Wednesday, July 28, 2010
And, how can I blog about Boscos and not mention their BEER - what they boast about! I'm not an obsessive beer lover like some I know. Honestly, when I eat out rarely do I order beer over a glass of wine. However, I have tried Boscos beer sampler and it was a lot of fun and tasty! I recommend it for you beer connoisseurs. Oh and those aren't my blue plaid shorts....I took the pic off the world wibe web.
So, there you have it - Boscos Squared has some positives and some negatives. I'm happy to say that I think the positives outweigh the negatives and I'll keep going back for more. I give Boscos Squared 3 stars.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Thankfully, like Morpheus, Neel was able to convince me to jump, and we finally went to Humdingers. Ok, I admit, that complete analogy was pretty bad, but I was looking for a reason to embed a youtube clip. Sometimes, you got to appeal to the masses and the masses love movie clips! Anyways, Humdingers wasn't at all what I imagined. So here we go. In print. Neel was right, I was wrong. Since giving Humdingers that initial shot, we've gone back numerous times, and I've enjoyed eating crow every time.
A special shout out needs to go to Humdingers' fish tacos. I usually get this and I think it's great. You can a 3 taco meal where you pick a combination of either fish, shrimp, or chicken taco that comes with Asian slaw and Humdinger's special sauce. You also get a side. I love their tacos because the slaw and sauce don't overwhelm the fish. Moreover, their tortilla's are also very good and taste homemade. In fact, it's hard for me to think of any fish taco's in Memphis (except for Deli Mexicana) that outdo Humdingers'. As for which taco option to choose, I say opt for the shrimp and/or fish. The chicken's good too but just doesn't compare to the seafood options. Humdingers also offers wine and beer if you so desire. So, they've got some good options on the menu.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
As you enter, you can tell everyone is enjoying themselves, since it is somewhat loud. But not too loud where you can't carry on a serious conversation at your table. The service has always been great, and my recent trip was no exception. In fact, the quality of the service was even better this most recent trip, considering we had a reservation for 20! They basically gave us the entire back room which is usually open to everyone.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
However, the old/present location does have a certain charm. It's at an old, very large house like structure. It makes for a very unique dining atmosphere. My parents really wanted to go before Jim's Place moved because they really liked the current location as well as the food. So, Neel and I went with them, in sort of a celebration of their upcoming 41st wedding anniversary.
We ate on a Wednesday night, and so we got there pretty early, around 6. Essentially, there was no one there. I'm betting that is because of the out of the way location. Who wants to drive to the middle of no where to eat on a weeknight? Weekend, maybe. But definitely not a place you just pick up and randomly go.
I've been to Jim's Place numerous times, and it has a been a bit up and down. At one point, it was one of my favorite restaurants since I love steaks and Greek food. But one time, a while back, Neel and I went, and it was horrible. Before that, it was great, but we hadn't been back since our bad experience. So, we were a bit hesitant and our expectations were low. Thankfully, it at least partially returned to its old form.
Though Jim's Place is Greek and has many Greek items, the menu is basically American with standard steak, fish, and chicken entrees. I kinda wish that they would have more Greek influence throughout their menu. I got the shrimp stuffed with crab and broiled in lemon-butter sauce. It was good and pretty tasty but not great. Neel got the scallops broiled in butter sauce. Again, good and tasty but not great. For both dishes, you got the feeling that the butter sauce was over-compensating for slightly lower quality fish and/or sloppy cooking technique. Rather than broil, most restaurants seem to pan sear their scallops and shrimp. I think that is the way to go. Both dishes at Jim's Place were really dripping with the sauce, but the fish/scallops themselves were a bit tough. Nevertheless, both dishes were still good, and they do give you quite the large portions. Not only are the entree portions large, each entree comes with a choice of two sides. I got the Greek salad, which was a bit above average. It's so hard to find a good Greek place in Memphis; there is really not much competition for a good Greek salad. My second side was the eggplant parmesan casserole. This was a bit unusual. I generally don't like my vegetables drenched in red sauce but they managed to make it work.
My mom got the salmon and it was good. Nothing to jump out in traffic for though. I thought it was a tad overcooked. My dad got the gumbo and it too was ok. I've definitely had better in Memphis though. Looking back over my past experiences at Jim's Place (including this one), I'm generally disappointed with their ability to cook fish. However, I've had their steaks before and they were usually pretty good. So, as a general recommendation, I think I would go with the steaks there in the future.
