Monday, August 31, 2015

Guess Where I'm Eating Contest 77

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 11:25 AM

Revving up the appetite ... 
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The first person to correctly ID the dish and where I'm eating wins a fabulous prize. 

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

The answer to GWIE 76 is City & State, and the winner is … Kim Gullett! 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

A Sneak Peek at the Cheesecake Factory

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 10:32 AM

The buzz around town is all about The Cheesecake Factory that opens on Tuesday, September 1st. I got to attend a soft opening and let me tell you, they don’t mess around!

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To start off, I had the guacamole made-to-order ($11.95). It had ripe avocado, onion, tomato, chiles, cilantro and fresh lime. The guacamole was served with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream. You can really taste the lime. The guacamole is chunky, lightly salted, has a hint of spiciness to it, and there’s a nice amount of cilantro. You can tell that everything was made fresh. The chips are thin and crunchy, just how I like it. To be honest, I didn’t even need the chips. That’s how good the guacamole was. I appreciated the side servings of salsa and sour cream. You normally don’t see that and the sour cream just made my guacamole creamier.

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For my entrée I went with the Americana Cheeseburger ($13.50). The burger has American and cheddar cheese, crunchy potato crisps, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, and secret sauce. There’s a creamy vibe going on with the two cheeses blending together. It’s literally melting in my mouth. The burger is juicy and meaty. The ground beef patty is perfectly cooked. By the way, the portion is HUGE and messy. It’s a delicious and fun messy, though. I had to fight to get the whole thing into my mouth. Challenge accepted. However, I failed. I wound up packing half of it to go and got two meals out of it. The secret sauce tastes very similar to ranch dressing and the potato crisps are pretty much thin, straw-like fries. 

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Last but not least, dessert. How could I go to The Cheesecake Factory and not have any cheesecake?

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I went with the Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake ($7.95). With a name like that I should have just quit while I was ahead, but go big or go home! I wanted to do this right! Oreo cookies are baked into this cheesecake with layers of fudge cake and Oreo cookie mouse. Then it’s topped with a milk chocolate icing and a piece of an Oreo cookie! The cheesecake is rich, creamy, sweet chocolatey goodness. That’s all I’ve got for you. Really, you have to try it for yourself. It’s to die for! I will say that the Oreos on the inside of the cheesecake are soft and there appeared to be chocolate chips on the side of the cheesecake that were nice and crunchy. It made for a great texture change. The whipped cream served on the side with Oreo crumbles freshened everything up. I ate that separately! YUMMY!

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Trust me, you’ll want to be the first in line when The Cheesecake Factory opens Tuesday. Especially if you’ve never been!


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lunch at Pink Diva Cupcakery

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Pink Diva Cupcakery opened a couple weeks ago in the old DeJaVu spot on Florida. 

In addition to vegan cupcakes — including her signature Diva Delight (chocolate with chocolate mousse filling), Snickerdoodles, triple chocolate, etc. — Pink Diva offers a small vegan lunch menu. 

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While it's not on this menu, Pink Diva also offers nachos with a choice of toppings — barbecue tofu, beans, rice, olives, jalapenos. ... 

It's hard not to get them all, which I just about did. 

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There's barbecue tofu (excellent), guacamole, cheese, salsa, onions, beans, and olives. All in all, a delicious heap. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mac's Burger's Loaded Egg Rolls

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 1:52 PM

Mac’s Burgers opened up last month in East Memphis, and I finally checked it out. Since it’s Memphis’ very first gourmet mac and cheese bar, I had to try something with macaroni and cheese. Cue their loaded egg rolls ($7.95)!

Mac’s Burgers loaded egg rolls are spring roll wrappers filled with loaded macaroni and cheese. Each roll is completely fried and served with roasted pepper ranch dipping sauce. One spring roll is huge and was all I needed. This appetizer is very filling. I loved how crunchy the spring rolls were, and depending on your taste preference, you can have two different experiences. 
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Without the dipping sauce, the loaded egg rolls are creamy and cheesy. The pasta is big, soft, and you can taste the noodles. The egg rolls as a whole are rich. I even tasted cream cheese, chives and bits of bacon. With the roasted pepper ranch dipping sauce, the dish becomes spicy. It looked like there were bits of jalapenos in the sauce and it added a nice kick to the creaminess of the egg rolls. I went back and forth between dipping and not dipping. These loaded egg rolls won’t disappoint all the mac and cheese lovers out there!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Guess Where I'm Eating Contest 76

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 10:04 AM

Yay!

