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)
I report this news as a public service. The croissant donut, available at the Kroger on Union, is not the same thing as a Cronut, the donut-croissant hybrid that's sparked a craze (long lines outside the bakery! black market! TV appearances!).
Indeed, the croissant donut is simply a donut shaped like a croissant. According to Linda England, of Kroger manufacturing, the donut is made by an outside party and has been available for the last 4 or 5 years. (It's up to individual stores whether or not to offer the item.)
England said she was not familiar with the cronut but was going to look into it, suggesting that it was not outside the realm of possibility that Kroger might try to concoct their own version.(This is not a zero-sum situation ... in other words, there are croissant donuts at Kroger!)
Chef Demarcus, the nom de restaurant of Kevin Demarcus Woodard, opened Le Crepe du Vin last fall in Bartlett. He announced he was moving the restaurant this spring and is now busy transforming the Neely's BBQ restaurant on Jefferson in Victorian Village into Monsieur Demarcus French Crêperie. He hopes to have the restaurant open sometime in mid-August.
Demarcus says that Le Crepe du Vin, which served both savory and dessert crepes, never really fit in in Bartlett. "They weren't feeling it," he says.
He did, however, notice that the bulk of the patrons came from other parts of the city and surrounding areas. He says that many of them came from downtown.
Demarcus plans on serving the same menu as Le Crepe du Vin at Monsieur Demarcus, while adding additional French fare to be served atop crepes. Dishes mentioned include beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin.
He's now working on getting the Neely's space up to code and doing extensive renovations to bring light into the BBQ joint. He's going to add more windows. There will be tables with white linen tablecloths and napkins.
Demarcus will initially open up about a third of the restaurant, with about 45 to 50 seats — larger than the Bartlett restaurant — and get the rest of the space ready in the next few months for a total of about 144 seats.
Monsieur Demarcus will be open seven days a week, with weekday hours set at 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., to be adjusted as needed.
Demarcus also hopes to hand off his chef duties to someone else so that he can concentrate on front-of-the-house as well as other restaurant business.
Ultimately, Demarcus is aiming toward true French ambience, something he says he achieved at Le Crepe du Vin. He says that he had relocated French natives tell him as much. "They felt like they were back home."
Front Street Deli, a downtown fixture since 1976, closed after owner Lee Busby's death in March. The business is being reopened by Lance Silkes of Tastin' Round Town Tours.
According to Silkes, Larry Busby, Lee's brother, had inherited the business, but he had recently sold his Front Street Deli location on Winchester and was under a no-compete clause. Silkes says they held off on making an announcement, wanting to make sure they could get the old restaurant up-to-code and operational.
Silkes says Front Street Deli fits in perfectly with what he's been doing with Tastin' Round Town, a tour of area restaurants, offering tourists and Memphians alike a taste of some of the city's best fare and a good dose of the city's history.
"In 1976, when pretty much everybody was leaving downtown, [the Busbys] ran in," says Silkes, crediting the deli with helping kickstart downtown's resurgence. "Letting it go seemed like a bad idea."
Silkes says loyal customers will recognize the menu — the tuna salad, the deviled eggs, etc. And, he says he will be adding new items. Under consideration are a Philly cheesesteak sandwich and peppers and onions with sausages.
He plans to keep the same hours, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (He'll also continue to run Tastin' Round Town.)
Silkes hopes to have Front Street Deli up and running in the next few weeks.
If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's a grain popular among health-nuts and foodies. It's not something you see in whiskey. Apparently, Corsair, the Nashville-based artisan distiller, thought differently.
According to Will Atkinson, Corsair's "distillery ambassador," "To our knowledge it is the only quinoa whiskey in production. We use malted barley, and both red and white quinoa from Ecuador to make the mash that we distill. We then age said whiskey in new charred American white oak barrels for maturity.
"I tell people that if they know what quinoa tastes like, well then this whiskey tastes like quinoa. If not, it has a nutty earthy characteristic that is a little unusual for a whiskey. It has also won a silver medal in 2011 at the New York International Spirits Competition."
Corsair Quinoa Whiskey is available at Joe's Wine & Liquors. It's $48.99 for 750 ml.
The menu is long with some 25 burgers, with beef, turkey, and veggie options and prices starting at $5.99.
