Tue update: TCB at Brass Door, Risk City Soiree, Memphis stuck in crummy Big East football division, work at FedExForum, beer news, Blue Man Group kicks off 6-day run at the Orpheum

The Brass Door is starting a new Tuesday night promotion beginning tonight. It will be “TCB,” Tuesday Curry and Beers. After 5 PM, you can have Rogan Josh or Korma with rice for only $8 while enjoying beers with Seamus and Diamond Dave behind the bar. They’ll still have 2 for 1 fish and chips after 5 as well, and happy hour specials from 4 to 7. I love curry and if I didn’t have Blue Man Group tickets, I’d be there tonight for sure. Hopefully next Tuesday!

LaunchMemphis is having a fundraiser, Risk City Soiree, this weekend in celebration of 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Week. It will be this Friday, November 16 at Minglewood Hall. Entertainment will be provided by Fast Planet (recently featured on MTV), Marcela Pinilla, and Danari. Cover is only $5, which is very inexpensive for a fundraiser. Buy tickets here or pay at the door.

The Big East is set to approve two divisions for their 2013-14 football schedule. Memphis will be in the western division, along with Houston, SMU, Temple, Boise State, and San Diego State. We waited all these years to join a major conference and this is what we get??? Looks like we’re still in Conference USA. The Tigers will play all five western division opponents, plus three from the eastern division of Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati, UConn, Central Florida, and South Florida.

The Rendezvous is looking for part-time cashiers to work their stands at FedExForum. Call 901-523-2746 if interested.

Beer news: South of Beale will have Magic Hat’s winter seasonal, Heart of Darkness, in bottles starting tomorrow.

Plans for tonight: BLUE MAN GROUP!!!!! It’s the first night of their 6-day run at the Orpheum and I have tickets. I’m no theater critic but I’ll do the best I can to post a review tomorrow. You NEED to see this show. Check them out at blueman.com if you’re not familiar with their act.

Mon update: Central BBQ extends deal, Memphis teams do well in World Food Championships, FedExForum lands NCAA tourney games, more CA layoffs, Grizzlies food drive, tonight’s Flying Fish Tiger Challenge

Central BBQ has announced that they are extending the Grand Opening specials at the new Downtown location through Thanksgiving. For $10 you can get a half slab of ribs, or for $6 you can get a full order of wings (dine in only).

Two Memphis teams did well in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas. “I Like Big Burgers and I Cannot Lie” qualified by winning Best Memphis Burger Fest in September. They partnered up with Kooky Canuck to become Team Kooky Canuck, and came in fourth in the burger division of the Vegas food championships. Meanwhile, Black Pig, an Ontario-based team that includes Kooky Canuck owners Shawn and Lana Danko, made it to the final table of the overall championships. Their team’s signature steak & lobster dish came in sixth, earning them $6500 in prize money. Congratulations to both teams! For a complete recap, read Seth’s write-up on the Best Memphis Burger blog. Don’t forget that the winning creation of “I Like Best Burgers” is on Kooky Canuck’s menu through Sunday.

Good news for the FedExForum and for Memphis: The facility will get to host games for the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, commonly known as March Madness. Specifically, the South Regional will take place March 27-29, 2014. Glad to see the NCAA scheduling tournament games in our first-class arena. That will bring many tourist dollars to the Downtown area.

Yet ANOTHER round of layoffs at the Commercial Appeal. When will the bleeding stop? It’s a bad time to be in print media. Google now makes more in ad revenue than ALL print media combined.

The Grizzlies will host a food drive at Friday’s game at the FedExForum. Bring a non-perishable food or cash donation and receive a buy-one-get-one voucher to your choice of games later in the month. By the way, CONGRATULATIONS to the Grizzlies on last night’s victory over 2012 NBA champs the Miami Heat! It’s great to see the team starting off strong this year.

If you’re going to the Tigers-North Florida game tonight, hold on to your ticket stub if Memphis wins by at least 20. It will be redeemable at the Flying Fish for a cup of their seafood gumbo.

On my way to Saucer for Pint Nite. Almost all drafts $3 all day Monday.

