Tag Archives: downtown

The Brunch Report – Rizzo’s

I love South Main. There is so much to do down there, from farmers markets and civil rights museums to soul burgers. One of my favorite places down there is Rizzo’s, whose vegetable plate at lunch is as good as it gets. Fortunately, you aren’t limited to lunch and dinner over there, and their brunch is just as good as the rest of their food.

So, I went over there recently with a couple of friends for a nice leisurely brunch on their newish patio beside the restaurant. After we got some coffees and mimosas, we were ready to order up some of the goods.

Rizzos 1 - Meatloaf sandwich

One of my friends got this amazing meatloaf sandwich. What a beauty!

 

 

Rizzos 2 - Catfish Benedict

 

I got this catfish benedict, with a english muffins, poached eggs, and some great blackened catfish. Everything was cooked well, and was extremely tasty. If you are anywhere near downtown, and you aren’t going to Rizzo’s semi-regularly, you are missing out. From lobster corndogs to a great brunch, there should be something for everyone. Hit it up for brunch, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon around South Main. What a great part of Memphis. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Rizzo’s Diner
106 E. GE Patterson
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-2033
Rizzo's Diner on Urbanspoon

The Shack Out Back at Felicia Suzanne

K’s and my friend Felicia Willett is awesome. If you’ve met, you’d agree, and if you’ve eaten her food at Felicia Suzanne downtown, you know what I’m talking about. So, I was pumped up when I heard that she was redoing the patio on the side of her space. We went to check things out for the official grand opening in November at the first annual JR Willett’s Banjos and Bonfires, which raised money to fight prostate cancer in honor of her late father, JR Willett.

Felicia Patio - band
The Side Street Super Club kept everyone warm with some great bluegrass. Notice the new seating on the patio.

Felicia Patio

The bar (dubbed the Shack Out Back), was lit up and rocking.

Felicia
Felicia shows off the new turkey burger sliders from the patio menu as K laughs, most likely at one of my hilarious jokes.

Felicia Patio - turkey sliders
Close up.

Felicia Patio - tamale pie
Cornbread “tamale” pie. This was awesome, especially on such a cold November night. Not cold like it was earlier this week, but it was pretty serious at that point in the year.

Felicia patio - tacos
Fish tacos. I really need to get one of these taco stands. And some more of these tacos…

Felicia Patio - hushpuppies

Hushpuppies. I might have eaten the whole tray of these.

Felicia Patio - meat pies
Is it me, or are meat pies popping up on menus all over town? Second question, what took so long?

Felicia Patio - hot chocolate and stache

 

The party ended up with a few last songs, some cookies, and hot chocolate, spiked it you like. Overall, this was an awesome event for a great cause, and I look forward to it becoming an annual event. And lastly, it is clear that with the new bar, furniture and menu, Flo’s Patio and the Shack Out Back are going to be huge hits downtown whenever the weather is anywhere close to manageable.

Felicia Suzanne is already one of the best places to get a bit and a drink in Memphis, and with the addition of this more casual patio, it just gets better. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Felicia Suzanne – Flo’s Patio and the Shack Out Back
80 Monroe
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-0877

Felicia Suzanne's on Urbanspoon

Amped Up at Tamp and Tap

DSC_0011

Coffee?

Craft beer?

Together?

That’s the name of the game at Tamp & Tap, which is the latest in a pretty long line of Taylor Berger inspired ventures that have brought Memphians something that they might not have known they wanted until he opened it up. I had my first experience with this great new spot over lunch with some coworkers.

Downtown Chill Factor

I imagine that I am not alone in my love of iced coffee. Sure, I love any coffee cold, but my preference is for a good cold-brewed coffee, which makes for a less acidic cup. Tamp and Tap has a cool setup where they cold brew coffee and then carbonate and keg it, which keeps it fresh and easy to serve. Cook use of technology from the beer side of the game that benefits the coffee side.

iced coffee

 

Sorry for the blurry shot, but rest assured it is a good cup. They use great beans from Metropolis Coffee in Chicago. On a later visit, I picked up a half pound of a Kenyan bean they had, which made some excellent coffee in my french press.

