901/M-Town/Memphis

Just ran across this on Facebook, and I wanted to share. Props to Jason Allen Lee for the sweet look at M-town. How about seeing the sputnik in motion at 2:05?

Memphis Moments from jason allen lee on Vimeo.

Memphis. Love it.

-Thomas

Small Plates, Big Taste

Do you ever go to a favorite website/blog and get disappointed when you see the same post holding court at the top of the page? Well, it gets pretty old when that happens over and over. You just hope that someone will write something, anything. Well, when that was happening to me when I’d check out Eat Local Memphis, I realized I’m the only one that could fix it, as I am the only writer (maybe some other folks might want to share their thoughts on here, just a thought…if you would want to, holler at me). So, here we go. My usual spring includes a lacrosse induced writing hiatus, as I coach a team of scrappy laxers from January through May, and that both limits my time to eat out and to write. But, who can fault someone for coaching, right?

Back to the beginning

I think that sometimes the best way to get back into the groove is to get back to the basics. So, instead of hunting down the newest place to check out (don’t worry, I’ll get to all of those spots soon!), and K and I went to our faithful date-night spot, Tsunami. Well before I started writing about food, Tsunami was the place for me and my family to go get a great meal. The same thing was true for K and her peeps, so it naturally became one of our spots from the beginning. I read somewhere that people love to read lists, so here is one for you to try out.

Reasons Tsunami is awesome (not an exhaustive list)

  1. Delicious
  2. Consistency – both in quality of food, but also in quality of customer service. It certainly helps that so much of their staff have stayed there for a long time.
  3. Energetic atmosphere
  4. You always see someone you know
  5. Great bar
  6. Creativity

I’m going to expand on the last one, as that’s what keeps calling me back. One of my absolute favorite parts of the Tsunami menu is the list of small plates on the left side of the menu. These dishes rotate constantly. A dish could be on the list for a week, two, but often not too much more than that. This is the go-to list of what is fresh, fun, and in-season. The second benefit is that the plates are actually small, with smaller protein portions, which mean they cost a little less and make it easier to try more things. Win-win-win.

So, here’s what we got the other night from the small plate menu. If you want to try these, you should hurry on over there. First was a delicious portion of salmon (notice that small does not mean tiny), served over a bed of crawfish hash with a mustard sauce. It was awesome.

Salmon and Hash

Summer means Succotash

I love the summer. I like sitting on the porch and enjoying the shade and a nice breeze, as I am doing right now. Shorts, love em. Patios, parties, pools, punches, etc. Summer is also succotash season. That time of year when corn, beans, tomatoes, etc all come together, joining to make the ultimate summer side.

Halibut and Succotash

It is such a refreshing dish, full of fresh flavor. Tsunamis was edamame based, and was a perfect match for this flaky, delicious halibut. A perfect dish for a warm, summer night. Get out there and get this little plate before it is gone.

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Tsunami
928 Cooper St
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 274-2556

Bring Your Appetit

LeBonAppetit

Kelly English tends to attach his name to things that are pretty awesome. His restaurants, his love of the Grizzlies, and his loyalty to his adopted city show a series of choices that panned out pretty well. Well, here’s one more thing to add to the list, Le Bon Appetit, a fundraiser for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Great Cause

The event takes place on Saturday at Minglewood Hall, and it has a great purpose attached to it. Le Bon Appetit is raising funds that will be used to purchase a new pediatric ambulance for the hospital.

Great Food

If Kelly was cooking by himself, this would be a party worth going to. Taking this event to the next level, he’s invited a whole bunch other chefs to join him. The chefs are distributed into 16 chef teams, with each group featuring a Memphis-based chef and a guest from out of town. I am super excited, because the guest list of chefs and their restaurants reads a lot like Thomas’ Places to Travel and Eat list. Look at this list.

Great Time

This party is bound to be a great time with food, drinks – shout out to Nick Talarico for locking down the local mixology – and music by the BB King Blues Club All-Stars. You don’t want to miss it if you can make this happen.

Tickets

Tickets are pretty scarce at this point, so you should act fast. Tickets start at $250, but get you a lot of great food, an awesome night, and the knowledge that you helped bring a new ambulance to town. Get yours online.

See you there!

