Tue update: Thanksgiving opening rule of thumb, Tuesday trivia nights, WALRUS to play Brass Door, Rebirds news and more

Every Thanksgiving I get emails of the form, “Is such-and-such bar/restaurant open on Thanksgiving, and if so, what time?” I haven’t had time to compile a complete list this year, and probably won’t have time today or tomorrow, but I can give you a general rule of thumb:

If a place is more bar than restaurant (examples: Goose, Max’s, Bardog, Saucer, etc.), they will likely open at 5 PM on Thanksgiving. If a place is more restaurant than bar, they will likely be closed all day, unless they are open specifically to serve Thanksgiving dinner. Two exceptions: Wang’s and Westy’s can almost always be counted on to stay open regular hours, serving their regular menu on Thanksgiving.

There are now 4 trivia nights, and 5 trivia games, that you can play Downtown on Tuesdays. The newest is the Green Beetle, which starts at 7 PM. Mike who runs the game emailed me. He said it’s more oriented toward group fun than brain-burning questions. He also said that his company, Nite Out Trivia, has done trivia nights around Memphis for a while, but this is their first foray into Downtown.

Other trivia games tonight include Flying Saucer (7:30 and 10:00 games), Silly Goose (8:00), Ferraro’s Pizzeria and Pub (8:00, with $1 PBR).

The Brass Door has announced some post-shopping Black Friday entertainment. WALRUS will play their underground music venue, the Cavern, this Friday night the 25th.

Couple of pieces of Redbirds news. First of all, Ron “Pop” Warner has been named the team’s new manager. He was previously the skipper of the Springfield team, the Cardinals’ double-A affiliate. Also, the ‘birds announced that the merchandise in Backstop Baseball Emporium, the team shop next to AutoZone Park, can now be purchased on the Redbirds’ website. Now you can buy Christmas gifts for Redbirds fans without even leaving your computer.

I tried Poker Jon’s 7:30 poker game last night at the Silly Goose. He’s doing two games every Monday, with the 7:30 game added to the previously existing 10:00 game. I like the early game, because I have a chance to win points in the league without having to stay up past midnight. And on the nights when I do feel like staying up, I have two chances to win.

The Goose’s sliders, by the way, were my to-go food order and they seriously might be the most underrated sliders in all of Memphis. Thick, juicy patties topped with a pepper salsa, with tomato, pickle and mustard on the side for those who choose to add them, with a side of chips and salsa for $9.

Plans for tonight: Getting a tour of EmergeMemphis. When I was on the board of MPACT Memphis, I was in there numerous times. However, I never really got to see it from the viewpoint of a typical startup business (if there is such a thing) located there, so maybe I’ll come out of this with something cool to blog about. After that it’ll be bar time – my streak at the Saucer stands at 115 days, and I’m sure I’ll extend it to 116 tonight. Might sneak in a Bardog visit too (it’s their $3 pint night) to attempt to regain the mayorship there.

Max’s Sports Bar’s extended hours this week

If you’re looking for a place to watch the Memphis-Michigan basketball game, Max’s Sports Bar is open. They opened at 1 today in anticipation of the 2 PM tipoff. Let’s Go Tigers!

In addition, they will be open at 11 AM Friday to show all the football and basketball games that will be happening that day, including the huge Arkansas-LSU game at 1:30 PM.

Downtown Dining Week @ Bardog Tavern

Last night I made plans to meet three friends for Downtown Dining Week at Bardog at 7 PM. I grabbed a beer at the bar, and got a text that they were running late because they were watching the NASCAR race. Suddenly I found myself faced with a decision. Melissa the bartender came over. “Paul, we’re down to the last steak for Downtown Dining Week,” she told me. “Do you want it?” I hated to not wait on my friends, but I wanted to try Downtown Dining Week at least once. So I put the order in. This was the menu:

The blue cheese stuffed filet had actually been replaced by a flatiron steak topped with blue cheese, but that was fine with me. I ordered that, along with the Cornish hen as the appetizer. Here’s the Cornish hen:

The stuffed Cornish hen was delicious, and despite being an appetizer was bigger than the entrees many of the Downtown Dining Week restaurants served. Next came the main course:

Blue cheese topped flatiron steak, cooked medium rare at my request, with mashed potatoes and cauliflower. As I took the first few bites of steak, my friends showed up and we moved to a table. I apologized for not waiting on them, but they all agreed I made the right move by ordering before the DDW menu was gone.

So, as I was eating my steak, guess who showed up and sawed off an entire quarter of it to “sample?”

She hasn’t appeared in the blog lately, but yes, the Nuh-Uh Girl is still out eating off other people’s plates. I wonder how many Downtown Dining Week menus she tried last week? Usually the count is about 9 or 10. If you add in other people’s food “samples,” it’d probably be up around 20.