Lunchtime

Strawberry Salad

 

One friend got the Halladay salad with Baby spinach, arugula, candied pecans, gorgonzola, pickled red onion, strawberry, and champagne vinaigrette.

Turkey

 

Here’s a Stanley smoked turkey sandwich with fontina, candied pancetta, pickled red onion, arugula, and roasted artichoke aioli. Delicious.

Grilled Cheese

 

Another friend got this glorious Packard, which is a grilled cheese with three cheeses and a garlic puree.

Sandwich

 

Lastly, my last pal got the Maxwell, which is a roasted veggie sammy with hummus, manchego, local greens, and balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta.

On Tap

If you’re downtown, this is a great place for lunch or a great cup of coffee. I wan’t around for anyone to sample the beer selection, but the word is that they have a good selection. Get on over there and try em out, as this is another of those places that we wanted before we even knew about it. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Tamp and Tap
122 Gayoso, Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 207-1053
Tamp & Tap on Urbanspoon

You Must Walk to Crawl – My Dishcrawl Experience pt. 1

Here’s one of the cool things about Memphis. I’m always finding awesome things that I didn’t know about. Often, these aren’t brand new, and I’m not on the cutting edge, but these are things that other people are all about. There just happen to be so many cool things going on in town that there is always something new around the corner. I guess that’s why we have all of these cool blogs and things like Choose 901 and I Love Memphis. We need guides in our own city to keep up.

Well, fortunately for me, Kim over at Dischcrawl is a champion of her own awesome thing that is happening in town, and she invited me to come check out their most recent event downtown. If you have ever forgotten the last leg of a pubcrawl, then you can probably imagine that a Dishcrawl is the foodie version of that great activity. Kim sets up an event based on a neighborhood. So, I signed up to go on the Downtown (North of Beale) Dishcrawl with the knowledge that we would go to four different places for a taste of each place. (Note, you get food at four places included in your ticket. Drinks are on you.)

You get an email two days in advance that tells you where to meet, but other than that, the rest of the locations will remain a secret to be revealed the night of the event. So, here’s part one of my experience.

Meet at Automatic Slim’s at 7:00 on Thursday

That’s the message that me and 40-50 others got last week, and so that’s where I headed.

Dishcrawl 01 - Slims

I headed upstairs and took a seat and started chatting with a couple of other Dishcrawl rookies. There were plenty of folks that had been out on one of these events before, and to me repeat business is always a sign of good things to come. First up, we got a tasting plate of three off-menu items, which served as recruitment pitch for me to go back in the future.

First up was a nice fresh bite of ceviche. Not many things make as much sense as ceviche on a night when the heat index was pushing 110. It was nice.

Dishcrawl 02 - Slims Ceviche

Next we tried a little smoked lamb with mint jelly on a crostini. Yum. Whomever decided that lamb and mint were soulmates can be my wingman any day.

Dishcrawl 04 - Slims lamb

Lastly there was a a banana wrapped in bacon with a tangy honey drizzle. Think about that for a second.

Dishcrawl 03 - Slims banana

You read that correctly. But when broken down into taste elements, this was sweet, salty, and tangy with a combination of textures in the bacon and banana. So, you’re asking, “you mean those two staples of my kitchen go together like Zach and Kelly is what you’re saying?”

Zack-and-Kelly-The-Prom-zack-and-kelly-3837657-640-480

Yes. That is what I mean. Now on to phase two.

Much Ado About Aldo’s

We got up and got instructions that we’d take a short walk to our next location. So, down Union went this eating posse, and we headed down Main to Aldo’s for round two.

Dishcrawl 05 - Aldos

 

If you haven’t been Aldo’s is a pretty sweet pizza spot on Main St. With their other spots Bardog and Slider Inn being big time players in the lives of Memphians, it is no surprise that this place is rocking it as well.

First up was a nice little shrimp and grit action.

Dishcrawl 06 - Aldos Shrimp

 

Pretty tasty. Tops to me was this nice goat cheese stuffed pepper. Awesome.

