Food_TV_Snark LJ community with unvarnished opinions about food celebrities
J and J Say Two 11-year-olds visit and review Memphis' top restaurants
Ken's Food Find This blog is devoted to highlighting restaurants of the Memphis, Tennessee area.
Memphis Foodie Your tool for delicious, local cuisine right in the heart of Memphis, TN.
Mother Daughter Eat Well An exploration of real foods and the wholesome ways two women find them, prepare them and enjoy them.
Princess Aioli Mix 1/3 Italian-American princess, 1/3 Southern belle, and 1/3 Miami gringa. Result is one self-indulgent foodie who’s trying to figure out how to use her law degree to become the next big food writer.
Sad Lonely Crafter Inside the life of a housewife. A lover of knitting, crafts and all things Gamecocks
The Chubby Vegetarian A great source of anecdotes and recipes from one of Memphis' most famous vegetarians
A few weeks ago, my girlfriends from college (Christina & Stephanie) and I took on New York City, and we savored every morsel and sip. Get ready for one of my multi-part series that will feature some of the highlights.
In trying to ensure that every dining experience was a little bit different, one of the places that I chose (highly recommended by my trusty Frommer's Guide) was Kyotofu, a small, non-descript, signless, eatery in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.
Pork Belly Sliders with Sesame Slaw and Sake flight
This restaurant puts a unique spin on Japanese cuisine, but it's mainly known for their desserts. Featuring one of the most under-appreciated, but versatile ingredients, tofu, these desserts display a creativity and simplicity that really makes them shine.
Sweet Custard with Sesame Tuille
I think it's a pretty good lunch spot, but the space is cramped and the service was extremely slow. It would also be perfect for grabbing dessert and/or a drink after dinner.
Note: In looking for hours of operation info for Kyotofu, I learned that it closed in June 2013. I debated whether or not to include it, but decided that I still wanted to commemorate our experience there. You can still purchase their unique desserts through their online shop.
If you know me at all, then I'm sure you've discovered that I absolutely love Italian food. If I could pick one cuisine to have to eat everyday for the rest of my life, it would be Italian. So of course I had to pick at least one Italian restaurant for the itinerary.
The East Village is teeming with restaurants showcasing a variety of cuisines. Perbacco is no exception. When I saw a Parmigiano Reggiano creme brulee on the appetizer menu, I was sold.
Kabocha Squash Ravioli in Brown Butter Sauce (bottom right) & Rosetta with Speck and Buffalo Mozzarella
We split a bunch of appetizers and pastas, and everything was delicious - well-prepared, rich and earthy. It was exactly want I wanted.
Perbacco offers a lengthy menu and portions are substantial. It would be difficult to get through the standard 4-course Italian tradition (primi, pasta, carne, dolce) by ordering a la carte off the menu. The wine list is more than adequate and prices are very reasonable.
Perbacco 234 East 4th Street New York, NY 10009 (212) 253-2038
Another East Village eatery we enjoyed was Prune, chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton's James Beard award-winning bistro. Classic French with a comforting twist, the food here was elegant and sophisticated without being pretentious.
Parmesean Omelette (bottom right) & Bone Marrow with Pickled Red Onion
This was my first time eating bone marrow. While it was interesting digging the marrow out of the bone, I will say it is an acquired texture. In the end, I found it really delicious by spreading it on the toast and topping it with some of the onion. I felt very chi-chi :)
Braised Rabbit with Natural Jus
While there were several tables packed into the tiny space, it felt more "homey" than cramped. All of the food was expertly-prepared, and it was really nice seeing Chef Hamilton cranking plates out of the small kitchen.
Almond Butter Cake
My favorite part about this restaurant was the atmosphere. It almost felt like everyone was just hanging out after work having a drink. And I mean everyone. It was super relaxed and having a great time. That being said, the restaurant is a little noisy and may not be conducive to quiet, romantic date night. But for our purposes, a raucous girls night out, it was absolutely perfect.
