Saturday update: Lunch at Central BBQ and lots of news

Warning: This is going to be a LONG post!

First of all, I want to say thanks to Xfinity for providing “breakfast on the go” for residents of my apartment building yesterday! I rode the elevator downstairs about 7:30 and walked up to their table. The ladies behind it put a keypad in front of me.

“This conversation may be recorded for quality control purposes,” one of the ladies told me. “Press 1 for English, dos para espanol.”

I pressed 1.

“Press 1 for a Chick-Fil-A Mini,” the other lady told me. “Press 2 for a cinnamon roll. Press 3 for a muffin. Press 4 for a lemon pastry. Press 5 for a cherry pastry. Press 6 for a cream cheese pastry. Press 7 for orange juice. To repeat this menu, press 8. For all other breakfast requests, press 0.”

I pressed the appropriate buttons on the keypad.

“Thank you for choosing your food,” the first lady told me. “Estimated time for it to be ready is twenty. FOUR….. minutes.”


“Thank you for continuing to wait. Your breakfast is not ready yet; however, you are important. Please continue to hold while we get your. Chick-fil-A Mini. And. Your. LEMON… pastry.”


41 minutes later I was back in my apartment, happily munching on my breakfast. Thanks Xfinity!

With BBQ Fest now just 4 months away, the Senior Deputy Director of Public Relations (she got promoted last month in case you’re wondering how “Senior” got added to her title) and I decided it was time to do some research. We had plans to be at Max’s Sports Bar at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. “Let’s go to South Main at 3:30 and stop at Central BBQ,” she suggested. It was a good idea. Earlier this week the Commercial Appeal posted 3 meatless lunches for under $10, and the portabella mushroom sandwich at Central was one of them. It’s one of the few menu items I had never tried. I decided to give it a try yesterday.

At only $5.49, I had extra money to spend, and I was worried the mushroom sandwich wouldn’t be enough. Also, it just seems criminal to go to Central BBQ and not eat meat. My Facebook friends recommended the wings, and while they are delicious I have had those before. I wanted to try another sandwich I had never eaten before at Central, either the BBQ bologna or the smoked sausage sandwich, each priced at a quite affordable $4.25. Knowing my friends Rahul and Tony are all about the sausage, I went with that. I asked for it to be prepped in Central’s mustard BBQ sauce rather than the mild sauce which is traditionally used on all their sandwiches.

(Side note before we continue: I’m rooting for the Saints to beat the Chiefs tomorrow because Rahul is a Chiefs fan and he was a real butthead to me at brunch at Pontotoc last Sunday.)

I grabbed a Mountain Dew and cups of mustard sauce and hot BBQ sauce from the sauce bar and took a seat. I was surprised how busy it was, even for mid-afternoon. About 7 minutes after I ordered, my food came out. They are on their toes at Central and get your food to you quick!

The portabella mushroom sandwich is a 7 to 8 inch – as you can see it filled out the bun – mushroom topped marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and spices. It is grilled and topped with Gouda cheese and Central’s mild sauce. I love mushrooms and frequently get them as a topping on sandwiches and pizzas. A friend commented that a portabella is a “meaty” mushroom and I would agree. Eating the sandwich felt a lot like eating a burger.

The smoked sausage sandwich was outstanding and I was pleased I ordered it in mustard sauce rather than mild BBQ sauce to differentiate it from the mushroom sandwich. I dipped it in extra mustard sauce as well as the hot sauce, my two favorite Central BBQ sauces. “If you don’t want slaw just say naw,” reads Central’s chalkboard, and I probably should have traded out one of my cups of slaw for a different side. It was good though, and the Senior Deputy Director of Public Relations liked it because it was (sort of) the same color as her hair.

The verdict? I knew I’d like the smoked sausage and I did. But the portabella mushroom sandwich? It was tasty, of course, and if I were a vegetarian I would not feel like I’m having an experience lesser than my meat-eating friends if we all went there and I ordered it. However, I am not a vegetarian. Was the portabella sandwich good to the point that I’d forego meat in favor of it on a future visit? On that question I’d have to say “Naw.”

However, I would do what I did for yesterday’s visit again: Go down there extra hungry and pair the portabella sandwich with an inexpensive meat item. The portabella plus the smoked sausage made for an excellent lunch. The BBQ bologna, the half-order of pulled pork nachos, or three of the whole wings (get the dry spice rub!!!) would be good paired with the sandwich as well.

You know what else would be good? Tops BBQ will top your cheeseburger with an ounce or two of pulled pork for an extra charge. If Central BBQ provided that as an option for the portabella mushroom sandwich, that would be awesome.

Let’s get on to the news. I hope I get this all done by the time Bardog opens at 11. Otherwise I may have to roll non-time-sensitive items over to tomorrow’s post.

The New Daisy appears to be closed. It is unclear whether the closure is temporary or permanent, and so far the owners have not commented. Hopefully it’s temporary. The Daisy is one of Downtown’s premier live music venues, and only a few years ago it went through major renovations and upgrades and got a new booking company that brought in nationally known acts.

Well, DUH… a new study has found that people who drink Red Bull vodka are more likely to get in fights. Science has proved what has been common sense for years. Some bars won’t even serve Red Bull as a mixer, knowing this fact all too well.

Bass Pro is celebrating Memphis’ 200th birthday with giveaways each month on the 22nd of the month. On January 22, The Lookout, the restaurant at the top of the Pyramid, will give away free branded mugs to the first 200 people who ride the nation’s tallest free-standing elevator up there.

Good news for my Mississippi readers: Crosstown Brewing Co. beers will be available in your area by the end of next week.

This is a general message to bar owners and managers in the Downtown core: You all need to do a better job checking the soap in the bathrooms. There is no excuse for a bathroom being without soap for more than a couple of hours.

Memphis’ AutoZone Park has been announced as the site of the 2019 Triple-A Championship Game, a game won by the Redbirds last year. One of the best ballparks in the minors, it is no surprise that AutoZone Park is in the rotation of venues for the game.

In other Redbirds news, 37-year-old Ben Johnson has been announced as the new manager. He was most recently a coach for the Durham Bulls who the Redbirds played in the championship game. Johnson played ball at Germantown High and was selected by the Cardinals in the 1999 draft.

Comedian Eddie Izzard brings The Wunderbar Tour to the Orpheum on Friday, May 10.

The Grizzlies have announced that furloughed federal workers will be admitted to Monday’s MLK Day game for free.

Ghost River will have a Valentine’s Day Market with four vendors selling Valentine’s Day goods Saturday, February 9 from noon to 4.

JOBS! Wiseacre’s new brewery at B.B. King and Vance will bring 40 jobs to Downtown Memphis. As production ramps up, the owners anticipate adding even more staff.

There will be an MLK Day parade Monday at 10 AM. It will depart from the Cook Convention Center, head down Exchange and then turn on Second going south to the National Civil Rights Museum. At the Museum there will be a day-long King 90 celebration.

Fun fact: The Republican Party elected more new members named Greg than they did women in 2018.

Got through all the news with about 40 minutes to spare. Time to lead off at Bardog then figure out whether I want to head south to Max’s Sports Bar to watch the SMU game.