did not disappoint. The decor of the new restaurant reflects Moe’s roots, a blend of BBQ shack and ski lodge themes with some Tennessee artifacts and flags thrown in for good measure. It sounds weird, but it works and feels welcoming right away. Located in a strip mall/office complex, it is unassuming from the outside, but upon entering you are greeted by high ceilings hung with a few neon beer and ski trail signs. The bar is to the left when you enter and in addition to beer and mixed drinks also offers Nashville’s signature bushwacker. The register where you order is just beyond the bar, and behind it is the open kitchen. The smoker is inside, so no, this isn’t your pappy’s pull-behind pit. But don’t let the shiny metal fool you, the barbecue coming out of it is as authentic as the homemade banana pudding (yes, that counts as a side).
Since we were there for a tasting, we decided to go with the BBQ Sampler Platter which in addition to three sides also included six meats (yes, 6) and cornbread. This sampler is more like a road trip through the Moe’s menu, but we were up for the challenge. For our sides we went with mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, and the aforementioned banana pudding. There are about ten sides offered every day with additional rotating daily specials. The six meats were: pulled pork (of course), wings, ribs, bbq chicken, smoked sausage, and turkey.
My favorite was the pulled pork, which was high quality (no fatty or tough pieces here), and cooked almost perfectly. There may have been a hint of dryness, but that immedietly vanished with the addition of Moe’s delicious sauce, which they actually serve warm by keeping the bottles bathing in a slow cooker of warm water (great idea). The pork isn’t overwhelmingly flavorful on its own, but serves as a vehicle for the sauce which I would consider a fantastic hybrid of vinegar and tomato based sauces. Moe’s also has a great Alabama-style white sauce (get your sandwich Bama style and it comes with slaw, white, and red sauces) which is excellent on chicken.
My co-pilot on this road trip of smoked meats loved the bbq chicken which came with the white sauce. The chicken was so fall-off-the bone tender that he described it as “biting into a pillow” and absolutely loved the flavor. I have to agree that the chicken was fantastic.
I usually don’t get excited for turkey, I don’t dislike it, but it is typically dry and bland. Not at Moe’s! The turkey was moist (not as much as the chicken leg, but that would be impossible), and had a lot more flavor than expected. It still wouldn’t be my go-to order, but it was really good. The sausage also had a nice smokey flavor with a spicy finish. The wings on the other hand weren’t very hot, but had a nice little sweet heat. I wouldn’t call them “buffalo wings” but the texture and flavor were nice, and these would be a good way to start a meal. The ribs were dry rubbed and had a nice flavor, with or without a generous lather of sauce, although they weren’t quite tender enough in my opinion. I like my ribs fall-off-the-bone tender.
The cornbread was a great surprise. It was exceptionally moist and had a wonderful sweet flavor. This isn’t your mom’s dry skillet cornbread, this stuff is a fantastic compliment to Moe’s ‘que. As for the other sides, the sweet potato casserole was great, sweet, but not too sugary, and the corn flake topping was the perfect compliment. The banana pudding was also excellent, not overly banana’d, and not overly ripe. Bonus points for making it a side, and not an extra charge dessert! The mac & cheese was solid, but nothing extraordinary. With so many sides to choose from, you might want to go with another vegetable option.
Overall, we were definitely impressed with the quality, variety, and flavors at Moe’s Original BBQ and will be back for a full review in the future. Based on my experiences at the Moe’s in Birmingham, the pulled pork sandwich (Bama style) comes highly recommended, and after this first visit I don’t expect that to change. We’re happy to welcome Moe’s to Tennessee!