Prune 54 East 1st Street New York, NY 10003 (212) 677-6221
In recent months, Bartlett has literally exploded with casual eateries. From Bruno's to Noodle Star, it seems like this area of town is the place to be for budget-friendly eats in a laid-back atmostphere.
Gelato Cafe fits right into that mold. If it sounds familiar to you, it probably is. Gelato cafe used to be located in the Wolfchase Galleria. I, for one, am estatic about the move. When they were in the mall, they weren't in the food court, so probably didnt' get the traffic. And, I'm sure their rent is cheaper now, too.
This is the place to be for sandwiches, gourmet coffee drinks, and of course homemade gelato. And let me tell you, there's is some of the best in the city. I especially like chocolate chip and creme caramel.
(Crossaint Sandwich #1, packaged "to-go")
As far as sandwiches, you can't go wrong with either of the croissant sandwiches (ham and swiss or turkey and swiss), the Italiano Classico #1 (salami, fresh mozzarella, tomato, olive oil and oregano on foccacia) or the Caesar tortellini salad.<
Gelato Cafe is open daily and offers free Wi-Fi for diners.
I recently went on a work trip to Birmingham, where I got to explore (culinarily speaking) a city that's not familiar to me. I've driven through Birmingham on several occasions (as Birmingham sits in between Memphis and my hometown Anderson, South Carolina, depending on which route is taken), but my dining experiences have generally been limited to fast food options along the highway.
(Spring Salad - Hot and Hot Fish Club)
It took a lot of arm twisting from me and the front desk manager at the Birmingham Embassy Suites, but I was able to convince my colleagues that we should dine at Hot and Hot Fish Club, a popular fine-dining restaurant that has received tons of acclaim from folks like the James Beard Foundation.
(Cheese Plate - Hot and Hot Fish Club)
The food was obviously very fresh, and the plating was extremely whimsical. The spring vegetable salad was almost like a beautiful painting. Every time I ran my fork across the plate, I scooped up different flavors and textures. No one bite was the same, and the salad was light, refreshing and satisfying all at the same time.
(Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Olive & Sinclair Chocolate, Candied Blood Orange and Bitter Chocolate Cream - Hot and Hot Fish Club)
I think my traveling companions were also very impressed with the quality of the food. While the price point is a little higher than I would spend on an average evening out, if I were a Birmingham resident, I would definitely put Hot and Hot on my special occasion go-to list.
Our group was full of coffee afciandos, so when we spied a sleek, non-chain coffeehouse, we had to stop in.
(Pour Over, Hand Dripped Coffee - Octane)
Apparently, the Octane concept began in Atlanta, and recently expanded to the Homewood neighborhood of Birmingham. At Octane, they utlize the pour over coffee method, which is said to extract more flavor thantraditional brewing. They also stock a large variety of baked goods (the cinnamon rolls and the scones looked particularly scrumptious the day we were there) as well as breakast items like biscuits and oatmeal.
Octane Coffee 2821 Central Avenue Homewood, AL 35209 (205) 969-1177
During one of our meetings, it was suggested that we visit Steel City Pops, a gourmet popsicle shop. Now, you all know my love of the Mexican frozen treat, the paleta, so of course I was on board.
(Me and my buttermilk popsicle in front of a mural - Steel City Pops)
There's something for everyone with fruity flavors like strawberry balsamic, tamarind, hibiscus and blood orange, along with decadent creamy varieties, like peanut butter, chocolate chili and avocado. I went with the buttermilk, because the woman at the front counter said it tasted like cheesecake. It absolutely did, and I was very happy with my choice. There's very little seating, and it looks like parking can be an issue, so I would suggest visiting Steel City during non-peak hours.
Interim Restaurant & Bar has had many ups and downs in its relatively brief history. The East Memphis space started out as Chef Wally Joe's flagship namesake eatery. When Joe left to create his dream space (the ever-stylish Acre) the ensuing restaurant was called Interim as a temporary fix. Well, Interim might as well be permanent fixture, because six years later, the concept has stuck. With Executive Chef Jackson Kramer (in his second stint at the helm), it looks like Interim is here to stay.
