Archer's BBQ, Bearden
5415 Kingston Pike
Critic's star breakdown
- Food: 4 stars (out of five)
- Service: 4
- Atmosphere: 3.5
- Overall: 4
As summer has begun its annual slipping-away process, I have felt the urge to cling to it a little more tightly by trying to squeeze in another barbecue feast or two before the season is gone.
This time around, I thought I'd take aim at Archer's BBQ, which started out in Farragut and has recently opened a new location in Bearden. The Grub Spouse and I headed out on a recent weeknight and found the business to be one of several ventures occupying an erstwhile motel.
The no-nonsense menu is concise and gets to the heart of the matter for barbecue fans. Pulled pork and pulled chicken are available in either plate or sandwich form, and you can get a full, half- or third-rack of dry-rub, Memphis-style, baby back ribs.
These all come with either one or two sides, and guests can choose from barbecue beans, cole slaw, collard greens, stewed green beans, baked potato salad, sweet-potato chips and a side salad.
For those who want to focus on salads only, there are chef and garden varieties, or you can top your greens off with the pulled pork or chicken in a BBQ salad. Other considerations include barbecue-topped baked potatoes, brisket and beer chili, and beef franks.
We didn't waste time deciding on a half-rack of ribs for yours truly and the pulled pork plate for The Spouse. I chose barbecue baked beans and baked potato salad as my sides, while The Spouse went with cole slaw and stewed green beans.
The friendly fellas behind the counter were very gracious in guiding us through the ordering process. We found out through conversation that Archer's meats are currently smoked at the original site and transported to the satellite locations as well as some other local eateries.
Soon, The Spouse and I were staring down our dinner at a table in the modestly sized but aesthetically comfortable dining room. The meat on the ribs was adequately plentiful and was pleasing in its fall-off-the-bone tenderness and succulent smoked flavor.
I alternated between bites of unadorned meat and samplings of Archer's six different tabletop sauces, which include original, Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Carolina vinegar and Carolina mustard. Each had its own distinctive notes that enhanced the rib experience.
The pulled pork was likewise tasty, juicy, tender and stood as well on its own as it did drizzled in sauce. As for the sides, the tomato-enhanced green beans were a unique take on a familiar side, while the mayo-heavy potato salad was also a fun treat. The barbecue beans and the cole slaw were decent efforts as well.
We finished with two containers of outstanding scratch-made banana pudding, which is made with my preferred ratio of more pudding and fewer bananas and wafers.
For a meal that cost $32, I felt that at least the side portions could have been bigger, but the main dishes were fairly sized and made up for any lack of bulk with flavor. As far as I'm concerned, Archer's is right on target.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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