Memorable | One of the Best
Beacon Light Tea Room
Review by: Michael Stern
No one could disagree with the motto of the Beacon Light Tea Room, which is “A Different Kind of Restaurant.” Its Jesus-focused country-craftsy lava lite décor is unique. But the menu is oddly familiar. It serves almost exactly what used to be served at the Loveless Café 30 miles east on Highway 100: fried chicken, country ham, homemade peach and blackberry preserves. The hash brown casserole looks identical to that at the Loveless. In fact, the Beacon Light (which opened in 1936, ten years before the Loveless) once was run by Mr. Lon Loveless, when he was the local sheriff, before he started the legendary café in Nashville.
Genealogy aside, The Beacon Light is a Roadfood find. The fried chicken and ham are excellent, the latter available on a platter with a choice of either eggs or vegetables or on four biscuits. With the platter, you get a basket of biscuits anyway, plus a choice of redeye gravy or creamy country gravy. When you eat all the biscuits, a fresh basket of hot ones is brought to the table. They are curious: crusty on top and bottom and so thin that there is barely any fluff in between, making them a bit difficult to split in two for application of preserves.
Chicken is skillet-fried and has a wickedly brittle crust that is so delicious it overshadows the flavor of the meat within. Among vegetables, we highly recommend not only that hash brown casserole but also whole kernel corn, which is seasoned with just enough pepper to amplify its natural sweetness.
Preserves are set out on the table in spoon-it-yourself crocks. There are whole, soft hunks of peaches in the amber one; and the blackberries have a sultry flavor that is a brilliant counterpoint to supersalty country ham.
Although it was originally named for the revolving spotlight that directed planes flying mail between Memphis and Nashville, the term “Beacon Light” now has another meaning. For the proprietors of this upright restaurant, the beacon is Jesus; and his image is everywhere in art on the old wood-paneled walls. Each table, which is clad with a leatherette cloth, is outfitted with a “Scripture Bread Box,” a small plastic loaf hollowed out to contain cards about the size of fortune-cookie fortunes, but in this case with scriptural advice on each side.
Note that breakfast is served only Saturday and Sunday (from 8am). Tuesday through Friday, the cafe opens at 11am. It is closed on Monday.
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|