Friday, October 26, 2018

Don't Forget About BurgerFest!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 1:41 PM

BurgerFest is happening this weekend — Saturday, October 27th, noon to 10 p.m., at Tiger Lane.

It's got a new owner and a new name, but don't you fret, there will be plenty of burgers for you to sample.

Great Smokey Mountain Burger
  • Great Smokey Mountain Burger
The Show Stopper
  • The Show Stopper

Tamara Eddy of Chef Tam's Underground Cafe has created six burger options for you to try at the festival. They include the Great Smokey Mountain Burger, the Tennessee Whiskey Burger, Grizzlies Chili Burger (!), a Fiesta Black Bean Burger, The Show Stopper, and the Bluff City Classic Burger.

These will be available for purchase. There will be a burger bar as well and food from Pronto Pups, Yancey’s Cool Things, and Ms. D’s Hot Wings.

Admission is $10; sampling card is $15.

If you've got a burger itch that needs scratching, this is the event for you. 

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Downtown Dining Week Coming At Ya

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 10:33 AM


It's one of the best times of the year for the culinary curious. Downtown Dining Week is happening November 5th-11th.

This year features a stellar lineup of all of Memphis' Downtown heavy-hitters:

117 Prime
Aldo's Pizza Pies Downtown
Automatic Slim's Memphis
B.B.King.Blues Club n Grill
Bardog Tavern
Bedrock Eats & Sweets
Belle Tavern
Bleu Restaurant & Lounge
Blind Bear Memphis
Bluefin Restaurant
Blues City Cafe
The Brass Door
Capriccio Grill at The Peabody Memphis
Carolina Watershed
Central BBQ
Charlie Vergos Rendezvous
Chefs diner
Cupcake Cutie Etc.
The Dirty Crow Inn
Evelyn & Olive
Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant
Front Street Deli
Grecian Gourmet
Havana's Pilon
Huey's Downtown
Kooky Canuck - Memphis
Lisa's Lunchbox
Loflin Yard
Margie's 901 IceCream
McEwen's on Monroe
Pontotoc Lounge
Primas Bakery and Boutique
Regina's Cajun Kitchen
Rizzos Diner
Silky O'Sullivan's
Sleep Out Louies
South of Beale
Terrace at the River Inn
TGI Fridays *Downtown
The Arcade Restaurant, Memphis' Oldest Cafe
The Majestic Grille
The VAULT on GE Patterson
Trolley Stop Market
Tug's Casual Grill
The event was launched in 2009 as a way to recognize and celebrate the restaurant community's camaraderie as well as get some butts in seats during a traditionally down time.

Dinners are $20.18 (for 2018; it was $20.09 in 2009) for a three-course meal and $10.18 for two-for-one lunch deals. It's a great and economic way to try a new place.

Reservations are recommended. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

On Crosstown Cafe's Look

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 12:29 PM

A view of Today and Always Cafe
  • A view of Today and Always Cafe

When the Crosstown cafe, Today & Always, opened in September, it unveiled a plant-based menu and lots of — how to say it? — lewk. I mean, lots. It's ’50s and ’80s and everything.

Crosstown co-founder Chris Miner's wife Amanda Sparks, with help from residency coordinator Mary Jo Karimnia and Stacy Wright, took charge of the design of this very large, winding space. Karimnia took some time to answer some questions about the design.

What was your thinking when you set out to design the Today & Always space?

It really began as a way to feed our resident artists delicious, nutritious, filling, and varied foods. Food is such a wonderful thing to build relationships around, and we hoped to encourage interaction and build relationships through food. Next, we wanted to invite the public into this nurturing environment. The cave-like atmosphere that the architect designed in the East Atrium feels like a great big hug — one that is big enough to include 500 of your friends. We anchored that warmth by adding variations that acknowledged the dark blue walls and aqua furniture and added interest by layering similar shades and hues. There are definitely some color themes forming, like the red/orange/pink areas in the hallway near the kitchen, the blue door and blue themes along the corresponding hallway to the right, the midcentury greens in the Green Room music space, etc. that will also be carried back into the deeper spaces of Crosstown Arts offices as that becomes cohesive.

What were the challenges with working in such an open space?
We want diners to feel like they are eating at Crosstown Arts — in our house, in the midst of all the things that are happening in this beautiful space. We also wanted it to be a flexible space that can host talks, shows, and events in an endless possibility of configurations. So the open space was something we needed for this formula.