Thomas

The Brunch Report – Rizzo’s

I love South Main. There is so much to do down there, from farmers markets and civil rights museums to soul burgers. One of my favorite places down there is Rizzo’s, whose vegetable plate at lunch is as good as it gets. Fortunately, you aren’t limited to lunch and dinner over there, and their brunch is just as good as the rest of their food.

So, I went over there recently with a couple of friends for a nice leisurely brunch on their newish patio beside the restaurant. After we got some coffees and mimosas, we were ready to order up some of the goods.

Rizzos 1 - Meatloaf sandwich

One of my friends got this amazing meatloaf sandwich. What a beauty!

 

 

Rizzos 2 - Catfish Benedict

 

I got this catfish benedict, with a english muffins, poached eggs, and some great blackened catfish. Everything was cooked well, and was extremely tasty. If you are anywhere near downtown, and you aren’t going to Rizzo’s semi-regularly, you are missing out. From lobster corndogs to a great brunch, there should be something for everyone. Hit it up for brunch, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon around South Main. What a great part of Memphis. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Rizzo’s Diner
106 E. GE Patterson
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-2033
Rizzo's Diner on Urbanspoon

The Shack Out Back at Felicia Suzanne

K’s and my friend Felicia Willett is awesome. If you’ve met, you’d agree, and if you’ve eaten her food at Felicia Suzanne downtown, you know what I’m talking about. So, I was pumped up when I heard that she was redoing the patio on the side of her space. We went to check things out for the official grand opening in November at the first annual JR Willett’s Banjos and Bonfires, which raised money to fight prostate cancer in honor of her late father, JR Willett.

Felicia Patio - band
The Side Street Super Club kept everyone warm with some great bluegrass. Notice the new seating on the patio.

Felicia Patio

The bar (dubbed the Shack Out Back), was lit up and rocking.

Felicia
Felicia shows off the new turkey burger sliders from the patio menu as K laughs, most likely at one of my hilarious jokes.

Felicia Patio - turkey sliders
Close up.

Felicia Patio - tamale pie
Cornbread “tamale” pie. This was awesome, especially on such a cold November night. Not cold like it was earlier this week, but it was pretty serious at that point in the year.

Felicia patio - tacos
Fish tacos. I really need to get one of these taco stands. And some more of these tacos…

Felicia Patio - hushpuppies

Hushpuppies. I might have eaten the whole tray of these.

Felicia Patio - meat pies
Is it me, or are meat pies popping up on menus all over town? Second question, what took so long?

Felicia Patio - hot chocolate and stache

 

The party ended up with a few last songs, some cookies, and hot chocolate, spiked it you like. Overall, this was an awesome event for a great cause, and I look forward to it becoming an annual event. And lastly, it is clear that with the new bar, furniture and menu, Flo’s Patio and the Shack Out Back are going to be huge hits downtown whenever the weather is anywhere close to manageable.

Felicia Suzanne is already one of the best places to get a bit and a drink in Memphis, and with the addition of this more casual patio, it just gets better. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Felicia Suzanne – Flo’s Patio and the Shack Out Back
80 Monroe
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-0877

Felicia Suzanne's on Urbanspoon

A Strong Currence

Sometimes it happens, you’ve been there, right? You get busy doing stuff, and you forget to tell someone a story that you were pumped to tell. Same thing happens with the blog. Good news is that this story (and some of the others coming up) is still a good one to tell.

Currence Dinner 1

A Northern Excursion

While on his book tour to promote his new book, John Currence made a stop in Memphis at Andrew Michael to cook a collaborative dinner and sign some books. If you aren’t familiar and you didn’t go to Ole Miss, John is a huge deal down in Oxford, MS, where he rocks his restaurants City Grocery, Boure, Big Bad Breakfast, Snackbar, and Lamar Lounge. I’ve been to a couple and loved them, and I always get great reviews about the others. He’s been a big supporter of a lot of our chefs in Memphis, always popping in and cooking with them for fundraisers and other exciting dinner events. So, all that being said, I was very excited to check out Pigs, Pickles & Whiskey and eat a fun dinner.

Can’t Beet it

Each course was a dish from the new book and was paired with a favorite song, so I’ll share those as I go.

First up was an awesome plate of smoked beets, charred pecans and a buttermilk-goat cheese crema. There were two types of beets, and this dish is a definite keeper.

Currence Dinner 2 - Beet salad

 

I’m dying to make this one at home. I’ll post when that happens.

Pearls of the Sea

Next up was an oyster stew, which was rich and delicious.