The menu starts with the Checkered Cow, a just-the-basics burger with a choice of toppings. Then things get very, very imaginative. The Firecracker includes a patty soaked in Tabasco and the Cowboy burger is topped with chilli. The Nacho burger is smothered in nacho cheese, jalapenos, and tortilla chips.
And then there is the ultimate ... the Ultimate ($7.99). This is a burger topped garnished with French fries. That bears repeating: It is a burger topped with French fries.
I got the Nature Boy ($5.99), a veggie burger that was so good, I thought about getting one the next day.
One point worth mentioning is that everything is made-to-order so there's going to be a wait involved.
More details to come regarding Checkered Cow in an upcoming Flyer.
The first Lenny's Sub Shop was opened in Bartlett in 1998 by Len Moore, who sold the business to a group of investors in 2004. There are now roughly 150 Lenny's in 20 states.
"We're constantly in research development, looking at ways to enhance our menu," says Brent Alvord, president of Lenny's Franchise System, LLC.
One recent enhancement, the "Under 500" menu board — lime green and placed center, to catch the eye — highlights 9 sandwiches under 500 calories, starting at $3.50.
All of the "Under 500" sandwiches are regular menu items, only without the cheese or olive oil. Among the sandwiches are the roast beef sub, Mile High turkey sub, and the tuna salad kaiser.
There's a lot going on with the "Under 500" menu — you've got the options, the value, the information. It's marketing, sure, but it's also being proactive regarding the coming federal law requiring fast food chains to display nutritional information. (Nutritional information is available online.)
Consumers are savvier about nutrition, and more are following stricter diets — gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian. Alvord says that Lenny's hasn't had much luck yet in finding good-tasting gluten-free items, and vegan is tough as well. He notes, though, that the vegetarian black bean kaiser sandwich is one his favorite sandwiches at Lenny's.
So, I went and tried it myself, and it's now going to be my go-to order at Lenny's. This is a nice, hefty sandwich — a good black bean patty, topped with a generous amount of veggies. And, yep, it's under 500 calories.
The food truckers meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Broadway Pizza, but it isn't the only mobile business workshop going on that day. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Mayor's Innovation Delivery team welcomes Nashville mobile retailer, Abigail Franklin, to discuss how to grow a retail business using mobile retail. That event will take place at NJ Woods Gallery and Design at 2563 Broad Avenue.
So if you're thinking now is the time to start your combination vintage consignment and corn dog truck — and we hope you are — then Broad Avenue has some events you might check out...
Last Saturday, the Cooper-Young restaurant Cortona Contemporary Italian closed its doors. This Saturday night, those doors re-open to unveil Ink Bar, Lounge, Restaurant.
The menu, a collaboration between Jennifer Dickerson and Nate Oliva, features mostly small or "sharable" plates with dishes divided into the six categories:
• Let's Share are the starters. Options include Carnival Chicken on a Stick ($13) with smoked chicken and house-made pickles and the Cooper Young Farmer’s Market Dip ($9) with local kale and artisanal Cheeses.
• Stone Work are the pizzas. The Truffled Jalapeno Pizza ($16) has black truffle pieces, fresh jalapeño, and Mozzarella. The Gamberetto ($18) has Gulf shrimp with Cajun season, shallots, and spinach.
• Field and Stream, cleverly, is for the salads and soups. There's an Oyster Caesar salad ($14); a spinach salad ($10); and a curried cauliflower soup ($7).
• Stacked stands for burgers and sandwiches. There's a catfish burrito ($15) as well as a pork belly rueben ($14) that boasts not Thousand Island dressing but Million Island dressing (no clue 'bout that) as well as kimchee.
• Get Your Own! are the entrees and include the Neighborhood Veggie Risotto ($16) with kale, zucchini, tomatoes, cheeses, and lemon, and the Flat Iron steak ($21) with chimichurri, potatoes, and spinach.
• Sweet Release, finally, is for the desserts and after-dinner drinks. There's the Black Pearl ($11), a milkshake made with Sambuca, as well as a chocolate-chili creme brûlée.
Ink will also offer an artisan cocktail list as well as a selection of sparkling wines.
Ink, 948 S. Cooper (729-0101)
The cashew crunch gelato — delectable with bits of the candy, a stripe of caramel — is in regular rotation at YoLo. They also make gelato with pecans from Delta Pecan Orchard and with fruits from Jones Orchard when in season.
