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.
Sekisui's Tempura a-la-Carte menu offers 13 options — two pieces per order — including mushrooms, crab stick, onions, calamari, and shrimp.
A more reasonable person would have stopped at two, but let's just call my order too much of a good thing: sweet potatoes ($1), asparagus ($1.75), and broccoli ($1).
The first thing that struck me as I entered Green Bamboo, the Vietnamese restaurant on Germantown Parkway, is that whatever was cooking smelled good. Really good.
So, with the appetite fully primed, I set about studying the menu. The Pea Pod Stem ($11.95) intrigued — pea pod stems "gently kissed in a hot wok" and served with tofu and dipping sauce. The Canh Chua Chay ($11.95) was also interesting — a sweet and sour soup with pineapples, tofu, sprouts, tomatoes, and chayote (a vegetable related to melons and squash) served in a tamarind broth.
Ultimately, I went the traditional route with the Curry Tofu and mixed vegetables ($11.95) — a spot-on combo of vegetables (onions, carrots, mushrooms, etc.) in a mild lemongrass curry served on top of rice. An excellent dish all the way around.
For lunch yesterday, it was Evergreen Grill, the cozy new restaurant located in the old Pizze Stone space on Overton Park in Midtown.
The menu is wide-ranging and includes a selection of soups (Minestrone and Wedding Soup) and salads (California with spinach, feta, and nuts and berries and Grilled Chicken, etc.) as well as a number of sandwiches (burgers, meatball, grilled vegetable) and mostly Italian entrees (lasagna, beef ravioli) and pasta dishes (Tomato Cream Shrimp, Sausage Arrabiata).
I opted for the Cappelini with angel hair pasta, tomatoes, basil, and marinara ($7 lunch, $10 dinner).
With fresh tomatoes and chunks of fresh garlic, this is a nice, light pasta, perfect for lunch as it's not so heavy as to put the brakes on the rest of your afternoon. Comes with a garlic bread stick and side salad.
This trio started with the Bruschetta Trio ($6.50).
The birthday boy wanted India Palace for lunch. The rule was he gets to choose AND everything he said that day was true.
The second part of the bargain was by far the toughest to swallow.
So ... I was eating my egg & olive sandwich from Just for Lunch while flipping through 4 Memphis magazine, when an EZ version of "Tea for Two" started to play over the PA.
The scene was totally Squaresville, but that sandwich was good, as good as any egg & olive I've had, and I liked the slightly savory poppy-seed vinaigrette on the fruit salad.