Food NEWS 

Stop 345, at 345 Madison, spices up the menu with a bit of Italian

Stop 345, at 345 Madison, spices up the menu with a bit of Italian. Owners Mike and Becky Todd have introduced Pete & Sam's toasted ravioli and Mama Cecelia's spaghetti to complement the regular bar fare. Mama Cecelia is Mike's Sicilian-born mother. She taught her daughter-in-law the secrets to making her special sauce, or "gravy" as she calls it.

"She would never give me the recipe," Becky says. "She would say, 'I don't have a recipe. You just have to watch me make it.'"

Try out the signature sauce at 345's "Birds, Beer, and Bowl" during the next Redbirds game. The special includes free parking for the game, a draft beer, and a big bowl of Mama Cecelia's spaghetti for $5.

The bar currently opens Tuesday through Saturday at 4 p.m. However, the couple plans to extend the hours to offer a basic Italian menu during lunch.

Since opening a year ago, the restaurant/bar has gone through many changes and challenges. It began as a comedy club with Sandra Bernhardt as the debut performer, but the club was hidden beneath the dust and debris from construction on the Madison Avenue trolley line. Now, Stop 345 uses its large event room for wine tastings, special events, and musical guests such as the band Styx, which will perform July 23rd.

"We probably made a mistake coming in with such big acts before Madison was finished," Mike says. "The biggest killer was that Madison was impassable. I think as the area develops and the trolley continues to run and people are more aware of it, it will become one of those out-of-the-way places that people love."

The monthly wine tastings at the Corkscrew, 511 South Front Street, have been suspended and will resume in the fall, but owner Andy Grooms has partnered with local caterer Elizabeth Boyd to create Alice's Dish, a deli-style lunch spot in Fratelli's former location next door. While it will be a few months before the restaurant opens, Boyd will begin catering from the location August 1st.

"We will start marketing corporate lunches although I've done weddings, cocktail parties, and other events," Boyd says. "Then, as soon as we get everything ready, we'll open for lunch, with sandwiches, soups, and salads. We will also prepare gourmet products to take home."

"Catfish Ain't Ugly" is the motto of the Cajun Catfish Co., located at 1616 Sycamore View Road in Bartlett. After moving Willie Moffatt's to Whitten Road, owner Steve Prentiss, with general manager and chef Ron Bates and other investors, opened the family-style restaurant.

The restaurant has been remodeled using raw cypress to capture the feel of a fisherman's wharf and even features a gift shop. The menu includes Cajun dishes, such as étouffée and gumbo, and, of course, catfish.

"We use only fresh catfish. The catfish you eat today was killed yesterday," says Bates. "And we hand-cut our fries every day."

The fries are coated with Bates' own creation: Cajun garlic butter seasoning. Bates also worked with Memphis-based Ingredients Corporation of America to create five dry seasonings and two hot sauces, which will be available in the restaurant's gift shop, the Hot Shop, in a few weeks. The gift shop also features Tabasco products and Elvis memorabilia.

"Moffatt's is more like a neighborhood bar and restaurant," says Bates. "We wanted to create a family-style sit-down restaurant near the interstate where people can get good fresh food and browse for souvenirs."

Show some chutzpah, y'all, and submit your best Southernized kosher recipe to the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South, which is compiling a cookbook to raise money.

The school's parent-teacher association and ladies' auxiliary are accepting recipes from contributors in Memphis and around the country. Members plan to test the recipes during PTA/LA events. Once the recipes have been selected, the book will be published in December 2005 and marketed nationwide by Memphis-based Wimmer Cookbooks.

Southern dishes are encouraged but not required. The book will include 10 sections: appetizers; soups; salads; fish; poultry; meat; side dishes; pasta; brunch and dairy; and desserts. It will also feature kitchen tips and table-setting and entertaining ideas.

To submit a recipe, send it to MHA/FYS, 390 S. White Station Road, Memphis 38117, or by e-mail to pta@mhafyos.org. Indicate in which section the recipe belongs. n

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