Monday, July 28, 2014

Now Open on South Main: Café Pontotoc

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Cherie Lamb and Cady Smith
  • Cherie Lamb (front) and Cady Smith

If you walk down South Main, you may notice a new, striped awning in front of the old Corked Carrot space. Hm, you might think. I don’t remember hearing anything about a new restaurant there.

Chances are, you didn’t. About a month ago, with exactly zero fanfare, owners Milton and Cherie Lamb opened Café Pontotoc, a wine bar with a growing menu of small plates. Despite the quiet opening, it’s worth stopping by. Or at least, Meg Gavin thinks so.

“It’s great for a girls’ night out,” said Gavin. “I mean, they have wine on tap, what could be better than that?”

On a recent Thursday night, Gavin was celebrating her 29th birthday with about 12 of her friends. The women said they planned to see Steel Magnolias at the Orpheum, followed by a night out on the town. But first they were enjoying some 2013 Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir and a light supper at Café Pontotoc.

“There really aren’t a lot of places like this in Memphis,” said McRae Sutter, age 28. “Where it’s not like, you know, BEER. A place where you can sit and have a glass of wine and a good conversation.”

The steak tacos ($7 for two) were beautifully seasoned, wrapped in local corn tortillas with a zesty pico de gallo. And the Vietnamese spring rolls ($8) were refreshingly crisp, served with both hoisin sauce and chili garlic sauce.

Owner Milton Lamb is the first to admit that his menu is a little eclectic. But he says that’s not a bad thing—especially when nothing on the menu costs more than $9.

“I guess I would just say try the food,” Lamb says. “We picked these flavors because we think they go well together, so I’ll just let the food speak for itself.”

“Life is short, you know?” adds co-owner Cherie Lamb. “And you’ve got to take chances. So this is the chance we’re taking.”

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Guess Where I'm Eating Contest 34

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Starting back from a contest hiatus with a starter ...

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The first person to correctly ID the dish and where I'm eating wins his or her choice of a gift certificate for Gould's or a gift certificate for Folk's Folly.

To enter, submit your answer to me via email, ellis@memphisflyer.com.

The answer to GWIE contest 33 is the Americano at Cafe Keough, and the winner is ... Sam Powers!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Now Open: the new Jack Binion’s Steakhouse

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 8:08 AM

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I set out for the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. Come on, come on, I thought, blowing on a pair of red, translucent dice. Daddy needs to pay off his college loans.

But on this particular night, it wasn’t just the craps table that was calling me. Wednesday marked the grand re-opening of Jack Binion’s Steakhouse inside the Horseshoe, which has just completed about $10 million of renovations.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Visit to Riverfront Bar & Grill

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

The outstanding weather pretty much demands lunch outdoors, and the outstanding view from the covered outdoor space at the newly open Riverfront Bar & Grill at Beale Street Landing pretty much demands making a day of it.

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The menu is small but smart for a place that will see a lot of tourist traffic. It's Southern but not too syrupy.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Visit to Lettuce Eat

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 9:01 AM

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Lettuce Eat Salad Company opened in the Carrefour shopping center at the corner of Kirby and Poplar in early April, and I stopped by the salad shop on Wednesday to try it out.

In the same vein as the national chain Saladworks, Lettuce Eat serves fresh salads that are tossed and chopped, then placed in a bowl or wrapped in a warm tortilla. Lettuce Eat was created and is owned by Memphian Kelcie Allen, who saw a need for a salad shop in Memphis similar to the ones she frequented as a student in NYC.

Customers can choose one of the 10 pre-designed combinations or create their own by choosing from among six types of greens; seven varieties of cheeses; 13 protein options; more than 30 vegetable, fruit, and nut mix-ins; and a slew of homemade dressings.

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I chose to go with the Thai Peanut wrap ($8.89), which comes with romaine lettuce, avocado, cabbage, edamame, carrots, Chinese noodles, mandarin oranges, and honey-peanut butter dressing. I added tofu (+$1.49) to my wrap for a little extra protein. The wrap was good, but there was way and while the dressing tasted good, there was way too much of it for my tastes.

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Other options include the Steakhouse ($10.49) with romaine, steak, blue cheese, and fried onions; the Kale Yeah ($8.99) with kale, quinoa, craisins, goat cheese, and almonds; and the Southwestern ($8.29) with romaine, avocado, corn, tomato, fried onions, and pepper jack cheese.

The make-your-own salad/wrap starts at $6.99 for one type of lettuce and four vegetables, with meat or additional toppings costing $0.59-$3.99 each.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Visit to Strano

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 7:34 AM

Pam and I met up for lunch at the recently opened Strano Sicilian Kitchen & Bar in Cooper-Young.

We started with the terrific roasted carrot bisque ($8), which was creamy but not so rich as to overwhelm earthy flavor of the carrots.

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I had my eye on a number of dishes — particularly the Pasta Capelli D'angelo alla olive (angel hair pasta with Tuscan olive oil, roasted garlic, portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, black olives, and baked parmesan) and the Cinque Formaggio Pizza (roasted garlic olive oil base with mozzarella, gouda, ricotta, pecorino Romano Parmigiano, and fontina cheeses topped with truffle oil). But I went with the artichoke, fennel, and fontina panini ($8.95) because the oven-braised fennel sounded really good, and it was a fine sandwich, grilled to the perfect crunch. (Paninis at lunch only.)

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