With Icing on Top 

The colorful Muddy's Bake Shop opens in East Memphis.

Wherever Kat Gordon's grandmother went, some homemade goodie went along with her. "She never went anywhere without bringing food or baked goods," Gordon says. Her grandmother was affectionately known as Muddy, and so Gordon named her bakery in honor of her to carry on the family tradition.

Muddy's Bake Shop opened two weeks ago in the former Crema site in the Sanderlin shopping center. Muddy's is a colorful place. The walls are painted in pastels, and large paper pom-poms hang from the ceiling in the entrance area. In a way, the store resembles the whimsical cupcakes in the display case.

When you meet Gordon, you soon realize that her shop reflects her personality.

"I never thought I would open this business in East Memphis," she says, standing behind the counter, her hair tucked underneath a pink bandana. "I always pictured it in Midtown — I was afraid that I might be a little too funky for this neighborhood."

Gordon was in Crema one day when she overheard that the store wasn't renewing its lease.

"That was odd," Gordon remembers. "As I drove up to the store, I had this conversation with myself about the pros and cons of opening my own business, and a few minutes later, I find out by accident that a space that lends itself to being a food-service spot would be available in 30 days."

Although Gordon has been baking for friends and family for a while, opening her own store was a move she wasn't sure she felt ready to make.

"It was a huge step, and even though many people encouraged me, it was scary," she says. "I had labored over it for six months, but when I found out about Crema closing, I had to give in."

Muddy's offers a variety of cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and pies in addition to a simple lunch that Gordon started upon the request of neighboring businesses. ("It's nothing fancy. A $6 one-size-fits-all lunch that usually changes every day," she says.)

click to enlarge p._48_food_news_1.jpg

Cupcake and cake varieties include vanilla with vanilla buttercream icing ("Plain Jane"), chocolate with chocolate buttercream icing ("Prozac"), lemon coconut ("Hubba Hubba"), and red velvet with cream-cheese icing ("Frankly Scarlett"), among others. Sweet potato, coconut chess, fresh peaches and cream, Southern pecan, berry, lemon butter, and banana cream pies are available. Oatmeal coconut cookies, toffee bars, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookies are also sold.

Eight-inch layer cakes cost between $30 and $40; pies are between $20 and $25; cupcakes sell for $1.50 apiece; and cookies for 50 cents each.

Gordon uses organic milk and free-range eggs for all of her baked goods, and most of her packaging is from recycled materials.

Muddy's is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Muddy's Bake Shop, 5101 Sanderlin #114 (683-8844) muddysbakeshop.com

Two downtown restaurants now offer an option for diners who want to hop in for a snack and a drink:

McEwen's on Monroe is offering its "Small Plates-Big Taste" Monday through Friday, starting at 5 p.m., in the bar. Items are all under $10 and include Creole-cured and smoked salmon nori roll, baked oyster on the half shell, jumbo shrimp and grits, and a "Taste of Memphis" sandwich, soup, and salad combo that includes a small barbecue duck confit sandwich, chipotle sweet potato bisque, and blackened green tomato concassé. Available along with the small plates are featured wines for $5 per glass or $20 per bottle and featured beers for $3 per bottle.

McEwen's on Monroe, 122 Monroe (572-7085)

Grill 83's tapas menu is available at the bar every day, with items ranging between $3 and $6. The cold selections are poached shrimp with jalapeno cocktail, shaved Serrano ham with olives, and tuna carpaccio with garlic aioli. The hot dishes include calamari with Thai chili sauce, spring roll with soy dipping sauce, and beef satay with peanut sauce.

The restaurant is now also offering a three-course brunch on Sundays. The menu includes omelets, banana- and almond-stuffed French toast, a smoked Norwegian salmon plate, and marinated flat iron steak. Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and ranges from $20 to $35.

Grill 83, 83 Madison (333-1224)

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