Hitting the reset button

If you came here expecting a recap of all the exciting things I did last night, you’re about to be disappointed. Last night I realized I hadn’t had a good, full night’s sleep free from alarm clocks in a long, long time. I decided to sacrifice my Saturday night to make that happen. If it had been a warm summer Saturday night I’d be mad at myself for that decision, but missing a chilly 45-degree night is not something I mind too much. It was so nice to wake up about 7 and not need or want to sleep any more. I feel fantastic today. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually kind of wish I was at work, because I would be on fire today. Oh well. I’ll be on fire for Sunday Fun Day instead.

Not much news to report today. One of Brass Door’s regulars told me they may start a pint night soon. If I hear more news about that I’ll post it. Also, I heard that not only Amanda will be dressing up in tiny green shorts at Bardog for St. Pat’s, but Jeannie as well. That certainly sounds like a better plan than going to Beale Street and looking at a stuffed goat on a platform.

Although, a note to new Memphians: If you haven’t seen The Raising of the Goat at Silky’s on St. Pat’s, you do need to go down there and see it at least once. There’s this stuffed goat. And they put it on a platform and raise the platform. And people drink. Yeah. Anyway, you’re not a Memphian until you’ve seen it.

I see that Double J SmokeHouse and Saloon has their website up. Check it out to see the menu, an entertainment schedule, and the story of how the place came to be. They have an article about Big Stamm’s Ribs which are served at the Double J. I also wasn’t aware they they have a party room that you can rent out which holds up to 150. They do catering too.

Congratulations to the Tigers on winning the Conference USA title outright with a thrashing of Tulsa yesterday. We’re the #1 seed in the Conference USA tournament this week. Even if we don’t win the tournament, we’re almost certainly an at-large team in the Big Dance.

Are any bars opening early for the C-USA final on Saturday, assuming Memphis makes it that far? The usual start time is 10:30 I think. If you’re opening early, shoot me an email at paul@paulryburn.com and I’ll make a list. I’m going to have to figure out where I want to watch the game. I usually start Saturday at Bardog, but it doesn’t open until 12 and it isn’t the best venue for watching sports on TV.

My plan for today is to celebrate the fact that I don’t observe Lent. I can eat and drink whatever I want, and I will. I’ll kick it off at Majestic at 11 for mimosas. Unless I find a good reason to alter plans, probably Saucer and Bear after that.

I didn’t make it to Double J last night but…

My BBQ teammate Otto did. He got the BBQ sandwich. Here’s a pic.

“Damn fine sandwich,” he tweeted. He said he had some PBR with it and the total was only $9, which is a really good value. One of my other BBQ teammates posted a pic of a steak, baked potato, and asparagus that he ordered (sorry, forgot to ask him for permission to use it here) and it looked delicious too. I have got to get in there SOON and try their food. All these years, when tourists have asked me the best place to go Downtown for BBQ that’s walkable/trolleyable, I’ve always said Blues City. I have a feeling I may have a different recommendation after trying the vittles at the Double J.

I want to apologize to Jeff, John and everyone at the saloon for not making it by for opening night. The thing is, I’m just not a huge fan of opening night crowds. I prefer to try new places for the first time when they’re not too busy and I can enjoy the place and get a feel for it. Jeff and John have a ton of friends so I knew the Double J would be packed to the rafters last night. I started the evening at my usual happy hour spot, the Saucer, and was 50/50 on heading south. Then I overheard one of the most annoying people I’ve ever met say he was about to “check out the new spot,” and that was enough to convince me to wait for another night. Besides, I’d already seen the place at the meet & greet last Friday. Will be in there soon, I promise.

I texted friends who’d checked in at the Blind Bear and confirmed they’d be there for a while. As I drank my first beer, we started to hear reports of a dead horse at Main and Union. There were all kinds of rumors flying around that it had been hit by a trolley, by a car, etc. I told the doorman I’d be right back and walked that way.

Sure enough, there was a dead horse lying in the Union trolley stop. About 10 police cars were there and they had all of Main Street taped off at Union. It was one of the carriage horses that are used to give people tours of Downtown. It did not appear that the horse had been struck by a vehicle. There was a trolley waiting for Main to re-open, but it was a distance away.

I posted the news to Facebook. One of my Facebook friends, who is a carriage driver, said that she believed the horse had an aneurism. She said that he was one of the younger horses in the stable. Just like people sometimes die young – like that conservative/Tea Party guy who died of a heart attack at 43 earlier this week – sometimes horses die young too. Another of my Facebook friends, who works at the FedExForum, joined the conversation and offered a fork lift if they needed a way to move the horse. That may sound silly but I doubt Memphis has had a standard plan for horse removal since 1910 or so. Anyway, I thought that was an extremely classy move for the Forum folks to make that offer. They do a lot more to be good neighbors Downtown than most people realize.

