Monday, April 30, 2018

New DejaVu Set to Open this Week

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 at 11:48 AM


The latest iteration of DejaVu, the Krewe of DejaVu, is set to open in its old location on Florida Street Downtown sometime this week.

Chef Gary Williams says he's waiting on the last inspections. He and his partners, Martin Gill and Rondell Charles, were pushing for an opening in time for Memphis in May.

The space has gotten painted. The driveway has been redone to improve parking and a patio has been added for seating up to 30.

Diners can expect their favorites — vegetarian, vegan, and Creole dishes — from DejaVu, says Williams.

"It's much the same," Williams says. "It's what people have loved for years and years."

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Pete & Sam's sneak peek!

Posted By on Sat, Apr 28, 2018 at 6:47 PM

Pete and Sam's  closed after a fire around midnight Dec. 12. It's slated to reopen soon. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pete and Sam's closed after a fire around midnight Dec. 12. It's slated to reopen soon.
Pete & Sam's is slated to reopen soon after a fire closed the restaurant. People can't wait to see what the newly renovated restaurant looks like. Here is a sneak peek of some inside shots! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Meet Bluefin chef Ja Min Lee

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 3:22 PM

Ja Min Lee is executive chef at Bluefin restaurant. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Ja Min Lee is executive chef at Bluefin restaurant.

Ja Min Lee doesn’t smoke, drink alcohol or coffee. She looks decades younger than her 54 years.

“Food is very important for your physical body,” she says.

Lee is practicing what she preaches at Bluefin, where she has been executive chef for three months.

Lee, who owned three restaurants in Savannah, Ga., brought her healthy American menu to Memphis after she moved here three months ago to work with her brother, Bluefin owner Suk Woo.

Lee began cooking Korean food at age 6 at her home in Seoul, Korea. She later moved to the United States to study interior design in Atlanta.

While in the States, Lee learned how to cook American food, but decided to make it healthier by eliminating oil and by using fresh vegetables.

After moving to Memphis, she spent two months researching Memphis restaurants.

Woo said Lee told him she had to have fresh vegetables every day and no canned goods. “She doesn’t like canned food,” Woo says.

Bluefin kept its regular menu and added Lee’s American and other items, which included four piece chicken tenders (the chicken is not frozen, she says), gyros (red onions which Lee believes are the “most nutritious”) and Phillysteak (no salt, she says).

She also added a couple of bowls or Balls as it's written on the menu, including the chicken or beef K-Pop Ball, which has tofu and egg; and the Memphis Ball, which has lettuce, tomato, pickle, and corn. The customer can choose between white rice or “purple rice,” which she makes by boiling purple cabbage in the water with the rice.

Her menu, which is available at lunch and dinner, also includes burgers, wraps, shrimp, subs, and a club sandwich.

All items are available at Bluefin and next door at Bluefin Deli.

Bluefin is located at 135 South Main; (901-528-1010).

Monday, April 23, 2018

Michael Donahue's Best Bets: Irish Car Bomb

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 3:25 PM

irish Car Bomb at Sidestreet Burgers - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • irish Car Bomb at Sidestreet Burgers

An Irish Car Bomb explodes - with flavor - at Sidestreet Burgers in Olive Branch.

I tried the dessert created by the restaurant’s chef/owner Jonathan Mah. It’s fabulous.

I asked Mah to share the dessert’s history.

“Back in the day a lot of people were doing these ‘drop shots,’” Mah says. “Where you take some liquor and drop it in a glass and drop that in a glass of beer and you chug it. I wasn’t really into that, but somebody had told me about it and I said, ‘OK. I’ll try one of these.’ Apparently, it’s supposed to taste like chocolate milk. If it tastes like chocolate milk it’ll be OK.”

They gave him a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream mixed with Irish whisky. “You drop that in a pint of Guinness and chug the whole thing. So, I did a couple of them. It was very tasty, actually.”

Mah remembered that drink when he was sous chef in the kitchen with executive chef Karen Roth years ago at Alchemy. “I was trying to help her come up with dessert items. Kind of cool stuff. It dawned on me, ‘Why not take bread pudding and make it chocolate and add some kind of a twist? Like Irish whisky with praline sauce.’”

So, that’s what he did. “It was very popular.”

He added the Irish Car Bomb dessert a year or so after he opened Sidestreet Burgers. “i’ve been selling it for six years,and people love it. It’s a big hunk of bread pudding. It’s not like your average bread pudding. It’s not soggy or anything like that. It’s got this amazing flavor to it. We make a little praline-like caramel sauce and hit it with some Irish whisky and finish it off with a little cream.”

Mah makes his bread pudding with French bread. “I dry it out and that’s my base.”

