A Place To Get "Stuffed"
Recently, someone posted a comment on my Urbanspoon "Best Burger Joints in Memphis" list, asking if I had the Stuffed Burgers at Mot & Ed's. Although it wasn't the first time that I've heard about the Soul Food restaurant, I never took the time to check it out. Last week, I made a couple of visits to the Midtown eatery to see what the buzz was about.
During my first visit to Mot & Ed's, I got the recommended Stuffed Burger (a.k.a. "Juicy Lucy"). "Stuffed" in this case means that the beef patty is stuffed with things that are normally either on top or beneath it like bacon. For my burger, I got it stuffed with that along with mushrooms and grilled onions and topped with pepper jack cheese. After waiting over twenty minutes, the cheeseburger arrived with what I believe was seasoned fries (I asked for "regular"). From looking at it, it appeared that the meat (Black Angus Beef) was medium brown, which could have been interpreted as being undercooked. Once I bit into it, I found it difficult to determine the rawness of the meat (although it was slightly pink on the inside) because of the massive amount of seasoning in it. As far I could tell, it seemed to be a mix of mostly black pepper and spices not normally found in hamburgers. As I ate more of it, I wasn't sure what I was eating but I managed to finish it. The "stuffing" and cheese had a presence in the burger but was secondary to the meat's seasoning. If I order another burger from Mot & Ed's, I might get it stuffed with ketchup and make it a meatloaf sandwich à la the Graduation Burger from Lunchbox Eats. Needless to say, the Stuffed Burger didn't impress me.
UPDATE: On February 4, 2014, I visited one of Mot & Ed's competitors in the "stuffed burger" game, P & H Cafe. Located a few blocks away from Mot's on Madison Ave., P & H does a much better job in making "Juicy Lucys." Go there, check it out and compare the two restaurants.
SIDE NOTE: In addition to beef, the restaurant also offers stuffed turkey burgers for those looking for a healthier alternative.
A day later, I returned to Mot & Ed's for one of its Soul Food plates. In a departure from the norm when I usually order something fried (chicken, pork chops or catfish), I chose the chopped steak. I did it to see how it compared to a Stuffed Burger in terms of preparation and taste. What I got was a lot better, for the fully cooked meat had all the flavors that most expect from chopped steak. To me, it tasted more like a burger that what I had the previous night. I'm not sure if it's the best chopped steak ever I had, but it's better than anything that I've eaten in a long time.
The side items were pretty good, too. I particularly liked the macaroni and cheese that was creamy and seasoned in way that made it slightly sweet. In eating it with the chopped steak, the two didn't taste like a perfect match, but I would love to get a full plate of the mac 'n cheese mixed with chunks of Country ham. Something like that could rival places like Alchemy that are known for serving excellent versions of the entrée. As you can see, I really liked the pasta.
Although the mac 'n cheese was the best among my sides, the others were good too. While the collard greens tasted like it should, the cornbread wafers (or whatever they're called) were perfect by my standards. Baked to a perfect brownish yellow (or yellowish brown, depending on one's color perception), the cornbread was buttery and crispy. Not only that, I liked that it wasn't charred or "browned" (I couldn't think of a better word) by the pan they were baked in. All too often, charring often undercuts the rest of the flavor in cornbread, but it wasn't a problem with the wafers. Next to The Little Tea Shop, Mot & Ed's might have some of the best cornbread in Memphis.
All around, my second visit to Mot & Ed's was much better. As you can see in the picture above, I got my dinner as a take-out order. I'm mentioning this because of the way I got it. When I called in the order at about 5:36 PM, I was promised that it would be ready in ten minutes. Personally, I found that hard to believe but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. After placing the order, I searched my house for exact change to pay for it. Fifteen minutes later, I found what I could and drove to Mot & Ed's (by the way, I could have easily paid for it with a debit card). I arrived there at approximately 6:00 PM, expecting a completed and ready order. Once I paid "Ed" (short for Edna, who is a lot younger (late thirties to early forties) for a woman with that name), I waited an additional fifteen minutes. As I waited, I heard a sizzling sound in the back that came from the chopped steak that I ordered almost a half-hour earlier. Ed explained that they were out of chopped steak when I called it in, but it seems like a peculiar coincidence that the restaurant got more of it once I paid my bill. What I'm getting at is that if a restaurant doesn't want to accept take-out orders without prior payment, it should ask for the money upfront via credit card. I'm sure some will be offended by it, but Mot & Ed's is a business that can't afford screwballs calling in bogus orders. As long as the restaurant is honest in fulfilling orders and resolving problems that could result from it, I believe a prepay policy is feasible. Especially for a business located at an address were other restaurants failed, I believe it is a prudent approach in customer service.
Speaking of customer service, both my visits to Mot & Ed's were great from that standpoint. Ed and the rest of the staff were very friendly as I felt right at home. Referring back to the "change" that I sought after, Ed was kind enough to spot me the two cents I needed. Seriously, the restaurant is a nice place to dine at for either lunch or dinner. The Southern eatery also offers entertainment, for it hosts poetry readings by aspiring artists. With a great atmosphere coupled with excellent service, Mot & Ed's is a nice place to be.
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Labels: Burgers, Commentary, Midtown, Soul Food
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