Lunch at Tamp & Tap
Working through the menu at Tamp & Tap
Any place you can get breakfast for lunch is a-okay by me.
Stone Soup Cafe serves breakfast, from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
This is the Big Rex ($5.99).
The Big Rex comes with a choice of bacon, ham, or sausage and egg and cheese served on grilled toast. You can also get it on a biscuit.
Other Stone Soup breakfast dishes that look ideal for lunch are the Gut Bomb ($5.39), grits, sausage, and cheddar cheese in a bowl, and the Farmers Omelet ($7.69), with bacon, ham, or sausage with a choice of cheese.
One more thing to note ... Stone Soup recently completed the application process to sell beer. So now you can get beer with your breakfast for lunch.
Two Vegan Sistas
3 co-workers sample 7 dishes at Two Vegan Sistas.
Nine times out of 10, if there's a dish with "Elvis" in the name, it's going to involve peanut butter and bananas.
Here's the 10th: the Elvis Dog at Blues City Hot Dog, which opened 3 weeks ago on Highland.
From the ground up, the Elvis Dog is a hot dog bun topped with pancakes — pancakes! — then a Nathan's All Beef hot dog, then bacon.
A dousing of the Elvis Dog with syrup is optional. And, yes, of course, we opted for the syrup.
It was John Branston who suggested we check out the Office@Uptown Cafe, and since Branston knows best, we did.
Part of the business offers "office" resources — a meeting space, access to computers, scanners, copiers, etc. The cafe kitchen is in the back, with seating among those using the office services, with some tables outside. The setup is a little awkward, but nothing that should dissuade those looking for a fine lunch.
The menu is compact, offering 10 or so sandwiches or paninis, four salads, and a soup of the day. (Soup/salad or soup/sandwich combos available.) The emphasis here is on ingredients and execution.
Many of the sandwiches are named after the neighborhood, such as the Uptown Classic ($6.25), a panini with turkey breast, smoked cheddar cheese, fresh spinach, tomatoes, with chipotle mayo. It was declared to be exactly how a turkey sandwich should be.
The Bearwater roast beef ($6.95) was much loved. What specifically?, I inquired. The bread, the meat, the cheese went the answer. That pretty much covers that. Paired with the sandwich was a cup of chicken tortilla soup ($2.95).
I ordered the Smokey City Melt ($5.25), a grilled cheese with smoked cheddar and choice of bread. It was very good, and I liked large slice of tomato tucked within the slice of cheese. I saved half for later, not always optimal for this sort of sandwich, but this one held up fine.
Other sandwiches include the North Memphis BLTA (the "a" is for avocado), the Bluff City Class club, pimento cheese, chicken and tuna salad. They also offer a veggie wrap and a veggie pizza.
The Office@Uptown Cafe is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Jiji's Wraps Cafe took over the old Pita Cafe space on Park near Getwell about 9 months ago. The menu offers Mediterranean fare — chicken shawarma, gyros, etc. — as well as a few Ethiopian dishes such as t'ibs and kitfo.
Included on the menu are "Egged Sandwiches" and "Egged Combos." I asked the owner if these are breakfast items but she said they were simply dishes with eggs scrambled into the ingredients.
And so it is. This is a falafel with eggs ($7.59). The eggs were a nice touch, but this sandwich is plenty good on its own — nice, spicy falafel, fresh toppings, good pita bread. The other egged sandwiches are gyro, chick shawarma, and tilapia ($7.59-$8.69).
Just an fyi, the air conditioning has been broken at Jiji's, so you'll want to get your food to go.
Southern Belle, the mostly take-out spot offering plate lunches, has been reinvented as Belle Diner with a move from Madison in Midtown to a much larger space on Union in downtown in the former site of Rio Loco.
Patrons enter to see the menu posted on a wall painted with chalkboard paint. They make their order at the counter, take a number, then take a seat.
There are plate lunch specials ($9) for each weekday. On Wednesday, the day we visited, it was Crawfish etouffee and beef brisket (which had sold out). Plates come with a choice of sides and either a roll or cornbread.
Anna opted for a vegetable plate (choice of 3 for $7 or 4 for $9). She got fried okra (nicely done with the whole pod), squash casserole, and cheese grits.
My plate was similar, though I got the very good mac-and-cheese and a nice side salad.
There are also a number of sandwiches on the menu, including smoked turkey and a po boy of the day ($7.50 with chips and picked okra).
Mike tried the roast beef sandwich served with au jus. He's not much for chips, but he liked the house-made chips that came with the sandwich.
Belle Diner offers a trio of desserts, all $4.50: chocolate toffee torte, seasonal fried pies, and a cake of the day.
We tried them all. The fried pie was peach served with an excellent homemade ice cream. The cake was a blueberry cheesecake.
I can say we both left impressed. This is a one-man operation with a bare-bones kitchen. The menu is spare by necessity but the offerings, particularly the specials, are smart, forward-thinking.
Exhibit A: the special of the day, which Hannah ordered: The Chinese BBQ Pork sandwich, a Banh mi-inspired creation dressed with cucumbers and cilantro and served on French bread.
Exhibit B: the Irish Car Bomb bread pudding. This rich-beyond-belief treat was a reality check of sorts. This bread pudding gets the texture just right, which — yes! — is pudding-like. All those very good variations I've had over the years now seem lumpy in comparison.
Regular menu items include the 1/2 pound Sidestreet burger and a turkey burger ($2-$4) and individual-sized pizzas ($4-$8). Specials making frequent cameos include the Hott Pigg, ground pork stuffed with bacon and rosemary dressed with BBQ sauce, slaw, and pepperjack cheese, and a turkey-spinach burger.
Hannah mentioned it in her column, but it should be repeated: If, when, you plan to visit SideStreet Burgers, go to an ATM first. This is a cash-only operation.
SideStreet Burgers, 9199 Highway 178 in Olive Branch, MS (865 384-6623)
A new Cuban joint is open on Madison, across the street from the Brass Door and in the former home of the Little Shop of Sandwiches.
Havana's Pilón is named for a Latin American/Caribbean expression meaning mortar and pestle, a few examples of which are stacked around the restaurant as decoration. The menu is small, a pared down selection of Cuban standards such as Ropa Vieja, Spanish for "old clothes," a savory dish of shredded beef in a tomato sauce; Mofongo, fried plantains mashed with garlic in a pilón and topped with shrimp; and, yes, the Cuban sandwich, a grilled stack of ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles.
They're open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, and offer breakfast items like ham and cheese croissants and tostadas.
Havana's Pilón, 143 Madison Avenue, 527-2878
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.