What about the odd shapes and spaces of the bar?
This was an opportunity to truly engage with the building, to embrace the history of the space. The maze-like quality of the space encourages people to explore and discover. The smaller spaces encourage small gatherings and intimate conversations.
Plates with starburst patterns
  • Plates with starburst patterns

How would you describe the final product — diner chic?
Inviting, embracing, surprising, and ever-changing.

Where did you source the dishes,
furniture, etc.?

The dishes, glasses, and flatware are a combination of items that we designed and collected. We searched the internet for silverware with midcentury star designs, and this is the theme that holds them together. Residency Director Amanda Sparks had a strong hand in the design and in deciding, directing, and purchasing items. She took several trips to St. Louis to purchase midcentury furniture from antique stores and through online sales from people's garages and basements. She brought back five packed truckloads. Her design vision can be seen throughout Crosstown Arts. Bart Mallard, the head bartender, hand-picked all of the wonderful and varied glasses used to serve drinks at the bar.

There is a lot going on with the cafe — the aprons, the song names. How does that work together under a coherent theme? What's that theme?
EVERYTHING at Crosstown Arts is an art project. Spaces are infused with silly things, thoughtful jokes, and kitsch. The aprons with random names that were popular in the ’80s play with the menu where items are all puns on ’80s song titles. In the bar, drinks are thoughtfully engineered with unusual ingredients and combinations, and drink titles read like poems. The back bar is a surprising maze with colored lights and animal-themed rooms with a curated/curious mix of kitty-cat playing cards, paint-by-number dogs, and ceramic birds. There is also a white wall that will host a rotating show of art-designed wallpaper and the light-up bar top has already hosted two different art pieces beneath its acrylic surface. The food and drink are another way to allow for creative expression. The talents of chef Raymond Jackson and bar manager Bart Mallard are nicely showcased in these beautiful and unusual spaces.

Lounge with vintage furniture and paint-by-number paintings of dogs
  • Lounge with vintage furniture and paint-by-number paintings of dogs

There is so much going on in the spaces. Did you ever have a time when you thought to yourself, with a design or piece of furniture or glassware, Stop, that's enough?
Absolutely. Much of Amanda Sparks' vision has been arrived at through a process of elimination, finding a plethora of items that fit the era or theme of different aspects of the spaces and then paring these ideas and objects down to the right amount in the right space.
Glassware and bird ceramic
  • Glassware and bird ceramic

Another Art Bar lounge
  • Another Art Bar lounge

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wok'n in Memphis slated to have a permanent location

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 9:18 PM

Chefs Spencer Coplan and Trevor Anderson at a Wok'n in Memphis pop up at Silly Goose. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chefs Spencer Coplan and Trevor Anderson at a Wok'n in Memphis pop up at Silly Goose.

Spencer Coplan will only have one place to walk to after Wok'n in Memphis moves to The South Main Market at 409 South Main.

Coplan’s pop-up restaurant featuring his take on Chinese food is slated to open in its first permanent location in November. It’s popped up at several locations around Memphis since he first opened his traveling restaurant about a year ago.

“I’m very excited to finally have a location,” says Coplan, 28.

He plans to serve lunch and dinner daily except for Mondays when The South Main Market is closed and he plans to offer a weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

For lunch, Coplan wants to do his General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, fried rice and noodles and his popular vegetarian dish - mapo tofu. Dinner would include his eggs rolls and crab rangoon.

Now this isn’t authentic Chinese food; Coplan purposely does it his way. It’s Americanized Chinese food. He uses ketchup, sugar and lots of hoisin sauce.

Take his chicken and waffles, a combination Asian/American dish. Instead of maple syrup, he uses kung pao sauce. “We put green onions and scallions inside the waffle batter to give it a little more of that Asian flair, if you will.”

In 2016, Coplan, who was born in Seattle, moved to Memphis and began working at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. He continues to work a couple of nights a week at The Gray Canary, which is owned by Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman.

Coplan is captivated by Asian food. He says he spent a lot of after hours in Asian restaurants in Seattle.

His expertise in Chinese cooking was a result of “a lot of cookbooks and a lot of time messing around making staff meals for my colleagues. Just kind of being like, ‘Well, how does this taste? Does this taste like General Tso’s chicken?’”

For now, you can visit Wok'n in Memphis on Sundays for his brunch at Silly Goose. The brunch, which is from noon to 4, includes items, including his chicken and waffles, that will be on the menu at his new location.

And Wok'n in Memphis currently pops up on Saturdays at the Farmers Market in Cooper-Young.

Coplan’s restaurant also will be featured Nov. 3 at the Meddlesome Brewing Company’s 

Spencer Coplan's take on chicken and waffles. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Spencer Coplan's take on chicken and waffles.

art and crafts fair.

