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

Monday, April 30, 2012

My response to Air Traffic Mike's comments about this blog

Recently, during dinner with my Mom at Gold Strike Casino's Courtyard Buffet, I checked in on foursquare where I was. Shortly after doing that, my friend Clay responded. He was concerned that I might do something foolish like piss away the little money I have and asked if I was making a wise decision. I promptly replied that I wasn't gambling but rather being treated by my Mom to dinner.
At this point, you might be wondering what this have to do with food? You see, Clay showed concern for me as a friend and I really appreciate that. He's one of the few people outside of my family who helps me stay on the "straight and narrow." He even thought that this blog was a bad idea for me when I was collecting unemployment insurance. Although I respected his opinion and saw the logic in it, I don't have regrets about what I have done with the blog. And while Clay and others may have been critical about the blog during its early days, they counseled me in private, unlike someone who I thought was a friend. Recently, I came across a blog post written by "Air Traffic Mike" that was posted last June. While I won't go into detail, the article slams my blog harshly for grammatical errors and content. While his arguments were valid and have since been addressed, I didn't appreciate him lambasting the blog in a public forum. Before I go on, I'm not saying that the blog is above criticism, and I might have been cool with it if he was some random guy that I didn't know. But as a "friend" I felt Mike could have used more discretion, like I would if the shoe was on the other foot. Kudos to you, Mike. Thanks for being a "friend" who really knows how to have a guy's back, especially when wielding a knife. You know, I might have discovered this earlier if your blog didn't ramble on with such insipid things like "Splitty the Ax" and other babble. I know you think you're witty and funny, but I need a bottle of Five Hour Energy in order to read most of your stuff. Fortunately, I was able to find your post about my blog through a Google search on something else. I won't comment further, other than to say that I'm glad you showed your true colors.

SIDE NOTE: I recently discovered that Air Traffic Coward took down the blog post. He also disabled some search features that prevents certain words describing me and "Ken's Food Find" from being found on his blog. However, the content is still there, accessible through this link. Please read his posts and respond accordingly.

As I said, I have addressed many issues that afflicted the blog. As it pertains to grammar, I now write reviews as if a professor was grading it (and in doing so, I keep a certain blogging "professor" in mind). I may not be the most articulate blogger, but I believe the blog is much better grammatically than it was when I started. I have no one to blame for its initial poor quality other than myself. In hindsight, I should have taken it more seriously. However, I didn't think that anyone would take the time to scrutinize my blog. I may never be Edward R. Murrow when it comes to journalistic quality, but I will do my best to bring concise analysis to anything I review. Sometimes, I might have to make up a word like "de-finned" to get my point across, to the chagrin of guys like Mike. I don't see that as a lack of articulation, but rather an act of creative expression. Of course this just my opinion, and Mike is right about keeping that to a minimum. For some, it doesn't matter how I write for they will always hate the blog. However, I hope my grammatical improvements appeal to more objective readers.
Regarding other content on the blog, I have made improvements as well. Particularly as relates to pictures, the standards that I implement are almost on par with those that I use as a graphic production specialist. Despite not having the precious iPhone or any other smartphone equipped with a flash and high megapixel capacity, I have made the most of what I have. Because of my expertise in Photoshop (or now because of my laptop "crashing," Photo-Paint), I am able to produce pictures that are at least acceptable, if not high quality. Compared to what readers have seen in the past, I believe most will be pleased by what they see on this blog.

UPDATE (January 11, 2014): I now use a 14 megapixel camera to capture pictures for the blog. It's far from top-of-the-line (it's a Kodak EasyShare C1530), but it's much better than the crappy smartphone that I was using.

Speaking of "seeing," I have also improved the overall layout of the blog. The blog's pictures are bigger and text is arranged so that it is easier to read. Again, this is something that I should have done earlier, especially given my experience in typesetting. I actually didn't notice this until one day, while reading a review of The Green Beetle by the brilliant blog Best Memphis Burger, I asked myself "why doesn't my blog look like this?" I followed suit and made the necessary changes. So with regards to layout, I have to give thanks to my friend Seth rather than "Air Traffic Mike."
In addition, I have made other changes to the blog that makes it more navigable and informative. For example, I've added the LinkedWithin widget so visitors can find reviews related to a blog post they're reading. Also, I've included the "Ken's Food Find" Twitter feed to keep readers better informed about dishes, recipes and other food-related matters that don't require a blog post. Related to that, I also implemented a Photobucket account into the blog to show many of the pictures that I take, including some that I will blog about. (UPDATE: I recently added a photo gallery to the blog, negating the need for a seperate photo-sharing service. Therefore, everything is under one roof. To find it, look in the right column of this blog). The blog is also more "mobile friendly," something that certain uppity, know-it-all iPhone users can appreciate. I believe that these and other measures have made the blog better.
As any objective person can see, Ken's Food Find is a much better blog than it was when I started it nearly two years ago. For some, like a certain Downtown Memphis blogger who wants me to go away, nothing I do will satisfy them. But for everyone else who reads this blog, I hope the changes I made meet their approval. If you have any suggestions about how the blog can be improved, please send them to Well, I hope this is the last time I submit a non-food post because I want to focus more on food, as opposed to other issues. Take care.

