Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Flying Saucer Downtown Reopening May 4

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 10:42 AM

The Flying Saucer downtown is reopening May 4th and big changes are in store.

The restaurant has been closed for about a month for renovations in prep for its 20th year.

Co-founder Shannon Wynne was in town re-hanging the famous "Beerknurd" plates that adorn the walls and ceilings of Flying Saucer.

Part of the renovation is a brand-new kitchen. Wynne says that originally, this Flying Saucer only served cold sandwiches and pizzas. Over the years, as they've updated other locations, they've put in full kitchens.

What that means is that there is a new menu with a new focus: burgers.

Wynne based the menu on Rodeo Goat, another restaurant he founded in Texas. He says they've pretty much perfected the burger: grass-fed beef, no hormones, nothing frozen, plus interesting flavor combos.

The menu includes some nods to the city, including the Sputnik Monroe burger with bacon, onion marmalade, arugula, spinach, white cheddar and ranch mayo; and the Chickasaw Bluff with a grilled chicken breast, guac, and pepper jack cheese.

While the burgers dominate the menu, customers can expect to see some of the old favorites, like the pretzels.

As for the star of the show? "We're changing the beer menu in a huge way," says Wynne.

He explains that 20 years ago, when this Flying Saucer opened, the menu was mainly European beers like Chimay. Since then, the craft beer scene has exploded, and, says Wynne, a lot of good beers get lost in the shuffle.

"It's a strict menu that will have 80 beers, 20 will be transcendent," he says. And by that, he means, "They just transcend all others. The other 60 will be exceptional."

The menu was selected by Wynne, co-founder and beer expert Keith Schlabs, and Saucer general manager Kirk Caliendo. Some local beers have made the list of 80, according to Wynne.

In addition, every two weeks, four beers without names will be introduced. These are the "Ghost Beers." Guests vote on their favorites and whatever wins gets added to the menu.

But back to those Beerknurd plates ... Wynne estimates there are about 1,000. Is he putting them all back in their original places? "Oh hell no," he says.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

901 Wings Opening Downtown

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 12:06 PM


The first 901 Wings was in the 662 — Southaven, to be exact.

The second location will be opening at 97 N. Main in Downtown Memphis as soon as Thursday.

According to general manager Patrick Brown, the restaurant is finishing up its last inspections.

901 Wings serves nine types of wings, including mild, hot, honey hot, and country fried (!). They've got Party Wings, Whole Wings, and 901 Wings (boneless).

They also serve philly cheesesteak, turkey burgers, salads, and loaded fries (in both steak and chicken versions), what Brown calls the "whole nine."

Brown says with the Southaven location packed out and all the customers coming from Memphis, the new location made sense.

"We can't wait to open and serve the city of Memphis," Brown says.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Gumbo

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 2:52 PM

It's Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival time, and in its honor, we turn our focus on the festival's popular gumbo cooking contest, and, specifically, on how to win it. Three-time champ Parris Edwards with the Bayou Babes spills all her secrets.

"It's quite a story," Edwards says about how she got into competitive gumbo-cooking. Edward's father was one of the contest's first competitors. Edwards and her sisters would help him prep. He never won or placed.

Years later, "my sister and I decided to cook our own gumbo and compete against Dad. We won first prize," Edwards says.

Then Edwards decided to join her dad's team, doing her own cooking. She won again. Later, she and her sisters formed the Bayou Babes and took home first place again last year.

Bayou Babes
  • Bayou Babes

So what's her secret? Turns out, she has several to share.

"My trick is to take every ingredient and make it taste good," Edwards says. She marinates, batters, and fries chicken before putting it in the pot. She sautes the okra in butter until it's crispy (and no longer slimy).

Another hint is to consistently stir your roux until it's caramel color. Edwards says the roux is what separates gumbo from soup and is particularly important. "People burn their roux," she says. "I've have had so many [roux] that taste like hell."

Edwards also says that too much heat is a major problem. "Don't make it too hot, spicy," she says. She likes smoked paprika because it adds flavor without adding heat.

