Pastrami nachos @ Belle Tavern + Wednesday news

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Yesterday evening I stopped by Belle Tavern for a snack. They had nachos for $12. You could get them topped with Tavern chili, brown sugar beef brisket, or pastrami. “Which one should I get?” I asked Q.

“The brown sugar brisket,” she replied.

But for some reason I just wasn’t feeling brown sugar on nachos. “Other two,” I said to Q.

“Pastrami,” she advised, and that was my order.

A big plate of nachos came out about 10 minutes later. At first I wasn’t sure it was pastrami. I always thought of pastrami as a thinly-sliced deli meat (and therefore was wondering how that was going to work on nachos) rather than the bite-sized hunks shown here. Q assured me it was pastrami, and sure enough, it was. I liked it. Something different than the traditional ground beef or chicken nachos (or, given that it’s Memphis, BBQ nachos) that you see many other places. Variety! The nachos are $12 and are big enough to share or to take leftovers home for a second snack later.

On to the news… Art 101.3 will happen at The 101, 101 S. Main, tomorrow, Thursday, December 1 from 6 to 8 PM. Works of abstract artists Chuck Johnson and Tom Murray will be on display. Live music, wine, hors d’oeuvres.

High Cotton is having a board game night Tuesday, December 13 in the taproom 5 to 8 PM. It’s an opportunity to de-stress from the holidays. If you bring your own board game, you get a discount pint. Hey, I did a little Amazon surfing and discovered there’s now a Trolls version of Operation! Maybe I will bring that! Don’tcha just love those crazy trolls?

Trolley Stop Market will have a pizza party with Santa and Mrs. Claus Saturday from 5-8 PM. Bring your camera for pictures! Live music, kids’ crafts, pizza specials, and vendors.

Also Saturday, there will be an Urban Art Gallery at the Exchange Building at Second and Madison at 6 PM. Art gallery by Johnny Meant and local photographers, music by Ryan Haskett, open bar (!!!!!), and rooftop access.

Want to learn more about career opportunities and concepts? Love basketball? You need a ticket to the new Memphis Grizzlies Keynote Speaker Series. Ticket package includes entry to an Afternoon Keynote, a Grizzlies game ticket, and a Spalding notebook. Tickets range from $79 to $109.

A car ran off Danny Thomas and slammed into the Pentecostal Temple Church of God yesterday morning. It hit a gas line and caught on fire. The driver died from his injuries and damage to the church was estimated at $107,000 as the fire burned the fellowship hall.

That’s it for now, off to work. I will be late getting out because I am going to do the car shopping I didn’t get done yesterday.

Mexican dinner @ Cafe Pontotoc + Sunday news

Two years ago, I made a promise to my friend Captain Sparkles. A pilot, he had recently taken a job in Indonesia, and he had brought me a batik shirt from the island country. In return, he asked that I visit Cafe Pontotoc, and if I liked it, to blog about it. “The owners are such nice people,” he told me.

Yesterday it was finally time. Yesterday afternoon I did Tour de South Main, hitting Earnestine & Hazel’s to see what was going on in Clarence’s world, then over to my “home away from home on the south side,” Max’s Sports Bar. On the way back north, I stopped in South of Beale so Kaylea could lay eyes on the man of her dreams for a bit, then continued my walk back to the Downtown core. As I passed Pontotoc, I remembered my unfulfilled promise. “Why not?” I thought. It turned out to be an excellent decision.

They have a tacos & tamales plate, where you can choose tacos (chicken, blackened catfish, steak, blackened shrimp, or vegan) and tamales (traditional chicken or pork delta hot) 3 for $10. I got a chicken tamale, a blackened shrimp taco, and a chicken taco.

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After two days of turkey and ham, this was exactly what the doctor ordered. Delicious and just the right amount of spice. They had a large collection of hot sauces to select from, which I used to spice up my rice and beans.

