Yet again, Roadfood correspondent Chickenplucker has pointed the way to edible treasure: Cleve Edmunds’ Bar-B-Que in Martinez, at the edge of Augusta. In a city and region replete with excellent barbecue parlors, this place stands out, and not just because it’s been around two-thirds of a century.
What I like about it (beyond the taste of the food) is its simple classicism. The menu is basic: chopped pork, ribs, chicken, and some side dishes; sandwiches, trays, or plates. There’s no fish, no low-fat alternatives, no vegetarian entrees; heck, there isn’t even any dessert.
What there is, is swell. Chopped pork is super succulent even before it’s sauced — so full of flavor, such a pure and perfect rendition of the smoke-pit standard. Ribs are tender but not overly so, offering the pleasure of sinking teeth into long, meaty ribbons of peppery pork on the bone. Chicken (white or dark) is gorgeous, its burnished skin glistening with sauce, its meat redolent of the smoke that has cooked it. Among side dishes, the CSRA essential, hash on rice, is sweet and easy on the tongue, and stout enough that it could be a main course. I love the bright, eggy, pickle-powered potato salad — so right with smoky meats. When you order, you’ll be asked if you want pickles (crisp bread & butter chips) and bread. It is white bread, of course — soft and well-suited for sauce-sopping. Speaking of sauce, there’s a choice of two — mild and hot; both have a vinegar twang, and the hot, while peppery, is not ferocious. I love it on the gentle-tempered chopped pork.
The place itself couldn’t be more direct. It’s a jolly white building in the midst of the commercial chaos that is Washington Road. It has a squared-off dining room with the order counter and serve-yourself drink station on one side. Carry your own meal to a bare table, outfitted with a rolls of paper towels to use as napkins. A drive-through window is available for take-out orders. Everything, whether to eat here or take away, comes in disposable dishware with plastic utensils.