And, and — this is breaking news, folks — they're debuting a new coffee and donuts gelato this week made with Gibson's donuts.
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
After being dormant for almost a year, Revival Southern Food Company food truck hit the streets again last Friday.
Revival, which launched winter of 2011, was popular from the get-go, known for its Dirty Fries (fries topped with sausage and gravy), veggie tacos, and Krispy Kreme bread pudding. The truck placed third in the "Best Food Truck" category in the Flyer's 2012 Best of Memphis readers' poll.
The truck went MIA last summer, and the chef, Crash Hethcox, left the business (he's now at Chiwawa). The truck was put up for sale in November 2012.
Cathy McKee, who had been running the food trailer Trailer Hash, bought the truck two weeks ago. She says her first day in the truck was an eventful one. "I got out there and blew a tire!," she says.
McKee had been operating Trailer Hash since last September in a spot in East Memphis at Poplar, behind the Bank of America building. She'll have the Revival food truck at the same spot.
McKee says that the sale included three or four of Revival's recipes, including the Krispy Kreme bread pudding. She's making a batch today to bring to a party to test it out. She also plans to include some of the other recipes as well, such as a hot dog dressed with a Jack Daniels sauce.
Because the Trailer Hash trailer was small, McKee had pre-make much of the menu items. With the truck, she'll be able to cook on-site and expand her offerings. "I get to be more creative," she says.
The truck offers breakfast and lunch. Breakfast items include biscuits, parfaits, and breakfast plates with eggs cooked to order and side items like veggie sausage, bacon, or ham.
The lunch menu features chicken salad, jalapeno pimento cheese, salads, and more. There are daily specials, too. For this upcoming week, Tuesday is Panini Day with three options. Thursday is dedicated to the veggie plate, and Friday is Fish Taco day.
Revival serves breakfast starting at 8 a.m. Lunch runs until 1:30 or 2 p.m. You can follow them @Revival_Food.
Did you see this Tweet from Friday night?
So what's the story?
A rep from the restaurant says a request was made for Parker for two tables at Restaurant Iris on Friday for Friday night. We all know that's not happening, right?
The restaurant was already booked solid and generally is two weekends out.
projectspurs.com: "Memphis Restaurant Denying Parker Service Still Comes Up Empty in Win Column"
restaurantiris.com: "regarding reservations at Restaurant Iris"
So ... earlier this week, San Antonio mayor Julian Castro made a barbecue-centric bet with mayor A C Wharton in recognition of the Grizzlies-Spurs series.
My favorite thing about all this is not the wager, but that the mayor's office sent out a press release about the wager.
Included in the release is this addendum from Wharton's Facebook page:
“I should mention that I have a friendly wager going with Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio on the Grizzlies/Spurs series. The losing Mayor must send BAR-B-Q from one of their city's best BAR-B-Q restaurants to the winning Mayor. Mayor Castro proposed it, but it seems a little backward. In my opinion, I should be forced to eat second-rate Texas BAR-B-Q as punishment not when we are successful!”
Seriously, this is a valid point.
May is National Hamburger Month, with Tuesday, May 28th National Hamburger Day, so let's chomping on some burger news.
• Huey's "Design the Next Huey's Burger" continues until May 31st. According to rep Shannon Little, they've received about 20 to 30 recipes for the contest so far.
The winner of the contest will have his/her creation included on the fall specials menu for six months. The winner also receives a $50 gift certificate.
For more information, go Huey's Facebook page.
• Back Yard Burger is celebrating National Hamburger Day (Tuesday, May 28th) at select locations by giving away Classic hamburgers to the first 100 customers.
Updated again to include additional Backyard Burgers participating in the giveaway in the area. They are:
- 2931 Kirby Whitten Road, Bartlett
- 1709 Whitten Road, Bartlett
- 1685 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova
- 8079 Trinity Road, Cordova
- 2110 West St., Germantown
- 6466 Poplar Ave.
- 436 Perkins Ext.
- 1723 Union
- 5091 Park
- 7545 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS
- 165 Goodman Road, Southaven, MS
Giveaway is between 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Hard Rock Cafe Memphis is having a "Bite it, Snap it Post it, Win it" contest. Diners take a selfie with their favorite Hard Rock burger and then post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #hardrockburger or upload it to hardrockburger.com. A winner is chosen every day with those then entered for a chance to win a 4-day, 3-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana. The contest continues through May 31st