Saturday, February 5, 2011
Don't judge a book by its cover. This is the phrase that best describes Kwik Chek, the Mediterranean/Korean restaurant that's mysteriously located inside a Madison convenience store. Click here for their menu. It is owned by the same people who once owned Petra in Midtown. I've heard about this place for a while and have just never gotten around to trying it. However, this past Thursday I finally got to try it. DELICIOUS! I ordered supposedly the most common favorite, Bi Bim Bop (see pic below). It's a Korean dish of white rice surrounded by stir fried vegetables and marinated beef topped with spicy Korean sauce and a sunny side up egg (chicken or tofu can be substituted for Beef upon request). You order it at the counter and they bring it to you at your table sizzling in a stone bowl. You immediately stir it all around so the egg can cook fully and the Korean sauce evenly coats all the veggies and meat. I ordered mine with chicken and next time may ask them to go lightly on the Korean sauce. It was just a tad too spicy for my taste, but, nonetheless, full of flavor!! I LOVED it! Their sandwiches also look divine. I highly suggest you go there soon!! This charming and endearing shop earns 3.5 stars in my books.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Click here and you'll find our first review of Mollie Fontaine's. You'll notice that I never rated it. I've only been to Mollie Fontaine's for drinks and at that point had never tasted their scrumptious tapas. Now, I can say I have indulged in a few of their yummy small plates and am ready to rate :) This past Thursday, I went with three other good friends for a fun de-stressing girls night. Though we did not go until 9pm, I purposefully postponed my dinner so I could order some of their famous tapas I've been hearing about. First of all, I ordered the Key Lime Pie Martini and took on another one due to it's yummy candy-like experience....Mmmm. You must get one of these or one of their superb cosmos. In case you forgot, it is quite the girly place as you can see from the drink choices ;) Between the four of us, we split 3 tapas (Everyone but me already ate dinner so it might be wise to order more if everyone in your group is hungry). We ordered the parmesan french fries with truffle oil; warm ricotta with organic honey, urfa chile, and grilled bread; and the fontaine sliders (three mini hamburgers with gruyere cheese, arugula, bacon, pickles, onion, mustard, and mollie sauce all on warm buns). All three dishes were WONDERFUL, but the sliders and fries were definitely my favorites! This place is one-of-a-kind with delicious tapas. You must go! Fabulous girls night! For more info on the lounge, you can also check it out here. I give Mollie Fontaine Lounge 3.5 stars.
Monday, September 13, 2010
And like in Mario Brothers, in life it's all about managing to get to the next level. You've got to get to the next level. You can't just stay on one level. That's pointless. It's like living with your parents until your 50 years old or staying in college for 15 years or sitting on that first level in Mario killing all those mushroom creatures. Ahh, but when you move to the next level, what a great feeling! You feel like you've accomplished something and grown up. Of course, some people hate moving to the next level (having kids or hitting middle age for example), but you've got to do it, and you might as well do it with skill and grace. To those wishing to just hang around, my only advice is from Chamillionaire: Get on My Level!!!!!
Ok, so here's the transition. Sometimes, you visit a restaurant and you're dining and everything is pretty standard and expected, then you get to a new course and boom!! The restaurant just takes it to a new level --- to the next level. This can happen in a good or bad way, and when it does, you're blown away. When this happens in a good way, it's exactly like getting to that next level in the video game: you feel excited, relieved, encouraged to keep going, and you want more. Well, I think this pretty well describes my experiences at Cafe Eclectic.
Cafe Eclectic is pretty true to its name: a cafe with a pretty random assortment of choices ranging from omelettes for breakfast, to cupcakes for dessert, and almost everything in between. There are two locations, one in midtown near Rhodes and one downtown in Harbortown. The one in midtown is much bigger with a much larger selection and is in fact the only one I've actually eaten at. Yes, I know I just ended a sentence with "at", but I'm guessing that is allowable since this is a blog.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Now, before I go on to my list I would like to explain to you what I think is a good breakfast place. A quality breakfast menu must offer salty (e.g., eggs, biscuits, home fries, bacon, sausage, etc) and sweet (e.g., pancakes, waffles, french toasts, fruit, etc) options. I do not like it when they offer only salty or only sweet. I also love it when breakfast places try to set themselves apart from the eggs and bacon you can make at home....e.g., when they decide to put brie in your omelet instead of boring cheddar cheese or when they add smoked salmon to your eggs benedict. Mmmmm :) Innovation is the key to a delicious and satisfying first meal of the day. On to my list.....