So, the entrees and appetizers were pretty average. However, for some unknown reason, the four of us decided to split three desserts. Bad for the waistline, but good for the taste buds because these desserts were really, really good. We got a slice of key lime pie, a slice of midnight layer cake, and the special dessert for the night, strawberry cake. No doubt, this was the best part of the night. I think that midnight layer cake was one of the better chocolate cakes I've ever had. It was pretty standard in appearance, with about three layers of cake with icing in between and on the top and bottom. But it had a great balance between cake and icing. The cake was moist and the icing was delicious. It also had mini chocolate chips in the icing, so another bonus. The key lime was very good as well. I thought the strawberry cake came in third but it was still pretty good. We managed to destroy all 3 desserts since they were so good, even after eating our entrees and sides.
Apart from the food, the service was good. The atmosphere is a bit strange though. The restaurant is so large and so old. Coupled with the fact that no one was there, it made for an intimate dining experience. It definitely appeals to the older age group. For that reason, I definitely am looking forward to their new location and hoping for a bit more updated look and feel and menu selections. But as far as fine dining Greek restaurants go, Jim's Place is a slightly above average choice that gives healthy size portions without executing those choices in an exception manner. Moreover, their menu and atmosphere clearly needs updating, and I was a bit disappointed with their fish execution. For that reason, I'm a bit ambivalent to the experience overall, with clear positives and negatives. In light of all these factors, we give Jim's Place East 2.5 stars.
Buckley's Lunchbox is quite the popular work lunch spot, probably because of its location, right off of Poplar. It's usually a good idea to get there a little before or after the noon lunch craze since it always crowded. Along those lines, I went there on a work lunch recently. I've been numerous times, and it's always good, and I always look forward to going. Buckley's is known for good but relatively inexpensive steaks and burgers, and they really don't disappoint. The Lunchbox's menu has a selection of sandwiches and salads, along with steak, chicken, fish entrees. It's not the lightest of fare, but everything is very tasty. But hey, ever once in a while you must give in to that burger attack.
I usually get the black & bleu burger salad. Basically, it's a salad with a burger on top. It sounds somewhat strange, but I really enjoy it. I usually don't like to get salads at restaurants. You think you are getting something healthy but in reality not because the salads are usually drenched in dressing and other crappy cheeses, etc, etc. I appreciate the burger salad though, because it's basically a way to eat a burger without the bun . They also do a good job of not drowning your salad in cheese. But the key is the burger. It really is seasoned very well and it's very, very tasty. Combined with the blue cheese and balanced by the lettuce and tomatoes, and you've got a winner. Though I've never gotten it, I bet the regular burger is very good as well as the steak.
Everything at the Lunchbox is between $9 and $11. So, it's not dirt cheap, but it's very reasonable and well worth it considering the taste. It is also a great way to get your Buckley fix at a cheaper price than the dinner only Buckley's. With respect to other factors, I don't really pay attention to the atmosphere that much at lunch places. Given the businessy clientele, the Lunchbox definitely has a business, efficient feel. The service is good, and they are always pretty fast, so you can get in and out and back to work pretty fast. Overall, it's a pretty good experience: very good food at a very reasonable price. For that reason, we give Buckley's Lunchbox 3.5 stars.
25 S Belvedere Blvd
Memphis, TN 38104-3705
Click Here for Google Map
Neel had her birthday at the beginning of July, but her friends wanted to have an official dinner celebration with a bunch of our friends. Neel as the birthday girl, of course wanted sushi, her #1 food option. She also to go hang out downtown post-dinner. For that reason, we first tried Blue Fin, but they were booked and couldn't take reservations for 10 people. So, we settled on Sekisui's Midtown location.
When we got there, it was pretty packed. It's not a very big restaurant. In fact, we had to wait before sitting even though we had reservations. Overall, it was a fun pretty time. Everyone enjoyed their sushi, and they did a good job of handling a rather loud crew of 10+ people. Compared to the other Sekisui restaurants, the midtown one has that classic midtown feel. I probably prefer it and Pacific Rim to all the other locations, in terms of ambiance, etc. The midtown location would be a good date place if your date likes sushi. Though we took a big group, reservations are key. In fact, the other sekisui restaurants could probably handle big groups better.
Ok, back to the food. Neel and I of course split some sushi. Here's the lineup. We got the tornado: a fried roll with salmon, cream cheese, and sweet soy sauce. Normally, I don't like the fried rolls that much, especially when the rolls are really big. But the tornado was pretty small and complimented the other non-fried rolls well. Next up, the Memphis: crab, tuna, salmon with whitefish on top. This was a raw fish roll and is very fresh and light. A good, fresh choice that balances out the fried roll well. It is a tad bland though. Our third roll was the Jacksonville. This one is crunchy crawfish with seared tuna on top. This was probably my favorite. It's always tasty yet pretty light. The final roll was the staple, Philly: salmon with cream cheese. A classic combo if you like cream cheese.
