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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kroger Midtown Cafe

Not quite a fan

With Kroger being near my home, I shop there often for groceries and other things I need. I rarely get anything from the deli because for the most part, nothing that the deli offers is fresh. However, because of decent dining experiences that I've had at other Kroger stores, I decided to give Kroger Midtown Cafe a try, hoping that my doubts would be proven wrong. Based on what I had so far, I can't say those doubts have been completely eased.
The meal that I had was the scrambled eggs with sides of hash browns and sausage patties. The scraÀ La Carte Breakfastmbled eggs were some of the saltiest that I ever tasted, and it was so bad that I couldn't finish eating the small portion that I ordered. Besides being salty, the eggs were also watery, maybe the result of being on the serving table a bit too long. The hash browns and sausage patties were okay, but if the eggs aren't good, then why bother with the rest? It'll be like eating a Big Mac with the special sauce and cheese, but with ratty-tasting meat.
I wanted to try something from the lunch/dinner menu, but when I arrived there at about 6:50 PM on a Wednesday, there was very little left to be had. Judging from what I saw, even if the deli had any food left, I might not have eaten it because, in my opinion, everything looked stale and unappealing. Compared to other supermarket delis like Schnucks and Piggly Wiggly (whose Midtown store will soon become a "CashSaver") that usually have fresh food right up to their closing time (7:00 PM), Kroger seems to stop preparing meals well before then. The next time, I made sure I got there at an earlier time, which was about 1:15 PM on a Friday afternoon.
When I got there, the serving table was nearly filled to capacity, even though the selection was limited. Basically, it mostly consisted of chicken (both baked and fried), along with a pan each of fried catfish, spaghetti and mashed potatoes. In order to make an even-StevServing table/line (April 15, 2011)en comparison to places like the nearby Rudabagas and my personal favorite, the much maligned Amoco Food Express, I ordered the two-piece chicken combo (costing $5.45 with tax) with baked chicken. Even though the combo comes wiServing table/line (April 15, 2011)th two sides of vegetables, the only vegetable that was available was the mashed potatoes, so the woman who served me substituted the spaghetti for one of the veggies (the combo also includes a roll). Because nearly all the tables were taken, I decided to opt for take-out and ate the combo at home.
In eating the combo meal, I wasn't expecting much from it, so I was pleased that it was a decent meal. The baked chicken had a nice grilled flavor, with the skin slightly charred in a good way. The cTwo-piece chicken combo, with baked chickenhicken was tender and seasoned, and was by far the best part of the meal. The spaghetti, mixed with a gritty meat sauce, had a cheesy and spicy flavor that one would likely find in a school cafeteria. The mashed potatoes weren't anything more than typical, but it complemented everything else nicely. Overall, the meal was about a "6" on a ten-point scale, which isn't terrible but not exactly an endorsement.
In closing, I will say that after a couple of visits, I can only say a few good things about the Kroger Midtown Cafe. Other than the baked chicken, most of the food was about average (with the breakfast I had being terrible), and I can't see myself going there on a consistent basis, especially if I can get better quality and variety of food for about the same price. I hope that future meals will change my opinion, for as I said earlier, the grocery store is convenient for me as far as my shopping needs are concerned, and it would be nice to grab a bite to eat while on the go. It would be cool if Kroger meets this need, but based on what I have seen and eaten so for, I'm not optimistic that it will happen.