(Grilled quail with roasted grapes, pistachio cream and grappa)
Interim is one of those restaurants that's nice enough to impress, but reasonably priced so as not to break the bank. The wine list is extensive, and the mixed beverages are potent. The bar is a popular weeknight hangout spot, but it's the food that helps Interim endure.
The appetizers are a bit more inventive than the entrees, but everything is well prepared and exemplifies the importance of the details: the housemade chutney that is served with the cheese cheese board, the beet puree that comes with the lamb, the garlic aioli that makes the Interim burger one of the best in the city... Interim doesn't skimp.
Diners may want to take advantage of the lunch menu, which offers the same thoughtful cuisine for half the price. Some dinner appetizers, like the grilled quail with roasted grapes, are large enough to satisfy a hearty appetite all on their own.
I can't wait to get back to Tokyo. Next time, I hope to visit as tourist, so I have the ability to visit some of the great attractions that I missed out on this trip.
As soon as I found out there was an Eataly in Tokyo, I knew I had to get there. I've been trying to get to Eataly for years.
So it's absolutely true that I made it to Eataly in Tokyo long before I got to the one in New York City, and from what I know about that store, the one in the Daikanyama neighborhood of Tokyo is much smaller in scale. But I didn't care.
Since I couldn't get there before our final day in Tokyo, I was limited on time. I also had to select my items carefully as I needed to make sure that everything I bought would not only fit in my suitcase, but also not cause issues in customs when I got back home.
We also stopped at the cafe for a snack. I still have dreams about that chocolate croissant.
Tokyo is one of the culinary capitals of the world. I knew that I didn't necessarily want to just stick to Japanese cuisine. Since Italian is my absolute favorite, I was really excited to try some Italian food in Toyko.
Elio Locanda was suggested to us as a place where Italian ex pats go to eat. I was sold. We gorged on stuffed prawns, seared beef, and of course, pasta. The creamy risotto was to die for.
Service in Japan is exceptional. Every waiter or waitress waits on every table. And, there is no gratuity. There is a 10% service charge added to every check and that is what the servers split.
And if you know me, you know I enjoyed the dessert cart. There were so many options, and they would just pull a tray off, cut you a slice, and keep on rolling.
My other foray into Italian fare was at at Obika Mozzarella Bar. A place dedicated to cheese? I'm so there.
First of all, you get a free appetizer when you order a drink. The night we dined, we were offered these delicious spinach and mozzarella fritters. We also indulged in a mozzarella sampler with two kinds of bufala mozzarella, burrata and a smoked mozzarella. It was an excellent way to start our evening. The restaurant also had a fantastic vibe. It would be a great place to grab drinks after work.
But, the crowning jewel of our culinary tour of Tokyo started with a little film that Tom saw via Netflix called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This set in motion one of the most interesting dining experiences of my life.
We dined at Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro, while Jiro's son prepared some of the freshest sushi I've ever seen, straight off the fish. Course after course after course - fatty tuna, abalone, squid, makerel, bonito, scallop, clam, uni and so much more, finshed off with a little tamago.
Now if you know me at all, you realize that this was not my idea of a good time. But, I was more than happy to be a part of the experience, and I enjoyed being there with Tom.
Now this place is not for the faint of heart. This was the most expensive meal we've ever eaten in a restaurant, by quite a lot. Keep in mind, if you ever find yourself at this famed restaurant, that they will keep sending out courses until you say stop. I think Tom and I had around 25. The cost can get out of hand really quickly if that's the case. When it's time to settle the bill, there's no itemization, just a slip of paper with a number on it. (If you really want to know how much it was, drop me a note, I'll be happy to share that with you)
I'd love to make another trip to Tokyo and try a whole new set of restaurants, but I fear the memories of this trip will have to last me for quite a while.
I'll wrap up my tour of Tokyo with life-sized Buzz and Woody from Legoland in Roppongi Hills because...well, why not?
Anybody who knows me at all, knows that I absolutely adore Italian food. It is my absolute favorite type of cuisine. So you know that I was excited when a mediocre barbecue restaurant in Bartlett was replaced by a casual Italian eatery.
