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Beacon Light Tea Room

6276 SR 100, Lyles, TN - (931) 670-3880
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/26/2014 8:08:00 AM
No one could disagree with the motto of the Beacon Light Tea Room, which is "A Different Kind of Restaurant." Its Jesus + 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. One staff member of the Beacon Light (which opened in 1936, ten years before the Loveless) told us that long ago, this restaurant was run by Mr. Loveless, when he was the local sheriff, before he started the legendary café in Nashville after having to leave Lyles in a hurry(!)

Genealogy aside, The Beacon Light is quite a Roadfood spot. The fried chicken and ham are fine, 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.

The 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 the odd hours of operation: Beacon Light is open from 4pm to 10pm Tuesday through Friday, and from 9am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Country Ham
Biscuits
Fruit Preserves
A Different Kind of Pie
Fried Chicken
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Smoky, vividly fruity blackberry preserves are here piled atop a split biscuit on a backdrop of country ham.
"Smoky, vividly fruity blackberry preserves are here piled atop a split biscuit on a backdrop of country ham."
Michael Stern





A beautiful slab of muscular, vividly salty country ham is here surrounded by buttered corn kernels, nuggets of okra veiled in see-through crust, a trio of warm biscuits and, in the background, a bowl of red-eye gravy.
"A beautiful slab of muscular, vividly salty country ham is here surrounded by buttered corn kernels, nuggets of okra veiled in see-through crust, a trio of warm biscuits and, in the background, a bowl of red-eye gravy."
Michael Stern


Jane loves corn, so instead of two different vegetables, she sided her fried chicken with a double order of corn. That's country-style gravy at the back of the plate.
"Jane loves corn, so instead of two different vegetables, she sided her fried chicken with a double order of corn. That's country-style gravy at the back of the plate."
Michael Stern


Heavenly fresh biscuits
"Heavenly fresh biscuits"
Rae H


Billed as 'A different kind of pie,' this pillowy slice is an ice box dandy of frozen cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk layered with pecans and coconuts.
"Billed as 'A different kind of pie,' this pillowy slice is an ice box dandy of frozen cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk layered with pecans and coconuts."
Michael Stern


We like spooning out these homey peach preserves directly onto a fork-size piece of country ham.
"We like spooning out these homey peach preserves directly onto a fork-size piece of country ham."
Michael Stern


The okra was the star of this plate, with some more of those perfect biscuits, of course.
"The okra was the star of this plate, with some more of those perfect biscuits, of course."
Rae H


To pass the time while waiting for your fried chicken, pick a card from the Scripture Bread Box set out on each table. It will give you words of advice and encouragement from the Bible.
"To pass the time while waiting for your fried chicken, pick a card from the Scripture Bread Box set out on each table. It will give you words of advice and encouragement from the Bible."
Michael Stern


While the décor is mostly religious, it also includes much miscellaney, such as this odd-shaped lava lamp (which had a price tag of $100 on it), Christmas-type lights, and all sorts of country-craftsy nick-nacks. Near the front door, a sign is posted saying 'Shalom, Y'all.'
"While the décor is mostly religious, it also includes much miscellaney, such as this odd-shaped lava lamp (which had a price tag of $100 on it), Christmas-type lights, and all sorts of country-craftsy nick-nacks. Near the front door, a sign is posted saying 'Shalom, Y'all.'"
Michael Stern


This inconspicuous restaurant across from the field where a beacon light once stood for prop planes traveling at night is a destination restaurant for mid-Tennesseans in search of old-fashioned country-style meals.
"This inconspicuous restaurant across from the field where a beacon light once stood for prop planes traveling at night is a destination restaurant for mid-Tennesseans in search of old-fashioned country-style meals."
Michael Stern


A fish-shaped motif on the Beacon Light sign tells you the religious bent of the proprietors.
"A fish-shaped motif on the Beacon Light sign tells you the religious bent of the proprietors."
Michael Stern



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