I asked the bartender for a beer recommendation to pair with my meal. She suggested a couple of options, and I decided on the Wiseacre Ananda IPA. “This would be really good with something cinnamon,” I told her. “I could buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch and have the Ananda with it for breakfast. It would go well with pumpkin pie too.”

After dinner I walked north to the Blind Bear, where I watched the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game with bartender Mac. “Did you ever watch Gomer Pyle USMC growing up?” I asked Mac. He said yes. “Don’t you think Butch Jones looks like the offspring of Sergeant Carter and a special needs child?” Mac went through a range of emotions last night, from laughter at my witty observation to utter dejection as his team lost to Vanderbilt.

If you’re a fan of Pancho’s cheese sauce, visit The Dirty Crow Inn on Crump this week. They have a special that is a chicken Philly with Pancho’s cheese sauce on top.

From The Onion: Vacationing Man Excited to Try Fast Food Franchise Not Found in Hometown. YES. I remember visiting Austin in 2000, and although it is one of the most vibrant cultural blends in the US, I could not wait to go to Quizno’s, which Memphis did not yet have. I tried the turkey bacon guacamole sandwich, in case you were wondering. I bet there are a lot of people who plan West Coast trips with In & Out Burger being the main reason for their travel.

If you live in Albany, Oregon, you can do yoga with goats. If someone could pass this message on to the people who run Downtown Yoga, I’d appreciate it: Normally your studio is not something that would be on my radar. However, if you offer a “yoga with sheep” class, I am SO THERE. I will sign up for a monthly plan with you!

#sheep

YOGA!

Tin Roof is doing an Ugly Sweater Ball on Beale Tuesday, December 13. They will have a build your own sweater booth, whatever that means, and there will be live band karaoke and holiday-themed drink specials.

United Against Violence 901 will hold an interfaith prayer vigil tonight at Clayborn Temple at 6 PM. There will be a discussion about the recent outbreaks of violence.

Breeze Cayole and New Orleans play Downtown Huey’s tonight at 8:30.

I am issuing a HIDE YOUR FOOD WARNING through midnight tonight. The Nuh-Uh Girl is in town for the holiday and has announced that she will be out for Sunday Fun Day today. If you eat in public Downtown today, don’t be surprised if a girl shows up at your table and says “can I have a bite? :-)” then proceeds to devour two-thirds of your food. If you’re tired of turkey, she will gladly take Thanksgiving leftovers off your hands.

Time for my weekly Sunday school lesson with B-RAD at the Blind Bear. Today’s lesson is about customers who get a couple of mimosas in them and start to feel emboldened and get mouthy. Brad used to have a regular like that, but I ran her off last year and she hasn’t been back since. The Blind Bear should give me a “Director of Quality Control” title. Pay me a dollar a year like the country is going to do with President Cheeto. That would allow me to use my employment to get industry discount on drinks at the other bars.

Time to go embrace the last day of avoiding adulthood for a while! Come join me at D-RANKS with B-RAD!

 

Tiger Nachos @ Max’s Sports Bar, a visit to the Ghost River taproom, and Saturday news

What a fun-filled day yesterday! Before I get to the recap, however, let me start off with a piece of news. I don’t know if any of my readers are dog owners who travel frequently, but if they are, a new doggie daycare has opened Downtown. It’s near Downtown Elementary and has 12,000 square feet of space for your pups to play. Click the image below to see details in a larger size.

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I led off the day at Bardog, where they did something that I thought was really smart. People who don’t do Thanksgiving at home miss out on one of the best parts of the holiday – leftovers the next day.

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Bardog had a leftovers plate for lunch – turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. It was a popular menu item. With a Friendsgiving dinner that evening at 7, I knew it was too much for me to eat though. I’d spoil my appetite if I tackled that plate.

I didn’t try it, but Bardog has a New Belgium Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale that sounds like it would be mighty good.

