Monday, February 24, 2014

East End Bar and Grill

Here lately, I've been spending a lot of time in midtown Memphis.  It's fun.  It's happening.  It's much more . . . alive . . . than where I am in the suburbs.  There are so many fun local restaurants and bars.  And every time I wander back over to the 'burbs, I feel a little disenfranchised.  Like I'm being cheated with all the chain restaurants or something.  If I didn't have children, I would totally put down stakes in midtown.  Alas, not such a great part of town for raising kids.  So in the 'burbs is where I'll remain.

Which means it's nice to discover a local joint that I never tried before.  I've driven past East End somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty gazillion times but never once stopped by or even really let it pique my interest.  When a friend suggested we meet there the other night, it sounded like a good idea.  I love trying out new places.  Especially when they're:
a) not a chain
and
b) actually in the suburbs

East End is total bar food.  And it's totally low key, has a "dive" vibe to it.  Blinking "Flat Tire" and "Budweiser" signs on the wall.  My kind of place.

We split an order of fried cheese balls.  They were served with honey mustard and I had to give the  menu the side eye.  I mean, really?  Cheese balls with honey mustard?  Where's the ranch, homey?  Turns out, though, it was a pretty good combination.  Not one I would've expected but still . . . pretty good.  As far as the cheese balls themselves, I thought they were pretty damn good while my friend found them more generic ("these are just Tyson brand.  You can buy a bag of them at Kroger.")  Maybe one of us is just harder to please?

When it came to entrees, I went with the fish taco while my friend ordered a shrimp po' boy.  I gave the menu a side eye - again! - because none of the sandwiches (or fish tacos) come with fries, it's all separate.  We ordered a side to share, though, and it turned out to be more than enough for two people.  They tasted good but pretty much just the standard fries you'd get at any bar.  Nothing special.  My fish taco was really, really good.  It was served with a side of mango salsa that was amaaaaze.  Seriously, could've just eaten that salsa by the spoonful.  The shrimp po' boy, though, that's where it was at.  I tried one of the shrimp and instantly regretted my fish taco order.  It tasted like Bang Bang Shrimp.  So good! 

The best thing about the place was that it was relatively cheap.  A total of six beers, two entrees, a side of fries, an appetizer, and a shot of Fireball . . . all for $55.  For food that tasted good, that's a pretty damn good deal!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Bayou

When people think Memphis, they think "barbecue."  Totally understandable.  But one of my favorite places in midtown is The Bayou.  Maybe because it reminds me of New Orleans.  Maybe because it's just really damn good food. 

I've eaten there several times, the most recent about a month ago, but have never written about the amazingness that is their food.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?  Well, here goes:  Their food?  It is amazing.

The last time I went, my friend and I split an appetizer of crab stuffed shrimp.  These are little shrimp stuffed with crab (um, duh) and then wrapped in bacon.  I repeat: WRAPPED IN BACON.  If there's anything you should order from The Bayou, it's these little morsels of deliciousness.  Another really fabulous appetizer (though I usually order it as a meal) is the alligator nachos.  They're made with alligator chili and, y'all, I love me some gator!

As far as entrees go, on my last trip I went with the chipotle shrimp.  It was absolutely delicious!  It was served with dirty rice (very good! And I'm not much of a rice person -- it has to be very flavorful for me to eat it and this fit the bill) and spinach.  The spinach . . . um, no.  It's probably the only thing I've ever tried from The Bayou that I did not enjoy.  My friend had the crab cake po' boy and it was also pretty damn delicioso.  My shrimp was totally better though.  Team shrimp! 

Another "must order" is the Bayou Broth Sampler -- samplings of duck and sausage gumbo, alligator chili, red beans and rice, seafood gumbo, and shrimp and crawfish bisque.  It gives you a chance to try all of their soups -- all of which are delicious -- and it's really good on a cold night.

This isn't a fancy place, not at all, and the service can be hit or miss.  Even with spotty service, the food makes it worth it.  They serve Blue Moon by the bottle which makes them a-ok in my book and have a ton of other beers on tap and by the bottle.

If you're ever in Memphis and get tired of the barbecue, definitely wander over to midtown and try out The Bayou.  You won't be sorry!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hey You! Born in 1988 - STOP TRYING TO PLAY GUESS THE 90's!


Move over, Candy Crush, there's a new kid in town. 

