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Tennessee Eats, Part I

I’m back from my Memphis vacation and I may need to eat lemon juice on lettuce for the next 2 weeks, but it was worth it. I had an amazing week of meals during bridge Nationals.

Loveless Café, Nashville

As you know, I drove down to Memphis with my friends, Kim and Robin. They told me I was in charge of the dinner plans and that it made sense to stop in Nashville for the second night of our journey. I knew immediately where I wanted to go: The Loveless Café.

17 years ago, I went on a week long BBQ road trip, eating down the coast all the way to New Orleans and back. We stopped at Loveless and I remember we loved the biscuits so much, we ordered a 2nd plate of them. And then we decided that we could have a 3rd plate. How many biscuits in an order? 8. That’s right, we consumed 2 dozen biscuits.

Fast forward to last Saturday and we are seated around the table and our server brings us basket of biscuits – green tinted biscuits (it was St. Patrick’s Day). Kim put a stop to this immediately and we got an order of regular ones.

They didn’t live up to the memory of the 24 biscuits, but they were still good and even better with the homemade preserves. My ham steak was good and salty and the turnip greens, fried green tomatoes and mac and cheese were all delicious. I only ate 4 biscuits this time.

http://www.lovelesscafe.com/




Flight, Memphis

My foodie friend Kim from Seattle and I love to compare notes on our restaurant research and meals during tournaments. When I saw her on Sunday she told me that I “had to go to Flight,” She had eaten there the night before and had an excellent meal. Steve and I walked in at 4:55pm on a Sunday night and they were fully booked, but we managed to
grab 2 seats at the bar. It’s a good thing we got there early, because the 6 other bar seats filled up immediately.

The concept of flight is trios of food, so we started with an Ocean flight of tempura lobster, lump crab fritters, and Gulf shrimp. All were fried with different sauces. I thought the crab was the best, Steve enjoyed the lobster. Next was a flight of soups: lobster bisque, seafood gumbo and sweet potato and Thai chili. I thought the bisque was excellent; as good as any I’ve had in Maine.

For our main course, we shared the tenderloin flight: pork tenderloin, veal scallopini and a lamb chop. I think the rosemary garlic lamb was the best bite of the meal. I also loved the garlic polenta that came with the pork and the Parmesan Reggiano orzo with the veal.

For dessert, the chocolate flight had a chocolate cheese cake, chocolate molten cake with vanilla gelato and Memphis belle pie (chocolate and pecans). The cheesecake was heavy in texture, so it was my least favorite. The molten cake was boring, but still good. Steve liked the pie the best.

We had excellent service from the bartender and although the prices are on the higher side (30’s for the entrees), the format encourages sharing so it becomes more affordable.

http://www.flightmemphis.com/


The Tenderloin Flight

Flying Fish, Memphis

I attempted to go to Rendezvous for their famous dry rub ribs, but no one told me that they are closed on Sun/Mon. Nate is trying to eat healthier, so we opted for Flying Fish around the corner. Seafood is healthy, right? Not when it’s been battered, dusted with cornmeal and fried. I thought the catfish fillets were thin and so the ratio of crispy exterior to fish was off. The hush puppies were not good, which was a major disappointment because I love hush puppies. The beans and
rice and the cabbage were both tasty.

The restaurant is large and informal. You order at the register, and you grab your tray when the pager goes off. The prices are cheap - $8 for 2 catfish fillets. Nate seemed to enjoy his boring grilled salmon.

http://flyingfishinthe.net/Memphis.php

I was successful in my second attempt at Rendezvous. I got the ribs (what else?) and they were good, but not worth all the accolades and the hour long wait outside. I had Rendezvous during the BBQ road trip and I wasn’t super impressed with it then either. I thought the lamb riblets that Ivanie got were far tastier and much more interesting. A full rack of ribs was $19. The server was gruff, but that may be part of the experience.

http://www.hogsfly.com/



Bar-B-Q Shop, Memphis

After the disappointing ribs at Rendezvous, we had a second night of BBQ (much to Nate’s chagrin). Lon and I shared the Meat plate ($24), which included ribs, polish sausage, chopped pork and BBQ spaghetti. Normally there is brisket, but they were out, so I chose the sausage instead. These ribs were far better – meaty, juicy and flavorful. The chopped pork was also delicious, but the sausage was too salty. BBQ spaghetti is weirdly sweet and meaty – I’m not a fan, but I’m glad I tried this regional specialty.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-bar-b-q-shop-memphis-3



Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Memphis

It’s a small chicken shack 3 blocks south of Beale St and my big regret was that I waited till Thursday to try Gus’s. Steve and I arrived at 4:45 and managed to snag a table (the line would be out the door by the time we left). He asked if I wanted to split a half chicken and I thought “with who? Myself?” I told him no and proceed to order a thigh, leg and wing for myself. This is not speedy chicken, but it’s well worth the wait. The chicken was perfect. I couldn’t imagine better fried chicken. This is the fried chicken all little chicks should dream of being one day as they are tucked in to the nest
at night. The words can not describe the tender, moist flavorful meat, and pictures can not capture the shatteringly crisp crust that is not at all greasy. It was so good that I went back the next night for a chicken wing chaser, after my meal.

5 pieces of chicken, a decent slice of coconut cream pie and a Guinness set us back $20. As Steve likes to say, I’m a cheap date.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/08/the-best-fried-chicken-might-b.html



Dyer’s, Memphis

Dyer’s burgers have been on a bunch of TV shows and top ten list for their famous deep fried burger and “ageless” grease that has been around since 1912. I thought it was good but super greasy (as expected). You can see the sheen on the bun in the picture. The best thing about the meal is that it was small enough that when I jokingly said to Kevin we should get some Gus’s for dessert, he agreed.

http://www.dyersonbeale.com/

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