Imagine is now in the former site of Fork It Over, which has moved to Lindenwood Christian Church on Union. This old house is perfect for Imagine. It's owned by a husband and wife who keep their kids on-site, and they've developed a group of tight-knit regulars who add to the family feel.
There are three dining rooms and a front porch with additional tables. A larger cooler, displaying drinks and desserts, is where customers place their orders.
Much of the menu is the same, but there are some new items, including Tony's Nachos ($6.99), which can be upgraded to full-on vegan BBQ nachos by request, as those pictured above were.
Also new is the Southern Staple ($9.99), a huge plate of collards, black beans, and rice drizzled with a garlic sauce and served with cornbread. Worth a visit to Imagine alone.
To top the meal off, we could not resist sharing a piece of Boston Creme Pie cake ($5.75) made by Stephanie Roy, of the vegan Swell Baked Goods, who joined us for this lunch. This is one of many dessert options Roy provides for Imagine.
Roy is basically an evil genius of baking. That near inch-high layer of impossibly perfect chocolate ganache ... still thinking about it.
Roy will bake for you. Go here for more information.
My picture doesn't do it justice, but the Rainbow Panang Curry ($11) at Mosa is one of the prettiest things I've ever eaten.
This is a slightly sweet curry made with snow peas, mushrooms, and zucchini and your choice of beef, chicken, or tofu, and spiced to your preference.
It was by happenstance that I stopped by Bar Louie just hours into its opening day. The staff was pumped, and the manager went to each table to greet everyone.
The restaurant takes up a space at the southwest corner of Madison and Cooper and is dominated by a large bar in the center. There are TVs aplenty, positioned so to be in view of just about every seat in the house. A stretch of tables along the windows at Madison are ideal for people-watching.
The menu is pretty extensive, opening with a few pages of cocktails, martinis, wines, etc. Boxed items indicate signature drinks and dishes, including the Diva martini with pineapple vodka and pomegranate liquor. (Prices weren't included on the drink menu, so I was scairt ... at $11, probably warranted.)
Other intriguing cocktails on the menu include a Coconut Mint Lemonade and the Bloody Louie, their version of the Bloody Mary jacked-up with Guinness stout.
A sign to Bella Caffe at the Pink Palace Museum directs you to go behind the T-rex.
And there you'll find the small cafe with a big menu featuring grilled and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, dessert times, and a long list of cold and hot drinks.
I ordered the Quattro Formmagio ($6.25), a grilled cheese with cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, and fontina cheese. I detected maybe a little spicy mustard. Not sure, but it's a nice touch to an already solid sandwich.
Other options include the Blue Roman, roast beef with blue cheese and horseradish ($7); a Muffaletta panini ($6.50); and an Italian pimento cheese made with mascarpone (!) ($4.75).
From the drink menu, there's the Piggly Wiggly, a frozen maple bacon mocha ($4.70).
We were hungry by the time we got from downtown to out east and the newly open Rock 'n' Dough Pizza Co., so were happy with the nearly instant gratification from the slice and salad deal ($6 for cheese and side salad; $7 one topping; $8 multi-toppings).
I got the Margherita with the market salad. This slice hews to tradition — fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. The salad includes seasonal vegetables and is served with a nice vinaigrette.
Hannah ordered the SMGC with a Greek salad. The SMGC is: spinach, mushrooms, mozzarella, and goat cheese. It was topped with chicken as well.
There's a fine balance in these pies — an emphasis on fresh ingredients, a steady hand with the sauce. But, the glory here is the wonderful, bread-y crust, which is hardy enough to keep everything in check but not so thick as to leave the diner chewing forever.
Other pizzas now offered are the bacon cheeseburger, the vegan pie, the roasted garlic bread pie (served with lemon wedges!), the Fun Guy pie with portobellos and fontina cheese. The owner says the menu will expand once they get settled in. They also plan to offer delivery in East Memphis.
Hannah has more on Rock 'n' Dough, as well as the latest on the second locations of Mellow Mushroom and Broadway Pizza, in the her Food News column in the issue hitting the stands on Wednesday.
For next week's Food News column, Hannah is writing about Table 613, the new Kosher restaurant in Sanderlin Center. I tagged along with her to check it out for lunch.
Hannah started with the Matzah Ball soup ($4.99). It smelled wonderful, and Hannah said it was very good.
She also ordered this bulging grilled chicken sub ($9.99), which was topped with onions, peppers, mushrooms, jalapenos peppers, and a savory sauce.
I ordered the falafel pita ($7.99). This is loaded with hummus, eggplant, and babaganoush. Very tasty.
The menu also includes a number of salads, from Caesar to broccoli cashew. There's also a the quarter-pound Butch burger and a Schnitzel sandwich, plus sides, a kids' menu, and a small selection of desserts.
Table 613 is open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A reader sent me a tip about Elwood's Shack, a new restaurant in the old Pizza Shack next to the Lowe's at Perkins and Summer.
