Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Four Food Groups

This is my version of the four food groups: Italian, Thai, Mexican, and Japanese.

Italian: Spindini
Spindini is in downtown Memphis (on South Main) but when you walk in you feel like you're in downtown Chicago or Manhattan.  The restaurant is small, loud, and has a modern feel to the decor.  I always get the Tuscan butter as an appetizer and the eggplant rollatini for the entree.  I may be a vegetarian, but the Tuscan butter is an app for anyone.  Its essentially cheese, butter, and oil spread on bread.  Pure fat.  And the eggplant is deep fried with the delicious red sauce.  Perfect.  They also make a great martini if you feel like just popping in for a drink at the bar to enjoy the atmosphere, you are guaranteed to see someone you know or recognize.

Thai: Bhan Thai
I've really only been to this midtown restaurant a few times.  Thai food for me is "order in on a Sunday night and eat on your couch" food.  And Bhan Thai does it the best.  I get the Pad See-U.  You can get it with chicken, shrimp, or beef.  I get it with extra vegetables.  This dish has just the right amount of spice and the rice noodles are perfect.  Cole and I usually each order a entree and the total bill is around $30, pretty expensive for carry-out, but I always have enough left over for lunch on Monday.

Mexican: Happy Mexican
If were talking about the Mexican place I go to the most, it is definitely Chipotle, I'm obsessed.  But as far as a locally owned restaurant, I have to go with Happy Mexican.  I go to the one downtown.  The food is cheap and delicious and the margaritas are good.  Beware, if you go on a Friday or Saturday night, it will be wild: we have to have a private security guard at the door wild.  And they may ask for your credit card before your meal, I presume because they've been burned by people walking out on their check.  I love to go on a sunny summer afternoon to sit on the patio and have a few cervezas and get really full.  You can get a beer, margarita, or burrito as big as your head.

Japanese: Pacific Rim
Because I tend to stay downtown, I go to Blue Fin way more frequently, but Sekisui Pacific Rim is my favorite place to go.  Like most sushi restaurants, both have the up beat modern vibe.  SPR just seems to have more options and creativity when it comes to sushi rolls.  I love the BB.  I'm not quite sure what it is, other than its tempura something with cream cheese and a sweet soy sauce.  So good.  They are also creative with the martinis, with a million options that all taste like desert.

Now of course there is a fifth food group: pizza.  But that deserves a dedicated blog post all to itself.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

All You Can Eat Hibachi $11.95- whaaaat?

This has to be one of Memphis' best kept lunch secrets.  All you can eat hibachi at the Sekisui off Humphries, only $11.95.  Steak, chicken, shrimp, veggies, fried rice and it comes with a starter of soup and salad. Unreal.  It's everyday during lunch- until 1:45.  And before your plate is even empty, the hibachi guy is offering you more.  It's a dream come true for Cole, who was not born with the internal mechanism that alerts your brain that you are full.

I was a little worried going to Sekisui in my condition on a Saturday afternoon- no make-up, hair in a sweat band, over sized hoodie, and yoga pants.  But I was relieved and pleased to see everyone else at the hibachi table dressed the exact same way.  It's a lazy/hungover diners dream.

I am a sushi lover, and they will still bring you their famous sushi over to the hibachi area.  I got a half order of cucumber rolls and a cucumber-avocado roll.  Delicious as always.  But beware, don't expect a lot by the way of service if you are getting anything besides the hibachi.  I put in my order for the sushi and never saw the waitress again.  I had decided to get a sprite and miso soup and had to go to the receptionist station to put my order it.  And I ate my sushi with a fork somehow; she never brought chop sticks and I was too lazy to get up again.  They must know service is lacking, because anyone who gets the all you can eat deal automatically gets 15% gratuity added to the bill.  But, when the total check, including tax and tip, is only $26, the poor service is tolerable.

So if you're looking to overeat on your lunch break, or gorge yourself on a lazy weekend afternoon, head to Sekisui and get all the shrimp, steak, and chicken you can handle.
50 Humphreys Center
(901) 747-0001

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cortona: Not a new restaurant, but new to me- it's in Midtown

I'm a downtown girl mostly, but I forget how much I like Cooper-Young.  Last night I tried Cortona Contemporary Italian.  Its been around since February, but this was my first go at it.  Its in the old Dish Restaurant location- which has been about million eateries in the last five years. 

The first thing that stuck out to me about Cortona was free valet and not illegal valet!  (These downtown/midtown restaurants love to illegally block off whole city blocks, and I love to be outraged about it.) But it was the BIG glasses of wine that hooked me.  The deal of the night, the Wine Mixer: three full glasses of wine accompany three courses, for $25. 

The food was good.  I had the asparagus soup and a "side" of angel hair pasta.  The "side" was enough for dinner and lunch today.  Cole (husband) had the salmon.  He said it was unbelievable.  He did wonder if they were hiding anything, because of the heavy sauce and saltiness.  Jane (mother-in-law) had the Tilapia special.  She says the fish dishes are the best in the city.  Chef David Cleveland came out to see how our meal was going- which is always nice.

I left wondering if its possible to die from being full....