Last week, we went to check out Schweinehaus for lunch. It looks great — the old Paulette's has been cleared out for an open, airy space with white walls and brown accents. Most of the tables are long with bench seating for family-style meal. The design very nearly insists on big gatherings among family and friends.
The outstanding weather pretty much demands lunch outdoors, and the outstanding view from the covered outdoor space at the newly open Riverfront Bar & Grill at Beale Street Landing pretty much demands making a day of it.
The menu is small but smart for a place that will see a lot of tourist traffic. It's Southern but not too syrupy.
Lettuce Eat Salad Company opened in the Carrefour shopping center at the corner of Kirby and Poplar in early April, and I stopped by the salad shop on Wednesday to try it out.
In the same vein as the national chain Saladworks, Lettuce Eat serves fresh salads that are tossed and chopped, then placed in a bowl or wrapped in a warm tortilla. Lettuce Eat was created and is owned by Memphian Kelcie Allen, who saw a need for a salad shop in Memphis similar to the ones she frequented as a student in NYC.
Customers can choose one of the 10 pre-designed combinations or create their own by choosing from among six types of greens; seven varieties of cheeses; 13 protein options; more than 30 vegetable, fruit, and nut mix-ins; and a slew of homemade dressings.
I chose to go with the Thai Peanut wrap ($8.89), which comes with romaine lettuce, avocado, cabbage, edamame, carrots, Chinese noodles, mandarin oranges, and honey-peanut butter dressing. I added tofu (+$1.49) to my wrap for a little extra protein. The wrap was good, but there was way and while the dressing tasted good, there was way too much of it for my tastes.
Other options include the Steakhouse ($10.49) with romaine, steak, blue cheese, and fried onions; the Kale Yeah ($8.99) with kale, quinoa, craisins, goat cheese, and almonds; and the Southwestern ($8.29) with romaine, avocado, corn, tomato, fried onions, and pepper jack cheese.
The make-your-own salad/wrap starts at $6.99 for one type of lettuce and four vegetables, with meat or additional toppings costing $0.59-$3.99 each.
Pam and I met up for lunch at the recently opened Strano Sicilian Kitchen & Bar in Cooper-Young.
We started with the terrific roasted carrot bisque ($8), which was creamy but not so rich as to overwhelm earthy flavor of the carrots.
I had my eye on a number of dishes — particularly the Pasta Capelli D'angelo alla olive (angel hair pasta with Tuscan olive oil, roasted garlic, portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, black olives, and baked parmesan) and the Cinque Formaggio Pizza (roasted garlic olive oil base with mozzarella, gouda, ricotta, pecorino Romano Parmigiano, and fontina cheeses topped with truffle oil). But I went with the artichoke, fennel, and fontina panini ($8.95) because the oven-braised fennel sounded really good, and it was a fine sandwich, grilled to the perfect crunch. (Paninis at lunch only.)
Babalu opened Monday, so I was expecting a crowd, and indeed there was one. But, the space, part of what was once TGI Friday's in Overton Square, is roomy, and we got a booth fairly quickly.
This is the second location of the taco and tapas-focused Babalu. The original is in Jackson, Mississippi. According to the restaurant's website, a third will open in Birmingham.
Last week I stopped by Nacho's downtown on Jefferson to check it out, and while it was straight-up noon, there was plenty of metered parking nearby.
The place, which serves breakfast and lunch weekdays, is small but not teeny-tiny. There are 20 or so tables, from two-tops on up. It was about a third full on my visit, and on that day, front of the house was a one-man operation, with literally one man taking orders and acting as waiter and cashier. Given the situation, the mood might have been hectic, but it was quite upbeat.
There are, in fact, nachos at Nacho's. I ordered the Grilled Nachos ($9.99). This usually comes with a choice of steak, chicken, a mix of chicken or steak, or shrimp. I stuck with just the veggies— grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms— topped in a very good mild cheese dip. I think the addition of a heap of well-seasoned black beans would put this dish over the top.
Other nacho options include Nacho Average Nachos (with pulled pork, chicken, and steak) and Sweet & Sour Nachos (chicken, onion, bell pepper, pineapple, with sweet & sour sauce).
The menu also features a fine selection of sandwiches and wraps — the intriguing Ninja sandwich (with turkey, roast beef, swiss with Teriyaki sauce and sprouts, among the ingredients) and the Fireball of Freedom wrap (turkey, roast beef, bacon, plus more topped with a habanero sauce.
Nacho's also serves Bi Bim Bop, which plenty of folks were ordering on the day I was there. On the breakfast menu, there's the Korean Omelet Plate, with fried rice and your choice of beef, chicken, or vegetables.
Nacho's is open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Take-out and delivery is available.
I pass by Phuong Long several times a week, but had never been there before last Friday when Alexandra, Bianca, and I stopped by for lunch.