Next stop was Max’s Sports Bar to watch the Memphis-Houston game. By then I was starting to get a little hungry, with more than 6 hours to go until dinner. I grabbed a menu. “Not the BBQ nachos,” I thought. “Even a half order is enormous.”

 

However, I found a new item on the menu: Tiger Nachos for $4.

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Simplicity. It’s a bag of nacho cheese Doritos covered with melted pepper jack, baked in Max’s oven. They did it right, too. It’s not just the top chips that are covered in pepper jack. Nearly every chip, all the way to the bottom, had cheese on it. This was the perfect sized snack to get me through the afternoon hours without filling me up.

Can you imagine how Tiger Nachos would sell if it were legal to smoke weed in bars here like it is in Denver?

After the Tigers scored a fine victory, I walked down Main to the Ghost River taproom, where my friends South Side Supper Club were playing.

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You know, I’ve heard South Side Supper Club before at Earnestine & Hazel’s, the Farmers Market and other venues, but yesterday was the first time I really listened to them. This is a group with a clarinet, accordion, bass, and banjo, and there’s a certain range of songs you would expect them to stay in. They did play those songs – “This Land is Your Land” for example – but they have an uncanny ability to take songs from other genres and make them their own. I was blown away when they covered “Material Girl” by Madonna. These guys are really, really talented. They play Earnestine & Hazel’s every Thursday at 9 if you want to check them out.

As for the taproom itself, it is gorgeous.

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There are 12 taps, so you are bound to find a style of Ghost River beer that you will like. I chose the Grindhouse, a cream ale. There is no shortage of seating inside and out, and whether you are by yourself or with a party of 20 you will find seating that works for you.

I thought there would be maybe 6 or 7 people inside the taproom. As i walked down Main, I soon realized I was wrong! There were parked cars lining Main all the way up to Virginia Avenue to the north. There were maybe 20 people (and the Monkey Train Grazing Co. truck) outside on the patio, and another 75 or so inside. The place wasn’t completely packed, but it was busy, especially as people who had been at the Tigers game arrived. I never thought I’d see the day when so many people would congregate at Main and Crump.

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My, how Downtown has grown! “By 2022 I bet the north and south boundaries of Downtown will be Chelsea and McLemore,” I told a friend. That sounds ambitious but remember, as recently as 8 months ago there was just about nothing to do south of G.E. Patterson.

I did have one awkward moment at the taproom. The woman who stood me up on Valentine’s Day 2015 came in. I smiled and waved at her from a distance, letting her know there were no hard feelings and she was welcome to come join my friends and me. She stayed put, though. Back at the long table where our group was sitting, a mutual friend offered a possible explanation. “Paul, it isn’t your fault, but you may be making her self-conscious. Your hair is just so much more fabulous than hers.” Yeah, I kinda can understand that.

By the way, thanks so much to my Squeal Street friends for inviting me to come sit with them. There’s just no telling who would’ve ended up in that empty seat if I hadn’t come over.

About 5 I tabbed out and walked back up to Max’s for a bit, then at 7 I was back in South End for our Friendsgiving dinner.

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(Photo stolen from B-RAD’s Facebook timeline)

There was turkey, ham, meatballs, more meat, even more meat, side dishes, beer and Fireball. Of course B-RAD wanted to hear all about my visit to the taproom. Thanks so much to our hosts Staci and Darin, and to everyone who helped organize Friendsgiving.

By the way, I also want to thank my hosts Stevie G and Sarah for inviting me to Thanksgiving dinner at their house on Thursday. The food was delicious and I ate way too much of it. I got to meet Stevie G’s family and talk Tiger football with his dad, a season ticket holder for over 50 years. When I got there, my friend Katie (not Mac) was in the kitchen with Sarah getting things ready. “I smoked a turkey and a pan of mac & cheese.” YASSSSS! Mac & cheese fans who read my blog, don’t be jelly that I got Katie’s smok’d mac & cheese and you didn’t!

