Thursday, August 31, 2017

Next Door, 2nd Mama Gaia Now Open

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 11:35 AM

  • Crosstown Concourse

Next Door American Eatery
in the Crosstown Concourse officially opened its doors on Tuesday.

The restaurant, a Kimbal Musk joint, is a more casual offshoot of the The Kitchen, located in Shelby Farms.

Next Door had a soft opening last week with the goal of ironing out the kinks while raising money for The Kitchen Community's Learning Gardens. (No money was charged for the meal, and lieu of tips, donations were suggested.) Ninety-two of these "outdoor classrooms" have been in established in area schools so far. The goal is hit 100 by November.

The menu is designed around a clean-eating ethos using locally sourced goods — eggs and chickens from Marmilu Farms, pork chops from Home Place Pastures, for example.  
The dishes we sampled were the grilled broccolini with spicy sesame aioli and sunflower seeds; the Next Door Roasted Veggie bowl; and the veggie tacos. Other dishes include a beet (!) burger, Cuban and BBQ pork sandwiches, soups, and Calamari Fritto Misto. There are daily specials as well.

All the dishes were good, but that veggie bowl was standout — with broccolini, mushrooms, cauliflower, peppers on red quinoa topped in a tahini dressing. So tasty and satisfying. A comfort food that won't hit you like a ton of bricks later.

The restaurant seats 126 inside with additional seating for 50 more on the patio. They are open daily, starting at 11 a.m., and a full bar will be in operation soon.

Mama Gaia, the organic vegetarian restaurant, opened its second location in the new Ballet Memphis building on Madison last week.

The space designed by archimania, which recently won an award for the Mama Gaia restaurant design in the Crosstown Concourse, fits well the Mama Gaia aesthetic. The Mama Gaia menu lets the ingredients do most of the talking, with small but expertly done flourishes. The space is open with a collection of small tables lining floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding most of it. One side has small bar for sitting and eating, and there is a bar for drinks at another.


Note this bar for drinks — new to the Mama Gaia brand. At the preview we sampled the Crosstown Cooler (360 brand organic vodka, fresh-pressed organic cucumber juice, fresh organic lime juice, organic agave, and locally grown organic mint) and the Allegro (organic 360 vodka and organic OJ, lemon juice, berry puree, and agave).

The menu should be much the same as the first restaurant's, though the Ballet Memphis site does have Copia Pizza and an Asian Bowl, plus new Quinoa Dippers. 

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Memphis Tequila Festival!

Posted By on Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 1:04 PM


Tequila! On October 13th on Overton Square, there will be the first-ever Memphis Tequila Festival presented by the Memphis Flyer!!

Guest can sample 15 tequilas, and since it's happening on Friday the 13th, we all know this is a GOOD idea.

There will also be live entertainment, plus plenty of food. Tickets are expected to sell out.

The Front Porch is hosting an Oyster Roast on Sunday, September 3rd, starting at 3 p.m.

There will be char-grilled oysters, raw oysters, and oyster po'boys with oysters sourced from the Gulf and the East Coast.

A $50 VIP ticket will get you a cheese and sausage plate, a half dozen, raw and a half dozen char-grilled oysters, low country corn and potatoes, and two drink tickets for beer or the featured wines. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. You have to reserve your VIP tickets ahead of time: 524-0187.

Also a pretty good deal is the fine fine view from the breezeway at Front Porch — one of the best sittings in Memphis.

• Loeb announced earlier this week that Belltower Artisans is moving to the Highland Strip, at 549 Highland, in late 2017.

This is an interesting hybrid pottery studio and coffee shop. The first Belltower Artisans was in Minglewood Hall.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Minibar Delivery Launches in Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 11:23 AM


In this chapter of Never Leaving My House Again, Minibar Delivery, an on-demand alcohol delivery service, announced today that it is expanding into Memphis, starting tomorrow (!).

From the release:

On Wednesday, 8/9, Minibar Delivery will be live in Memphis, allowing residents in city limits to get beer, wine and spirits delivered straight to their door in under 60 minutes for a flat $5 fee.

Arthur's Wine & Liquor and Buster's Liquors & Wines are serving as the city launch partners.

The service is super simple to use: just download Minibar Delivery's iOS/Android app or access via your desktop. Enter your location and you'll be connected to a liquor store in your area. Add your items to your virtual cart and checkout, and your order will be delivered to you in under an hour.