All the rolls were good. It is pretty hard to make sushi we don't like though. I've always thought the real separator for sushi places is the price to freshness/taste ratio. Sushi is generally pretty expensive, so if you can find a bargain, that's the way to go. I put Sekisui in the middle on this scale. They have some pretty pricey rolls but also some more inexpensive ones. Along those same lines, they have a pretty broad selection, compared to some other Memphis sushi places. So that lets you mix and match rolls depending on your budget and tastes. Thus, Sekisui might not be my first or second choice for sushi in Memphis but it's always up there and always a place I would be excited about going. For that reason, we give Sekisui Midtown 3 stars.
Friday, July 23, 2010
We chose Cafe Ole for the work dinner because of its convenient location in Cooper Young. That location allows you to go somewhere else in Cooper Young post-dinner for dessert or for a post dinner drink. Cafe Ole also has a great patio on the side of the restaurant. I actually think it's one of the best patio's in Memphis. And it seems, others agree. Of course, you always have to ask yourself can you stand the patio in the summer when it's 95 degrees at 8 p.m. But a good margarita can go a long way to counter the heat. We also chose Cafe Ole for our dinner because they can usually handle large groups quickly and you don't need reservations, also a plus. On the other hand, there's probably a reason, you don't need reservations and can sit quickly with large groups....it's because of the food!
Don't worry, I'm not going to torch them for gross food. It just is what it is: average to below average Mexican food in Memphis. Neel and I split chicken fajitas and they were nothing to write home about. Strangely, they gave us four large strips of chicken and laid them on top of the grilled onions, peppers, etc rather than cut up the chicken into smaller strips. Not sure if the cook was just being lazy or what, but I think that cutting the chicken in smaller pieces may have added more flavor. On the plus side, the white cheese dip was pretty good, the margaritas were good, it was relatively cheap, and the patio was great as always. On the down side, I thought the salsa was watery and just plain bad. Nothing else really stood out as bad but nothing stood out as that good either. So basically, Cafe Ole is a moderately cheap, average Mexican restaurant in a good location with a great patio. For that reason, we give Cafe Ole 2.5 stars. But I will say, that it is a good option for large groups who want to quench that margarita fix.
The hours are also a great attribute! If you'll notice on their website, they are open M-F 7am-3pm and Saturday and Sunday midnight-3pm. So, there you go downtown clubbers. Next time you have a few drinks and are craving some sweet pancakes or hearty biscuits and gravy, all you have to do is walk on down to second street and devour :) These Cockadoo people are smart. If I lived downtown, I would frequent this place for breakfast and coffee as much as I could. Go there now! So, due to a few setbacks but some great perks as well, we give Cockadoos 3 stars.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I've been to Old Venice, but it was probably 3 years ago and I wasn't very impressed. However, after hearing people rave about their pizza I decided to give it another chance. After last night, I found out I just got the wrong thing when I first went. Last night's meal was very delightful. As an appetizer, all the girls split the fried calamari and crawfish rolls. They were both tasty. I recommend both when you go. I also ordered a glass of Chardonnay. Their wine menu is a big plus! You can get most of them by the glass or bottle and at VERY reasonable prices!! Check it out on their website. I loved my Chardonnay! For my entree, I ordered the individual Margherita Pizza. This is another big plus - you can order any of the pizzas with thin crust or hand tossed and you can order the individual size or regular size. Of course, I ordered the thin crust (I despise thick crust pizza.) and the individual size since we were all getting our own things. I really liked it! It was very tasty with spices you don't normally find on a Margherita Pizza. The cheese was oozing. The crust was thin, but not as thin and crispy as Memphis Pizza Cafe's crust. I definitely think MPC has them beat on the crust. The size was bigger than I would expect for an individual sized pizza. I could only eat half and brought the rest home for Jon. Now, let's not forget that Old Venice is a chain with locations in Oxford, Tupelo, and Starkville. Though you can kind of tell it's a chain through the food's taste and appearance, it's still delicious and I'll be going back.
In addition to the pluses I've already mentioned, Old Venice is a great medium-priced restaurant in Memphis. These are hard to find! I feel like Memphis has a lot of great Ma and Pa cheap but great eats and then we have a lot of expensive but great eats. There's not a whole lot of middle ground. Old Venice is a great place to go with friends for that very reason. Old Venice is one of the few Memphis restaurants that stands in that middle price range.
To comment on the service and atmosphere. The service was great! Our waitress was very attentive, but not annoying. We received our food pretty fast, but not too fast. The atmosphere is where they could probably use some updating. The fake window scenes on the wall kind of make me cringe and are the only thing that prevents me from saying this is a great first date place - definitely give you that cheesy, chainy feel.
I think a more sophisticated and simpler look would really spice it up a bit. But, overall the atmosphere was very pleasant.
Another plus, yes another, is that I hear this place has great specials on drinks and apps! I want to say they have the deal on Wednesday nights?? Not sure. If anyone knows, please feel free to post.