Alexandra started with the wonton soup with pork ...
She hadn't anticipated the soup being so hearty and ordered the curry tofu as well ...
As Bianca is determined to try every version of lemongrass tofu in the city that's exactly what she ordered ...
I love bok choy, so I ordered the stir-fried tofu with baby bok choy ...
All lunch specials come with an egg roll (vegetarian egg roll available upon request), and run around $7.
Everything was good all around, and we had enough left over for dinner. Definitely worth a return visit.
The black-eyed peas I made for New Year's day were a disaster. I should have saved myself the trouble and headed straight for South of Beale and ordered the gnocchi ($12), a new addition to the restaurant's winter menu.
These nice, seared gnocchi sit upon a bed of sauteed chard, butternut squash, and black-eyed peas. The chard is sauteed in butter and is rich, so the sweet of the squash adds a good contrast, while the earthiness of the peas brings everything into balance.
The place is small with a nice-looking bar. The menu is familiar, with Pam ordering the Nabeyaki Udon noodle soup ($9.95).
It comes with vegetables, shrimp tempura, fishcake, and a wonderful poached egg.
Our friend ordered another soup, the Kistune Udon (seafood broth and marinated tofu), to warm up on this vaguely snowy day. I stuck with sushi.
We talked movies and books and holiday parties, and as we were winding down the meal, I made a visit to restroom ... and then proceeded to play with the toilet for 5 minutes.
But this is no ordinary toilet, it's the Toto Washlet Toilet ...
When you're out and about post-holiday returning gifts and what-not, you might consider taking a break at Grove Grill for lunch.
I'm a fan of the restaurant's posh vegetable plate. You get a choice of four vegetables among a selection of 17 for $13.
For this plate, I opted for the grilled asparagus, sauteed spinach, fried green tomatoes, and pimento cheese grits. Very tasty all around. The pepper jelly on the tomatoes is brilliant.
Other options include fried okra, pecorino fries, braised turnip greens, praline sweet potatoes, warm bleu cheese slaw (!), marinated field peas, and basil risotto. I definitely have my eye on the crisp sweet onion and rosemary grit fries for my next visit.
Monsieur Demarcus French Crêperie opened several weeks ago in the old Neely's site on Jefferson in Victorian Village.
The transformation from barbecue joint to cafe is remarkable. Inside is a pretty, understated space (to be expanded in the future) — tile floors, white walls accented with black trim.
French touches abound — the waitress looking chic in a red beret; the tunes (Edith Piaf?) — but miraculously avoid being hokey.
Rumor has it that last week Drake stopped by the Four Way, the much-loved soul food restaurant on Mississippi.
He wasn't there when I met an old friend for lunch on Thursday. But no matter. We were focused on catching up, discussing wallpaper, and cleaning our plates.
While my friend is a devotee of Four Way's salmon croquets and can't say enough about the dressing, I opted for a vegetable plate, selecting pinto beans, turnip greens, and mac-and-cheese.
Other veggie options include boiled okra, pickled tomatoes yams, english peas, and buttered corn. Among the meat options are fried chicken and fish, pot roast, and liver and onions. (Plates are about $7).
Good company, good service, good food — lunch, Drake or no Drake, was perfect in every way.
I wasn't a regular, or even an irregular, at the Chinese Sub Shop — nee the Super Submarine Shop — on Highland. So, I can't get sentimental about the old place, nor can I offer a substantive argument on either side of the hard or soft bread question.
In any case, when I arrived for lunch at the new location on Summer at exactly 12:04 p.m., it was jumping.
This afternoon, Bianca and I went to check out the new location of DejaVu, which opened at 51 S. Main (between Union and Monroe) early last week.
Both of us are vets of the Florida location (currently closed for two weeks as a routine gets set on Main), and both of us are familiar with menu. Even so, we struggled for a bit with narrowing it down to a decision.
Chef/owner Gary Williams was buoyant, circulating among the tables to greet patrons. There was enthusiasm, too, among the staff.
More from our visit in the following slideshow.
A visit to the new DeJaVu on South Main.
At the Noodles Bistro in Germantown, I ordered, yes, noodles.
More specifically, I got the Singapore Street Noodles ($8), a curry dish with rice noodles, carrots, snow peas, onions, scallions, bean sprouts, broccoli, and cilantro. With the heat of the curry (I ordered "medium" but may get spicier next time) and the noodles and the broccoli, this is a filling dish, particularly on a hot day.
Other dishes that look promising are the Orange Peel Shrimp with chili sauce; the Korean Spicy Seafood Noodles; and the dishes from the "Traditions & Favorites" section of the menu, including the Honey Seared made with a honey sauce and the Thai Mango.
Noodles' menu also offers nearly two dozen bubble tea drinks. I got the Black Milk Tea ($3.95), which was described to me as both tasting like coffee and a little like tea. True enough. The flavor's mild but delicious.