:mrgreen:

This is really cool: With one simple gesture that went unnoticed by most people, Tubby Smith proved he is a player’s coach. With the Tigers way up in the second half vs. McNeese State, there was no need to have the Lawson brothers on the floor. However, Coach Smith looked at the stats and saw that Dedric and K.J. each had 9 rebounds. Smith put each brother back in briefly, letting them earn one more rebound so they could each have a double-double. It’s the little things that earn players’ loyalty. Josh Pastner never would have thought to do that.

Stock & Belle at 387 S. Main is having a holiday vendor market today from 10 to 6. Custom holiday wreaths, artist demos, a holiday card workshop, popcorn samples, El Mero Taco truck 12-4, and a mimosa and bloody Mary bar.

Susan Boles signs her book Death of a Wolfman at South Main Book Juggler tonight from 6 to 9.

Back to my regular rotation of Saturday bars today. Bardog at 11, Blind Bear 1ish, rest of the day to be determined.

 

MIND BLOWN: Quinoa Crunch Bowl @ LYFE Kitchen

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Last week a college classmate of mine posted that she made her family Buddha Bowls, bowls made with quinoa, crunchy veggies, sauces and other healthy ingredients. There seem to be a million different ways to make a Buddha Bowl. Most Buddha Bowls are vegetarian, and although not a vegetarian myself, I was intrigued.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at Stacey’s bar at Hung Over Like a Bear brunch at the Blind Bear. “I’ve got to go somewhere and eat before the Arkansas-TCU game at 6,” I told her. I got out my phone and started surfing the menus of nearby restaurants to figure out what I wanted to eat. I surfed Kooky Canuck… the Fish… Lenny’s… Yao’s… nothing caught my attention. I’ve eaten at those places so many times that nothing seems to jump out at me.

Then I pulled up LYFE Kitchen’s menu. LYFE is known for healthy dining alternatives. Back in February I went there right after it opened and ordered their kale Caesar with garlic lime tofu as sort of a joke, choosing the menu item that I would normally be the least likely to ever order. Yesterday, though, was no joke. I needed nutrition so I would be good to make it to watch the Hogs. As I read the Soups & Salads section, the Quinoa Crunch Bowl caught my attention. It is a mix of quinoa tabbouleh, fresh crunchy vegetables, avocado, arugula, edamame hummus, chipotle vinaigrette, and fireman’s hot sauce.

“That sounds a lot like a Buddha Bowl!” I thought. I liked the sound of the chipotle vinaigrette and the hot sauce, being a fan of spicy.

However, my skepticism kicked in, and I decided I would get an add-on. You can get garlic lime tofu for an extra $2, chicken for $3, mahi for $5, or shrimp for $6. The tofu definitely wasn’t under consideration but I polled my Facebook friends on which of the other three I should add. The general consensus was the mahi, which was kind of the direction I was leaning as well.

Five minutes later the bowl was brought to my table. MIND BLOWN. So much delicious goodness, all twirled up together. The hummus and the spicy ingredients absolutely made this dish work. I loved it. I enjoyed the mahi but it was not necessary. This dish can stand on its own as an entree, without add-ons.

For those of you who are diet-conscious, the Quinoa Crunch Bowl has only 541 calories without the mahi. That’s a good thing because it offset the calories from the numerous PBRs I had during the Arkansas game and the Fireballs I had after Arkansas blocked a field goal in 2OT and then ran it into the end zone for the upset.

Going into the meal, I thought, “If this sucks there are always nachos from Huey’s a few blocks away.” By the end of my bowl I neither wanted nor needed nachos. The bowl was filling and delicious. I will be back again and again for it. Heck, I might go back today.

For those of you who would not normally even consider something like the Quinoa Crunch Bowl, I was the same way for many, many years. Believe me, in this case thinking outside the box is worth it.