Have brunch with Santa at the Majestic December 22

If you want to get the kids in the holiday spirit, make a reservation for Brunch with Santa at the Majestic Grille Saturday, December 22. There will be seatings from 10 AM to 1 PM. The Majestic’s excellent regular brunch menu will be available, and there will also be some brunch specials for the kids. There will be hot chocolate and holiday cookies, and classic holiday movies will be playing on the big screen.

As you eat, Santa will walk around and visit the tables. Be sure and bring your camera so you can get a photo of Santa with the kids. Elves from the North Pole and Rockey Redbird will walk around and visit as well.

Brunch with Santa fills to capacity every year, and reservations are required. If you want to go, better call as soon as possible to get the time you want to be seated. Their number is 901-522-8555. The Majestic is on the Main Street Mall, one block north of the Orpheum.

I’ll probably be back after work with a “Monday Update” news post, so check back.

Bleu adds build-your-own pasta menu for lunch

Six months ago on a rare day off, I ventured to Bleu, the restaurant in the Westin Hotel across from FedExForum. I’d heard good things about their Build Your Own Sandwich menu at lunch, and wanted to give it a try. I built a sirloin steak sandwich on a Kaiser roll and was quite impressed.

Now Bleu has taken the build-your-own concept in a different direction: They’ve added a Build Your Own Pasta menu to their lunch menu. Here’s how it works:

For step 1, you choose your protein. Choices include grilled chicken, shrimp, sirloin, clams, grilled sausage, meatballs, mussels, or ground beef. The overall price of the dish varies, depending on which protein you select. Prices range from $8.99 to $10.99.

In step 2, you choose your sauce. Sauces include marinara, alfredo, pink vodka cream, alio, or spicy Southwest cream.

You add your vegetables in step 3. Choices are roasted red pepper, mushrooms, caramelized onions, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, edamame, olives, and eggplant. You can pick up to three.

Choose your pasta for step 4. You can choose spaghetti, cavatappi, penne, orecchiette, or pappardelle. (I’m including Wikipedia links in case some of those pasta types are unfamiliar. I assume spaghetti needs no explanation.)

You have the option of an add-on ($3.99) for step 5. Add-ons include shrimp, mussels, meatballs, ground beef, grilled chicken, clams, grilled sausage, or sirloin.

Drinking alcohol in one’s lunch hour is usually not advisable, but I’d be awfully tempted to ask my server to recommend a glass of wine to go with my pasta masterpiece.

Since I work in Horn Lake, I haven’t had a chance to try the build-your-own-pasta menu yet. However, if it’s as good as Bleu’s BYO Sandwich menu, there is no doubt it will be a big hit.

Shop Girl New York

Yesterday I hung out at Panda Manda’s bar at Bardog until mid-afternoon. At that point I decided it was time for a trip to the Flying Saucer. I paid my tab, then wandered down Scratchy’s Alley and the Main Street Mall.

As I walked down the block of Main between Gayoso and Peabody Place, I looked in the window of Shop Girl New York, the women’s clothing boutique that just moved there from South Main. My friends Karen and Dennis were inside working and waved me in. It is really a beautiful shop. I asked if I could take some photos of the place and they said sure. (Click any photo for larger image)

Ladies, if you like what you see here, why not come visit Shop Girl and treat yourself to something new, or pick up a Christmas present for one of your girlfriends? Shop Girl is in the Pembroke Square building on the Main Street Mall just south of Gayoso, between the Center for Southern Folklore and the Blind Bear.

Sat update: Veteran’s Day news, Best Memphis Burger on Kooky Canuck’s menu next week, Grizzlies Watch Party @ Aldo’s, cook with beer for Thanksgiving

Veteran’s Day will be celebrated Monday, so I’ll start off today with a couple of pieces of Veteran’s Day news. First of all, there will be a parade to honor our veterans down Second Street that morning. It will start at Exchange and go south on Second to Monroe. I don’t see a start time listed but I believe it’s been 10 AM in previous years.

Also, Segway Tours of Memphis will offer 50% off on tours of Memphis to veterans that day. If you want to make a reservation, email MemphisTours@segway.com.

At the Best Memphis Burger Festival on September 30, part of the prize package for the winning team was that the burger would be featured on Kooky Canuck’s menu for one week, provided a restaurant was not the big winner. A private team won, and the burger created by Team Shoemaker Financial (Tal Goldsby, Amy Jenkins, Lauren Cooper and Nich Yatsula) will be on Kooky’s menu from Monday, November 12 to Sunday, November 18. The burger consists of cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, peppercorn mayo, fried egg, avocado, lettuce, and a buttered bun.