LabelsBreakfast, Deli, Dessert, Midtown

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

YoLo Frozen Yogurt

A Cool, Sweet Delight

One day after having lunch at Carmela's Caffe, I decided to walk a few doors down in the Erin Way Shopping Center to YoLo Frozen Yogurt, a place that many of my friends have raved about for the past few months. Not familiar with the place, I didn't know what to expect. The place is very spacious, with the dining area about 20 ft. x 30 ft. (of course, this is a VERY rough guess). I believe the reason that there is so much space is because the yogurt and toppings "line" is self-serve, with the yogurt being kept in dispensers that the customer uses to pour into the paper bowls provided. It was a little confusing at first, for I didn't notice the dispensers and walked past them, however after getting some Animal Crackers from the toppings counter, I saw other customers getting yogurt so I went back and did the same. After looking over my choices, I decided to get the Cookies 'n Cream in order to stay within the "dessert" theme, and got an entire bowl of it (because YoLo charges its yogurt and toppings by the pound, different yogurt flavors can be mixed together, for those who want to experiment like I did later). After looking over the various candies, cereals, cookies and fruits displayed on the toppings counter, I topped my yogurt off with the aforementioned Animal Crackers, something simply called "yogurt topping" which are little white sugar candy beads, a strawberry and a blackberry. With a name like "Cookies 'n Cream", the yogurt's taste lived up to it's name, for it tasted like a combination of cookie dough and whipped cream. Along with the toppings (sans blackberry), the combined taste was wonderful and it really hit the spot, especially after eating a huge panini with potato chips and a beer. After my initial experience at YoLo's East Memphis location, I decided to visit their Midtown location to see if the great experience I had was consistent.
Upon visiting YoLo's Midtown location, at Cooper St. and Madison Ave., I noticed the place has a similar vibe as its East Memphis counterpart, although it is somewhat smaller. It appeared that the Midtown location has the same yogurt flavors as the one I visited earlier, although some of them weren't available when I tried to dispense them. I eventually went Neapolitan, for I got a combination of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, plus I added another flavor, California Tart. For my toppings, I chose rainbow sprinkles and ice cream cone chips, which seemed to work well with my yogurt blend. In all, the yogurt and toppings tasted great, and I will definitely try again. This location also serves gelato and has a bakery (Lady Bugg Bakery), so for those who desire other dessert options, YoLo might have it covered. With the Midtown location situated next to Lenny's, the two eateries could be a great one-two punch for anyone looking for a complete dining experience. If you're hungering for Italian, Bari Ristorante is also close by (for East Memphis diners, juxtapose Carmela's/Ciao Bella for Bari).
After experiencing both locations, my assessment of YoLo is positive, for the yogurts I had were delicious and a nice alternative to traditional ice cream (will eventually travel to the Collierville location, but for now I will assume that it is the same as the other two locations). With the various flavors and toppings (made from locally produced ingredients), most will surely find something they like and will likely be satisfied with it. I hope that YoLo has continued success, and I intend to make many visits there in the future.


YoLo Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Labels: Breakfast, Dessert, Multiple Locations, Overton Square

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Hollywood Fish Market and Deli

Not My Cup of Tea

After finally getting around to it, I made a stop to the Hollywood Fish Market and Deli to see what it was like. With "Fish Market" in the name, I thought the place would be more like Captain D's rather than say, a fish market. However, the second you walk in the place, you KNOW it's the latter. The place reeks of catfish and whiting, which can bought raw by the pound. With the aroma being that strong, I knew that I wasn't eating there for the smell was overwhelming. After looking over the menu, which includes a decent selection of "Soul" food that's already prepared, I decided to get the Catfish Fillet sandwich with a side of spaghetti. The "sandwich" is actually three pieces of catfish fillet, two slices of bread, cole slaw and a small cup of hot sauce. The catfish fillets are cooked to order, can be both good and bad. It's good because the fillets are coming fresh out of the pan (or whatever it is cooked in), and bad because of the aroma that the fillets give off. I know this sounds like a "duh" moment, but in all the times that I've gotten catfish for take out from places like the Soul Fish Cafe and Millington's Miss Sipps, I have never had catfish that was that strong in odor. In fact, I had to drive home with the windows down on a rainy day in order to vent out the smell. In putting up with the smell, I hoped the "sandwich" would be worth it, and that wasn't necessarily the case.
After getting home and turning on all the oven vents in my kitchen, I finally got around to eating the catfish. The fillets, which were fried and breaded (and in my opinion, a little overcooked), were extremely salty, to the point that the hot sauce wasn't even necessary. In order to cut down on some of the saltiness, I poured some Heinz Gourmet Salad Vinegar on them, which made the fillets more palatable. Also, when I put one of the fillets between the two bread slices and ate it as a sandwich, the catfish didn't seem that bad. The spaghetti that I got as a side was basic pasta in meat sauce, and it was a decent complement to the catfish. After looking at the yellow coleslaw, I decided to pass on it (in a bit of disclosure, I'm not a big coleslaw fan). In assessing my meal, I would rate it a "5" on a ten-point scale.
Overall, my experience at the Hollywood Fish Market and Deli was not a positive one. While the staff is very friendly and helpful, the overpowering smell of the deli and the aroma and saltiness of the catfish fillets was a little too much for me. Although this place may be okay for some people, I can't see myself returning there for another meal. The next time that I have a craving for catfish, I'm heading somewhere else for it.