Currence Dinner 3 - Soup

All Heart and Grits

The next course saw an awesome dish of NOLA-style barbecue shrimp and creole cream cheese grits.

Currence Dinner 4 - shrimp and grits

These shrimp were very flavorful, and I loved the smoothness of the cream cheese grits. Great dish. They also sent out a delicious dish of chow-chow, which was so delicious. I could have eaten a pound of it at least.

Currence Dinner 5 - Chow Chow

Just Desserts

To wrap things up, we got a sweet dessert of John’s pork fat beignets with a bourbon caramel sauce.

Currence Dinner 6 - Beignets

 

There isn’t much to say about these. You can imagine that they are awesome, and you’d be right.

Book it

My advice after this awesome dinner is twofold. First, get down to Oxford and try out some of Currence’s spots. I know I’ll keep going down there for more food like this. Second, hit up your bookstore and get your own copy of Pigs, Pickles & Whiskey and make these and some other awesome dishes in your own kitchen.

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

City Grocery Restaurant Group

You want this book:

Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey

The Second Line is First Class

Second Line 2

Ever since The Second Line was announced, Memphians (and a lot of food publications) have been eagerly awaiting Kelly English’s newest venture in the 901. I had the great pleasure of joining some friends and family for one last practice run before the official opening on Saturday at 4 (note, as they wait on a full liquor license, it will be beer-only for a bit).  The more I eat Kelly’s (and his team’s) food, the more I recognize how much I like everything they’ve ever put on my plate. So, like many of you, I’ve been dying to try his favorite casual New Orleans favorites.

Second Line 1

The Second Line is in a renovated house on Monroe right next to Restaurant Iris and roughly across the street from Overton Square. Inside, it has a nice large bar, a number of table for two and four, and a major patio out back that probably doubles the seating. Once we get into patio weather, it is going to blow up out there. A couple TVs at the bar mean this will be a prime place to take in a game with a nice meal and some drinks. I love the copper and teal color scheme going on inside, and the comfortable, open feel of the place. The interior is only broken up by what looks like an old brick fireplace that separates the main dining area into two spaces.

Second Line – First Course

My mom and I were joined by a new friend Jen, a New Orleans native, who gave our table some instant credibility and great company for a really fun dinner. It is well written on this blog that I love getting seated with new people at dinner, as it is such a good way to get to know some new people. To get started the four of us ordered up some appetizers from the Eat These First section of the menu. Everything looked strong, so it was a trouble to limit our order to only four items…

Second Line 4 meat pie

I love meat, and I love pie, so obviously we had to get the meat pies. These were excellent with a crispy crust and a tasty interior. Definite recommend, but do I really need to recommend a meat pie, c’mon?

Second Line 6 happy enchiladas

We also tried out the happy enchiladas, which have a pretty awesome provenance. Angela English described dreaming about this dish complete with the mole on top, white cheese on the bottom and pork inside. She woke up and told Kelly that these had to be on the menu. Here they are on day one, and I’m a big fan. When you see her, ask her about how they got their name for another good story.

Second Line 5 hushpuppies

The  next skillet had some tasty crabmeat and corn hushpuppies. Yum!

Second Line 3 midnight snack

My highlight of the starters was the gulf shrimp midnight snack, which is a piece of brioche toast topped with gulf shrimp, remoulade, and a poached egg. Get out of here. Just so delicious and rich.

I saw some of the other starters around, and the shwarma, the Brignole salad, the pimento fries, and the rangoons all looked pretty sweet. Hell, it all looked good. (See full menu)

For Richer or For Poboys

At this point the three of us were pretty pumped up and starting to boarder on a little full. But that wasn’t stopping anyone from getting some poboys. Kelly had been telling me recently about the importance of the bread, and this bread from New Orleans did not disappoint.