There will be a Grizzlies watch party Wednesday night, November 14 at Aldo’s Pizza Pies. The Grizzlies will be at Oklahoma City to play the Thunder that night, and Aldo’s will have the game on its 6 TVs. $2.50 Bud and Bud Light.

Want to cook with beer this Thanksgiving? Check out this list of Thanksgiving recipes with beer. Thanks to Sam Wynne of Flying Saucer corporate (@SaucerSam) for tweeting this list.

Waiting for Bardog to open at 11, when it will be Panda time. Plans after that TBD.

Fri update: James Harden visits the FedExForum tonight, Shop Girl New York opens, Discover the Dinosaurs, Yazoo “Barely a 4K” tomorrow, Blue Man Group next week

Today I have on my Tony Allen “All Heart, Grit, Grind” T-shirt to pay respect to the man who will have to guard the NBA’s leading scorer tonight. James Harden and the Houston Rockets play the Grizzlies tonight at 7 at the FedExForum. We will see if TA, one of the league’s premier defenders, can shut down Harden’s scoring game. Get tickets here. Free magnet schedules to the first 10,000 fans.

Shop Girl New York opens in its new location on the Main Street Mall today. The women’s clothing boutique moved from South Main into the space in between Center for Southern Folklore and Blind Bear. I peeked in there last night when they were having a pre-opening party, and the store looks really nice. Hours are 11-6 today. I’ve already had a couple of people ask if they have tube tops. Probably not this time of year, but they have plenty of other outfits and accessories.

Discover the Dinosaurs will be on tour at the Cook Convention Center this weekend. Come experience up to 60 moving and museum-quality dinosaurs, in scenes that will take you back millions of years to the age of the giant reptiles. Great thing to do with the kids.

The Yazoo “Barely a 4K” is tomorrow. The run starts and ends at Huey’s at Second and Union. Check-in begins at 9 AM. All participants get a cape – that’s right, I said a cape. More details here.

Four days from now, I will be at the Orpheum watching Blue Man Group. This is the most excited I have ever been about an Orpheum show. Their performances combine color, music, rhythm, and storytelling in a manner you probably have not seen unless you have spent extensive time traveling to planets in other solar systems. If you like the musical STOMP!, Blue Man Group’s performance is STOMP! times at least 100.

Last month, I saw Blue Man Group approaching on the calendar. I thought to myself, I’ve got to get some people together to go see it, and I’ve got to convince them that this is totally worth paying for the best seats. Then an email from the Orpheum arrived. I had almost forgotten that I’m on their media list because of this blog. They usually offer me tickets to Tuesday night of their bigger performances. I’ve turned down almost all of their offers, because 1) I’m not into musicals that much; and 2) up until last year Tuesday was my regular trivia night. When they offered Blue Man Group tickets, however, I fumbled all over the keyboard hurrying to type up an RSVP response. I’ll be there Tuesday night and will have a review up sometime Wednesday. I plan to put my extra ticket to very good use too.

When I say Blue Man’s performances include color, I’m not kidding. They call the front seats “poncho seats” and provide ponchos to protect the audience members from getting paint on their clothes.

Thinking about wearing my new royal blue fleece jacket to the performance. Or is that too much like wearing a Van Halen T-shirt to a Van Halen concert?

Plans for tonight: Normally I start at the Saucer, but it will be packed with people pre-gaming on their way to the FedExForum. Hmmm. Blind Bear? Bardog? No, those places will be packed with Downtown Dining Week diners. That leaves the Silly Goose, which is not on the DDW list. So I’ll hit the Goose about 6, then migrate over to the Saucer after the Grizzlies crowd leaves for the game at 7. Got a pumpkin ale I want to try, and I’m going to overlook the fact that it’s expensive. Plans after that TBD.