Elwood's Shack — named for the Blues Brother character and opened 15 days ago by restaurant vets and fishing buddies Scott Scheno and Tim Bednarski — serves breakfast and lunch, and while the menu is still in flux, as it stands now, it's quite extensive, serving everything from sandwiches (meatball subs, reubens, the vegetarian Going Back to Cali), barbecue (barbecue nachos, beef brisket, etc.), and pizza (traditional pepperoni, Elwood's Meat with country ham, bacon, sausage, and meatballs ...).
I ordered a grilled cheese, a classic made with American cheese, with a side of potato salad (very good). Hannah opted for a roast beef sandwich (above), which came stacked with house-made roast beef.
The two sandwiches with drinks and a side came to about $14. Can't beat that.
Elwood's shack is open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
The restaurant serves breakfast, and we started with a dish from the breakfast menu — bowls of fuul ($6), a nice and hearty chili-like dish of fava beans and other vegetables.
We also split the veggie combination platter ($12), an Ethiopian dish with kale, split peas, lentils, and cabbage served atop injera bread.
Excellent all the way around, and don't skip the specialty hot tea.
Derae Restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Balewa's Vegan Gourmet was set to open sometime in November but that date was pushed back by the usual delays related to inspections, etc.
The restaurant, near the Sears Crosstown building, opened on December 15th and I went to check it out last week.
At the entrance is the counter for ordering and a glass fridge with grab-and-go items like salads and sandwiches. To the right is a room with a large table for family-style eating and a smaller tables. To the left, another room with more seating at a long counter.
I had been planning to get Balewa's popular quinoa chili, but couldn't resist the signature Live Burger ($6.99). Everything on the burger is raw, save for the bun. It was topped with a nice tomato sauce and included an avocado spread as well.
I also order the Ra-Kreem broccoli soup ($3.99). This is a thick soup, very earthy with a bit of heat. Good for chilly days.
As the fare at Balewa's is unique, the service was not without its quirks but nothing that can't be ironed out in time.
Balewa's is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Finally got a chance to check out the new Local in Overton Square.
The space is great-looking ... lots of tall windows, nice wood floors, little seating areas tucked here and there for intimate gatherings.
We started with the baked pretzels with a beer cheese fondue ($11). No complaints there.
Today, Hannah and I went to check out Bleu's new Build Your Own Pasta option, a noodle-centric version of the downtown restaurant's popular Build Your Own Sandwich lunch.
You start by choosing your protein, from clams and meatballs to grilled sausage that run from $8.99 to $10.99. Next, you select one of five sauces (marinara, alfredo, etc.) Then, it's on to the veggies (caramelized onions, tomatoes, and so on) and pasta (spaghetti, penne ...). You can also opt for add ons that range from sirloin to shrimp for an extra $3.99.
Hannah got shrimp ($10.99) with broccoli, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers with the pink vodka sauce and Pappardelle noodles. It made for a pretty plate.
As the proteins are all meat and I'm a vegetarian, the chef came out to discuss other options. (Very nice!) But I was fine with sticking with the veggies: tomatoes, spinach, and caramelized onions with marinara on top of Orcchiette. It couldn't have been better.
This is a smart addition to Bleu's menu and just in time for the cooler weather.
We had a Plan B in case the new downtown location of Central BBQ was packed.
It was, in fact, crowded, but it didn't matter because the place is huge and the staff expert at keeping things moving.
We used to frequent Fratelli's when it was on S. Front, just around the corner from work. I miss popping over for lunch and picking up an excellent salad plate or a panini. But, I have to admit that the cafe's digs at the Memphis Botanic Garden are pretty swell.
Also swell, the San Remo focaccia ($9.50). This is an earthy sandwich with sprouts, roasted red peppers, avocado, and mozzarella that's zipped up with a fresh lime-mint vinaigrette. Comes with your choice of potato salad, pasta salad, mixed greens, or fruit.
At the recently reopened Bon Ton Cafe, you have the option of adding a fried egg to any sandwich for $1, which is what I did for this grilled cheese ($4.99).
Couldn't have been better.
Other lunch options include the Bayou Po Boy with either shrimp or catfish ($8.99), fried bologna ($6.99),and chicken parmesan sandwich ($8.99), plus a number of salads as well as specials of the day.
Yesterday for lunch we stopped by Arepa & Salsa, a new Venezuelan restaurant on Madison in the old Burly's space.
I first noticed the Arepa's bright-yellow signage and the sweet colorful planters out front about 2 weeks ago. The restaurant opened last Monday.
While I only ate at Burly's once and my knowledge of the space is fuzzy, I did notice the new booths, and there's a back room and a small slice of outdoor seating on the balcony at the back of the building. Most of the parking is in the back, with entry up a flight of steps that puts you mind-bendingly on street level at Madison.
Arepas are a Venezuelan staple, a corn-based pastry made with a variety of fillings.
The UFOs ($4.50) are mini fried cheese arepas.