Dishcrawl 07 - Aldos goat cheese stuffed pepper

 

Lastly, we had a pretty delicious olive tapanade to go with that there bread. Also very tasty.

Ok, so part 2 is coming soon. But I want to give a shout out in part one to our awesome host Kim and her sidekick-for-the-evening Paige, who actually ran the first couple of Dishcrawls in Memphis.

Dishcrawl 09 - Kim and Paige

They were awesome hosts and set up a great event. I definitely recommend heading out on one of these. It would be good in a group as a way to see some different places and have a cool social meal. I went solo, and I’d highly recommend that if you 1. like food 2. like talking to strangers. It seems like a great way to meet some new folks and have a good time, two things that go pretty well with a full stomach. See you there!

-Thomas

I want to go to there:

Dishcrawl Memphis – Read about past events and sign up for their emails. Don’t delay after getting an email as the dinners sell out pretty quickly.

Automatic Slims
83 S. 2nd Street,
Memphis TN 38103
901.525.7948

Aldo’s Pizza Pies
100 S Main St #101
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 577-7743

 

 

 

 

Bolt to Evelyn and Olive

“Life is one experience that only a fool a could refuse” -Joe Higgs

Somewhat recently, K and I hopped into the old family sedan and popped in one of my old favorite reggae albums for background music on our way to a new experience. There’s nothing quite like a small breeze coming through the window as the slow sounds of Joe Higgs lead the way to something new.

I still remember driving down University St. in Fort Collins, CO for the first time as I drove myself to school with Joe leading the way. It was only fitting that I brought him along to Memphis’ newest Jamaican restaurant, Evelyn & Olive.  With the mood set, we got down to business and after a few introductions from our friendly server, we found ourselves sipping wine and the cane sugared Jamaican lemonade seen above. Cane sugar makes a big difference, thus it was great.

For the food we started with the Kingston cabbage, which was sauteed in Caribbean spices along with sweet peppers. It definitely got us off to a good start.

Next up we got the grilled jerk shrimp, which were delicious and well spiced. They came with rice and a nice little salad of cucumbers and tomatoes.

We also got the awesome Kingston stew fish, which was tilapia pan-seared with Jamaican spices, pimento, country pepper and scallions, served with rice & peas. This was my favorite part of the meal. Definitely a good choice.

For dessert, we got the bread pudding, because, why wouldn’t you get the bread pudding? Am I right? It was a highly seasoned variation with a nice cinnamon cream to go with it.

Overall it was a great meal, and it is a great new(ish) addition to the Memphis dining scene. I always like when we get more options to try different regional cuisine. My advice is to fire up your best reggae tunes and bolt on down Madison to Evelyn and Olive.

See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Evelyn and Olive
630 Madison Ave
Memphis, Tn 38103
901.748.5422

Evelyn and Olive on Urbanspoon

Go with the Flo

Good news.

Let me try that again.

Good news.

There, that’s better…

Here’s the story, a couple months ago, K and I had a crepe at Felicia Suzanne that was topped with tomato jam. K and I spent the next week talking about the jam, wondering how we could talk Felicia into making us about 1,000 mason jars full. It is that delicious.

Here’s the good part. Last week she announced that she’s now selling Flo’s, her new line of homemade products from the Felicia Suzanne kitchen. I got my first jar (of many) of tomato jam today.

Also available: Five Pepper Jelly, Chow Chow, and Bread and Butter Pickles. They’re available at Felicia Suzanne and online. Go get em.

-Thomas

Learn more about Felicia Willett from our interview.

You want to go to there:

Felicia Suzanne
80 Monroe Avenue, Suite L-1
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 523-0877

Hours of Operation
Tuesday-Saturday, open 5pm
Friday Lunch, 11:30am-2:00pm

 

A Bittersweet Symphony

In May (wow, that seems like forever ago!), K and I were excited about a midweek date that would see us drop by Felicia Suzanne for our customary meal before going to see the Memphis Symphony Orchestra at the Cannon Center. Why Felicia every time we go to the symphony? Because she is cool, we love her food, and it is an easy trolley ride down to the Cannon for the performance. Fortunately for our taste buds, we made it through dinner just fine…

Slammin’ Salmon

I’m from the South, and I have parents and grandparents that are also from the house. Needless to say I have grown up with deviled eggs, and I love them. I have also grown up in a family in which smoked salmon makes a regular appearance at the table at any party we have. But wait, someone decided to mix the two together??