Thur update: Cordelia’s open house tonight, Meet the Bartender, Central BBQ celebration, Green Beetle breakfast menu, Capt. Keith on National Stout Day, post-election statistical analysis shows bad news for Republicans, Instagram profile

Miss Cordelia’s is having an open house tonight, starting at 6 PM. Lots of food will be available for sampling at the Mud Island grocery, so you can start thinking about what you want to eat this holiday season. There will be massages from Harbor Day Town Spa too. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up. I bet she hates it that this is scheduled during Downtown Dining Week.

I don’t read the CA that often, but today I was surfing its site and noticed that Mollie Fontaine’s own Bjarni was profiled in the dining section’s Meet the Bartender feature. Good article, good bartender, good guy.

Lots happening at Central BBQ’s Downtown location this weekend. At 4 PM tomorrow, Friday, November 9, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening. (It’s been open under a soft opening for several weeks now.) The Greater Memphis Chamber and the Convention & Visitors Bureau will be on hand to celebrate. Saturday they will host a parking lot party with live music, and food and beverage specials will continue into Sunday.

Wondering what’s on the Green Beetle’s breakfast menu? Here’s a pic.

Today is National Stout Day. Learn more about that style of beer, and why it is being celebrated with its own day, on Capt. Keith’s Beer Blog. I agree, it is a lot less silly than “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” If you use the Untappd app, check in at any Flying Saucer today to get your National Stout Day badge.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver has a very interesting statistical analysis of why the Republicans lost almost all the swing states in the presidential election. Couple of interesting facts in the article: 1) Ohio, widely forecast to be the tipping-point state in the election, was not: Colorado was. 2) Romney could have won the popular vote by 2 percentage points and still lost the election. He would have picked up Ohio and Florida in that scenario, but Colorado and Virginia would have remained blue and got Obama to 285 in the Electoral College. Silver’s conclusion: Perhaps Republicans should moderate their tone on social issues, so they can be more competitive in the swing states.

My Instagram profile page went live this afternoon. Pretty cool. If you choose to view it, I hope you like pictures of beer, pictures of places that serve beer, pictures of people drinking beer at those places, and pictures of people who serve beer at those places. And before you claim that sounds rather boring, at least it’s not a bunch of pictures of kids.

Time to go drink beer at the usual spots. Back tomorrow.

Hibernation Chili @ Blind Bear

Ever since I was a little kid, chili has been one of my favorite dishes. It’s considered a winter-warmer type of food, but I can eat it when it is 105 outside as well. Good chili should be rich, thick, meaty, and spicy. Chili may technically be considered a soup, but if done right I should not think “this is a soup” while I’m eating it.

Wendy’s makes mediocre chili. It’s very watery and has the consistency of a soup. In addition, I have to ask for a few hot sauce packets to doctor the chili and make it spicy enough for my tastes. Because it’s inexpensive and easily accessible during my lunch hour, I overlook Wendy’s chili’s shortcomings. However, if I’m going to go out to a restaurant or bar and spend $5-8 on chili, it needs to be better than what I could get out of a can at Kroger.

Up until now, there have been two chilis that I have long considered the gold standard of Downtown. One is at Bardog Tavern. I ate it many times on top of the Dog of the Day there, but it wasn’t until Andy Wise of Action News 5 and Seth of Best Memphis Burger judged it to be the best in the city that I ordered Bardog’s chili on its own. Rich and satisfying, the way chili should be.

The other “gold standard” chili for me was the Majestic’s chili. Equally rich and satisfying. However, the Majestic’s chili is available only as the soup of the day on Wednesdays in cold-weather months.

When the Blind Bear first opened, they offered a turkey chili. It was not terrible but it was not up there with Bardog and the Majestic. It was plenty meaty, but the texture was watery. There was plenty of spice, but it seemed to fight against the flavor of the turkey rather than enhance it. Given the number of other tasty offerings on the menu, the turkey chili was never one of my go-to menu items.

A couple of weeks ago, I came in for some late-night food and asked for a menu. I noticed that the turkey chili was gone, and two new chilis – Hibernation Chili and Polar Bear Chili – appeared in its place. I remembered that a couple of months prior, co-owner Colin and kitchen manager Michael Bean had won third place in a charity chili cook-off, and I wondered if their recipes had made it onto the menu. The Hibernation Chili is the traditional beef-and-bean, I was told, while the Polar Bear was a white-bean chicken chili. I ordered a bowl of the Hibernation Chili.