1. Arcade : Three words for you.....SWEET. POTATO. PANCAKES. Um, can we say YUUMMMM?!! My mouth is watering just thinking about these delicately fluffy pieces of heaven. Ok, that may be stretching it, but seriously, these are some of the best pancakes I have ever put in my mouth. Also, I love their make your own omelets and the endless options....here's one you should try - brie, spinach, and artichoke hearts. I got that last time and it was divine! Arcade is the oldest restaurant in Memphis - they're obviously doing something right here. Check out my post and love for this place here.
2. Cafe Eclectic : Another one of my faves. If you haven't discovered this jewel....vwallah, you've discovered it now! Jon and I have been here a few times and have never been disappointed. I do love how this place likes to focus on local and healthy ingredients. That's always a major plus for me. Some of the dishes we've gotten and highly suggest are....Rachel's Breakfast Wrap, Eggs Florentine, chicken sausage, biscuits, and any of their desserts or soda fountain options. I've also heard their buckwheat pancakes and french omelet are delicious as well. [Check out our post/review of Cafe Eclectic here].
3. Cockadoos : Jon and I discovered this place not too long ago. It's relatively new in the Memphis area. It occupies the space that formerly housed Cafe 61 on Second Street. Check out our post. The atmosphere is WONDERFUL! It's very quaint and cozy....makes you want to grab a hot cup of coffee with your favorite balance of cream and sugar, a fresh out of the oven scone of your choice, and a newspaper, book, kindle, or laptop. We need more places like this. I loved their pancakes and scones. Their omelet left much to be desired, but the place is still relatively new and will improve over time.
4. Brother Juniper's : I like the local, homey feel of this place. You almost feel like you're having breakfast and coffee in your own home. It's one of those "regulars" places - it has its regular customers. The food is good, but definitely not worthy of qualifying for the top 3. I'm a fan of the mission and story behind the whole joint. Check out my post on it.
5. Bryant's : Talk about regulars. This place definitely has its regulars. It has that truckers stop feel. I've only been to Bryant's once. I know that's crazy especially since I'm a born and raised Memphian. I went with my dad a few years ago. Biscuits and gravy are delicious! The servings are huge so be hungry when you go! My husband says their chicken biscuit is wonderful - possibly even better than Chick-fil-A's.....hmmm....I'm skeptical of that statement, but will try someday.
Others worth trying...Pancake Shop on Summer, Blue Plate Cafe, Bagel Company of Memphis, Beignet Cafe, Bosco's.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
We love to hype up the new, unknown thing. And just like that "extremely athletic" power forward with "great length," Trolley Stop Market has also been receiving its fair share of hype. For that reason, Neel and I joined some friends from church for dinner at Trolley Stop. Though the place has only been open for around 2 months, it has getting rave reviews. These reviews were confirmed to us by friends who told us that their pizza is amazing and their burger is great, one person even claiming that it's the best burger in town. Because of these bold words from multiple sources, Neel and I were both pretty excited to try this place out and our expectations were set relatively high. Oh, how we love the hype around a new restaurant!
The whole stick of this place is fresh, seasonal food. Their menu changes constantly depending on what they can get fresh, but it seems their one constant is pizza. The best place to check out their daily selection is their facebook page. Of course, this theory of fresh, seasonal food is right up our alley.
Trolley Stop actually contains a market in it where you can buy fresh fruits and veggies. For this reason, it really doesn't have a restaurant feel, at least for dinner. Instead, it has more of a market feel with a by-the-way-we-have-a-restaurant-too option. It also has a strong mid-town feel with retro art work everywhere and benches. Unfortunately, it seems that all the hype about this place flows from its lunch, not its dinner. While the lunch menu is apparently diverse with offerings of sandwiches, burgers, pizza, etc, the dinner menu is basically limited to two choices: pizza and the special. The special changes each night. When we went, it was taco night. Other nights include vegan night and burger night.