Thank goodness Bruno's is here to give me a low-key, non-chain Italian restaurant near my house. And this one really delivers.
We started out with the fried ravioli; Bruno's version rocks! Instead of the typical bread crumb coating, this ravioli had a light, almost tempura-like batter. It was crisp, and not at all greasy. I could have made a meal out this and a side salad.
For entree's, we had the chicken parmigiana sandwich with asparagus and the eggplant parmigana. Looking back, it probably would have been a good idea to vary our choices so we could have maybe tasted a different sauce, but c'est la vie.
That being said, these were very tasty plates of food. The asparagus is dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with some chopped tomatoes. This elevated it above the standard steamed version. I found Bruno's marinara a little tangy; it was too much for the plain spaghetti that was served with the eggplant parmigiana, but absolutely delicious with the eggplant and melted cheese.
For dessert, we split a slice of cannoli cake. It was enormous, super rich, and decadently creamy. The combination of ricotta cannoli filling, chocolate ganache and orange zest was really tasty, but I was glad I was splitting it with Tom. I don't think I could have taken it down by myself, and I have a serious sweet tooth.
Bruno's has an extensive menu of traditional classics. The prices are reasonable enough to put it into our regular dinner rotation. We don't even have to save it for a special occasion.
The weather has gotten a bit colder, and it's perfect soup weather. Now, I told you about the delicious pho at Noodle Star, but if I had to pick my favorite soup in town (outside of the ones I cook in my kitchen), this one would win, hands down.
The tonkotsu ramen from Sekisui in Cordova is by far the richest, most delicious, amazing soup of its kind that I've tasted outside of Tokyo (Oh wow, I can legitimately say "outside of Tokyo") The cream based broth is so savory; it definitely has that "I've been cooked for 2 days" flavor. It served with slices of roast pork, scallions and hard boiled egg. You can also get additional accoutrements like sweet corn and bean sprouts.
It might be hard to tell from the picture, but the bowl is massive. I always get two enormous meals from one serving.
Sekisui Cordova has an entire menu of soups that are currently unavailable at any of the other Memphis locations, so take a trip out east. I promise this soup will blow your mind.
If you're a frequent reader of Tiffany Tastes, you might remember that I'm not expert on BBQ. For someone who lives in Memphis, this is probably unheard of, but it's really something that I only get a taste for about once a month. When my mom comes to visit, we eat barbecue everyday for a week, and most of the time, that's enough for me. That being said, when I do eat it, I enjoy it. And, people often ask me what's my favorite barbecue in this great barbecue city. I'm not certain this particular establishment is the best, but it's definitely in my top 3.
I'm not the only person who considers The Bar-B-Q Shop in Midtown Memphis to be one of the best barbecue restaurants in the city. I find that almost everything on the menu is done very well. It's one of the few places in town where you can get your barbecue sandwich served on buttered Texas toast. Let me urge you to take them up on that offer. The richness of the buttery bread is a great counterpoint to the barbecue sauce, which is on the sweeter side.
Another popular dish that you'll find in restaurants around the Bluff City is barbecue spaghetti. While it is an acquired taste, some restaurants do it better than others. The Bar-B-Q Shop is tops in my book. Barbecue spaghetti can easily be overly sweet, especially since noodles don't offer much flavor to counter the sauce. So if the barbecue sauce sucks, the barbecue spaghetti will suck, too. If you want barbecue spaghetti, definitely get it from here.
You won't find a bad barbecue dish on the menu. So, if you have friends or family from out of town and you're looking for a place where everything across the board is good, this is your place.
Ever since Do closed, I have been looking for a place to get my all-time favorite cold weather staple, pho - the traditional Vietnamese soup. I've tried it at several other places around town, but I've been less than impressed. Until I found Noodle Star (in the space that formerly housed Jimmy's Hot Dogs).
Noodle Star features Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It's like one-stop shopping for all of your Asian cuisine needs. There's s a wide variety of sushi, as well as noodles, stir-fry, fried rice and traditional Vietnamese soups.