That new kid is called Guess the 90's and I can almost guarantee you that the developers had this 33-year-old mom in southwest Tennessee in mind when they came up with the game.  I LOVE THE 90's!  I turned 10 in 1990, 18 in 1998 . . . my formative years were in the 90's.  And, believe me, I know that decade.  I lived that decade.  I love that decade.  From Kris Kross gonna make you jump jump to My Heart will Go On to I got one hand in my pocket and the one is . . . Give me your scrunchies and overalls with one strap down and Doc Martens.  Let's all sit down and watch Dumb and Dumber or My Girl or we can quote Clueless ("you're a virgin who can't drive.")  Leonardo DiCaprio will always look better with floppy hair and Boy Meets World will forever be one of the best teen TV shows.  Ever.

I love the 90's.
I love Guess the 90's.

At the same time, though, it hurts my heart a little bit.  The things that people ask about on Facebook . . . no.  Just no.  No, no, no.

If you do not know Bugle Boy jeans . . . stop playing Guess the 90's.
If you cannot identify the movie Curlie Sue . . . stop playing Guess the 90's.
If you do not recognize Andrew Keegan . . . stop playing Guess the 90's.
If you never dreamed of the day you could appear on Double Dare . . . stop playing Guess the 90's.
If you cannot identify a Mazda Miata as the most coveted car circa 1995 . . . stop playing Guess the 90's.
If you see a picture of a very youthful NPH and cannot immediately identify him as the most infamous child doctor (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, KIRA) . . . stop playing Guess the 90's.

Or at least stop asking for help on Facebook.

Because, really, you're breaking my heart.

Now.  If you need me, I'll be over with my Alanis CD's, watching American Pie, and rocking my No Fear shirt.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Literary

I've started taking my iPad with me to the gym and reading while I'm on the treadmill or whatever piece of equipment I decide to use.  It helps pass the time and, you know, I'm reading, doing something I enjoy.  I've gotten in the habit of highlighting and bookmarking some lines and quotes that stand out to me in the books.  (Total side note here but I remember when I said that I would never, ever trade in "real" books for any kind of e-reader.  What the heck was I thinking?  I love being able to highlight and bookmark and not feel like I'm defacing a book.)  Anyway, I have a bit of writer's block today so I thought I'd share a few of the quotes.

"It was funny.  I hadn't loved high school and had been only incrementally happier in college, but the older I got, the more I enjoyed trading memories with people who'd been unhappy at the same time I was." -- Wildwater Walking Club, Claire Cook

I actually did enjoy high school (notsomuch my time at Baylor though) but I still read this quote and thought "YES!".   We all do it, don't we?  The older we get, the more we seem to enjoy sharing those cringe-worthy memories.  Finding common ground and solace, I suppose.  Commiserating over any kind of loser status. 

"Sometimes you only get one good minute a day," I said. "You just have to make the most of it."  -- Wildwater Walking Club

"Now I knew that the hardest part of any workout was just putting on your sneakers.  Once you got started, all you had to do was keep placing one foot in front of the other, no matter what was or wasn't happening in your life, no matter how happy or sad you were."  -- Wildwater Walking Club

She's talking about exercise, obviously, but it could be applied to life as well.  The hardest part is just putting your sneakers on . . . just getting started . . .

"Life is not a PG feel-good movie.  Real life often ends badly . . . "  -- The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick

REAL TALK.

"You don't have to be Southern to be white trash, but it helps, mostly because Southerners know the beauty of a potted meat and mayonnaise sandwich better than most."  -- We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, Celia Rivenbark

In this passage she's talking about "freaks" who decide to turn an ex into a best friend:

"Freak: "Oh, look, there's Joel!  Yoo-hoo!  Joe-el!  I'm so glad you could make it tonight!  And who's your friend?  She's absolutely stunning!"
Normal Person: "Oh, look, there's Joel.  That lying sack of shit.  Who's the cheap Christmas trash hanging all over him?  Wait a minute.  I'll just go say hello.  Hi, Joel.  Have you told Lil' Kim here that you still wet the bed?"  -- We're Just Like You, Only Prettier

"Getting married shouldn't be like checking another item off your post college to-do list like taking up yoga or switching to decaf."  -- We're Just Like You, Only Prettier

(P.S. - If you're interested -- of these three books, Wildwater Walking Club was okay but not great.  The Silver Linings Playbook was hard to get into but I really, really liked it once it got going, and We're Just Like You . . . it had funny parts but Rivernbark's style of writing just isn't really my cup of tea.)