What you see above is the devilled egg taken to a new height. Take your traditional egg, add smoked salmon and replace the paprika garnish with caviar, and you have Felicia Willett’s take on this Southern staple. You also have something damn good.

Next up, we went with the Goat Cheese and Sweet Onion tart, because sweet onions are all the rage within a select group of people these days. Just because those people consist of me and K, doesn’t make it any less valid. The cornmeal crust was a hit,  and the pecan pesto combined the whole thing together. The sweetness of the onions and the bite of the cheese was awesome.  Awesome.

K ordered the leaning tower of crab, aka the crab salad. Look at this lovely thing. Crab, greens, beets, a savory shortbread, pecans, and ginger. This received seriously high praise. Yum!

“What? You had me at ‘chorizo encrusted.'” It could have been anything (grouper, old shoe, watermelon, anything), and I would have gone for it, such is my love for chorizo. Fortunately, they wrapped this chorizo crust around some delicious scallops, and that was the best choice. Loved it.

Symphonic Discordance

So, how does an evening that starts with an excellent date, a great dinner, and a nice trolley ride turn bittersweet. Look no further than my vocabulary skills.

Discordance -The state or an instance of disagreement; discord.

Discordance (hopefully correctly used in a sentence). Thomas and K thought the symphony was on Thursday night. However, they were in discordance with reality, as it was really on Friday.

There you have it. We made it all the way to the Cannon Center to find out that we were there a day early! So, really, it was no big deal, as even the idea of the symphony made the rest of the date possible! I’ll be back for the symphony next time, and I’ll be at Felicia Suzanne before. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Felicia Suzanne
80 Monroe Avenue # L1  Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-0877

Felicia Suzanne's on Urbanspoon

This Burger Will Roxie Your Soxies Right Off

One of the interesting things about life today is the nearly instant access to all kinds of information. Basically, I only really “rack my brain” when my crew is playing team trivia, which is a no cell phone allowed activity, or at work, when someone asks me something that I would know that would not be readily available on Google (take that interwebs!). So many times, I just type the question that I’m wondering into the ol’ Goog, and I find out how to properly slice up a jalapeno pepper, how to properly install a new light fixture, or just what movie was that guy was in before.

Let’s say you were sitting around wondering where you could find a great burger in Memphis. Maybe you even dared to wonder who serves the best burger in Memphis. Type “Memphis best burger” into the ol Google, and you’ll likely find the Best Memphis Burger blog near the top.

(Sidebar – start humming some Braveheart like music in your mind) This blog is all about one man’s quest to locate the best hamburger in a city full of legit hamburgers. Bam!

So this site has become a bit of a resource for me and my burger chowing crew, which primarily consists of me, the Counselor, and the Professor. So the Counselor hollered at me a bit ago to ask if I had tried out Roxie’s Grocery. Never heard of it, so I checked out the BMB blog on it, and in true Jerry McGuire fashion, he had me at “It was like a double giant Tops Bar-B-Q cheeseburger on steroids.”

Photo from BestMemphisBurger.com

That being said, the Counselor and I fired up the Eat Local mobile and headed over to 520 N. Third, which is right in the middle of the Uptown development to try a couple of these Uptown Burgers. We zipped into the grocery, which is dark and a little crowded on the inside, headed to the back, checked out their burly menu (includes corndogs), and ordered a couple of burger combos for the road (no place to eat inside).

Here’s what it looked like plated up. This burger went total #beastmode. Two patties, and really one would probably be plenty. Three cheeses melted all over the place. Onions and peppers that had been grilled up made a great addition, and the classic white bun soaked up all that goodness like you know it should.

This is another shot of the monster. The meat was seasoned well and cooked just right. This thing was seriously delicious.

