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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stevana Banana's Delicious Shaved Ice

If you're in the vicinity of the University of Memphis and yearning for a way to cool off, going with a cup of shaved ice (AKA a snow cone) from Stevana Banana's Delicious Shaved Ice is a great way to do it. Located in the Z Highland Street Market parking lot on 628 S. Highland Street, near Southern Avenue, Stevana (a former Flying Saucer Girl) sells cups in three sizes: small ($2), medium ($3) and large (a 16 oz. cup, $5). Flavors (26 of them) range from Strawberry to Cotton Candy to Butter Popcorn, so depending on your taste, you're likely covered. In addition to the numerous flavors, Stevana also offers the option of adding Half-and-Half cream to any cup of shaved ice, which I tried for the first time and got great satisfaction from it.

UPDATE (September 14, 2013): Stevana added hot dogs to the menu (and consequently changing her business' name to Stevana Banana's Delicious Food Cart). Featuring Nathan's ¼-pound all-beef frankfurters, the dogs ($4) can come with either gourmet relish or salsa topped on them for an extra 25 cents. To make it a meal, Stevana also sells potato chips and soda, which as a Value Meal goes for five dollars.

Stevana Banana's is open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM during the Summer months of the year. Stevana is also working on getting access to sell at the Memphis Farmers Market and other special events. Whenever you stop by, you'll be welcomed by a lovely lady who will be very happy to serve you.

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LabelsDessert, Food Truck, Hot Dogs

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Fries, Fries and More Fries (and a burger)

Anytime I hear a lot of hype about anything, I'm skeptical. Especially when it comes to restaurants that is supposed to be the "Next Big Thing." When it was announced that Five Guys Burgers and Fries was coming to Memphis, a lot of my friends were excited that the burger chain was coming to town. Despite my skepticism, I decided to reserve judgment until I had a chance to try it myself.
Even though my intention was to only visit the Memphis franchise, my first experience with a Five Guys burger was in Nashville. For my order, I decided to get a cheeseburger and a regular order of fries. Not familiar with Five Guys, I didn't know that a "regular" cheeseburger and French fries would turn out to actually be a double cheeseburger and a HUGE amount of fries. When I saw the amount of French fries that came with a "regular" order, I was astounded. Clearly, there were enough fries for at least two people. The fries allegedly come in a cup, but it's actually two cups (at least), with the other "cup" being the bag itself. I felt like I was ordering a French Fry dinner with a side of cheeseburger, instead of the other way around. The fries, cooked in peanut oil, were pretty good overall, for they were fresh, buttery, lightly salted and not too crispy. The texture of the fries was kind of like a baked potato in that it was soft and chewy, and not overcooked. By the way, I want to stress that I got the "Five Guy" flavor of fries; the other option that is offered is Cajun style. My only complaint was the amount of fries was more than I needed to accompany my cheeseburger, and I had to compel myself into eating the rest while I walked back to my car.
As for the burger, it was okay by most standards. The beef patties were the typical seasoned, griddle-fried kind that could be found in most places, so it didn't standout in terms of flavor. In fact, despite that the cheeseburger consisted of two 1/4 lb. beef patties, there was so much lettuce and tomato on it that I had a hard time determining how good the burger really was. After removing some of the lettuce, I got a better sense of the burger, and my impression of it was that it was decent, but not exceptional. I came away with an initial impression of Five Guys as a decent yet overhyped burger joint that is really pricey. My meal, which didn't include a soda, cost $9.27, which is a bit much, although I got double (maybe triple) the amount of fries that I'm normally accustom to, so the cost didn't seem too out of whack. However, I made a note to order less for my Memphis visit.
During my visit to the Memphis restaurant, I decided to get a "little" bacon cheeseburger and, to satisfy my curiosity, another "regular" order of fries. When I got this order, I might have gotten more fries than my Nashville visit, for I clearly had enough for three people. However, I only needed to skim the top of my cup to get the amount of fries that I needed to go with my bacon cheeseburger. Speaking of my "little" bacon cheeseburger, which actually is the size of a normal burger with one 1/4 lb. beef patty, was pretty good. In order to enhance my eating pleasure, I made sure to include mayo, grilled mushrooms and grilled onions to my burger, something that I didn't do on my Nashville visit. Those additions made a big difference, for it really enhanced the burger's taste, especially the sautéed onions (I'm kind of curious if Five Guys uses peanut oil to sauté their veggies, for the onions seemed like it was cooked in another kind of oil, given how sweet they were). Overall, this meal made a better impression on me, although at $8.50 (without a soda), it was still pricey.
After making visits to two franchises in different cities, my overall impression of Five Guys Burgers and Fries is mildly positive. For a fast food restaurant, the prices are a bit high, but given the amount of fries that come with an order, I would advise dining there with at least one other person who could share in the purchase of the French fries, which should lower cost. With a "regular" order of fries costing $2.79, splitting that between two or three people is very cost efficient. Also, if a diner doesn't desire a burger, Five Guys also serves hot dogs which are slightly cheaper that their burgers. Because of the cost involved in a typical meal, I won't give a full endorsement of Five Guys, but for those who dine in groups and families, I believe it's worthy of at least one visit.