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The first person to correctly ID where I'm eating wins a fabulous prize. 

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

The answer to GWIE 75 is the sukiyaki at Edo, and the winner is Molly Polatty! 

A special thank you to John, Dabney, Brad, and Kim for taking over the contest for me.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Video Shoot at Belly Acres; Second Second Line

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 2:21 PM

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Belly Acres
chef Rob Ray is headed to cook at the James Beard House in October. His Mushroom State of Mind was one of five winners of the organization's Better Burger Project.

To celebrate, Belly Acres is inviting all comers to a video shoot of a parody of Jay Z's and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind" on Tuesday, August 25th, 8-10 p.m.

Amurica will be there and everyone is asked to dress in their best "funky Memphis style." 


• The second Second Line opens today in Oxford, and it looks like the menu has some extra goodies, including fried chicken livers served with hot pepper jelly, chicken andouille gumbo, and cheeseburger "cooter brown style" (no clue).

Check out the menu below.

 

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The Generous Pour at Capital Grille

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 1:53 PM

The Generous Pour runs through August 30th at Capital Grille. - CARA GREENSTEIN
  • Cara Greenstein
  • The Generous Pour runs through August 30th at Capital Grille.


“There’s nothing wrong with Merlot.”

Depending on how you look at it, that’s either the understatement of the century or a call to arms. When George Miliotes says it, he means war.

Miliotes is more entitled to his opinion than most. He’s a Master Sommelier, one of just 229 in the world. In order to qualify for that title (among other occult rituals), he had to blindly taste six wines from around the world and correctly identify five of them.

Like, sip. Oh yeah! That’s a 2009 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole. Of course.

Although Miliotes is based in New York, tonight he’s pouring wine at the Capital Grille in East Memphis. He’s visiting to introduce their Generous Pour program, which runs through August 30th. It's essentially a super-deluxe wine tasting at an affordable price. 


Continue reading »

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Twilight Sky Terrace's Dazzling Cocktails

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 8:56 AM

If you’ve never been to Twilight Sky Terrace seventeen stories atop the Madison Hotel in downtown Memphis, the view alone is enough of a reason to go… but their provocative cocktails make the experience even better. The 2015 season theme is the celebration of being “StarStruck.” With that comes a list of new, constellation-themed handcrafted cocktails.

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I tried three of the cocktails, starting with the Space Kitty ($11) because I’m a sucker for Prosecco. The drink has Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, rosemary-grapefruit syrup, fresh lemon juice and Proescco. The syrup is homemade, and I can tell on the first sip. I haven’t tasted anything quite like this before. You immediately get a hint of grapefruit and the drink packs a punch. The cocktail starts off tart. Then you get layers of sweetness, followed by layers of citrus. The supervisor for Twilight Sky Terrace, James McDermott, let me know that most of the juices in their drinks are freshly squeezed after I pointed out that you could see the remnants of the lemon juice in the glass. It’s a nice touch. You don’t even taste the vodka, but I love that because it’s well-masked for your enjoyment. This drink will sneak up on you!

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Up next was the Binary Sunset ($11), Mr. McDermott’s favorite. It consists of Avion tequila, lime juice, pineapple juice, and bitters. The bitters are laid on top of the drink for presentation, but the best part is that you can experience a flavor change. If you mix the bitters into the drink, the taste and color is completely different. Before mixing, you mainly taste the bitters. The drink doesn’t go heavy on the pineapple, which I enjoyed. I liked the cocktail better when it was mixed. Overall, it seemed lighter and was refreshing. The lime and pineapple juice makes the drink airy. These cocktails are very well mixed and I can tell a lot of time and effort went into creating them.