Minibar Delivery also provides tasting notes, pairing recommendations, cocktail recipes, gift delivery, and is the only provider to offer a subscription service; the “Auto Refill” option allows users to arrange for items within an order to be delivered at a selected interval of 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks.

To celebrate the launch, customers can enter the code "MEMPHIS" prior to checkout to get $5 off and free delivery on their first order.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Instacart Enters the Market

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 2:51 PM


, a grocery delivery service, officially enters the Memphis market tomorrow, August 8th.

Customers download an app and place their order, receiving their delivery in as little as an hour.

What sets Instacart apart is that it delivers from a multitude stores, including Costco, Whole Foods, Kroger, CVS, and Petco. Customers also have two options in delivery payment: $5.99 per delivery of a $35 order, or a subscription at $149, which waives all delivery fees.

That latter option, says area manager Jenn O’Shaughnessy, is particularly handy for those who place multiple orders.

Instacart was founded in 2012 in San Francisco, with a single vendor. They've since grown to 100 markets with 75 retailers signed up.

O'Shaughnessy says that the company decides on where to plant the flag next from the number of requests they receive per zip code.

Instacart shoppers work on a shift rather than by demand like other services. They are taught via app on how to pick produce, etc. About 100 will be hired to serve the area.

One cool thing about Instacart, says O'Shaughnessy, is that folks who are not members of Costco get the benefits of a membership via their Instacart shopper.

Instacart will delivery to 31 zip codes around the city, from the Graceland area to Arlington to many points in between.

Through September 24th, Instarcart is offering a special deal for first-time customers, $20 off a delivery of $35 or more, with free delivery.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Rendezvous Ups Its Nachos Game

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 2:10 PM


Two exciting developments on the Rendezvous BBQ Nachos Beat:

• On Tuesday, they introduced a vegetarian version of their famous barbecue nachos, and

• They now deliver — in the mail, y'all! — their nachos, so you can send them to your friends, family, and most precious loved ones.

"We are what we are. We don't change much," says Anna Vergos Blair.

But, that doesn't mean the place is completely static.

In an irony that would make Alanis Morrisette's head explode, Blair is vegetarian, has been since she was 2 or 3. You can credit her, in part, for the vegetarian offerings on the menu, including the red beans and rice and the Greek salad.

Recently, Flyer friend and perhaps Memphis' best-known vegetarian, Justin Fox Burks, was at the Rendezvous taking pictures. He had had the salad before, but never the red beans and rice. Blair brought him some and he said that the restaurant should make it into a sandwich. So, Blair fetched a bun. It was good but messy.

And that's how the beans wound up on the nachos. It's the same Rendezvous BBQ nachos, sans the meat.

"I know it sounds crazy, but it's good," says Blair.

Blair says the plan is to get the nachos into the FedExForum.

As for the delivery, that idea came from Goldbely, the gourmet food online store. They were in town and at the Rendezvous for a TV shoot with the Food Network, according to Blair.

"They were all eating nachos, and they said, You should ship these," remembers Blair. The Vergos fam just about dismissed the idea out of hand ... until they didn't.

They realized that they could pack the ingredients individually and include instructions on how to put them together. And then they picked up the phone: to Pancho's for their cheese dip and to Felicia Willett for her her Flo's Homemade Goodness pickled jalapeno's. Each box contains 2 pounds of pork, sauce, seasoning, a tub of Pancho's, a jar of the jalapenos, and a bag of chips.

A box of the nachos is $99.

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Voodoo Cafe: Beignets and Coffee on Wheels

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 12:27 PM

About five years ago, Faith and Mark Lansdon decided they would open a coffee shop. It would have a motorcycle theme.

But with the overhead of opening a shop over head and pressing down, they decided to scale their plans back and go with a food truck. And now a motorcycle-themed food truck didn't quite make sense.

Then the Lansdons took a trip to New Orleans. And, like everybody, they went to Cafe du Monde and, afterwards, their idea for their coffee shop food truck began to gel. The Voodoo Cafe food truck launched in early may.