Herb-encrusted rack of lamb @ Rizzo’s

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A minor electrical fire closed Rizzo’s for several days last week. Everything was back in shape by Sunday, so Chef Michael Patrick did a rare Sunday opening. It sounded like a good excuse to try something off the new menu, so I headed down there. I got the herb-encrusted rack of lamb, with mango, horseradish demi-glace, and garlic mashed potatoes. How was it? I will borrow a phrase from my friend Jack… it was baaaaaaaad to the bone.

I won’t eat lamb from just any place, because if cooked wrong it can come out gamey. With Chef doing the cooking, though, I knew I had nothing to worry about. It was cooked to perfection. The garlic mashed potatoes were a perfect compliment and went great with the sauce. Absolutely an A+ dinner that I would get again.

Check out Rizzo’s website and take a gander at the new menu. It’s at the corner of South Main and Butler across from the fire station in the arts district. If you haven’t been to Rizzo’s, come find out why many people (including me) have been raving about Michael Patrick’s food for more than a decade.

I’ll try to be back at lunchtime or after work with a news post.

Cheese plate @ Loflin Yard + Monday news

I didn’t make it to Loflin Yard this weekend, although looking back I sure wish I had gone there rather than Wing Fest. My friend Jeremy Miller did, and he took a photo of this gorgeous cheese plate, which I asked for permission to use on my blog.

loflincheeseplateI have not heard of anyone who has had a bad experience at Loflin Yard. What a great fit for the neighborhood. It’s in South End, at 7 West Carolina.

“I don’t know you, but I know you from the blog” strikes again: Yesterday at Wine Race, I was catching up with Bones, one of the big dogs on Squeal Street BBQ. He and I were talking about the Moody Ques’ strong showing at Southaven Springfest the day before. Nearby was my Blind Bear bartender B-RAD, off work early so he could participate in the 4-person wine relay.

“Hey, are you Brad?” asked Bones. “I don’t know you but I feel like I know you from reading Paul’s blog.” They talked for a few minutes and Bones asked, “Do you do BBQ Fest?”

“I’m not on a team but I go visit The Moody Ques and Porkosaurus,” said B-RAD.

“Well, now you have another team to visit,” Bones said. “Squeal Street BBQ. We’re a few booths down the sidewalk from these guys (pointing at me) in Shoulder. Come see us and get some BBQ.”

I think it’s very nice that the Squeal Street members who have never met B-RAD will get to. Be sure to ask him what it’s like to have a well-known local blogger at his bar every Sunday, and if he has any stories about me. :mrgreen:

I haven’t looked at the photos I took yesterday, but I have a feeling they’re not very good. I was more interested in just hanging out with my friends than I was in taking photos. I have to say it was a real pleasure to be part of the Blind Bear family yesterday. The Bear’s Queen of the Vine contestant gave me her hat to wear after the event was over.

2016-04-24 16.33.23Several people commented that the hat looked good on me, so it’s probably coming to BBQ Fest at least one day.

Comedy returns to The Brass Door tomorrow night at 9. Katherine Jessup of DC and Justin Thompson of Atlanta will headline, and also appearing will be Memphis Rap Queen Happi Johnson, and the Oxford, MS Vigilante Comedy duo of Connor King and Sam Lyons.

Here’s a video of Mayor Strickland lip-syncing “Great Balls of Fire.”

The Redbirds play the Round Rock Express at 6:35 tonight at AutoZone Park. Yesterday at the Blind Bear a friend of mine told me how to watch Memphis’ AAA team in style. “Get a club-level ticket for $62,” he told me.

“Sixty-two dollars?” I replied, “To watch a baseball game?” That didn’t start out sounding like a deal to me.

“Yeah, but it’s all-inclusive,” he told me. “You not only get a club seat, but an all-you-can-eat buffet and all-you-can-drink beer and wine. For a 7:00 game, I think the buffet starts at 6 and goes until 8:30. Wine and beer through the end of the 7th inning.” Obviously I wouldn’t want to spend that kind of money every night, but for someone like me who goes to one or two games a year, it’s something to consider.