Dessert was carrot cake:

My friends missed the DDW menu and ordered off the regular menu, but they didn’t seem to mind.

Two of my friends washed down their dinner with a shot of Fireball:

A few days before, I’d been discussing the menu with executive chef John Haley. “Really?” I expressed my surprise. “You’re going to offer a Cornish game hen as an appetizer? And a steak? For $20.11, how are you going to make any money off that?”

“We’re not trying to make money off it,” John said. “We’re doing it as a thank-you for our customers who have been there for us for three years.” They were also hoping to get a lot of new customers in the door, who’d never been to Bardog before, and who hopefully would be impressed enough with the place to come back. That’s what Downtown Dining Week is all about.

Downtown Dining Week has wrapped up, except for Chez Philippe, which will be offering their DDW menu Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 to 10. From what I saw, it looked to be another successful year. Hope they do it again in 2012!

The Kindle Fire

It’s been a slow weekend for blog posts. The reason was that Friday was my birthday! I took the day off and got started early. Then there were no blog posts Saturday because I was recovering from Friday, watching the Hogs beat Mississippi State, and attending a friend’s going-away party in South Main. There was one other thing that kept me away from the blog Saturday – my new Kindle Fire.

The Fire is Amazon’s high-end Kindle. Unlike the other Kindles, it is not merely a reading device; rather, it is a tablet computing device. It runs a version of Android (2.3 Gingerbread) with Amazon’s user interface laid on top of it. To get apps for the Fire, you visit the Amazon Appstore rather than the Android Market. Apps in the Amazon Appstore have been tested and optimized for the Fire.

Setup was quick and painless, under a minute. Basically all I had to do was give it my Amazon account ID and password, and I was off and running. It immediately pulled in every Kindle book I’d ever bought, and put them on the home screen, as shown above. (That front book, by the way, Pepper Jack, is a murder mystery based in Memphis, with events happening at the Blue Monkey and other well-known locations around town.) I opened a book, and text and images were crisp and clear, and turning the page was easy. I bought a new book last night and read it in bed for a while before I went to sleep.

You get a month of Amazon Prime free with your kindle, giving you access to movies and TV shows. A few movies I could watch for free through Prime included Speed, Babe, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Last of the Mohicans, and You’ve Got Mail. TV shows on prime included Arrested Development, Lost, 24, and The Wonder Years. You can also purchase additional movies beginning at $2.99, and TV shows beginning at $1.99. You’re not tied to Amazon’s platform for delivering video; there are Netflix and Hulu Plus apps available if you subscribe to one of those services.

Lots of apps available too. The newest one I’ve been hooked on, which I mentioned a few days ago, is TuneIn Radio. Gives you most radio stations in town, NOAA weather radio, and police and fire scanners for free, and you can access 50,000 radio stations around the world. I got this app for my iPhone on Thursday and got it for my Kindle Fire Friday. Over the past 3 days I’ve come to realize what a great station WEVL is, which is weird because it’s not like I didn’t own a radio before I started my collection of mobile devices. My only regret is that I discovered the app at 10:45 on Thursday, missing a chance to hear Kerry’s “Mystery Train” show by 45 minutes. Other popular apps are in the Appstore too, including Facebook and Twitter (but use Tweetcaster, it’s better than the Twitter mobile app), Angry Birds, Words with Friends, etc.

There’s also a Newsstand where you can subscribe to popular books and magazines to be read on the Kindle. I haven’t purchased any subscriptions yet, but I have a feeling it’s coming, which is exactly what Amazon wants me to do.

What’s missing on the device that you’d find on an iPad? Well, it doesn’t have a camera, but if I need a camera I have my iPhone, or for that matter, my camera. It doesn’t have 3G/4G, so I have to be able to hit a wireless network. That will limit my choices if I want to take the Fire out to lunch with me. It also lacks a GPS, so no checkins on Foursquare or cool mapping programs.

One thing I really, really like about the Fire is its size. Where the iPad has a 10″ screen, the Fire’s is smaller, at 7″. That’s small enough to fit in the inner pocket of my leather jacket; to fit in the pocket of my PBR hoodie; to fit in the pockets of a pair of cargo shorts. It will not be hard to carry this device with me.

The Fire is $199, whereas the cheapest iPad 2 is $499. So, which would I recommend? Well…

1) If cost is a huge factor, get the Kindle Fire. For $199 I promise you won’t be disappointed. Budget a little more than $199, as you likely will find yourself purchasing movies, books, and magazine subscriptions.

2) If cost is not a huge factor and you already own an iPhone or iPod Touch, get the Kindle Fire. It’s different than iOS and worth experiencing.