Here’s a shot that gives a little perspective on this thing. Those soft hands may not have spent many days doing manual labor, but they aren’t tiny hands either. Eating this thing was like doing curls.

So here’s the verdict. Not afraid to take on one of Memphis’ best and biggest burgers? Go get the Uptown at Roxie’s. That sounds like too big of a task? Try one of their smaller options. Roxie’s is right on the border of Downtown/Uptown, easy to get to, and delicious. If you like it, give props to the Best Memphis Burger man. Thanks for the tip!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Roxie’s Grocery
520 N 3rd St
Memphis, TN 38105
(901) 525-2817

Roxie's Grocery on Urbanspoon

R to the Izzo. Yes to the Rizzo’s

When I was in school back in the day, our headmaster would rhetorically ask, “is this a great school, or what?” That will always stand out as a memory, and thankfully, a question that I answered (then and now) with a “yes!” Well, I’d like to steal a page from his playbook and ask, “is this a great time of year, or what?”

For those of us that enjoy going out, trying new things to eat, and seeing good people put their skills to the test, the answer is a resounding YES. Although I haven’t been to all of the places that have recently opened, I’ve been getting good reports, and I can say I’m excited about the Winter Rookie Class of 2011.

Rizzo

First up on the rookie tour is Chef Michael Patrick’s new place, Rizzo’s Diner. Since word travels pretty fast around our little town masquerading as a big city, I found out very quickly that Rizzo’s would serve a LOBSTER PRONTO PUP. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but I immediately stopped listening/reading/thinking about anything else, and started plotting my first trip. To explain, part of my year is spent in wait of the Cooper Young Festival, so that I can get a pronto pup. Pronto pups fall into the “never gets old” category of things that I like.

Things that never get old

  • Pronto Pups
  • Clarks Wallabees and New Balance 99x series shoes
  • Memphis Tiger Basketball
  • A perfect behind the back pass on a fast break in lacrosse
  • The Chronicles of Narnia and A Separate Peace
  • Tsunami’s mussels

You get the gist of it. My list is actually a bit longer than that.

Mah! Meatloaf!!!

Ok, ok, ok. So, my mom and I were having one of our semi-regular lunches about town (can I get an “amen” on living in the same town as your parents), and we both were like, “Rizzo’s!” and “lobster pronto pup!” at the same time. Synergy. And thus the plans were made.

We got to the restaurant and were able to sit outside, and we immediately asked about the lobster. We were a little dejected to find out that it was not available at lunch, and I was a little sheepish about not having that info, after all, I write about food ALL THE TIME. So, after apologizing to mom for misleading her, we settled into the menu. All it took for me to forget the lobster was our server saying the phrase, “chorizo meatloaf.”

I was that excited, as it mixed two of my favorite things, loaf and chorizo. It came with a couple of sides, so I opted for the spinach, the squash casserole, and the mashed sweet potato.

I know that is a pretty decent picture with pretty good light, but I don’t know if any photo would do this lunch justice. I’ll give a shot with a closer look.

Lawd have mercy. Everything about my meal was excellent. The veggies were fresh and tasty, and the meatloaf was spicy, rich, and delicious. Our server said it was a 7 on a scale of 10 in terms of spiciness. That sounds about right, I’m not a big heat person, but it was no problem for me. Adding the sausage to the loaf created a complex flavor that was richer than any other meatloaf I’ve ever had. Just get it.

Swimmin Upstream

Want to know the best part about lunch? When my mom got her lunch, she too forgot about the lobster. That’s big that both of us came in with these grand expectations of a lobster on a stick, and we were both able to totally forget about it because everything else was so good. Mom went for a salad with some grilled salmon, and it came out perfect.

I meant perfect, just look at that. This salad was totally delicious, and I’d recommend it to anyone that doesn’t have their heart set on something a little loafier.

I Went Back. Pronto.

I was so impressed by my lunch at Rizzo’s that I went back for dinner last Friday. Since it was a spur of the moment thing, I didn’t have my camera, but, needless to say, I got the lobster, and it was good. So were the brisket and scallop entree’s that K and I split. So was the Phish music playing on the stereo. When a new place is so good that I have to go back that soon, that’s a good sign. So, take my advice, head on there, and welcome one of the Rookie of the Year contenders. They won’t give it up without a fight, that’s for sure. See you there!

