About Time 

Sports, specials, and cooking for a cause.

If you want to watch the NCAA playoff games at Primetime — downtown's newest sports bar — you'd better call ahead and make a reservation.

"It sounds crazy," says River City Management's Preston Lamm, "but we are selling out of seats for game times in our main dining room."

Located at Second and Peabody Place in the location formerly occupied by Jillian's, Primetime is mixing media, memorabilia, and gourmet pup grub into an upbeat and sophisticated venue just in time for March Madness. "We've got 30 television screens, and they'll all be broadcasting the Tigers whenever they play," Lamm says.

In addition to the big-screens, Primetime has plenty of other entertainment: a dozen pool tables, 14 bowling lanes (very retro), a dance club and DJ (Club Chill), and an impressive collection of local sports memorabilia (gold-medalist Rochelle Stevens' track jacket and a photograph of Joe Lewis from a match at Ellis Auditorium).

Primetime also is serving a fresh spin on traditional bar food. "Our barbecue-chicken pizza with mozzarella and caramelized red onions is a fan favorite," says Jimmy Rutkowski, Primetime's assistant general manager. "We hand-toss our pizza dough every day."

Other new twists on finger foods are Heavy Weight Poppers (fried jalapeno peppers stuffed with spicy shredded chicken or cheddar cheese and served with guacamole cream sauce) and Sweet and Spicy Wings. "We use a sweet and crunchy breading and drizzle on the spicy sauce," Rutkowski says. "It's a different take on a Memphis tradition."

Bacon, cheese, or chili burgers weigh in at half a pound of ground sirloin and include a generous side of hand-cut fries for $5.95. "Our most expensive item on the menu is a six-ounce filet mignon for $10.95," Rutkowski says. "We want our food to be fast, fresh, and affordable."

Primetime Sports Bar, 150 Peabody Place, primetimesportsbar.net (543-8800)

Cordelia's Table, located inside Miss Cordelia's grocery store on Mud Island, is bringing the neighborhood back to the dinner table with good-tasting, fixed-price specials offered on Tuesday nights.

For $10, customers can dine in or take out a new meal every week, thanks to innovative menu planning by chef David Thornton. "I make whatever sounds good to me that's within my price point," Thornton says. "But I try to rotate one week chicken, one week fish, and two weeks vegetarian or vegan."

The double duty for vegetarian meals reflects Thornton's philosophy on healthy eating, developed in Portland where he worked and attended culinary school before returning to Memphis.

"I don't think everyone needs to be a vegetarian," Thornton says. "But we definitely need to add more plant-based meals to our diets."

Eating veggies is easy to do with tempting combinations like these: grilled-vegetable and brown-rice burrito with black-bean salad on April 7th or mushroom cassoulet, goat cheese side salad, and dessert fruit salad on April 14th. Cajun and seafood entrées are delicious too: gumbo with rice, whole-grain bread, and roasted vegetable butter on March 31st or cinnamon shrimp salad with fresh-fruit dessert on April 28th.

"Our fish dinners are cooked to order, but everything else is ready to go," Thornton says. "We want to serve people as quickly as possible."

A friendly vibe on Tuesday nights is important, too, says Mary Caywood, who handles the restaurant's marketing. "We push the tables together, so people can share time with friends or maybe meet someone new," Caywood says. "It's a little like an old-fashioned boarding house."

Cordelia's Table, 737 Harbor Bend, misscordelias.com (526-4772)

Team members at Whole Foods Market are firing up "The Giving Grill" in the store's East Memphis parking lot for a cookout with a cause on Saturday, March 28th.

The cookout, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m., offers hotdogs, bratwurst, and hamburgers (all-natural, of course), along with veggie burgers and veggie dogs, potato salad, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, and roasted corn on the cob. Eat à la carte, or for $5, have entrée, chips, and drink.

"People like the food, and they like contributing to such a good cause," says Liza Burke, the marketing team leader who is coordinating the event.

Along with the cookout, Whole Foods employees are donating artwork for an auction and sale from 2 to 4 p.m. "We will have all sorts of things, from a set of charcoal prints to painted barrels for collecting rain water," Burke says.

The Memphis store hopes to raise $3,000 for Whole Planet Foundation, which distributes small loans of $300 to families in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The goal of the foundation is to help people escape poverty by developing small family businesses such as harvesting butterflies or growing bananas, coffee, or spices.

Whole Foods Market, 5022 Poplar, wholefoodsmarket.com (685-2293)


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