3) If cost is not a huge factor, and you don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch, get the iPad. There’s nothing as elegant as iOS. Everyone should know what it’s like to use an iOS device.

Buy it here: Kindle Fire

By the way: The links to Amazon products in this post are affiliate links, so click on through and make me some money :D

Chez Philippe to extend its Downtown Dining Week menu into next week

Today the Peabody announced that Chez Philippe is extending their Downtown Dining Week menu into next week, offering it Tuesday and Wednesday 5-10 PM. Call Philippe Brainos, restaurant manager, 901-529-4188 for reservations. Getting to eat a three-course meal at Chez for $20.11 is quite a deal indeed, so take advantage of it! DDW menu for Chez Philippe (and all the restaurants) can be found here.

Thur update: New South Main businesses, Twitter interview with a Cardinal, Island 45 to play the Cavern and more

The CA has a good article today about the Grawemeyers who are opening four new businesses in South Main. They’ve already partnered with Chef Michael Patrick to open Rizzo’s, they’re about to open Grawemeyer’s restaurant around the corner, and they also will open two new clothing stores. Mark Grawemeyer was one of the first people to revitalize South Main, buying the old Pullman Hotel in 1986.

The Redbirds will hold a Twitter interview with St. Louis Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso tomorrow, Friday, November 18, at 2 PM. You’ll need to follow @memphisredbirds and @DanielDescalso to view the interview as it happens. If there are questions you want to ask, tweet them to @memphisredbirds with the hashtag #twinterview.

The Brass Door will have another band in The Cavern, their underground performance space, Saturday night, November 19 at 9 PM. Island 45 will perform. They describe themselves as “a rocking dance band for people with record collections.” Sounds cool. I have a party to attend on South Main early that evening, but perhaps I’ll stop by the Cavern afterward. I lost my Foursquare mayorship of the Brass Door this week, so I’m looking for excuses to go there and get it back.

My new Kindle Fire arrived this morning! I haven’t had a chance to play with it much, but registering it took less than a minute, and then all the Kindle books I’ve ever bought appeared on my bookshelf. It came pre-loaded with a bunch of apps including Facebook, ESPN, Words with Friends, Weather Channel, and Pandora. It’s on the charger now.

Been listening to a police scanner this morning while doing work… I discovered the TuneIn Radio iPhone app, which gives you free access to 50,000 radio stations worldwide. The GPS detected my location, and it pulled up the local list, which contained most of the radio stations in town, NOAA weather radio, and scanner frequencies for local police and fire departments. I heard about the $9,000 robbery out in Collierville this morning before anyone! Even before it was on Twitter!

Plans for tonight: Go to bars and drink beer. Yeah I know that’s the plan most nights, but tonight is an extended version of that. I’ll start at the Saucer at 6, then evaluate whether to stay there for the evening or migrate.

Wed update 2: Majestic gift card sale (***AWESOME DEAL***), Majestic holiday schedule, lighting ceremony in Court Square, new businesses Downtown

One of the best Downtown dining deals of the year happens Wednesday, November 30. The Majestic Grille will sell half-off gift cards starting at 8:30 AM. You can buy them in increments of $50 value for $25 each. The cards can’t be used until after the first of the year, and can’t be used on booze. You have to be there in person – no phone orders – so either tell your boss you’ll be late for work, or make arrangements to have a friend buy the cards for you.

Seriously, this is a deal that is too good to pass up. If you’ve never had Chef Patrick Reilly’s filet, which I consider the best in the city, by all means give it a try. The roasted half chicken, chicken tortellini pasta, flatbreads and Sunday brunch items are all favorites of mine.

The Majestic has also announced their holiday special events for 2011. Here’s the list:

  • Sunday Supper and a Movie will happen the Sundays of November 27-December 18. Special menu available at 6:30, movie starts at 7 (7:30 on November 27). Movies are Miracle on 34th Street (27th), Christmas in Connecticut (4th), Holiday Inn (11th), and It’s a Wonderful Life (18th).
  • Clark’s Christmas Dinner will be Thursday, December 15. Special dinner menu at 7:30 (regular menu available too), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation shown at 8. Contests with prizes available for tackiest holiday sweater and best costume themed after the movie. This sells out every year, so make your reservations if you plan to attend.
  • Kids can enjoy Brunch with Santa on Saturday, December 17. Seatings are available from 10 AM to 1 PM, and in addition to meeting Santa, kids can meet Rocky Redbird and SantaGrizz. Holiday movies will be shown on the big screen. This also sells out every year and reservations are required.
  • There will be live music – jazz standards and your favorite Christmas tunes Saturday nights at the restaurant from November 26 to December 17.