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Lastly, I tried Orion’s Belt ($13), which has Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, lime juice, Prosecco, and is shaken with cucumber. I feel instantly refreshed, especially in the Memphis summer heat. I love that I can taste a little bit of everything, from the St. Germain down to the Prosecco. It all goes so well together. The cucumber highlights the effervescence of the drink. The best word I can use to describe this cocktail is crisp. Orion’s Belt was by far my favorite of the three. I even ate the cucumber! 

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Twilight Sky Terrace also serves food, and executive chef Max Hussey was kind enough to bring out his charcuterie and cheese plate ($13) to accompany the cocktails. There was so much on the plate I didn’t know where to begin and asked the chef where to start. “You don’t have to color inside the lines,” Chef Hussey said, “but my favorite way to tackle it is by putting prosciutto on the ciabatta bread with a bit of the pickled veggies.” What comes with this appetizer is up to the chef. I got ciabatta bread, a mix of vegetables, pickles, olives, Tasso ham, prosciutto, a local cheese called Dancing Fern, and creole mustard.

The bread is crunchy but soft… so good! The pickled vegetables are spicy and the Tasso ham is tender and hot, but not heavy. Don’t get me started on the cheese. It was soft, creamy and had a hint of spiciness to it. The prosciutto was sweet and a bit fatty. If you like spicy, you’ll love this appetizer. Thankfully Twilight Sky Terrace gives you plenty of bottled water to stay hydrated. My favorite combination was putting the cheese and prosciutto together on the ciabatta bread.

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Overall, you’ll get an amazing experience at Twilight Sky Terrace. All of the cocktails are going to be available year-long as long as it stays nice out. 

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Sneak Peek at the Whole Foods Germantown

Posted By on Sat, Aug 15, 2015 at 11:48 AM

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Whole Foods Germantown opens on Tuesday, August 18th. Guests who arrive between 8 and 8:30 a.m. can spin the prize wheel. A bread breaking — Whole Foods' version of a ribbon cutting — will happen at around 8:45 a.m., with doors opening at 9 a.m.

The store is open today (Saturday) through 5 p.m. for tours, starting every 15 minutes. It's $5 for the tour, with all the money going to the Wolf River Conservancy and the Mid-South Food Bank.  

Among the store's features is a cool-looking charcuterie cave, an upstairs loft, the La Creperie, and Kei Jei Kitchens. 

La Creperie offers both sweet and savory crepes, including a crepe with fried chicken and pimento cheese. Whole Foods Germantown will also have beignets and donuts. One of the featured donuts is cotton candy (!).  

Ramen bowl from Kei Jei Kitchen
  • Ramen bowl from Kei Jei Kitchen

Especially exciting is Kei Jei Kitchen, which serves Japanese/Korean fusion. There are sushi burritos, steam bao sliders, and ramen bowls.

 

Images by Bianca Phillips

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Friday, August 14, 2015

A Visit to Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 3:20 PM

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I was so inspired by my lunch at Blue Nile, I bought a bag of split peas to do ... something ... And that's about as far as I got with that. 

Point is: Blue Nile, the new Ethiopian restaurant from Stickem's Ermyias Shiberou, is really, really good. 

Bianca and I had a menu strategy: split everything. 

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We ordered a tofu kabob ($3, from the Stickem truck). We both agree that this is the best tofu in town. 

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Next up was the Lentil Sandwich ($8), with lentils, onions, and cilantro. Shiberou told us this is his take on a vegetarian chicken salad. I think about this sandwich a lot ... about the terrific bread, and seasoned whole lentils, how it miraculously held together. 

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Finally, we got the vegetarian platter ($10) — a chef's choice of vegetarian dishes. This one with cabbage, potatoes and carrots, Misir wat (red lentils), yellow split pea wat, greens, and a small green salad with a lemony vinaigrette. All this topped on fantastic injera bread with more served to use for scooping up the food. This colorful plate presents a range of flavors, from the fragrant, earthy wats and the sour cabbage to the bitter greens. A great dish all around.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

LBOE's Luther Burger

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 3:56 PM

LBOE just opened up last October, but they’ve already come up with hundreds of burger creations. One sounded too amazing to pass up… and that’s the Luther Burger ($10.95).