  • Michael Donahue

Huey's Vegan Burger

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 12:15 PM


Huey's Goes Vegan! How's that for a headline?

Welp, it's fake news. BUT, Huey's will introduce a new 100 percent vegan burger in the next couple weeks.

"We've had our veggie burger forever," says Steve Voss, vice president of operations at Huey's. The veggie burger is vegan (the black bean — my jam — isn't). Voss says that customers want more options, and when some really great vegan burgers, like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burgers, became available, Huey's thought it was worth it to explore options.

Huey's is going with the Beyond Burger. In fact, Beyond Burger has crafted a six-ounce burger just for Huey's. The burger will be cooked on a grill, not the flat-top, so that the vegan burger doesn't get contaminated by Huey's other options. The burger will be served on a kaiser bun (as usual) and dressed with Follow Your Heart smoked Gouda and Veganaise.

So is this burger up to Huey's standards?

"They're awesome," says Voss. "I love it."

Voss says the burger will first be available at Midtown, Germantown, and Downtown Huey's locations as soon as next week, and then roll out to all locations in early November. 

Sushi Meets Kosher BBQ

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 9:58 AM


Happening on Sunday, October 21st, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth (ASBEE) Synagogue, is the 30th Annual Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival. This is where cooks flex their barbecue muscles while keeping it 100 percent kosher — no pork up in this joint.

This is one fun event, garnering national attention for its Jewish approach to barbecue in this pork-barbecue-manic city. The event features its popular three-on-three basketball contest and stuff for the kids.

One competitor is Marisa Baggett, who is known around town for her astounding sushi creations. Her team, Adam's Ribs, took home three trophies last year — 1st Place Ribs, 4th Place Chicken Wings, and 2nd Place Beans — so she's definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Baggett took time to answer some questions on how this sushi chef came to conquer kosher barbecue.

You're known for your mad sushi skills. What interests you about this contest?

The ASBEE Kosher BBQ contest first appealed to me because I don't eat pork. (I actually keep kosher.) And living in Memphis, it was the idea that I could walk into a barbecue competition and enjoy anything that was being prepared that blew my mind. I was a little hesitant to compete at first. I'm a sushi maven and manning a grill was out of my comfort zone. But I joined a team anyway and we ended up taking two trophies that year! It was a lot of fun.

Do you use the same skills for sushi as you do beef barbecue?

I think there is a patience and tolerance for tedium that I carry over from sushi. With sushi, you can't hurry the process of the rice and you have to do several hands-on things with just a few ingredients. For this contest, you have to work within limits regarding ingredients and use a charcoal grill. It makes you very aware of the entire process and you stay in the moment. I'm very comfortable working like that.

How do you approach the competition?

Strictly fun..unless someone talks smack. Last year, someone from another team mercilessly made fun of the way I boiled the ribs first. I took it in stride but I was so determined to get the ribs perfect. Coincidentally, we took home 1st place in Ribs last year.

Any other surprising culinary skills?

I'm not much for entering contests. But I think people would be surprised given my sushi background what my latest obsession is — classic Jewish deli fare. I make and cure my own pastrami (and turkey pastrami) and I bake knishes and babkas. My kitchen is very lab-like these days with containers of custom spice blends, tubs of meats in the fridge constantly being brined, and bags of baked goods everywhere. I'm having alot of fun.

What's next with you?

I actually have a concept in the works. It's a little too early to discuss, but there are sometimes little hints and clues on my social media.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Memphis' Top 11 Cookies

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 9:30 AM

When the Apple personal assistant Siri is asked the question, "what is zero divided by zero," she responds with the answer: "Imagine that you have zero cookies and you split them evenly among zero friends. How many cookies does each person get? See? It doesn’t make sense. And Cookie Monster is sad that there are no cookies, and you are sad that you have no friends." — Wikipedia entry on Cookie Monster

There’s almost no problem that a cookie can’t solve. Hungry? How ‘bout a chocolate chip cookie? Depressed? Oatmeal raisin will cheer you right up. Tired? A protein-packed cookie will put pep in your step.

Memphis has plenty of great cookies, from the standard to the sublime, sprinkled all about town. Go grab you a dozen or two.

Did we miss your favorite? That’s how the cookie crumbles. But let us know in the comments.

And, now, in no particular order ... the best 11 cookies in Memphis.

Oatmeal Cream Pie

A crowd pleaser, this cookie includes two perfect oatmeal cookies crushing on some super-sweet buttercream icing. It's a take on Little Debbie's oatmeal cream pie. From Muddy's, which knows a thing or two about sweets. For your sweetest tooth.

