This blog is devoted to highlighting restaurants of Memphis, Tennessee.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Majestic Grille

Simply the Best!

Of all the restaurants in Memphis, The Majestic Grille is by far my favorite restaurant, and I like it because of the great atmosphere, excellent service and the enormous variety of the menu. Among the many favorites that I like are the Shrimp and Scallop Linguine and the Grilled Artichoke Flatbread (some will call this a pizza). Most of the time when I go there, it is for Sunday Brunch that is extremely delicious. In fact, I have yet to encounter anything on the menu that I didn't like, which is why The Majestic Grille is my favorite among favorites.
With so many great items on the menu, trying to write about all of them would be akin to writing a novel, however I will point out two items that I like the best. One of them is the Bone-in Rib Eye that I order medium rare. The steak is sixteen ounces of tender, marinated juiciness served up with either Parmesan fries, mashed potatoes or its special vegetable of the day (such as broccoli). From eating Majestic's steaks, I have come to appreciate good quality that doesn't require steak sauce. In the past, there was a running joke about me putting Heinz 57 on steaks because I was the only one doing it. Lisa the bartender kept a bottle of the sauce behind the bar and labeled it "Ken's Ketchup." Fortunately, I no longer have a need for it because it would only desecrate perfection. Anyway, I like the Majestic's steaks so much that I often order a steak meal during Sunday Brunch, such as the Steak and Eggs that comes with a mix of potatoes and red and green peppers (I believe the steak weighs ten ounces, although bigger cuts are available by request). As far as steaks go, there may be only a handful of restaurants that make a better steak than the Majestic, and fewer that can serve it up in a classy environment that has jazz music playing (often performed by a live band) and a silent movie displayed on the restaurant's back wall that is a nice homage to the famed movie theater, Majestic No. 1, that originally occupied the restaurant's current location.
For those on a budget, getting the Famous Grilled Cheese sandwich is a great deal, for you get a quality gourmet sandwich for about the same price as a foot-long sub at a place like Subway or Quiznos. Made with aged sharp cheddar, bacon, tomato and Creole mustard and accompanied by Parmesan fries, it is probably the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever tasted. I particularly like the mustard, an unconventional ingredient that really accentuates the sandwich's flavor. Of course, the credit for this and the many other wonderful menu choices (such as its fabulous cheeseburger that ranks #23 on my best burger list and great salads like the Majestic Cobb) can be attributed to restaurant's brilliant master chef and co-owner, Patrick Reilly. Kudos also go to Patrick's wife and co-owner Deni for marketing the many fine qualities of The Majestic Grille that makes it stand out among the many fine restaurants in Downtown Memphis.
In writing this review, I hope I don't sound biased for I always try to call it as I see it, which has upset people in the past. That said, I have dined at The Majestic Grille from its beginning, and I have NEVER had a bad experience. Thanks to the efforts of the Reillys and the restaurant staff, The Majestic Grille is one of finest restaurants in Memphis. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great dining experience that is first class.


Majestic Grille on Urbanspoon

LabelsAmerican, BrunchBurgersDowntown, Family Friendly, Pasta, Pizza, Salads, Sandwiches, Steaks, Upscale

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Pizza Shack

Over-hyped, yet decent pizza

For all the internet marketing that The Pizza Shack had done, I wanted to see if their pizzas lived up to the hype. To be fair, I wanted to try more than one of their pizzas so I could get a good sense of the pizzeria's quality. I set aside a day to have lunch there so I could get slices from different pizzas (slices are only offered during their lunch hours).
The slices of pizza that I chose were from two of the Shack's signature pizzas and one "meat lovers" style pizza that most pizzerias offer (my lunch also included a "free" soda). The first slice that I ate was "The Trinity," named because of it's three primary ingredients, grilled chicken, bacon and "ranch," which I guess is a reference to ranch dressing although it could have about the cheese (might have been cheddar) which was quite prominent. Of the three slices that I had, I liked The Trinity the most because of it's cheesiness that meshed well with the chicken and bacon. It was sort of like eating an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich. The pizza slice was good, but not awesome.
The second slice that I had was the namesake "The Shack Attack," which is topped with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, shredded steak, pulled pork and red onions, all covered with BBQ sauce. As a pizza, the "Attack" was decent and the pulled pork was good. In my opinion, it should have been their designated "meat" pizza as opposed to the third slice that I had.
The final slice that I had was The Pizza Shack's version of the meat lover's pizza, called the "Meaty," and it has pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, salami, ground beef and steak toppings. Despite the amount of toppings, the slice didn't seem that "meaty," plus it didn't have a lot of cheese on it, unlike "meat lovers" pizzas you can get at places like Pizza Hut (a place that The Pizza Shack is trying to emulate), Domino's, Papa John's and my local favorite, Broadway Pizza. As a pizza, the "Meaty" is okay, but it wouldn't be a pizza I would get to feed a hungry crowd at a party.
Overall, the pizza slices that I had at The Pizza Shack were good, but not nearly as good as restaurants such as Broadway Pizza and Old Venice Pizza Company. It's not even on par with Pizza Hut (the restaurant that the "Shack" aspires to be), but it is a nice neighborhood pizza joint located in the Lowe's parking lot on Perkins and Summer. If I lived in East Memphis, particularly in the Berclair neighborhood, I could see myself eating there on a regular basis. The Pizza Shack doesn't quite live up to the hype, but is a decent pizzeria nonetheless.