For more info and to make reservations, visit the Majestic Grille’s website.

That’s not all the holiday news I have for you today. The DMC will have their annual Flip the Switch holiday lighting party in Court Square this Friday, November 18, from 4:30 to 6:30 PM. Historian Jimmy Ogle will emcee as the holiday lights on Court Square and Main Street are turned on for the first time this season. There will be entertainment by the Watoto De Afrika Performance Ensemble, a special holiday version of karaoke, and an exclusive performance by Deering & Down debuting their new holiday single.

You’re invited to bring a toy to the lighting party. They will attempt to have a MATA bus completely filled with toys for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis by the end of the celebration. After the Court Square festivities are over, there will be an open house reception at Watoto Memphis at 55 S. Main at 6:30 that night. The lighting ceremony is always a lot of fun and I hope to make it… although, I will be “starting early” Friday for those of you who know what I mean…

The DMC has an article on their site about new businesses that have applied for grants. Wow, business is booming Downtown! We’re going to get a produce company in the core, a web design firm in the South Main area, some new clothing boutiques, and Grawemeyer’s restaurant at 520 S. Main that I’ve mentioned previously. Also, already-open Rizzo’s Diner has applied for a grant for facade improvements.

That’s all the news for today. Now it’s time for beer.

Wed update: Save Tad’s indoor trailer park, Beetle Groupon deal, trivia change at Flying Saucer, and “Find me a hooker, Siri” results

Friday night and Saturday morning there will be events to save a Downtown Memphis treasure. You may have seen a beige ’50s Caddy driving around Downtown. It’s owned by Tad Pierson, and his company American Dream Safari gives tours of Memphis. If you want to really get in touch with Memphis music/culture and its roots, Tad is the person to take you there. You could find yourself visiting a juke joint you never knew existed, or maybe a site in Tupelo.

Besides the Caddy, Tad has a space on Madison behind Stop 345 which is an indoor trailer park. You can rent the trailers and stay in them overnight. However, he’s in danger of losing the space and his friends are coming together to help him. Kerry did a fantastic job writing about the party at the indoor trailer park Friday night, November 18, starting at 6 PM, so check her blog for full details on the various ways you can attend and help Tad.

If you can’t make it, there are two other ways to help. On Saturday the 19th at 10 AM, there will be a big community yard sale at the trailer park. Another option is to make a donation to save the place. I got online this morning and made a donation. If you appreciate all that Tad does to promote Memphis and make this city interesting and unique, I hope you will consider donating too.

In other news: Today’s Groupon deal is the Green Beetle. For $6, you get $12 worth of their homestyle cooking. I haven’t made it through as much of the menu as I’d have liked, but the times I’ve eaten there have been excellent. Family recipe lasagna, meat and two dishes, the Beetle Burger, and more.

My iPhone 4S arrived yesterday! I have to give major compliments to the AT&T Store on Goodman Road in Southaven. They took excellent care of me from start to finish, activating the phone and even putting on the case I bought. If you’re looking for a phone, I give their customer service a perfect 10 out of 10.

I took it to the Saucer, where one of the bartenders had got the 4S (her first iPhone ever) a few days before I did. “Let’s play with Siri,” she said, referring to the voice-controlled “personal assistant” that is a new feature on the iPhone 4S. We asked Siri about the weather, who won the Tigers game, typical stuff. “What else can we ask it?” said the bartender.

“Ask Siri to find me a hooker,” I said.

So she did. “Siri, find me a hooker,” she said, and a moment later she laughed. Siri replied, “I found three escort services near you.” One of them was 0.1 miles from my current location! Well, this blog is all about making you aware of “services” Downtown you might not have known about, and I certainly did my job in this post!

Speaking of the Saucer, they made a change to their Tuesday night trivia last night. Format is still the same, but they brought back John May to call trivia. John is a manager at the Fish, a former manager at the Saucer, and was the trivia guy when our team first started playing there in 2005. Gotta give him credit, he got the games done quickly. First game started at 7:30 and ended at 8:55. Second game started at 10 and was over around 11. We haven’t played in a while, but I tweeted that May was back, and my teammate Darrin asked if I wanted to re-start the team next week. I’m up for it. If any other team members want to come back too, come on!

Downtown Dining Week tip: If you plan on going to a restaurant, not only make reservations, but let them know that you plan on ordering from the Downtown Dining Week menu. That will help ensure that the restaurants don’t run out of the DDW food.

All right… I easily have another 10 paragraphs of news, but I need to cut it off for now and go get lunch. There will definitely have to be a second post later today. Check back, because one of the items is THE BEST DOWNTOWN GIFT CARD DEAL OF THE YEAR. Holiday events will be covered as well.