Five Guys Burgers and Fries on UrbanspoonFive Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

LabelsBurgers, Chain Restaurants, East Memphis, Family Friendly, Multiple Locations, Nashville

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Slider Inn

Thoughts About The Opening

Last night, I attended the grand opening of The Slider Inn, a bar and burger restaurant on the corner of Peabody and Cooper. As the name applies, it will focus on the miniature Slider hamburger that has recently benefited from a renaissance in popularity as restaurants ranging from Burger King to Hooters to even upscale eateries like Memphis' Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar have adopted it. Slider Inn's version is exactly the same as the one made by Bardog Tavern, which makes sense given that Aldo Demartino owns both restaurants. In terms of quality, I couldn't tell a difference, meaning that Aldo and his staff were well prepared for the opening.
Speaking of Slider Inn's opening, it seemed to be pretty successful, due to the high turnout. The restaurant gave out free food, liquor and beer, although the bar cut the free tap on the latter after 7:00 P.M. The inside of the restaurant/bar is quite small, about the same size as a living room of a medium-sized house. However, there are quite a few tables on the patio, all equipped with umbrella covering that should keep diners cool. One of my friends pointed out that the tables, made of wood, were all sanded down to prevent diners from getting splinters. When I thought about that, I realized that Aldo and his staff paid attention to even the smallest of details. The only gripe that I had on opening night was having to constantly get my server's attention, but given the circumstances, I'll let it "slide" and assume things will get better.
As of now, The Slider Inn doesn't have an official menu, but if the upcoming menu is similar to Bardog's, it may not bode well for the bar long term (UPDATE: the restaurant has since developed a menu for its "official" opening September 1, 2011; to see it, click here). Although I and many others like Bardog, The Slider Inn is located in a neighborhood where the residents are more health conscious which could dissuade some of them from dining there. As an example of this, another friend who was with me pointed out that the only thing she could eat there that night was the French fries. As a vegan, she could never consider The Slider Inn as a dining option due to the lack of menu options. Fortunately, she made her case to one of the managers there who was very receptive in what she had to say. While I don't expect the place to become another Imagine Vegan Cafe, I hope that the restaurant can accommodate her and others with a few choices. Doing so will make the place even more appealing than it is now.
Based on what I experienced, I believe that The Slider Inn has a good chance at being successful as long as the place is well managed and offers things that people like, such as $3.00 PBRs. With so many former restaurants failing in Slider Inn's current location, it's going to take a lot of work to keep the restaurant going. I'm confident that Aldo and his staff (which includes Brooke (a former Flying Saucer girl), who appeared to be supervising the wait staff) are capable of meeting the challenge, and I expect good things from the bar/restaurant in the future.

Liked the Vegan Slider

A couple of weeks after the "soft opening" of the Slider Inn, I visited it again for a light dinner. Initially, I was going to get a couple of beef sliders, but after being informed by Aldo, (the bar's owner) that a vegan slider was added to the menu, I decided to give it a try. Before I go on, I want to state that I'm neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, but I appreciate good food regardless of what it is. That said, I ordered a couple of vegan sliders with a glass of water. I thought I had told my server that I wanted a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), but she might not have heard me. Although with me having a few beers earlier, I might have been better off without it.
As for the vegan slider, my first impression of it was very positive. The slider is a mash-up of many ingredients, most notably black beans and rice, with onions for spiciness. The texture of the slider patty isn't dense, and the two that I had went down nicely without weighing too heavy in my stomach. As I was eating them, I detected a bit of sweetness in them, which could have been due to the molasses that I later discovered is also an ingredient. Overall, I was very impressed with what the Slider Inn came up with. Although my opinion on this may not mean much, given that I'm a "meat man," I can definitely see myself ordering a vegan slider along with two beef sliders. So for vegans (like my friend who was with me at the bar's opening) who are looking for a good meal, I suggest giving the vegan slider a chance.
By the way, the Slider Inn now has a menu consisting mostly of sliders that is fairly inexpensive. With the exception of the Lobster Roll that cost $15.99, everything on the menu is under $10. Even though the bar is focusing on slider burgers, I wouldn't mind seeing a pasta dish like Bardog Tavern's Spaghetti and Meatballs added to the menu in the future. However, I like how the bar's management is running things so far, and the fact that they were willing listen to me and others about we wanted and doing their best to meet those demands says a lot about their determination to make the Slider Inn a success. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to eating there often.


Slider Inn on Urbanspoon

LabelsAppetizers/Bar Food, Burgers, Brunch, Midtown, Vegetarian/Vegan

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