This is not the greatest photo I’ve ever posted, but it was taken in a dark speakeasy, and chili is not exactly the most photogenic food.

Now this was everything chili should be. Thick and meaty. Not one bite of it made me think “I’m eating a soup.” The spice was not overpowering, but it was definitely there. I enjoyed every bite, and was very happy with my decision to order a bowl rather than the smaller cup.

Since discovering it, I’ve been ordering the Hibernation Chili nearly every time I go to the Blind Bear hungry, often with a side of their excellent pepper jack mac ‘n’ cheese. One day I placed my order, and Jamie told me, “It will be a little while until we can have the Hibernation Chili out, because we have to heat up a new pot. Would you like to try the Polar Bear Chili instead?” I did, and it was excellent too. Loaded with chicken and white beans, thick consistency, spice on par with the Hibernation Chili, and the spice complemented the taste of the chicken and beans well. I would recommend either one, and hold both of them on par with the chilis I’d previously definited as the gold standard Downtown.

Insider tip: If you order a bowl of either chili to go, they don’t have a to-go container the size of the bowls for those who dine in. So they will give you two to-go cups of it. Eat one as a late-night snack, then heat the other up in the microwave the next day for lunch.

One thing I did not do last night at the Blind Bear, which I usually do on Wednesdays, was play trivia. At the time it started around 8:30, I was the only member of my team there. A quick check of Foursquare revealed that my teammates had an excellent reason for not showing up: They were taking advantage of Downtown Dining Week at McEwen’s and Itta Bena. With DDW values only available 7 of the 366 days of the year, I certainly can’t blame them! And besides, with chili, PBR, a bar stool, and the Grizzlies, I was perfectly content. By the way, the Blind Bear itself is offering a Downtown Dining Week deal: One appetizer, two entrees, and two banana puddings for $20.12.

Slow news day, but if I hear of anything this afternoon, I’ll do a “Thursday update” post after work.

Wed update: Blind Bear poker table arrives/Sunday Omaha game, more Beetle breakfast info, Stache for Cash, beer news, Nate Silver goes 50 for 50

The Blind Bear’s custom-made poker table has arrived, with the speakeasy’s name etched into black felt. They will break it in this Sunday with a game of Omaha. You can click the link to learn how to play this Hold’em variant. Basically, there are tons of straight draws, but they’re probably no good if three of a suit are on board, making a flush possible. But the flush is probably no good if the board is paired, putting out the possibility of a full house. Omaha is usually played pot-limit rather than no-limit, which is good because it means Michael Bean can’t go all-in every hand. Free to play, starts at 6:30 PM.

Earlier this week I posted that the Green Beetle will start serving breakfast at 7 AM, effective today. Owner Josh Huckaby messaged me with a clarification – breakfast will only be served Monday through Friday for now. If it appears there is demand for breakfast on weekends, they will consider adding it at a later point.

Stache for Cash: If iGive, the Church Health Center’s monthly donor program, attracts 25 new members by November 21, CHC friend and donor Cameron Peterson will shave his awesome mustache. Details here.

Beer news: Starting on February 2, 2002, Stone Brewery tapped its first in a series of Stone Vertical Epic Ale, with subsequent beers in the series to be aged one year, one month, and one day after the previous one. So the second beer was 03-03-03, then 04-04-04, and so on. The final beer in the series, Stone Vertical Epic 12-12-12, will be tapped at both the Downtown and Cordova Flying Saucer at 12 noon on Wednesday, December 12. The Saucer will also tap a keg of Vertical Epic 11-11-11 from the bar’s cellar. In addition, there will be a toast of Unibroue La Fin du Monde to celebrate the Mayan calendar’s prediction of the end of the world in December.

Congrats to Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight.com website for calling 50 out of 50 states correctly in the presidential election. Last election he got 49 out of 50 correct, only missing Indiana. This time, he had Florida as red until the morning of the election – when his statistical analysis just barely flipped it to blue. Sure enough, it looks like Obama just barely squeaked out a win in the Sunshine State. His excellent neutral analysis is redefining political punditry. FiveThirtyEight, a blog on the New York Times site, accounted for 20% of all NYT site traffic as the election drew near.

Time to go drink some beer. Saucer first, then Blind Bear for trivia at 8.