He used to offer other desserts at Sidestreet Burgers. “Over the years, I had some other chefs who worked with me and we would rotate that dessert menu quite a bit.”

Now, the Irish Car Bomb is the only dessert offered at his restaurant. “Occasionally, maybe once a year, I’ve done white chocolate and mixed-berry pudding. And that’s cool. Every once in a while I’ve made that praline sauce with bacon.”

Any way you look at it, this dessert is the bomb.

Note: Call the restaurant to make sure they haven’t run out of Irish Car Bombs that day. “We can sell all of them pretty quickly.”

Sidestreet Burgers is at 9199 MS-178 in Olive Branch; 901-596-4749

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Parade Kicks Off Hot Wing Festival

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 2:36 PM

Southern Hot Wing Festival - FRANK CHIN
  • Frank Chin
  • Southern Hot Wing Festival

A parade will open this year's Southern Hot Wing Festival, starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21st. The festival is in a new venue this year, Tiger Lane — a perfect setting for strutting hens.

A featured music act will be the Memphis Second Line Band.

"We're taking liberties with the song 'When the Saints Go Marching In' and changing it to 'When the Hens Go Marching In,'" says festival founder Paul Gagliano. "We plan to have a bunch of chickens released to follow the band as the procession begins. We think this festival is definitely going to be one to crow about."

Gagliano says he's recruited seven prize hens and one rooster for the parade. There will also be a number of beauty pageant title holders, belly dancers, a vintage Cadillac, the party wagon Sprock n Roll, and a horse and carriage carrying the winners of the 2017 contest, New Wing Order.

The festival begins at 11 a.m. Anyone who arrives to be in the parade gains free entrance to the festival.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Return of Sleep Out Louie's

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 11:56 AM


The beloved bar Sleep Out Louie's, known for its framed ties and goldfish races, is returning downtown in a few weeks.

And with that return come the framed ties and, of course, Louie — with an updated story.

The original story goes that Sleep Out Louie was a lawyer who quit his job and his tie and his wing tip shoes. He preferred the outdoors, traveling, and, when in Memphis, hanging out along the banks of the Mississippi.

Now Louie is back, freshly divorced and out of rehab (it didn't stick) and ready to check out all the new stuff in Memphis, a revitalized South Main, the Grizzlies, and ServiceMaster.

"He was made a deal he couldn't refuse," says marketing coordinator Molly Prather of the Sleep Out Louie character starting a new place.

It was the arrival of ServiceMaster that lured Louie's back. Belz Corporation reached out to Preston Lamm and Jim LoSapio to create a place for the new ServiceMaster employees at 150 Peabody Place, which was formerly Jose Gutierrez' Encore and is next to Texas de Brazil.

The space is long and skinny with seating for about 140. There's a cool curved bar in the back, ready for a hopping happy hour. The famous framed ties will go on a back wall.

Belz wanted a place with a decent price point and quick ticket times. A back entrance of Sleep Out Louie's connects directly to ServiceMaster.

The menu is much smaller, freshened up, says part owner Christina Knapp. There's more seafood, including oysters in nine preparations. There are loads of sandwiches like the Pabst Blue Reuben with PBRkraut (!), cheesesteak, and shrimp loaf. At some point, they will be bringing back the bar's popular weekend brunch (but not the goldfish races). They are hoping to incorporate alley parties at some point.

The bar will offer handcrafted cocktails and prosecco on tap.

The key to Louie's was its off-work attitude. Some of his best known quotes: "In this on again, off again world, it's great to be off again," "'Twas a brave man that first ate an oyster," and "I only lied when I had to; and I had to." Back in the day, folks brought in their ties on special occasions, a new job, a big account landed. Some of the regulars are already clamoring to bring their ties in for the new place.

"Louie is more of an idea than a person," says Prather. "People can relate. They get to loosen their tie, get a cocktail, some oysters, and shrug off the day."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Something cool is happening downtown

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 11:31 AM

Amanda and David Krog and Gabe Velasquez are making things happen in downtown Memphis. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Amanda and David Krog and Gabe Velasquez are making things happen in downtown Memphis.

Gabe Velasquez and Amanda and David Krog have joined forces to transform a 11,145-square-foot, two-story building at 64 South Main into a “one stop shop for people contributing to Memphis’s growth,” Velasquez said.

It will include a boutique health and wellness center, which will feature a restaurant serving healthy food owned by Amanda Krog. A penthouse restaurant owned by chef David Krog is slated to open in a year. The building also will include space for other occupants.

Velasquez, who owns the building, said the health and fitness center will include a nutritionist, physiologist, certified dietician, gym, classes and other services geared toward active professionals.