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The Luther Burger comes with an 8-ounce beef/hot sausage blended patty over a glazed donut, topped with American cheese, a fried egg and a Gibson’s maple bacon donut. I could smell the sweetness from the donuts the second the burger was placed in front of me.

The general manager and brains behind the burger, Tommy Shive said, “It’s definitely a fork and knife kind of burger,” he said. The burger is soft, juicy, and my favorite part… sweet and sugary. I was licking my fingers after every bite. The fried egg is creamy and it tastes great with the strong flavor of maple syrup. The meat is so tasty and definitely has a kick to it. It’s delicious. The bacon just adds texture. The burger has a hint of funnel cake flavor to it. I’m talking a high-class funnel cake. Shive did a fantastic job figuring out how to create an even balance between the flavors of the donut and the patty.

Dare I say it, this is the best burger I’ve eaten in Memphis. It’s so good that you forget that there are no condiments on it. That’s because you don’t need any. The patty itself is a star. When I finished, I found myself saying, “Well that’s gone. I want more.”

You’ll have to wait until the last Sunday of every month to get it, though. That’s the only time the Luther Burger is available. 

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Guess Where I'm Eating Contest 75

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 10:50 AM

I've sure enjoyed having other people do my work for me. This week, it's Kim Gullett, a three-time winner of GWIE. Do you know what and where she's eating?
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The first person to correctly ID the dish and where Kim is eating wins a fabulous prize. 

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

The answer to GWIE 74 is the Bolt (aka the Brad Pee) at Max's Sports Bar, and the winner is ... Stephen McFadden! 

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Friday, August 7, 2015

A Visit to 387 Pantry

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 3:08 PM

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The oh-so tasteful 387 Pantry opened, softly, last Friday. It's inside the same building as Stock and Belle on South Main.

Store curator/manager Josh Conley says the idea behind 387 Pantry is twofold: provide a service to the neighborhood and to elevate how Memphians eat. 

They are the first to sell Dr. Bean's coffees and Hanna Farms cornmeal and grits. The latter was founded by a former Hog & Hominy chef, who started with heirloom corn seed, according to Conley. 

You can pick up a dozen eggs, some salami, and sugar cubes for your coffee. The small cooler features cheeses from around the region and sausage from Home Place Pastures. On the counter is a delicious-smelling peanut-fed smoked ham from Virginia, a perfect partner for the bread from D&R Bakery.  

Conley says they're adding a growler station soon. Other plans include having grab-and-go items, maybe partnering with food trucks. They hope to take advantage of 7,000-square-foot warehouse in the back for chef's dinners, coffee tastings, roundtables, and more. 

I asked Conley how he came to be curator of 387 Pantry. "Accidentally," he says. "I love food."

Conley was originally in city planning, "trying to create a world-class city." We discussed how food can make a world-class city. "Absolutely," he says. "Cities are judged by that."



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Muddy's Bake Shop, Grind House Consolidating

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 10:49 AM

Bianca noticed that the sign at Muddy's Grind House had changed ... 
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What happened to the Grind House???

From operations manager Kip Gordon:

"Yep, the Grind House is gone on the sign out front, but not from our hearts! After getting a lot of feedback from customers both in Midtown and East Memphis, we decided to bring the two stores back together a bit. The Bake Shop products will be more available in Midtown and the Midtown products available in East Memphis. Grind House will now refer more specifically to the coffee bar section in Midtown. The product exchange isn't happening all at once, we're kind of doing it in waves as we figure out logistics and transferral, but it's already started!

We're super excited about the change and really feel it's the path to serving our customers as best we can. I mean, ginger scones in East Memphis? What's not awesome about that?" 

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Visit to Lyfe Kitchen

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 4:52 PM



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Lyfe Kitchen, which opens its first Memphis location Thursday, held a media preview today. Bianca and I were pumped to go. Let's just say our expectations were exceeded. 

The airy restaurant, in the old Sharky's space, offers healthy food that doesn't feel forced. Lots of produce, grains — all dishes are under 600 calories. There is no fryer and they don't use white flour or white sugar. 

Celebrity chef Art Smith, who works with the restaurant and was on hand Wednesday said, "This is the future of food — whole, delicious, and affordable." 




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