Anyways, back to our meal. The peach salsa was very good, and you could tell it was very, very fresh. Unfortunately, the tacos left much to be desired. They were way too dry because they basically contained nothing except black beans, very little mushrooms or peppers. It just needed that something extra, whether it be more seasoning or salsa or perhaps guacamole. The same was true for Neel's chicken and beef tacos. Though the meat was tasty, they too were way too dry. It was almost as if they were confusing fresh and organic with plain and tasteless.
The black beans were ok but nothing to write home about either. The best part of the meal was actually the corn, and I don't even like corn on the cobb! But this corn was different because it was covered with a cream cheese glaze and with some feta. It might sound shady, but it was probably the best corn on the cobb I've ever had. We tried to finish the meal with a chocolate & peanut butter pie, but they were out. So we opted for the lemon ice box pie, and it was pretty good, sufficiently tart and the crust was awesome. I would definitely get it again just for the crust. As for the price, each taco meal was about $9, so not too expensive which was a plus.
Overall, the meal was pretty disappointing. I think that largely had to do with the hype the place had received though. But, just as with the NFL draft, I'm a sucker for the hype and want to give the place another shot at redemption, especially at lunch time. I'm going to avoid dinner again, however, and especially avoid dinner on taco night. With their limited menu and inability to keep items in stock, it seems like dinner is an ad-on anyway. I wonder why they do dinner at all rathan than scrap it and just focus on lunch and breakfast? Anyways, I'm highly ambivalent about Trolley Stop Market, disappointed with our own experience but willing to try it again. For these reasons, we give Trolley Stop Market 2.0 stars.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Here are some ground rules for this top 5 list. The place has to be in Memphis. So sorry In and Out Burger, you don't qualify (though I wish you did). Second, when we say fast food, we mean it in its classical sense and not just a place where you get food fast. Think McDonald's, Burger King, etc. I think intuitively this means that a place must have a drive through to qualify or be extremely nationwide and offer extremely inexpensive meals. So that means places like Pei Wei, Jason's Deli, Panera Bread don't qualify. But Subway does.
I think the same principle probably holds for fast food too. And let's face it, hard core porn and fast food have a lot in common. They are both horrible for you, they both ruin people's lives, people are addicted to both, and there are huge industries out there devoted to convincing/encouraging you to consume these products. But I digress. Now onto the list! (also, rather than link to their website, I'm linking to their wikipedia page for interesting historical facts).
1. Chick-fil-A: This is an easy #1. Chick-fil-A is pretty awesome. Great chicken nuggets, great chicken biscuits in the morning, the fries are good, and the shakes are pretty good too. Even setting aside the great food, the staff at Chick-fil-A are always super nice and the place is almost always very clean, well organized, and efficient. Who doesn't like Chick-fil-A? The real debate is not whether Chick-fil-A is #1, but which Chick-fil-A in Memphis is the busiest. My vote is the Poplar location near Mendenhall. Have you ever tried to go by that place at lunch? It's crazy busy. But a testament to how good Chick-fila-A is. Just remember, eat mor chicken.
2. Back Yard Burgers: this is where the list starts to get hard. I didn't choose BYB because of its burgers. I actually am not a huge fan of their burgers since I like my burger cooked med-rare and that ain't happening at BYB. Probably a good thing though, when you think abou it. On the bright side, at least you can tell it's real meat, and they actually put a moderate amount of meat on the burger, rather than give you mostly bread. The key at BYB is the chicken sandwiches, especially the blackened chicken sandwich. I'm a big fan. They also have the best fast food milkshakes. No doubt, real ice cream. Other good products include their cobblers and lemonade.
4. Dixie Queen: Not to be confused with Dairy Queen, Dixie Queen is a burger joint with a wide variety of frozen treats. I've only encountered it in Memphis. This selection is a bit of a shout out to my youth when I would go with friends in high school. The appeal of the chocolate malt, breezes, freezes, and other ice cream desserts was just too much. The burger and fries were above average, like their other food products. It's been a while, but I also remember this place being even cheaper than other fast food places. Thus, cheap, above average food + good ice cream = a top 5 fast food place.
Addendum: I didn't put Jerry's Sno Cone on the list because I've never actually eaten any food there. And who actually goes to Jerry's for the food anyway? Ok, that's my list, how do you rank them?