I stayed at the Bear for a while, then timed my walk home to get to City Market just before close. They had Nawabi Gosh spicy beef in the prepacked food refrigerator. SCORE! I took it home and had a good late-night snack. I’ve decided that 11:30-midnight is the dead zone for eating in the Downtown core on the weekends – it’s the period when City Market is closed and Cockadoos has not yet opened. Of course, when I say that, I overlook the fact that there are a number of other good places to eat nearby that are open during that time frame.

Plans for today: None really, other than I need to stop by Tater Red’s. My NO BUMS shirt has a tear in it so I need a new one. Of course, there will be plenty of beer involved too, and possibly a trip south to Double J.

Fri update: Unveil Downtown, Itta Bena pics, Double J looking for Caddy, Ladies Night In at eighty3, Verno’s first Sirius show

Attention artists: Work has begun on a walkable art experience in Downtown Memphis called “Unveil Downtown.” 20 artists will be given exhibit space in makeshift galleries in 20 active shops and restaurants for 20 days. Each selected artist will be able to exhibit and sell up to 10 pieces, and keep 100% of the proceeds. Artists will be required to donate one piece to the Downtown Neighborhood Association to be part of a silent auction. Artist proposals due March 23; selections made March 30. Silent auction May 25, and work will be exhibited June 1-20. More information here.

Itta Bena, the restaurant on the third floor of BB King’s, has posted photos of their food and of the restaurant’s elegant atmosphere. If you’ve never been in Itta Bena before, take a look at what you’ve been missing.

Double J SmokeHouse and Saloon is looking for a 1960s-70s Cadillac convertible. They want to put their logo and longhorns on it. If you know of one for sale, contact the saloon. If you don’t know how to contact the saloon, contact me (paul@paulryburn.com) and I’ll pass it on.

Ladies, if you’re not sports fans, here’s something you can do while your guys are watching the first night of March Madness. On Thursday, March 15, eighty3 will host Ladies Night In, a four-course dinner utilizing chocolate in every course. Here’s the menu:

Grilled shrimp basted in chocolate mole with crispy kohlrabi slaw on a mushu corn pancake

The Salad
White chocolate-topped scallop on raspberry-dressed micro greens

The Main
Mocha-crusted roasted beef tenderloin with bittersweet chocolate demi
Pan-seared sea bass with white chocolate beurre blanc and sweet potatoes

The Flight
A tasting of chocolates (chili, salted and semi-sweet) with fresh berries and cheese

Cost is $59 per person. Make reservations for your group of friends by calling 901-333-1224 or visiting www.eighty3memphis.com. 83 Madison Ave.

If you’re a fan of the Chris Vernon Show on Yahoo! Sports 730, his first show for Sirius/XM will be Sunday night, 7-10 PM, on Sirius/XM College, channel 91. As with his main show, Roser will be the producer.

All right. After the day I’ve had, I deserve a BEER! Weather is looking like it will hold up, so I’ll try to make it south to Double J tonight.

Double J SmokeHouse and Saloon opens today at 4 PM

Look what's waiting for you at the Double J. They posted this photo of their smoker this morning.

The waiting is finally over. Today at 4 PM, Double J Smokehouse and Saloon opens its doors to the public. They’ll kick things off with an atmosphere of fun, excitement, great food, and cold beer. Demitrie and his staff will be in the kitchen, with Jeff and John on the smoker.

From 10 PM to 2 AM the Eddie Smith Band will play the Front Porch Stage with special guest Russell Scott. They were the band who played the meet & greet last Friday, and if you weren’t there, let me assure you, they were excellent. Also, you never know who might come up on stage to sit in with them.

Parking is not a problem. There’s street parking, the Double J lot, and at night there are plenty of spaces available in the nearby Civil Rights Museum lot.

Really excited to have this new venue. Not only will it be a place where the locals feel comfortable, but I suspect it will draw people from other parts of Memphis who otherwise wouldn’t come down here. I can even see it becoming a regional attraction.

As they said on their Facebook page, “Hollar and swallar!” Weather permitting, I’ll pop in there sometime tonight. If not tonight, sometime this weekend.

Recap: River City Brewers Festival ticket giveaway

Last night I had a good time giving away tickets to River City Brewers Festival. I got to the secret location about 6:45, having promised to reveal where I was at 7. However, I put out a couple of hints early:

“At the giveaway location. Just ordered a mug of PBR.” I wondered if that would send people running to Bardog or Blind Bear, both of which were incorrect guesses.

“I used to listen to Turbo 350 here. And watch cartoons with Maurice. And wrestling with NightHawk.” That was a hint for long-time readers of my blog, who were around in the 2004-06 era.

At 7 I revealed my location – the Beale Street Tap Room. I had 5 pairs of tickets to the afternoon session, and 5 to the evening session. By 7:25 I had given away the last pair.

One person guessed my location without any hints, and was there waiting on me. I wondered if that would happen. Given that the festival is run by River City Management, it made sense to park myself in one of their venues, and it’s no secret that I like the Tap Room. The hints I posted helped three more people figure out where I was before 7.