I got clarification on how the Moody Ques’ 12th place finish in shoulder in Southaven was better than our 9th place finish in Atoka. The Memphis Barbecue Network uses the same scoring system at every event, and our score in Southaven was seven points higher than our Atoka score. So our cooking continues to improve. Some of the most successful BBQ competitors in the park came to our cooks and said, “Keep on doing exactly what you are doing. Do not change a thing. It’s always the luck of the draw which table your blind box ends up on. You can’t help that, but your preparation is on point. You are going to be a serious competitor.”

That’s it for now. It’s Melissa Monday night at Bardog. I will be there after work.

Kale Caesar salad with garlic lime tofu add-on @ LYFE Kitchen

No kidding, I really ate this.
No kidding, I really ate this.

LYFE Kitchen, the new healthy restaurant in the Chisca, opened yesterday. The deal with LYFE is that they serve no dish over 600 calories and are known for having plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans, and those preferring a gluten-free meal. I didn’t get in there for the opening yesterday, but with the rain we had tonight I saw an opening. “Surely the place won’t be too busy in this weather.”

Indeed it wasn’t. I got there about 5:45 and a server asked if I’d ever been to LYFE Kitchen before. I said I hadn’t and she steered me in the direction of Art’s Unfried Chicken, chicken with a side of a mixture of brussels sprouts, butternut squash, dried cranberries, a cashew cream sauce, and Dijon vinaigrette. It sounded appealing but I had already looked at the menu online, and I knew what I wanted. I was determined to get as far outside the box as I could at this place.

“I’ll have the kale Caesar salad, with an add-on of garlic lime tofu,” I told the cashier. He offered to make it gluten-free or vegan if I wanted, but I had my limits. I thought about saying “extra gluten” but I wasn’t sure if that was a real thing. I got a freshly-squeezed classic lemonade to drink.

They gave me a number to take to my table, and I looked around. One thing you might not know is that LYFE serves alcohol. They have a bar with two large flat-screen TVs, with local craft beer on tap and they can make fresh versions of most common cocktails.

Although they are still learning the registers, which is understandable given it is the second day, the service was great. No less than six different employees, including the GM, came up to me. They wanted to be sure I liked my food, and they let me know that if there was anything they could do for me, all I had to do was ask. I definitely felt welcomed there.

As for the salad, let’s just say I thought waaaaayyyyy outside the box ordering it. I’m not opposed to ordering vegetarian items, but usually they are not way too different from what I normally eat. I’ll get the Button Man (veggie slice) at Aldo’s Pizza Pies; a version of one of the burgers made with a veggie patty at Huey’s; the bean nachos at Maciel’s. The kale Caesar with tofu, though, was the exact opposite of my regular diet.

Don’t get me wrong – if you’re into that kind of thing I think you would enjoy it at LYFE. They used quality ingredients including cherry tomatoes, parmesan, broccoli, romaine, and baby kale. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my salad, and the addition of fresh cracked pepper (on every table) helped. It’s just that if anything, I learned that the next time I go to LYFE, I should stick to items more in line with my traditional diet. like the unfried chicken the server recommended, or the Farmhouse burger made with 100% grass-fed beef.

Give LYFE Kitchen a try; I think you will like it. If I had one minor criticism of the place, it would be that it was a bit too warm in there.It wasn’t unbearable but it was mid to upper 70s inside. I know it sounds ridiculous to turn on the air conditioner on February 2, but it was in the 60s and humid outside and the place would have been more enjoyable had it been cooled off a bit.

In the after-LYFE I walked north to Blind Bear and sat at the bar and watched basketball. I didn’t play Tuesday night poker because it would keep me up too late. Walking home, I stopped at City Market and looked in their grab & go. They had two chicken tenders with honey mustard for dipping for $3.49. If you want to have the best chicken tenders EVER, have them as a late-night snack after kale and tofu for dinner.