Muddy's Bake Shop, 5101 Sanderlin (683-8844)

Marranitos from La Espiga

You, a porch, temps in the 60s, a steaming cup of coffee, a marranito from La Espiga on Summer. This cookie, sweetened with molasses, has long been an obsession of ours. Will do for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

La Espiga, 3967 Summer (454-9220)

Butter Cookies
We could sing the praises of this cookie all day long — buttery and so rich as to knock you to your knees. Bring a tray of Makeda's butter cookies to any event and you'll be welcomed with open arms. Their peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies are excellent, too.

Makeda's, 488 2nd (295-0901)

Lemon Blueberry Sugar Cookie

Large and bold. This cookie is no ordinary sugar cookie. This one has zing. The bite of the lemon is tempered by the sweet of the blueberry. It's a beautiful thing and is available at Dessert Therapy, a relatively new sweets shop in East Memphis.

Dessert Therapy, 6645 Poplar, Carrefour Kirby Shopping Plaza (567-8837)

Peanut Butter
About as close to a Platonic ideal of a cookie as one can get. Crisp bottom, fluffy center — salty and peanut buttery. Terrific. From Lucy J. Bakery in the Crosstown Concourse. They pay their workers a living wage, which makes this cookie all the sweeter.

Lucy J Bakery,  1350 Concourse (257-9206)


Pretty and delicate — in both taste and appearance. These dainties are for Memphis' best ladies and gentlemen, mane. A real treat from 17 Berkshire.

17 Berkshire, 2094 Trimble Place (729-7916)

Susan Ellis

Acorn Cookies


Nostalgia lovers might remember the home-made “acorn” cookies at the old Seessel’s grocery stores. They were acorn-shaped.cookies with raspberry filling dipped in chocolate with sprinkles. Milk Dessert Bar owner Sharon Cohn re-created the cookies from memory. As one who worked at Seessel’s for three years, I can say Cohn did a good job. They evoke those great days at Seessel’s, when children were given free ladyfingers when they passed by the store’s bakery with their parents.

Milk Dessert Bar, 1789 Kirby Parkway No. 10 (730-0893)

Gingerbread Men

Kay Bakery sells its gingerbread men all year ‘round, but the cookies are more popular during Christmas, says Queo Bautista, one of the owners. That’s when they sell “10 or 12 dozen daily,” he says. They still decorate them the way they were decorated back in the 1950s and they still use the same cookie cutters, he says.

Sugar Cookies

The sugar cookies in Halloween shapes of a ghost, pumpkins and a black cat with an arched back at Kay Bakery evoke Halloweens past, particularly for Baby Boomers. And, like the gingerbread men, these are the made from the same cookie cutters as the ones made decades ago.

Kay Bakery, 667 Avon (767-0780)

Butter Cookies

You might think of a butter cookie as something shaped like a daisy or just a thin beige cookie, but the butter cookies at Frost Bake Shop are thick, white cookies with yellow rivulets. If you’re into texture along with great taste, these are for you.

Frost, 394 Grove Park, Laurelwood Shopping Center (682-4545)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Maybe it’s because they’re rectangle and small instead of big and round in addition to tasting great, but whatever it is the chocolate chip cookies at Ricki’s Cookie Corner & Bakery are addictive. It’s hard to stop eating them. Owner Ricki Krupp says her chocolate chip cookies are made of flour, sugar, eggs, and canola oil, but she puts her personal touch in each cookie. Krupp says she took a basic recipe and over the years tweaked it. She now sells 4,000 of her chocolate chip cookies a week.

Ricki's Cookie Corner, 5068 Park Avenue (866-2447)

— Michael Donahue

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Save the Gay Hawk

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 3:52 PM

  • Gay Hawk

Terica Bobo has set up a gofundme page to save the Gay Hawk Restaurant, which is need of expensive repairs.

Terica inherited the restaurant from her father, Louis, who passed away in April. She lists some $30,000 in repairs, including roofing and bathroom updates.

Terica says continuing the restaurant is important. "It's my father's legacy," she says.

The Gay Hawk is a much loved soul food place on Danny Thomas. Among the notable guests over the years: Magic Johnson, Rufus Thomas, and Jesse Jackson.

From the gofundme page:
Mr Bobo turned the Gay Hawk into a meeting place for old friends, a citywide catering hub, and a Memphis Legend for community and comfort food. Mr Bobo served the Memphis community for over 50 years and in 2012, he passed the restaurant on to his daughter, Terica Bobo, who now operates the facility, working hard to keep this cherished Memphis landmark alive. 
Louis Bobo bought the restaurant in 1963.