Slices of the Meaty and The Shack Attack
(apologies for not including The Trinity; ate the first slice before photographing)

Twitter: @thepizzashack

The Pizza Shack on Urbanspoon

LabelsNutbush/Berclair, Pizza, Sandwiches, Summer Avenue

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Amoco Food Express

A Hidden Gem

After reading a previous review on Yelp!, I decided to put in my "two cents" in. As far as gas stations/convenience stores go, I've seen better. While the place does look a little shabby and most of the products are dated, it's not the "House of Horrors" that the previous reviewer and many others have made it out to be. When comparing it to convenience stores in other crappy neighborhoods in Memphis, it might be somewhat worse because of the panhandlers that loiter there. However, there is a simple remedy for that: IGNORE THEM. Whenever I go there, I don't even acknowledge their presence. So, as far as the overall environment of Amoco Food Express, I just take it for what it is.
The real reason for my review was not to either refute or debate the other reviewer, but to talk about the one thing that I love about the place: the food. Assuming that you don't want "burnt shriveled up hash brown potatoes and wings" but instead want something hot and fresh, go to Amoco Food Express during lunch on a weekday (Monday through Friday). This place serves some of best Southern/Soul Food in Memphis, and that's saying a lot. The place serves Southern meat staples such as fried chicken, baked chicken, fried pork chops, hamburger steak and other items. To go along with these, vegetables such as turnip greens, green beans, mashed potatoes, fried okra and rice and gravy are also served. No matter what you get, you'll probably get a very satisfying meal.
With the food being this good, I am so glad I found this place. When I initially discovered their food counter, it was completely by accident. I believed this happened on a day when I needed gas to get back to work after mailing something at the post office across the street. When I saw the food counter containing pork chops that looked like my mom used to make, I couldn't resist and got a plate lunch. That meal consisted of some of the best fried pork chops that I've had in a long time. This made a huge impression on me, consequentially making it a prime destination for lunch whenever I'm nearby. By the way, it only offers take-out service, which is fine with me because the environment there isn't conducive with dining.
I recently had the baked chicken with green beans and rice and gravy, and it was one best meals that I've had for the week. The baked chicken was seasoned and very tender (so much that the meat falls off the bone) and was moist, not dry. The chicken had just the right amount of oil that made it juicy, but not greasy. I also really liked the rice and gravy, for it was nicely seasoned with just enough salt to make it tasty (I hate it when anything is over-salted). The rice and chicken are a great combination that I highly recommend.
For all of its faults, the Amoco Food Express is a great place to get lunch (or breakfast). If you can look past the panhandlers and everything else that gives the place a negative vibe, you'll be rewarded with a great culinary experience.

Amoco Food Express on Urbanspoon

Labels: Breakfast, Downtown, Gas Station/Convenience Store, Soul Food

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thyme Bistro

Not quite the hype

After a bit of procrastination, I decided to dine at Thyme Bistro. The reviews I read on Urbanspoon were very flattering, which prompted me to see for myself. Although the restaurant is very nice and the management and waitstaff are very hospitable, the meal that I had didn't quite measure up to the hype.
Because I had a bit of an appetite, I decided to get an appetizer in addition to the main course. The appetizer that I chose was the bruschetta topped with diced tomatoes and olive tapenade (a French paste). As someone who has eaten a lot of bruschetta in my time (both in Italy and in the States), this was the first time that I served bruschetta in this fashion, and it was literally an eye-opener. After taking the first bite, I immediately got a jolt of spiciness, and I incorrectly assumed that it was horseradish. However Lisa, the lady who served me, said the spiciness was due to the garlic in the tapenade. Well, far be it from me to a critic (of course, this blog wouldn't exist if I wasn't critical), but that was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TOO MUCH garlic for my taste. Although I tried to drink water to cool my mouth, I should have taken my server's advice and eaten the bruschetta with the pinot noir that I ordered with my main course. Eventually, when I did get my wine, which was a glass of Mirassou Pinot Noir, I ate the last two slices bruschetta and it tasted better. Seems that the bruschetta and pinot noir complement each other. By the way, my server (and probably many others) mispronounce "bruschetta" by annunciating the "chet" syllable in a manner similar to the word "shoe." This is the proper Italian pronunciation for bruschetta, although the Merriam-Webster Dictionary would disagree (this is their version). No matter how you say it, the bruschetta wasn't my cup of tea.
For the main course, I stayed with the Italian theme and chose the Pasta Bolognese. The reason I chose this entrée was so I could compare it to a similar dish that I had at The Villa in Midtown Memphis' Overton Square. The Bolognese pasta that I had at The Villa literally left a bad taste in my mouth, so I was curious to see if Thyme's version could be better, merely the same or worse. Thyme's version of the Bolognese meat sauce is marinara mixed in with pork and beef, which is a nice combination, but the marinara was so ordinary that the sauce didn't "WOW" me. However, it was much better than The Villa's version and it didn't leave a bad aftertaste (although the bruschetta might have).
My pasta came with sticks of garlic bread and olive oil for dipping. The texture of the bread was mushy, as if it was half-baked. Biting into it was sort of like trying to eat a sponge, and it wasn't enjoyable. After a couple of bites, I decided to skip the garlic bread.
In all, the dinner that I had at Thyme Bistro was so-so, but of course this is just one opinion. Given that the restaurant has received many good reviews means that it is doing something right. However, based on my experience, I can't give it a "thumbs up," but I am willing to give it a second try. By the way, I want to give kudos to my server Lisa, who worked really hard to make sure my dining experience was enjoyable, and I hope that my next visit will be better.


LabelsEast Memphis, European, Pasta, Upscale

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