4 posts in one day. I guess that’s enough. Off to bed.

Blackened catfish Benedict @ Rizzo’s Diner + Sunday news

Ever since the new location opened at South Main and Butler, I have heard good things about the blackened catfish Benedict at Rizzo’s Diner’s Saturday and Sunday brunch. Although I usually stick to the Downtown core on the weekends, beautiful weather yesterday gave me reason to walk south and check it out for myself.

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Growing up, I hated eggs. As an adult I have warmed up to them a little, but still, if I let you cook me eggs in any form other than scrambled/omelet it means I really trust you. If there is anyone I am going to trust to serve me eggs right, it is Chef Michael Patrick. He did not disappoint.

The dish consists of blackened Lake Farms Mississippi catfish topped with spinach, English muffins, poached eggs, and Cajun Hollandaise sauce. It all fits together perfectly and the spinach absolutely makes this dish a hit. I enjoyed every bite and the portion was generous enough that I did not leave the table feeling hungry. No less of a foodie than the Nuh-Uh Girl said this is her favorite Downtown brunch dish and I could not disagree. Easily the best Benedict I have ever had.

I sat at the bar, and bartender Nikki was a complete professional. She made sure I had everything I needed and engaged me in conversation. When I ordered my third mimosa and mentioned I had pre-gamed at Bardog, she said, “Tell me you’re getting an Uber when you leave, or walking.” I told her I lived in the Downtown core and assured her that driving is never on the agenda when I go to bars.

For those who are not into fish, there is a Southern version of the Benedict with slow-roasted pork shank confit. Also, I’m not sure if I have any readers who like Rizzo’s and are vegetarian, but on the off-chance I do I will mention that they also have a vegetarian version of the dish with oven-roasted tomatoes.

Has anyone tried the Bandera Memphis at Rizzo’s? It is pork belly chicharones, Andouille sausage, blackeyed peas, grits, steak tips, a sunny-side-up egg, and fresh avocado. It sounds delicious and a Google Images search produced a couple of yummy-looking photos of this brunch dish.

I drank mimosas but I noticed they had several locally-produced craft beers from Wiseacre on tap.

My conclusion: Why have I not been going to Rizzo’s more often??? Yesterday was my first trip there since May. At the old restaurant I had an excuse for not going; I prefer to sit at a bar, and there wasn’t one. The new location that has been open since March, though, has a beautiful bar. There’s really no valid reason I have been denying myself this wonderful food. I’m putting Rizzo’s brunch on the regular Saturday agenda. It may not happen every week, but when I leave my normal first stop at Bardog, I am going to consider walking down there.

Walking down to Rizzo’s, I saw staff in training at LYFE Kitchen in the Chisca. The quick and healthy restaurant opens tomorrow. Here’s the menu. I want to go in there tomorrow and stand in line to order and ask, “Can I get the chicken nuggets?”

I bet LYFE Kitchen will be a prime yoga pants watching spot.

There is a rare apartment opening in South Main: Three bedroom, three bath, overlooks the Civil Rights Museum. Tile floors, skylight, oversized Jacuzzi tubs and showers in each bathroom, all appliances, washer/dryer, newly painted. Must pass credit check. The landlord is a very interesting person who is looking for the right Spirits to rent his property. $1750/month with all utilities included. Hit me up at paul@paulryburn.com or on Facebook if interested and I will give you the landlord’s phone number.

For those staying in town an extra day after IBC and are looking for some live music, I recommend checking out the Memphis Jazz Orchestra’s rehearsal at Alfred’s at 6. It’s not blues but it is a unique experience. It’s a full orchestra and people swing dance to it. Then hit Blues City at 9:30 for jam band FreeWorld.

