A week ago, my friend Sam Sawyer wrote about Eat Local Memphis in his blog - Sawyer Speaks. A Memphian, Sam now lives in Dallas, where he is a real estate agent for Rogers Healy. His blog post was a musing on what makes Memphis awesome, complete with references to Prince Mongo, the middle aged Cracker Rapper*, and Officer Selby of the Memphis Police Department. One of those things was our little blog here about supporting the people and places that make Memphis food the best food.
Sam was coming to Memphis for Easter, so I told him I’d take him to a local spot for lunch, and he agreed to write a guest blog about it. What follows is Sam’s account of our Saturday trip to Alcenia’s downtown on N. Main.
“The best drink I’ve ever had…”
My hands have just stopped jittering enough to put my glorious thoughts about Alcenia’s into words. Aaaahhh, you may ask, “Sam, why are your hands jittering?”…well the Ghetto-Ade, (yes, stop, RE-read – you did read that correctly) which is a must-have drink on Alcenia’s menu, may have something to do with it. Our precious waitress enlightened us that the “Ghetto-Ade” is a concoction of multiple flavors (in layman’s terms – “suicide”) of Kool-Aid enhanced with a large amount of sugar. An anonymous friend put down 5 complete glasses of “Ghetto-Ade” before being politely cut-off (unofficial Alcenia’s world record – friend, please contact me to let me know you are still alive).
Let’s Get Down to Business, Shall We?
Enough about the Ghetto-Ade, let’s get down to business with the grub. I was the last to order, and I witnessed the glorious orders of fried southern cuisine that had preceded me. The kind lady waiting our table told us that an 89 year old woman who has a secret tomato gravy recipe had gotten up that morning at 5 am to cook up a batch for Saturday brunch. We all obviously took the opportunity to fulfill one of the 3 side orders you get with your entree with the tomato gravy served on top of some rice (very light, yet very flavorful and delicious). My main course choice was the white meat pan-fried chicken – great flavor, moist chicken without all the breading on top of the skin. The hands-down best side item I ordered were the fried-green tomatoes, closely matched by the 2 waffles that rounded out the Saturday brunch. The food was served on plastic plates, but we were given some real silverware – this somehow added to that true soul-food experience.
Aside from the food we all enjoyed on this glorious Saturday brunch session, the outside table we occupied on a beautiful sunny day in the Pinch district of downtown Memphis allowed us to catch up and have some great laughs. I would advise against any type of set schedule following your visit to Alcenia’s – this is a true southern experience. One cannot be rushed in and out of Alcenia’s – the idea is to sit back, relax, drink some Ghetto-Ade, and just have an all around great dining experience with some true southern food.
Begin TR Postscript
I want to add one more thought to Sam’s. After we got extreme with 4 brunches and a (large) number of ghetto-ades, we decided that we hadn’t had enough sugar. Evidently Alcenia’s is famous for their desserts and their preserves. The group split a Sweet Potato Cobbler. This was like a combination (a mashup, if you will) of mashed sweet potatoes and pie. It was off the hook! Give the dessert a chance, no matter how full you feel. Just ride the ghetto-ade wave, and don’t let go.
*If you haven’t seen it, here is Memphis’ own Middle Aged Cracker Rapper.
See you there!