LabelsNorth Memphis, Seafood, Soul Food

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beauty Shop

A Cool, Hip Place to Eat

Last night, I decided to treat myself to a really nice dinner. Initially, I wanted to go to Bari Ristorante in Overton Square, but because I got off work late and hadn't made a reservation, I couldn't get a table. Afterward, I headed to Cooper-Young to try out the new Italian restaurant, Cortona, located in the space formerly occupied by Dish. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a table there either, which put me at a loss as to where to go for dinner. Fortunately, there are many quality restaurants at the Cooper and Young intersection to choose from, so I decided to go to the Beauty Shop. I had hoped a bartender that I knew would be on duty in case I needed to wait for a table, but he wasn't there. Luckily, the restaurant had an open table so I was seated immediately.
After getting seated at a table, I immediately ordered a Stella Artois to sip on while I perused the menu. With my mind still set on pasta, I opted for the Bar Steak from the restaurant's tapas menu as an appetizer and The Pasta of The Day (or "Pasta di Giorno" to my Italian friends) for the main course. For my wine, I went with the pinot grigio from Tomasso that proved to be a nice complement.
The Bar Steak is nothing more than slices of beef tenderloin swimming in what I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) was olive oil and garnished with arugula. Accompanied with potato chips (or "gaufrettes" to the high brow folks who would never eat snack foods), the Bar Steak was a nice prequel to the main course. The taste was similar to pan-seared roast beef without the overseasoning of salt. The meat was nicely tenderized, which made chewing it with the arugula a delight. After I finished it, I was anxious to get to the main course.
The Pasta of The Day that I had was cheese ravioli in a veal cream sauce. I asked my server what the entrée was called, and she said that it didn't have a name. I really liked the sauce, for it tasted like it had a little bit of vinegar (or white cooking wine) in it, and it was pretty meaty. With the pinot grigio, the ravioli was really good and it satisfied my appetite. I liked the sauce so much that I tried to eat the rest of it after I finished the ravioli (should've gotten a spoon). In all, I thought it was a good menu choice because for a non-Italian restaurant, the chefs at the Beauty Shop seem to know what they're doing.
Overall, the Beauty Shop is a restaurant that I have enjoyed going to for the past few years. Whether it is a cheeseburger for lunch, grilled lamb sirloin for dinner and shrimp and grits for Sunday Brunch, I have never had a bad meal there. If you're eating outside, try not to do it under a tree. While eating shrimp and grits during a Sunday Brunch, a bird doing his "business" almost ruined it for me, so beware of that. In addition to great dining, the restaurant also provides an atmosphere for socializing via its bar and overall interior design theme, where a lot of seemingly hip and cool people hang out. In all, the Beauty Shop is one of the better restaurants in Memphis. Check it out, and if you're fortunate to have the bartender Bjarni serve you a cocktail, you're going to have a good time.


Beauty Shop on Urbanspoon

LabelsAmerican, Appetizers/Bar Food, Brunch, Midtown, Pasta, Tapas/Small Plates, Upscale

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