“But what do we do until 6?” you’re probably thinking. I am glad you asked. Come join me at the Blind Bear Speakeasy for Hung Over Like a Bear brunch/D-RANKS with B-RAD. The bar opens at 11, and there are brunch and drink specials until 6. It’s on the Main Street Mall, second door down south of Gayoso. The food is great, the service is great, and the regulars are an entertaining bunch indeed. That is where I will be for most of the afternoon. Come join!

 

Chaos Theory Ghost Pepper Sauce

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As you all know, I spend a lot of time at Bardog Tavern. I have seen this sauce, the ghost pepper sauce from Crazy Good, in the racks when people have ordered food, but have never tried it. I have also seen Crazy Good products sold at Memphis Farmers Market. If you walk all the way to the back at the market, like you’re going to the food trucks, there’s a Crazy Good vendor just as you step off the main aisle.

I was thinking about this hot sauce as I walked home tonight. “I wonder if City Market sells it?” City Market, the local grocery store which is a convenient place to duck into when you need to get away, did indeed, and I snagged a bottle. Now I just needed something to apply the ghost pepper sauce to.  The market’s grab & go is one of my regular stops but tonight nothing much in there appealed to me. My quest for food continued,

Eventually, the quest led full circle back to Bardog Tavern, where the Monster Burrito seemed like the perfect food on which to try out my new sauce. I got it to go because the hour was getting late. By default it’s vegetarian but I added shrimp.

The verdict: That sauce is hot but good, but let me warn you of one thing: The bottle does not have a slow-pour mouth! If you do not have a slow, steady hand you are gonna have ghost pepper all over your food! I poured far more than intended. I can handle it because I love spicy food, but I would venture a guess that many can’t!

Give this sauce a try, but only if you’re into spicy. In my opinion it is worth taking a bottle home.

Shrimp & scallop enchiladas @ Agave Maria

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A huge group of us converged on new Downtown Mexican restaurant Agave Maria for our friend Tony’s birthday tonight. We all got menus and as usual I wanted the most expensive item on there. I ordered the shrimp and scallop enchiladas, which came in a skillet, as an entree. It did not disappoint. So rich and luscious and good. I couldn’t finish it.

Friends of mine at the table ordered the Queso Blanco, white cheese dip. Having grown up in Little Rock, widely considered one of the cheese dip capitals of the world, I was expecting to be disappointed, as I usually am with the plain white dip the authentic Mexican restaurants of the Memphis area usually trot out. Agave Maria’s was different and better though; it could hold its own in Little Rock, even challenging Mexico Chiquito, home of the best cheese dip in the world.

They don’t have PBR. :(

PRO TIP: There’s hot sauce on the table in a medicine-looking bottle. If you get the shrimp and scallop enchiladas and aren’t scared, try some. Don’t try too much though or you will regret it.

The restaurant is not even a week old and could be expected to be ironing out some kinks. The service was not a kink. They got a party of 25, not all of whom arrived at the same time, in and out in an hour and a half. I was quite happy with that. The one thing I would suggest they work on is their air conditioning. It was not bad in there but it was about 75, warmer than a lot of patrons like it.

Mainly, though, it was a real treat to hang out with this group of people on a Tuesday evening. Tony, the birthday boy, is a member of my Sunday brunch crew, along with Rahul, Nate, and our Sunday bartender B-RAD and his lovely wife Phaedra. After dinner we walked over to Blind Bear.

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That’s Tony, the birthday boy, in the middle. B-RAD is to his right. Rahul who whines if the Bear does not put enough fruit in his drink is at the far right.

B-RAD claims he’s going to grow his hair out as long as mine. He also tried to take a selfie. Phae ushered him out of there and I can see why.

One of the most classic Sunday Fun Day quotes happened sometime during this conversation (on a Tuesday) but I am not allowed to blog it.

But seriously, Agave Maria. Worth checking out. Give it a try.

It’s 51 minutes into July and I have to renew my now-expired car tags before I go to work in the morning. Guess I should go to bed. Back with a post at lunchtime. Maybe.