-Thomas

 

You want to go to there:

Rizzo’s Diner
106 G.E. Patterson, Memphis, TN 38103
901.523.2033

Rizzos Diner on Urbanspoon

Downtown Memphis is the Home of the Bleu

On Thursday night I was invited to join members of the media (crazy, right???) at Downtown’s newest restaurant for a dinner preview of Bleu. After a couple of weeks worth of cryptic emails and secrecy, I think that everyone was pretty excited to get there. K and I went in to see a newly decorated bar and restaurant in the space that once housed Sole. The bar was richly appointed in dark woods with a lot of blue accent lighting, and it made for a pretty cool combination. With the location, it will be an awesome place for a pre or post-game meal or drink after the Tigers or (I hope) the Griz finish beating whichever team is in town that night.

Let’s Get It Started


After some music in the bar and a drink, it was time to hit up the dining room and get the real party started. The menu had a lot of awesome looking appetizers like the Tuna Wontons and the Spicy Lobster Tempura, but K and I went with the great looking Charcuterie Plate. This plate was full of a variety of meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables, and it was a great start to our dinner.

The pickled peppers and the blueberries were great additions to the traditional meat and cheese combinations. Additionally, Bleu has a lot of cool cocktails with a focus on herbs, fruits, and non-traditional mixtures.

Safe Landing

The Bleu menu has a lot of a great options whether you like your entree to come from the land or the sea. Starting off on land, K and I took long looks at the Grilled Pork & Grits and the Veal Bolognese, but we went for the awesome Veal Chop.

This perfectly-cooked chop was delicious. The pan roasted veal chop was served with spicy Italian sausage, roasted acorn squash and baby spinach risotto. The cranberry port wine jus was the final touch on an amazing dish. This was seriously delicious, and I’d be hard pressed to stray from this on the menu next time.

Enchantment Under the Sea

It was a hard choice to not pick the Scallops & Gnocchi, but we looked past it to try out the Striped Bass en Papillote.

The striped bass was rubbed with a light citrus curry rub then steamed with basil, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and coconut green tea rice in a paper pouch. It came out to the table still in the paper pouch, and upon opening it up, we were treated to a this.

The bass was well-cooked and came with a variety of flavors in the pouch. It wasn’t the easiest to unwrap, but it was worth it!

THE GRAND FINALE

When we finished up our entrees, our server(all of whom were knowledgeable and enthusiastic) gave us the run-down on desserts. He listed off a couple of items, but told us that we should try out the Grand Finale, which in his words was a piece of edible art. Obviously intrigued by the vagueness of what it was, we ordered it at once.

This dessert involved Chef Robbie coming to our table to build a dessert on a large sheet of wax paper that had been spread out over the table. It was one part combination, one part cool, new cooking techniques, and one part delicious dessert.

The ingredients involved a molten chocolate cake that was frozen on the spot in liquid nitrogen (really, this was insanely cool), chocolate and strawberry sauces, blue berries, frozen raspberries, cookie crumbles, and candied bacon. Watching the chef put it all together was cool, and it was a nice, personal touch to get to chat with him while he worked.

Here’s the final result!

Get Your Bleu On

Bleu is a great new addition to Downtown, and I’ll be excited to get over there a few more times. We had a great talk with the restaurant manager, who was very enthusiastic about their opening and all the work that his staff had put in to get ready for their opening. He explained that they will have great $10 lunch specials, and I’m really looking forward to the Friday catfish and collared greens.

Get down there sometime and give them a try! See you there!

-Thomas

PS. Thanks to Red Rover for putting together an awesome event. They did a ton of work to make the unveiling of the restaurant a special occasion, and it was a great success! Thanks to Bleu for the invitation and the great dinner!

You want to go to there:

Bleu
221 South 3rd Street
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 334-5950
Enjoy complimentary valet parking on non FedEx Forum event nights.