Gay Hawk, 685 S Danny Thomas (947-1464)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

How To Drink Tequila

Posted By on Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Memphis Tequila Festival 2017
  • Memphis Tequila Festival 2017
The Memphis Tequila Festival is coming up on you. This festival features some two dozen top-brand tequilas for sampling, Day of the Dead facepainting (!), food from local restaurants, DJ music, and more.

It's really fun and most certainly will sell out, so get your tickets sooner rather than later.

This event is set for Friday, October 19th, 6-9 p.m. It's 21-plus. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Memphis.

To prime the pump, we spoke with Don Julio's tequila expert Raymond Tremblay on the finer points of tequila.

A few years ago, we created tequila cocktails for a story, it's surprisingly versatile.
What are your favorite cocktails?

Raymond Tremblay:
With tequila cocktails it’s all about showcasing the agave. I love a good Oaxacan Old Fashioned with Don Julio Reposado tequila, Pierde Almas mezcal. On a nice warm day, you can never go wrong with a classic Paloma, but for me, personally, there is nothing better than a neat pour of your favorite tequila with a side of sangrita (not to be confused with sangria).

What advice do you give with consumers who want to work tequila into their repertoire?
RT: I would say do your research. Tequila is a beautiful and complex spirit that can vary immensely in flavor depending on the region and production process. It’s very similar to wine in that fashion. Highland tequilas are known for being bright and floral, while valley tequilas are known to be a bit earthier. The Blue Weber Agaves usually takes between six to 15 years to mature before it can be harvested, so make sure you’re supporting a brand that practices good farming and production habits that showcase this wonderful plant.

Memphis Tequila Festival 2017
  • Memphis Tequila Festival 2017
Memphis Tequila Festival 2017
  • Memphis Tequila Festival 2017

Tequila is considered particularly dangerous. Is this a fair assessment?

As in dangerously delicious?!? I think tequila received a bad rep years ago from the amount of poorly made mixto tequilas that were produced and marketed as shooters or mixed with glow in the dark sour mixes. People tend to remember that one shot of tequila they had after drinking all night and think that’s the culprit for everything. That’s like saying that one catch you missed is high school is the reason you never went pro. As with anything, tequila should always be enjoyed in moderation. Luckily there are bars all over the world now that showcase incredible selections of 100 percent agave tequilas, with knowledgeable bartenders that can guide you down proper ways to consume the spirit.

This is a tequila festival. How would you approach it?

RT: Festivals can be overwhelming for some people because of the amount of delicious options presented to them. Firsts thing first I would make sure to prepare myself by eating beforehand and properly hydrating. If there are waters around, take advantage of them. I always love to try new tequilas and ask about the brands. I want to know what makes this specific tequila special to the producer. Tequila flavor variations are so broad it can be easy to fall into the rabbit hole of trying new ones, but you always want to drink responsibly. No one wants to be “that person” at the festival. Lastly, the most important part of going to any tequila festival is to have fun!

Memphis Tequila Festival 2017
  • Memphis Tequila Festival 2017

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Elemento Neapolitan Pizza Opens Oct. 16

Posted By on Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 2:59 PM

  • Justin Fox Burks

Elemento Pizza, in Crosstown Concourse, now has an opening date: Tuesday, October 16th.

It was originally set to open in June.

The restaurant will adhere to the Neapolitan standard, which dictates what tomatoes and cheese are used and extends to the flour for the dough. Cooking times and temperature are also key for an authentic Neapolitan pizza.

The restaurant exported its pizza ovens — pizzas are cooked in 90 seconds — from Italy. The ovens will be cured before the restaurant opens.

In addition, Elemento will serve buratta dishes — centering around Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream.

  • Elemento: Facebook

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Indian Pass Has Closed

Posted By on Mon, Oct 1, 2018 at 9:39 AM

  • Indian Pass Facebook

Indian Pass, the off-shoot of the popular Florida-based seafood restaurant, closed on Saturday.

The restaurant was open about 7 months. The owner of the restaurant, George Gouras opened Another Broken Egg in the area.

It was billed as a "little getaway" in the middle of Overton Square. One of its draws was the serve-yourself beer system.

Gouras had tweaked the original restaurant's menu a little, adding such dishes as a crab dip and gumbo.

The idea behind the spot was an emphasis on fresh seafood. Gouras drove to Jackson to meet his seafood supply a few times a week.

Indian Pass is the third restaurant in that spot. It was the old site of Chiwawa, which completely re-did the space after Chicago Pizza Co. closed.  

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