The truck serves coffees from all over — Cuban, Turkish, Vietnamese iced, etc. And and and, they serve beignets shaped like voodoo dolls (!) in such flavors as Sweet Juju (named after a neighbor) with sweet cream and cinnamon, the Black Magic with Nutella, and the Muddy Zombie with peanut butter, chocolate, and caramel sauce.

Mark found an old ’50s delivery truck and refurbished it from top to bottom, putting solar panels on top so the truck gets only half its energy from generators. He taught himself how to make the coffees — this one needed to be boiled three times, that one needed to sit for 24 hours, etc.

Faith was in charge of the beignets and enlisted a (very lucky) friend to help with the flavors. They initially offered plain beignets with powdered sugar and chocolate and raspberry sauces on the side. The sauces weren't a hit, however. Then, Faith thought, "beignet sundae," and scoured her kitchen for what might work. One final bit of inspiration came with the red appetizer pick stuck in the middle of each beignet man. It's been a hit with those who like to play with their food.

Mark says he had to re-work some of the coffees for American tastes and for practical reasons (Cuban coffee is served in tiny cups). The Lansdons also figured out to keep the voodoo doll-shaped beignets voodoo doll-shaped while making them. It involves multiple steps and flash freezing. Leftover dough is made into little voodoo dolls and given as dog treats (they may sell them later).

The Voodoo Cafe logo is of a voodoo doll in a business suit. According to the Lansdons, it's their way of saying they stayed clear of the corporate world and they are sticking it to the man.

The Voodoo Cafe truck will be at Germantown Hardware on Saturday, 8 a.m. On most Sundays, they are at Walnut Grove and Houston Levee from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Best Bets: Elvis Cake

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Elvis Cake at Blink and Arcade Restaurant - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Elvis Cake at Blink and Arcade Restaurant

It’s time to get your Elvis on.

The 40th anniversary of the King’s death - Aug. 16, 1977 - is looming. The iconic entertainer will be revered with movies, photos, memories - and food.

The also iconic fried peanut butter and banana sandwich usually comes to mind when people think of Elvis’s favorite foods. Apparently, it also does for Melissa Williams and her son, Glaze Hardage. Using the sandwich as a jump start, they created the “Elvis” cake.

“He loved peanut butter and bananas,” Williams said. “We love banana cake. We love peanut butter frosting. And it was born.”

When it comes to creating, Williams, who is owner of Blink restaurant at Southern College of Optometry, said she’s “development” and Hardage, the catering manager, is “research.”

“I come up with an idea,” Hardage said. “I tell her, ‘Hey this sounds like a good idea.’ Then she works on making it a reality.”

They came up with the Elvis cake two years ago, Hardage said. “We were sitting there thinking about Elvis Week,” he said.. “Our banana cake is very popular. And our peanut butter icing is very popular. And we’re thinking, ‘Hmmm. What if we combine the two?’ And once we did, it was a hit.”

The Elvis cake is in rotation with their many other types of cakes at Blink, so you should call ahead to see if they have it that day.

The cake also is served at the Arcade restaurant. Jeffrey Zepatos, the restaurant’s general manager, said the Elvis cake now is available and it will continue to be during Elvis Week. “Every time we get it I can only keep it in stock a day, a day and a half at this point,” Zepatos said.

I stumbled upon the Elvis cake by accident one afternoon when I was eating lunch at the Arcade. I just wanted cake for dessert, so I’d have eaten anything. The restaurant happened to have the Elvis cake that day, so I ordered a hunka hunka of it.  I was blown away after the first bite. It’s so delicious. But then I also love the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, which Arcade regularly serves.

When I recently was at the Arcade, I noticed a man and his wife eating Elvis cake at another booth. I had to ask them what they thought.

“I love it,” said Abrann Harrison from Seattle. “It’s absolutely great. It’s fun. We had the Elvis sandwich at Graceland yesterday, but this is four times more intense. The flavor’s just outstanding.”

The cake was “sweet and peanut buttery and got that little banana in there," said his wife, Sharon. "It was great.”

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen at Blink, I asked Hardage what type of cake he orders for his birthday.

“The banana with the peanut butter frosting,” he said. “Just because it’s so good.”

And who makes it for him? “My mother, of course.”

That’s alright, Mama.

Blink is at Southern College of Optometry at 1245 Madison; (901) 722-3289

Arcade Restaurant is at 540 South Main; (901) 526-5757.

Elvis cake from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

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