The health food restaurant, which is slated to be called “Counter 64” and will serve salads, sandwiches, and other items “with the emphasis on local and healthy,” Amanda said. “I want to focus on eating from all the five food groups like we’re supposed to. It will be healthy fast food. Even if it’s blended in a smoothie.”

The penthouse restaurant will serve “contemporary Southern food,” David said.

Each floor will feature works by local artists.

The public will be able to take a first peek at the first floor of the building at the inaugural “Gallery” art show and dinner, which will be held April 28th. The art shows/pop-up dinners, which will be held weekly for the next six to eight months, will feature local artists and multi-course meals with wines prepared by David, former executive chef at Interim restaurant who has worked with chefs, including Erling Jensen. He also opened the old Madidi restaurant, which was owned by actor Morgan Freeman.

During the art show/dinners, guests will dine on 12-foot-by-42-inch tables made of wood taken from the walls of the almost 80-year-old building, which housed a distribution plant for a pharmaceutical company in the 1940s.

Velasquez’s idea for buying and transforming the building was a way for his family “to contribute to Memphis’s growth.” His dad, Dr. Pedro Velasquez, an endocrinologist, owns a clinic and does research in Memphis. “My dad and my brothers are all in this. This is ours. Not just me.”

His family moved to Memphis from Venezuela in 1997 so Gabe’s younger brother, Pedro Velasquez Jr., could go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Velasquez Jr., a cancer survivor, now owns a management company and is dedicated to health care reform.

Gabe, who now operates a pharmacy, and David got to be friends at Interim, where Gabe used to eat three times a week. “We became friends from food,” David said.

Gabe bought the building at 64 South Main because he “saw definite growth” in the downtown area. “The energy is just magnetic on South Main,” he said.

He also noticed all the health-minded people living and working downtown, so he thought a health center, would be perfect.

Gabe invited David to do pop-up dinners at 64 South Main after he heard David quit Interim and was considering opening a restaurant with Amanda in East Memphis. David felt he could continue to “keep his brand going” at the new space.

“When he quit his job we knew we were going to do something together,” Amanda said.

When the health boutique and restaurant open on the first floor, the pop-up dinners will move to the second floor. When the penthouse restaurant opens, the second floor will become an office space for young entrepreneurs.

The 20-seat restaurant with no menu will be a “chef’s counter restaurant,” David said. “No tables. Everyone sitting at the counter, which surrounds the kitchen literally four-feet away from us. Chefs behind the counter will be serving you.”

As for the food, David said, “We are hyper local. The farmers seek me and I seek them.”

The top floor will include an atrium and a glass enclosed wine cellar. Cigars also will be offered at the restaurant.

In addition to the pop-up dinners at the art shows, David will continue to prepare food at fundraisers and at private homes.

His “Farm Feast,” which was postponed April 14th, will take place June 2nd at Rose Creek Farm in Selmer, Tenn.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Hattie B's Opening Wednesday

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 12:52 PM

Memphis, Hattie B's is coming for you. The Nashville-based hot chicken restaurant will open its first Memphis location at 596 Cooper in Cooper-Young across from Muddy's on Wednesday, April 18th.

Nick Bishop Jr., who owns the restaurant with his father Nick Sr., says the new space pays tribute to the old Easy-Way that was there. The checkerboard pattern on the wall reflects Easy-Way's old tile as well as the paper that lines the chicken baskets.

Bishop says there's a thrill in "taking something old and making it new."

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bogard going in Stanley BBQ Space

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 9:55 AM

Edward Bogard - CHARLES NARDI
  • Charles Nardi
  • Edward Bogard
A cool new restaurant concept is going into the Stanley BBQ space in Overton Square.

Bogard — Buying One Gives Another Rare Dish — and named after Edward Bogard, founder of SoGiv, will serve upscale Southern dishes. For each meal served, another meal will be provided to a person in need through the Mid-South Food Bank.

Ed Cabagiao (Zaka Bowl, SOB) and Ben McLean (Belly Acres) will be the operating managers. The restaurant will be co-owned by former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Preston Butts Jr.

Construction is set to being next month.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Michael Donahue's Best Bets: Sour cream blueberry pie

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Sour cream blueberry pie at Buon Cibo in Hernando. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sour cream blueberry pie at Buon Cibo in Hernando.

All some friends had to say was “sour cream blueberry pie” and I had to have some. As fast as I could.

They told me Josh and Katie Belenchia were selling the pie at their restaurant,
Buon Cibo (CHEE-bo “Good Food”) in Hernando. I drove there the first chance I got.

It - and everything else I’ve ever eaten at Buon Cibo - was worth the drive. Everything about the pie - including the homemade crust - was delicious. Katie makes the pies, but the recipe came from Josh’s side of the family.

