Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day everyone. As I post this the annual NBA Civil Rights Game is being broadcast nationally from the FedExForum. Frank Murtaugh posted a great piece to the Memphis Flyer website yesterday on why the Civil Rights Game truly puts Memphis in the “big leagues.”
Bar news: The Downtown Local Gastropub location will be closed through lunch Thursday, January 24. They will re-open for happy hour on Thursday.
The Flying Saucer has announced that they will bring back “48 Hours of Pint Nite” Sunday-Monday, February 3-4. Monday, of course, is always Pint Nite. They’re adding Sunday so you can enjoy almost any draft on the tap wall for $3 as you watch the Super Bowl.
Today’s Groupon is not for a Downtown business, but it’s for pole dancing exercise classes so I’ll mention it anyway. Good chance to practice your moves to get ready for the pole at Raiford’s, or for a “fireman’s pole” at BBQ Fest (stripper poles aren’t allowed).
Yesterday was one of those Sunday Fun Days when all sorts of good random stuff happened. Mid-afternoon I got hungry. It was a very pleasant day, sunny and almost 60 degrees, and I decided to make the trek south to Central BBQ. Once again I decided to think outside the box and order something other than pulled pork, ribs, or BBQ nachos – all of which are excellent, by the way, but I wanted to work my way through more of Central’s menu. After soliciting suggestions on Facebook, I decided to order the BBQ beef brisket plate.
You get 7 ounces of Central’s beef brisket, along with two sides. I choose greens and BBQ beans as my sides. They have a sauce station where you can get whichever of their BBQ sauces you prefer to complement your meal. I decided to get a small cup of all four sauces. My preferences, in order, were:
1. Mustard sauce
2. Hot BBQ sauce
3. Vinegar BBQ sauce
4. Mild BBQ sauce
I was surprised that I preferred the vinegar sauce over the mild tomato-based BBQ sauce, Central’s most popular. However, it’s just that I thought it paired better with the brisket. With pork I would probably lean more in the direction of the tomato sauce.
Overall, the brisket was very, very good, but I still prefer the turkey plate I had last time I went in. The turkey is injected with Cajun spice and is one of the best meals I have ever had Downtown.
After finishing at Central, I walked back north to the Flying Saucer. I ordered a beer and as I walked to the UFO Club computer, I heard, “Hey! Paul!” and I turned around and saw Willie, who was the head cook for my old BBQ team The Ques Brothers from 2007-11. His son Willie Jr. was with him. I remember when Willie Jr. was a kid and climbed around our scaffolding as if it were monkey bars. He’s 16 now.
The Willies were in town for a seminar on how to cook championship BBQ, presented by a member of Sweet Swine O’ Mine, a team which has won multiple first-place trophies at BBQ Fest. There was a spouse discount for tickets and Willie asked if he could bring his son rather than his wife. 37 people in all attended. “They covered every part of the pig,” said Willie. He told me a few things he learned, and while I won’t blog all the secrets he shared I will say that some of it is amazingly simple. Even if the Willies don’t participate on a BBQ Fest team in 2013, they learned tons of things they can use at their restaurant, Honky Tonk BBQ. The restaurant is in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago, and was named one of the top 100 restaurants in Chicago and one of the top five to hear live music.
Willie told me that another member of our Ques Brothers cook team, Efrain, had received a 3-month consulting gig to help open a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. When the three months were up, the owner told Efrain, “Look, you’re indispensable to this place, how much will I have to pay to keep you on permanently?” So Efrain is an Angeleno now.
You may remember that a couple of years ago, I acted as a photographer for Clandestino Dining, a Chicago-based underground supper club that threw a dinner in Memphis. Efrain was one of the main chefs. With him now out on the West Coast, there’s an opportunity for Willie Jr. to step up and do the upcoming Valentine’s Day dinner. Not bad to get to do that at age 16!
Around 7 Willie and Willie Jr. got in a cab and headed to Midtown to catch a movie. You know, people complain about the Saucer letting kids in, but I wouldn’t have got to see Willie and Willie Jr. otherwise. At least for one night I’m glad the rule was the way it is.
I went back to my usual spot at the bar, and a few minutes later a Facebook message popped up from my old friend DJ David the Worm. “Hey Paul, if you get out to the Saucer tonight, we’re at the bar.” He had no idea I was standing at the opposite end. I walked down and took a seat with him and his girlfriend Heather.
I just started work on my 8th plate at the Saucer. You get a plate on the wall when you drink 200 different beers there, and with only 4 beers done at the time toward my 8th plate, pretty much the entire menu was open season. Knowing that David is something of a beer aficionado, I asked him to pick my next beer.
He picked Fuller’s London Pride. I knew I’d likely be getting a British beer, because David is an Anglophile. Sure enough I did, and it was pretty good. He recommended the Fuller’s ESB as well, and I’ll try that tonight – no, wait, I’ll try it Tuesday, because it’s a bottled beer and tonight is Pint Nite.
I stayed at the Saucer past 10 PM – a long, fun, drama-free night. After quick stops at the Goose and Bear, I was home to bed.
Tonight is Pint Nite, so I’ll be at the Saucer around 6 to get a few more beers done toward plate 8. After that it’s over to the Goose for Muruako’s Monday night poker game. Start time is 8:30, although I’ll likely show up a bit late. Again, happy MLK Day, and congratulations to President Obama on his second inauguration.