Sunday brunch: Salad bar @ Texas de Brazil

On Sunday, a friend who recently moved out of town came back for a visit, so the brunch crew decided to celebrate with a visit to Texas de Brazil. On previous trips, I’d always treated the salad bar as an afterthought, a few quick bites before I moved on to the grilled meat. This time I decided to make the salad bar the main event. Since it’s brunch, they have bacon, sausage, eggs with cheese and au gratin potatoes as hot dishes available on the salad bar. Having done it, some tips:

  • Every Sunday they have lobster bisque as the soup. But don’t think of it as a soup. Think of it as dipping sauce. I dipped the bacon in lobster bisque, then topped it off with a piece of hand-shaved Parmesan before eating. I dipped the sausage in lobster bisque. I dipped the jalapenos in lobster bisque. There are very few things on the salad bar that don’t taste better dipped in lobster bisque.
  • The au gratin potatoes are not to be missed. Spoon on extra sauce – this is another dipping sauce.
  • Mozzarella balls are a must-eat.
  • Same goes for the portabella mushrooms.
  • I love the whole jalapeno peppers, but they range from not spicy at all to super hot. You never know what you’re getting. Proceed with caution until you take the first bite.
  • I heard the orzo was outstanding but was too full to go back for another plate to try it.
  • There’s asparagus near the end of the salad bar. Save room.
  • Get a huge bowl of the chocolate mousse for dessert. If you’re one of those people who thinks, “I just want a little,” you’ll re-think it once you’ve tasted it. Fill’er up so you don’t have to go back.

Service was PHENOMENAL. Our server, David, apparently recognized us as a group who had been in before, and right as we sat down he told us he had mimosas on the way for everyone, plus two extra carafes in case we needed refills and he wasn’t around. None of us ever had an empty glass. Even after I paid my tab, he noticed that my friends were taking longer to drink their mimosas than I was (what’s wrong with these people?) and got me another one. The $3 unlimited mimosa has got to be the best brunch drink deal Downtown.

Even though I skipped the grilled meats this time, I learned something from my friends. Don’t be shy about asking for the piece you want. From now on I’m going to ask for the flank steak and the picaƱha (special house sirloin) rare, and the rest of the cuts of beef medium rare. I grew up in a house where “well done” was the normal request, and I didn’t realize until I was an adult how much flavor I was missing. That said, if you prefer well done, tell your server and they can make it happen (although, I advise at least giving medium well a chance).

Quote of the day came from my friend Frank, who said, “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.” Now that’s profound.

Next time I’m going back to meat, but the salad bar was more than a meal and lived up to its reputation for sure. Great brunch, TdB!

Master of the Universe

Last night, I gathered with friends at the Flying Saucer to celebrate the completion of my 5th plate.

In addition to getting the purple plate on the wall and a $125 bar tab for my plate party, I got a couple of other benefits. For one, I got a “5iver” T-shirt for completion of my 5th time through the Ring of Honor. I also got this card:

When you make it through 5 times, you become a Master of the Universe and are given an M.O.U. card. The card entitles you to several benefits:

  • You don’t have to wait until Wednesday at 7 PM to buy the glass of the week
  • You are guaranteed a spot at any Saucer beer dinner
  • You receive a complimentary tasting card at any Saucer beer festival

Thanks to all my friends who came out for the party. It was a good night indeed.

Later in the evening, some of my friends went to South Main for crappyoke night. Obviously I was not going to do that, so I remained at the Saucer, and discovered I was not the only one having a plate party:

Congrats to my friend Mark, the best rapper alive, on the completion of his first plate. I also got to meet Chris Vernon of the Chris Vernon Show on AM 730. Good talking to you Chris.

If all goes as planned today, I should have a food-themed blog post later today or tomorrow. It’s Sunday Fun Day! I saw on Twitter that if you’ve used the term “Sunday Fun Day” more than 3 times in your life, you’re officially an alcoholic. I guess most of Downtown has been diagnosed, then.

Chicago-style slice @ Pizza Italia

This afternoon I walked up to the new Pizza Italia location at 164 Union, inside the Benchmark Hotel. I got a slice of Chicago-style pizza, with extra beef and extra pepperoni, to go. When the guy working there found out I lived so close by, he gave me a cup of marinara. “40 seconds in the microwave,” he said. “If you reheat the pizza, use the stove. But the marinara you can put in the microwave.” Pizza was good, cheesiness in every bite.

They now deliver to Downtown in addition to doing carry-out. Their number is 901-522-1818.

It’s illegal for Downtown restaurants with valet parking to use cones to block spaces

Excellent investigative work by Richard Morgan of the Commercial Appeal, who found out that it’s completely, totally illegal for valet parkers at Downtown restaurants to use cones to block spaces. Each violation of a blocked public parking space is a $21 fine. The city has been missing out on that revenue. Hopefully the law will be enforced now that it has been clarified that the cones are clearly violations.

This month I corrected a mistake I’ve been making for two years

Since March 2009 I’ve had roughly a 20 minute commute home from work every day. Up until this month, I drove home in silence, with nothing to do but think about the evening’s plans and fret about Memphis traffic.

Earlier this month, it occurred to me, “Memphis has two of the best sports talk radio stations anywhere, at AM 560 and 730. I know quite a few of the people who work at both stations. I see them at Max’s Sports Bar and the Saucer. I follow them on Twitter and occasionally have conversations with them. How come it’s never occurred to me to turn the radio on?”