I’m sure it will surprise no one to learn that the Nuh-Uh Girl showed up for free tickets. She normally works out in her basement gym after work, but last night she conveniently decided to jog around Downtown instead. She didn’t get fooled by the “mug of PBR” clue and was the second person to find me. Within one minute of being handed the tickets, she asked if there would be food at the festival.

I wasn’t surprised that many of the tickets were claimed by people I knew. If they didn’t figure out the exact location, they were able to guess approximately where I’d be within a block or two. They were then able to run to the Tap Room and claim tickets when I made the announcement. Congratulations to Jake, Clay, Ian, Katie Mac, Dave, and Otto on their ticket wins. There were two people I didn’t know by name who got tickets. The tenth person, I’m pretty sure, had no idea there was a giveaway going on, but one of the winners told him and he came over and asked for tickets. Hey, whatever works.

I have confirmed that there were people waiting on me at the Saucer, the Blind Bear, and the Brass Door. I had to delay my usual 6 PM start time at the Saucer, because I knew if I went there, people would follow me to the giveaway location at 7.

Fun night. Congrats to all who won. If you didn’t win tickets, you can buy them here.

Not Downtown… but too good not to post

As many of you know, I work in Horn Lake, in Mississippi a couple of miles from the Tennessee border. The bad news is that I’m too far away from Downtown to hit my favorite restaurants down here for lunch. (And some days it kills me when they post their specials.) The good news is, there are some good restaurants not far from where I work, including a new one called Memphis Barbecue Co.

Memphis Barbecue Co. is the only restaurant in the country that has two world championship pitmasters cooking. Their trophies from past BBQ Fests are prominently displayed as you walk in. Today was my third visit there and I decided to try their Big Honkin’ Potato, a baked potato topped with pulled pork, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and green onions. “It’s just a potato,” I thought. “What if it’s small and not enough for lunch? I better order a cup of red beans and rice too.”

When the potato came out, it was immediately clear that it was more than enough to eat by itself.

It would probably be accurate to say that the difference between the size of the Big Honkin’ potato and a normal baked potato is comparable to the difference in size between a goose and a duck. (We have geese and ducks in our pond at work, so I’ve been thinking in those terms lately.) This thing was just HUMONGOUS. It’s hard to tell in the photo above since it’s an overhead shot, but the potato was piled about two inches above the top with pulled pork.

Now, the thing is, there are a lot of BBQ restaurants in Memphis, and people go to most of them and comment, “Well… it was good… but not as good as what you’d get at BBQ Fest.” Let me tell you… having been on teams for five years and about to make it six, having eaten my own team’s food was well as that of other teams: Memphis Barbecue’s pulled pork is as good as what you get at the festival. In fact, it’s better than what I’ve been served by quite a few teams. I truly enjoyed my potato, although it was so big that I could only finish a little more than half.

At $7.99, this is an outstanding value. For a dollar more you can get the same potato topped with pulled chicken, brisket, or smoked turkey. You don’t see too many Memphis-area BBQ restaurants that have brisket on the menu, but they do.

If you find yourself in the I-55/Goodman Road area, I highly recommend you try this place. If you’re heading south from Memphis, exit at Goodman, turn right, then turn right again onto Interstate Blvd., taking you into the shopping center with Kroger and Target. Turn right at the street behind Arby’s, and you’ll see Memphis Barbecue on the right.

Thur update: Win beer fest tickets, Ignite Memphis tonight, Live from Memphis Music Video Showcase, job fair, Soul Train party and more

All aboard the Soul Train at the Silly Goose tonight at 9.

In case you missed last night’s post, I’m doing a ticket giveaway to the River City Brewers Fest tonight. I’m going to hide in a location somewhere Downtown, and at 7 I’ll tweet and post to Facebook where I am. First people to find me get their choice of a pair of tickets to the afternoon or evening session. I have five pairs for each. A few minutes before 7 I’ll tweet/Facebook post a hint or two; if they help you find me before 7, the early bird gets the worm!

I hate it that I have to do the giveaway on the night of Ignite Memphis 4, especially since my friend Darrin is speaking on theme parks. However, there’s really no good day in the next 10 days or so for me to get this done, after tonight.

The Live from Memphis Music Video Showcase starts today and continues through Sunday. A weekend pass for $25 gets you in all the events, and there are a lot of them. Art exhibits. A dance party. Showcases by Visible Music College, Neosoulville, and Goner Records. An award show. Panel discussions. Premier of the 48 Hour Music Video Launch videos. Much, much more.

Important info to remember: If Best Memphis Burger blogger Seth comes in your restaurant and orders wings, he’d like them without feathers, please.

Need a job? Mahaffey Tent is holding a job fair March 10.

Plans for tonight: I’ll be “somewhere” at 7; Saucer around 8; then at 9 I’m headed over to the Silly Goose for their “Soul Train” party. Looking forward to hearing what DJ Cody has in store for us tonight.