We started off with the egg rolls (my standard adequacy gauge at any Asian restaurant.) These were crispy, light and not at all greasy. I really liked that the dipping sauce had a bit of a kick to it.
The pho at Noodle Star is first rate. It has that unique mix of savory with a hint of sweetness that I look for in my soups. While they don't have the more standard chicken pho, the sliced steak is super tender and makes a great substitute. The paper thin pieces of beef really soak up the flavor of the broth. It comes with the usual accoutrements: mint, bean sprouts, lime and jalapenos.
The sushi is pretty standard. They have regular rolls like the California and crunchy shrimp, but also offer a good selection specialty rolls like the namesake Noodle Star roll and the dragon roll.
The atmosphere is pretty casual, but prices are more than reasonable.
Noodle Star 6773 Stage Boulevard Bartlett, TN 38134 (901)266-0033
It's been a long time coming, but here it is, the final installment in our New Orleans journey. We decided to save the best for last, so here are our top 3 favorite restaurants.
We went to Dante's Kitchen on our first night in New Orleans. It sits in a quiet residential neighborhood where you'll miss it if you drive by too quickly. They also tell you to leave your diet at the door.
We started off with a variety of excellent appetizers including an artisinal cheese plate, boudin noir and charcuterie.
Each table gets a small cast iron skillet with molasses spoonbread, which is like a sweetened cornbread with honey butter. Most of our appetizers were so savory, the spoonbread was a great compliment.
For our entrees, Tom chose a cajun spiced pan-seared gulf fish with a crab salad which was tasty, but I humbly believe that I won the battle this time. The Dante's Kitchen maple-glazed chicken under a brick over a potato bacon hash cake with a fried farm egg was by far the single best dish of food put in front of us during our entire trip. Everything about it was amazing.
For dessert, we split the butterscotch pudding with salted whipped cream, the perfect blend of sweet and salty and great end to this awesome meal.
Donald Link is well known throughout the culinary circle for his attention to detail and his touch with meat dishes. He's probably the most lauded for his upscale restaurants, Cochon and Herbsaint, but the more casual Cochon Butcher is worthy of the same kind of praise.
This is almost like really great bar food. All of the meats are cured and smoked in house. We started with boudin blanc, duck pastrami sliders.
Then we took on the Gambino sandwich - which was piled high with the restaurants housemade meats and served with homemade pickles. Oh, the pickles. I loved them so much, I bought a jar to take home with me. I'm sure Link's other restaurants are fantastic, but for my money, Cochon Butcher gave me a great bang for my buck.
Cochon Butcher 930 Tchoupitoulas Street New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 588-7675
Our last meal in New Orleans was at the James Beard nominated Lilette in the Garden District, and what a great way to finish out our cunlinary expedition in the Big Easy. This quaint Italian-influenced eatery pushes all the right buttons for me. The food is thoughtful, simple and delicious.
I started out with the antipasta plate which was piled with coppa, salami toscana and burrata (my absolute favorite)
Tom went with the tuna ceviche for his meal. It was light and lucious at the same time, with just enough citrus to make it interesting.
For my entree, I got the gnocchi with San Marzano tomatoes. It was really hearty and comforting, just like homestyle Italian food should be.
The real stars of this meal were the desserts, but the failing light made it impossible to get a good photo. We shared the Nutella custard with salty caramel brittle. It was creamy and decadent, and so very good, but it didn't hold a candle to the quenelles of goat cheese with lavendar honey, poached pears and pistachios. This dessert definitely made my "Top 3 Dishes of the Trip" list along with the chicken under a brick from Dante's Kitchen and the deconstructed banana pudding from Restaurant August. I loved it so much, that I've attempted to recreate at home. It was a delicious way to end a fantastic trip.
Lilette 3637 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA 70115 (504) 895-1636
Whew, and we're finally done with New Orleans. Yay! Coming up, I'll do a little work on my Memphis backlog, and then - TOKYO! Thanks for reading!