My drive home has been much better since. I tend to listen to The Sports Bar on 560 for a few days, then flip over to the Chris Vernon Show on 730 for a few days, then flip back. Both are excellent and have provided a lot of insight into the Tigers and Grizzlies that I previously had been missing out on.

Yesterday I heard a neat story about Shane Battier on the Chris Vernon Show. During his first run in Memphis, it was Battier bobblehead night and Shane wanted some extras for his friends and family. They didn’t have enough extras to give him, so they gave Shane the phone number of the bobblehead maker. The maker said they’d be happy to accept an order, but the minimum order was 1,500. So Battier placed the order, gave away about 50, and has 20 cases of bobbleheads stored away in his closets.

If you’re looking to ease the boredom of the afternoon commute, check out Memphis’ great sports talk radio.

I’d rather watch this video over and over for 4 hours than go to karaoke tonight

The trouble with people who like karaoke is, they don’t understand that people who don’t like karaoke REALLY, REALLY don’t like karaoke.

A few of my friends go to a karaoke night on Saturdays. They’ve been texting and tweeting in recent weeks, trying to convince me to come join them. Last Saturday, one of them tweeted that someone was about to do Shatner’s rendition of “Rocketman.”

Really? You’re telling me that someone is about to do a crappy rendition of a crappy rendition of a crappy song, and you think that’s going to persuade me to show up? Might as well tell me John Calipari and Bruce Pearl are there and are about to sing a duet. You know how I love those guys.

This week, I’ve been watching the regular attendees plan their Saturday karaoke night on Twitter. No kidding, they talk about it all week. They were planning a duet, and while they couldn’t agree on a song to sing, they wanted it to end with “jazz hands.” I thought I’d heard the last of jazz hands when Joey got fired as a chorus director on Friends. I mean, seriously, Saturday nights are devolving to the point that I wonder if Midtown hipsters will begin showing up to karaoke in an attempt to be kitschy and ironic.

Last week I was offered free PBR to go down there. I refused and ordered another full price beer at the Saucer. Mind you, the Saucer is no prize itself on Saturday nights, full of Affliction shirts and popped collars. Beats karaoke though.

One of the people who tries to persuade me to attend is a professional lobbyist, so I’ll put this in terms maybe he can understand: He’s about as likely to convince me to go to karaoke as he is to convince me to make a donation to the Tea Party.

If Rocketman and jazz hands are your idea of an enjoyable Saturday night, by all means go. Me, I’ll be elsewhere.

New nail salon about to open

I just got back from my morning run to Walgreens for Mountain Dew. As I walked home I noticed a new sign being put up next door to me at 8 S. Main. A new business is about to open there – Classy Nail Salon and Spa. I peeked inside and it looks nearly ready to go, and may be opening as soon as today. Hours are listed as 10 AM – 7 PM Monday-Saturday.

Misleading headline

Today on my afternoon break, I decided to pull up ESPN’s NCAA basketball home page and catch up on hoops news. There I saw this headline:

NCAA puts Cal basketball on 2 years’ probation

… and I got real, real, real excited. The biggest douchebag in college sports is finally getting what’s coming to him, I thought. I happily clicked on the article

and discovered that by “Cal,” they meant California.


Fri update: Welcome home, Schwab for sale, Bardog’s chili is best, Middle East, Lansky hiring, restaurant roll call and more

Happy Friday! The big news, of course, is that Shane Battier is once again a Memphis Grizzly. People have been debating the pros and cons of the trade, but I for one am very happy to have him back. Welcome home, Shane. I hope you soon get that Soul Burger you’ve been craving.

There’s a press conference at the FedExForum at 3 today to welcome Battier and fellow new Grizzly Ish Smith to the team. All are invited.

Potentially sad news: A. Schwab is for sale. This could mean the end of the 135-year-old “dry goods” store on Beale Street. If you have never visited this store, GO IMMEDIATELY. There is no other store like this in the world. Authentically Memphis and a true throwback to the dry goods stores in which our great-great-grandparents shopped.

Congratulations to Bardog Tavern, whose chili was selected as best chili in Memphis by a panel of chefs. Congratulations to Chef Demitrie and everyone at the friendly neighborhood bar.

Rhodes professor Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba has started a blog, The Future Faces of War, to promote her new book. If you want some insight on how demographics have contributed to the uprisings in the Middle East, check it out.

Lanksy 126, the contemporary denim boutique in the Peabody, is hiring for retail positions, full and part time. The Lansky family would be fantastic people to learn from, in terms of both sales and customer service skills. They’d prefer candidates with previous retail experience. Hit them up at if you’d like to apply.

Wendy of Wendy Eats has started a restaurant roll call on the right sidebar of her blog. Good resource to have to quickly access Memphis restaurant web sites.

Last night, instead of going out right after work, I stayed at home, raised the blinds, and watched the storm blow through. I watched the first sheets of rain come over the river, smash into the Residence Inn down the street, and then blow sideways into the rest of Downtown. I wish I’d had the camera in video mode. Would’ve been neat to capture. Never lost power, but the cable modem went out a little after 7. I’d been thinking about entering a 6:45 tournament on PokerStars. It was a good thing I didn’t.

Hung out at the Saucer later in the evening. Apologies to a couple of my friends for hovering right behind you the entire time, instead of taking a seat at the bar like a normal person would. But, if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have.

Plans for tonight: Not sure. It’s Trolley Night on South Main. May do that, may just hang out at the bars in the core. Beer will be involved at some point; that much I know.