Second Line 7 johny snack ham poboy

I got the Johnny Snack, which is a ham and cheese poboy with gravy. The bread was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and made even softer by the gravy. The ham and cheese were flavorful and the pickles were the icing on the cake. The fries were dark, crispy, and tasty. Our dining companion was excited that Crystal hot sauce was at every table, as she says it is the go-to hot sauce, so much so that she gave it as wedding favors. It was a great addition to the sandwich and fries, for sure. Use it.

second line 10 Verno

Jen went with the Verno, a braised chicken thigh poboy named after Chris Vernon. Listen to his show if you don’t already. Like the ham, this one got great marks. She got hers with the stewed beet greens, which would make an awesome part of a veggie plate.

second line 11 beet greens

My mom went old school with the shrimp poboy, and she loved it. Just pure, fried shrimp goodness dressed to impress with lettuce, tomato, and pickle.

second line 8 shrimp

She got an awesome side of the Asian-inspired Fancy Ass Cole Slaw, which was great and had a nice little kick to it.

second line 9 slaw

Final First Thoughts

I’m pumped about Second Line opening up for real on Saturday. I’m proud of Kelly and Angela for all of their hard work in creating a new, exciting place that serves excellent food and has great service. They’re creating jobs and giving people a great place to hang out. As a Memphian, I love people that are behind our city and trying to push us ahead both to outside audiences and the one inside that sometimes needs a little extra love. These two (and all of the team at Iris/TSL) are just that, and Memphis is lucky to have them.

So, get on over to Monroe, and enjoy their version of easy, comfortable food, and enjoy it. I’ll see you there, often!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

The Second Line
2144 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104

The Second Line on Urbanspoon

Heart Full of Soul Dinner – 4 seats left!

photo 3Napa Cafe and Stax Academy have come together to throw one awesome party that benefits the students at Stax. This event raised $13,000 last year, and is going to do better this year! It is so popular that they had to spread it out over two nights. There are a couple of seats left tonight for those of you that want some good music and good food and aren’t going to see JT.

photo 2

Each course pairs a song from the Stax catalog, a wine from Sleight of Hand Sellers (who also bottled 120 extra cases to sell at Napa and four area wine shops to benefit Stax), and food from Napa’s chef Scott DeLarme.

photo 3 (1)

Entertainment will be provided on two stages by students from Stax. All in all, it looks like an awesomely, soulful experience. Hope you can make it!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Heart Full of Soul
Napa Cafe
Tonight, 6-9pm
$145

 

Amped Up at Tamp and Tap

DSC_0011

Coffee?

Craft beer?

Together?

That’s the name of the game at Tamp & Tap, which is the latest in a pretty long line of Taylor Berger inspired ventures that have brought Memphians something that they might not have known they wanted until he opened it up. I had my first experience with this great new spot over lunch with some coworkers.

Downtown Chill Factor

I imagine that I am not alone in my love of iced coffee. Sure, I love any coffee cold, but my preference is for a good cold-brewed coffee, which makes for a less acidic cup. Tamp and Tap has a cool setup where they cold brew coffee and then carbonate and keg it, which keeps it fresh and easy to serve. Cook use of technology from the beer side of the game that benefits the coffee side.

iced coffee

 

Sorry for the blurry shot, but rest assured it is a good cup. They use great beans from Metropolis Coffee in Chicago. On a later visit, I picked up a half pound of a Kenyan bean they had, which made some excellent coffee in my french press.

Lunchtime

Strawberry Salad

 

One friend got the Halladay salad with Baby spinach, arugula, candied pecans, gorgonzola, pickled red onion, strawberry, and champagne vinaigrette.

Turkey

 

Here’s a Stanley smoked turkey sandwich with fontina, candied pancetta, pickled red onion, arugula, and roasted artichoke aioli. Delicious.

Grilled Cheese

 

Another friend got this glorious Packard, which is a grilled cheese with three cheeses and a garlic puree.

Sandwich

 

Lastly, my last pal got the Maxwell, which is a roasted veggie sammy with hummus, manchego, local greens, and balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta.

On Tap

If you’re downtown, this is a great place for lunch or a great cup of coffee. I wan’t around for anyone to sample the beer selection, but the word is that they have a good selection. Get on over there and try em out, as this is another of those places that we wanted before we even knew about it. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Tamp and Tap
122 Gayoso, Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 207-1053
Tamp & Tap on Urbanspoon

Chefs, Cookbooks, Charity, Collards, and the Catbird Seats

Since getting this thing started, I have written a lot about meals and special events over on Brookhaven Circle. K and I have spent a lot of time at Andy and Mike’s spots Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy. Since AMIK and Muddy’s opened pretty close to each other and are essentially neighbors, we’ve had a cool connection in watching the businesses grow, and we’ve loved seeing all of the recognition that they’ve earned.

The most recent event was a celebration of the major effort that went into making their new cookbook Collards & Carbonara.

2 Books

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