“All the pies we make here are my mother’s recipes,” Josh said. “Lemon chess, French coconut, and chocolate chess.”

The original sour cream pie recipe is a sour cream peach pie. “It’s awesome. We only have sour cream peach when peaches are in season.”

The blueberries are what Josh came up with as a substitute. They buy 16 gallons of local blueberries when they’re in season and freeze them. They last the whole year. Sometimes in summer they offer a sour cream peach and blueberry pie. I want to be around when that happens.

The pie crust is dynamite. The topping is “sugar, cinnamon and a little flour.”

I asked Josh if he could ask his mom, Donna Belenchia, where she got the recipe. He called her on his cell phone while I was at the restaurant. She said she got it from her sister, Adaline Dreesan. I stopped there, but I would like to know where Dreesan got the recipe.

Buon Cibo doesn’t offer the pie every day. Like in January “when everyone is on a diet.” So, call ahead.

Foodies will remember Josh from Interim restaurant, where he was executive chef. Prior to that, he worked at the old Wally Joe restaurant, which inhabited the same building. He opened Buon Cibo seven years ago.

I ate two pieces of sour cream blueberry pie, but I also ate one of Josh’s “Awesome Sauce" hamburgers. The Awesome Sauce made with piquillo pepper aioli, arugula, bacon jam, pepperjack cheese, and fried onions.

While I was eating the hamburger I actually said aloud to nobody in particular, “This hamburger is awesome.”

Ditto for the sour cream blueberry pie.

Buon Cibo is at 2631 McIngvale Road in Hernando; (662)-469-9481

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Porch & Parlor opening in Bar Louie Space

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 11:43 AM


Loeb Properties announced today that a new restaurant will open in the Bar Louie space in Overton Square.

It will be called Porch & Parlor, from the folks behind Flight and Southern Social.

From the release:

Loeb Properties, Inc. is pleased to announce the arrival of a new business at 2125 Madison Avenue (map) in Overton Square. Porch & Parlor restaurant will be opening in the 5,982 sf space with plans to begin construction within the next month. Loeb Properties was represented by Aaron Petree, CCIM.

Porch & Parlor is a fine-dining concept from Tom Powers and Russ Graham, the duo behind popular Memphis restaurants Flight in Downtown Memphis and Southern Social in Germantown.

The space includes a large patio space on the corner of Cooper and Madison which will act as a centerpiece for the restaurant's concept: A graceful and elegant porch that embraces the lively outdoor neighborhood balancing a parlor interior at the heart of the restaurant for quiet and intimate dining, both imbued with the restaurant's signature high-end, fine dining experience.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Memphis Farmers Market Names New Director

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 9:41 AM

  • Memphis Farmers Market instagram
  • Rebecca Dull
The Memphis Farmers Market recently announced its latest director Rebecca Dull. She answered a few questions for us.

What are your qualifications?
I graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in Communications. Since then, I have volunteered with various nonprofits including Ten Thousand Villages of Austin, Public Relations Society of Austin, Keep Carbondale Beautiful, the Women's Center, and more. Most recently, I was the Assistant Director of Carbondale Main Street, the downtown association. This experience will be relatable to my new position since I worked with small business owners and managed events.

First impressions of Memphis Farmers Market?
I'm thrilled to be a part of the Memphis Farmers Market, I've gotten to meet with our vendors and have been working closely with the board of directors. The downtown location is fantastic and I can't wait to see the pavilion full of customers and vendors!

What are your plans/goals for the market?
I would like to continue to help small businesses grow while providing the community with access to fresh, healthy food at affordable prices. I'm hopeful to continue the tradition that the market is a place for community gathering and would like to partner with nonprofits and downtown restaurants and businesses.

One of the things you're doing is changing the times. Opening at 8 a.m., instead of 7 a.m. What's the reason behind this? Any pushback?
While I can't take credit for the later hours, I can say I'm happy about it. The reason for this is that people just don't come to the market that early. It was becoming too stressful for vendors and volunteers to be ready by 7am when guests and customers weren't arriving much until after 8am. The response to this change has been overwhelmingly positive.

Are you working on anything that involves Memphians' overall diet?
Memphis Farmers Market works with SNAP benefits and Fresh Savings to offer affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to customers with any budget. New this year, we're able to accept Fresh Savings Rx vouchers for SNAP customers with diet related diseases or who are at risk for diet related diseases.

We're also partnering with businesses like Raymond James who have health initiatives to bring our vendors in to speak with their employees about how to prepare and eat fruits and vegetables with specific health benefits.

The 2018 season opens April 7th.

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