Good rice, none of that minute stuff, is essential. Why would you put in five to six hours making a gumbo and then put it over horrible rice?

Edwards forgoes file and uses one can of diced tomatoes. She thinks gumbo is about doing whatever you want. "People make their own rules for gumbo," she says.

 And the very best way to eat gumbo, Edwards says, "is with a big bowl and a big spoon."

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Zaka Bowl Expands Menu, No Longer Vegan

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 8:28 AM

Zaka Bowl, the build-your-own veggie bowl restaurant which opened in East Memphis last fall, recently expanded its menu.

Not everybody is happy about that. But first some background.

The restaurant was the brainchild of Ed Cabigao of South of Beale. Cabigao had undergone a major lifestyle change. He went vegan, dropped some weight, became healthier, and wanted to spread the word, so to speak.

Originally, guests could choose from a base of quinoa or zucchini noodles or whatever, then build up the bowl with warm and cold veggies, choose premium items like tofu, and then top it with one of ZB's great sauces. They also offered one or two set veggie bowls for babies like me who get overwhelmed by too many choices.

The new menu greatly expands the bowl offerings under three categories: Salads, Poke, and Zaka. There's the Tofu Poke Bowl with pineapple pico and jicama slaw and the Smoked Portabella Steaks Zaka Bowl with cinnamon chili sweet potatoes and roasted beets. Also among the options are the Tuna Poke Bowl and Herbed Chicken Zaka Bowl.

Tofu Poke Bowl
  • Tofu Poke Bowl
Zucchini Noodle Salad
  • Zucchini Noodle Salad
This once-vegan restaurant now serves meat and you can best-believe Cabigao heard about it. (City Silo received similar blow-back via social media from some frustrated vegans when it veered from its vegan roots. It was crazy packed when I was there for lunch last Friday.)

From Cabigao:

When we opened Zaka Bowl, we had every intention of staying vegan and promoting the vegan lifestyle. But throughout our first seven months of great reviews but lackluster sales, we spoke with a lot of guests, and people who had never been in, about what they wanted and wished we had. We also asked them about what would draw more people into our restaurant. We went through a lot of testing and surveying. And as a business, and as someone who feels responsible for his employees, we eventually decided that we had to make this pivot of providing a couple of non-vegan options.

We are now repackaging our message as a healthy veggie-centric restaurant serving everyone's fast-paced life. At the end of the day, I want to be able to provide jobs for some awesome people who have helped me open this venture. I totally understand the negative comments we have and will receive from some people, and I would just like to point out that we are still 98% vegan and completely dairy-free and gluten-free. Our chicken and sushi-grade tuna are the only two non-vegan ingredients out of over one hundred that we have in our kitchen. And we are very excited about our new vegan options as well- Baked Falafel, Tofu Poké and Beet Poké!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

UberEATS Entering Memphis Market

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 8:30 AM


 enters the Memphis market today.

According to general manager of UberEATS Southeast Peter Hsu, UberEATS already has 100 restaurants on board, including Brother Juniper's, Corky's, Staks, One & Only BBQ, Blue City, Wild Beet Salad Co., Local and Agave Maria, and South of Beale. They will also deliver from chains as well, such as Firehouse Subs and Krispy Kreme.

The process is pretty easy. You download the UberEATS app, input your address, browse restaurants or search by cuisine, and then place your order. You can then track your order.

Hsu says the whole thing can take as little as 30 minutes.

He also says that they will be using existing Uber driving as well as recruiting more who just want to deliver food.

According to Hsu, UberEATS operates in about 50 cities globally, and while he notes there is no certain criteria for UberEATS to choose a certain city in which to operate, he does say, "Memphis has a really strong scene. We expect to see customer demand."


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Schweinehaus to Become Stanley Bar-B-Que

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 1:36 PM


With tax season is over, Andy Walker tells us, they've begun the process with liquor licenses, permits etc., with the government to officially change the name of Schweinehaus to Stanley Bar-B-Que.

Stanley is Andy and David's father. He passed away around Christmas.

"We wanted to honor him," Walker says.

Schweinehaus opened in 2014 as a German beer hall with a Southern take on German food. They changed focus to strictly barbecue (with some of the favorite German dishes remaining) in 2016.

They have a temporary sign ready to go to place over the "Schweinehaus." They hope to be done with the process in the next week or so.

Walker says of his father, "He's the only reason we own a restaurant.

"He loved barbecue. We love it too."

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Izakaya to Close

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 9:45 AM

Izakaya, Facebook
  • Izakaya, Facebook

Izakaya will close on Saturday, according to a press release issued by reps of chef Jimmy Gentry. 
From the release:

Chef Jimmy Gentry announced today he will no longer oversee the kitchen at Izakaya restaurant, located in the former 19th Century Club building at 1433 Union Avenue. Izakaya owners Shon and Dan Lin announced tonight the restaurant will cease operations on April 22, 2017 as they do not have the capital to continue operations of the fine dining restaurant. They are seeking alternatives for the historic building.

“I am completely shocked by this announcement as I had signed a multi-year agreement and had great aspirations for the grandeur of the fully-restored historic building,” said Chef Gentry. “We implemented standards of excellence for the operations and were making great headway under my team’s creativity and management. However, after only two months, the decision was made to close which, unfortunately, is out of my control.”
Izakaya opened in early January in the historic 19th Century Club building. The owners Shon and Dana Lin spent millions renovating the building. Gentry was hired to revamp the restaurant's sprawling menu.

According to the Commercial Appeal, the restaurant will reopen as Red Fish Bistro, which the Lins also own.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Mama Gaia Raising Funds for St. Jude

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 10:55 AM

I've been working my way through the Mama Gaia menu. I love the fresh, healthy no-fuss approach to food.

Asian salad
  • Asian salad
Falafel salad
  • Falafel salad
Cena Pita with oven-baked fries
  • Cena Pita with oven-baked fries
My recs: the Copia Pita with roasted vegetables and olive basil sauce and the Asia Pita with terrific sesame-crusted tofu. Mmmmmmm.

On Monday, April 17th, the restaurant will donate 25 percent of all sales to St. Jude.

The event is set for Monday in recognition of Meat Free Monday, a campaign launched in 2009 by Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

How to Drink Bourbon

Posted By on Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 11:08 AM


It's almost that time, y'all. The Flyer's Bacon and Bourbon fest is happening on April 15th, and tickets are going fast. (Seriously, I wouldn't sit on this. Tickets will sell out.)

In anticipation of the event, we sought some bourbon knowledge from Amy Preske of Buffalo Trace.

What are the markers of a good bourbon?
Amy Preske: Taste, of course, is subjective, but I would recommend looking at the age of the bourbon as one of the markers. Now, oldest is not always best. Just because a bourbon is 25 years old doesn’t necessarily make it the one you should get. I’d recommend something aged at least 8 years, and believe the 8-12 year range is the sweet spot for the best taste.

There will be a number of bourbons at the event. What's the best way to taste them all?
Carefully and slowly! Remember to hydrate with water in between and eat plenty of food through the evening so you can appreciate the full flavors of the bourbons. And of course, arrange for a safe ride home.

Are there regional differences between bourbons? For instance, a Kentucky bourbon has a smoky flavor or something like that?
Not really regional differences, it’s more differences in the mashbill (recipe) and the aging that will make a bourbon different.

In addition to the bourbon, there will be bacon at the event. What foods pair well with bourbon?
It depends on what type of bourbon you are drinking, if it’s a big, bold bourbon that is uncut, (barrel proof), you may want a good piece of meat, like a good steak or hamburger to go with it. If it’s a wheat recipe bourbon, which tends to be a little sweeter, you may want a salad with a sweeter dressing or even a dessert. And of course, you can never go wrong with bacon!

Is there a correct way to drink bourbon? No! We always say drink it however you like it. If that’s straight, with ice, or mixed with a soda, there is no wrong way to drink bourbon.


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