UPDATE: In Part 4 of my pointless series "The Battle Of The Downtown Memphis Sliders", I ended it (well, not quite) with a response to what Air Traffic Douchebag can do with his spare time. To read it, click here.

Labels: Commentary

Ken's Food Find on Pinterest

Follow Ken's Food Find

Ken's Food Find on Tumblr

View on Tumblr

Alfred's on Beale

Lunchin' on Beale

As an employee of the Memphis Grizzlies, I am fortunate to work at FedExForum. Located near Beale Street, it is within walking distance of many great restaurants including Silky O'Sullivan's, Rum Boogie Cafe and Bleu, an upscale restaurant located inside the Westin Hotel. However, other than Dyer's, the closest restaurant to FedExForum is Alfred's on Beale. Known mostly as a night club, Alfred's has an extensive menu ranging from barbecue to bar food. Although much of what it offers is a bit pricey, the lunch specials are somewhat reasonable. Over the past few weeks, I've tried some of these when I had the chance, and I came away with some unexpected surprises.
Among the lunch entrées that I had were country fried steak, chicken and dumplings and turkey pot pie. For the most part, entrées were anything but special, just run of the mill stuff that can be found at many restaurants. I'm not saying that I didn't like them, but if I didn't work next door at FedExForum, I would pursue other options like the Blue Monkey and Blues City Cafe. However, there was one entrée that stood out, the meatloaf. The meatloaf itself wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but what I liked about it was the sauce. It is a sweet tomato sauce that I thought was an offshoot of the bar's barbecue sauce, but that isn't true. On the meatloaf, it turned an ordinary piece of meat into something wonderful. I'm far from an authority on meatloaf, but Alfred's is better than many places, including the Blue Monkey.

Along with my meatloaf, I got the fried green tomatoes and fries as side items. The fries are quite crispy while not overly salty, which suited my tastes well. Although the fries were nice, I was really impressed with the fried green tomatoes. They were lightly breaded and seasoned, topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. The tomatoes themselves were perfectly cooked, meaning they weren't mushy (or "green"). Compared to the fried green tomatoes that I had at Paula Deen Buffet, Alfred's were clearly better. Even though both side items were good, if I ever get the meatloaf again, I would substitute the fries with green beans. I like them because they're well seasoned with black pepper that makes them really good. Getting back to what I said earlier, Alfred's wouldn't be my first choice for lunch, but Fridays (when meatloaf is the special) might be the exception.

(SIDE NOTE: When I got the turkey pot pie, I also got the corn pudding (AKA creamed corn) and sweet potato casserole as sides. This is a very sweet combination that could work well as an appetizer, although I won't order them again as side items to an entrée.)

In addition to the lunch entrées, I decided to try Alfred's award-winning barbecue in the form of a pulled pork sandwich. The sandwich comes with pulled pork smothered in Alfred's own barbecue sauce inside a bun sprinkled with dry rub seasoning. The sauce is very sweet, so much so that I couldn't detect other ingredients like vinegar and tomato paste. Even through the sauce's sweetness, I was able to detect the smoke flavor of the pulled pork which seemed to be good. If I decide to order the sandwich again, I will get it with the barbecue sauce on the side as opposed to having it on the meat. With fries, the sandwich cost $9.81 which is much higher than most places. Having said that, the sandwich was almost worth it, and I don't mean it in a bad way. While it's not the best barbecue sandwich I ever had, it is better than any other place I visited on Beale Street. However, given the price of the sandwich, I might in the future consider cheaper places like Cozy Corner if I'm yearning for a quality barbecue sandwich. Then again, the convenience of having access to a place within easy walking distance of work might outweigh costs, especially if the quality is very good. Alfred's might be worth it.

After several visits to Alfred's on Beale, I've come to a few conclusions. While it may not ever be my first choice for lunch, the food is decent enough to visit occasionally. The easy walking distance definitely makes it a plus for me, as I don't have a lot of time to eat. The service was great, for I got my to-go orders in the time it was promised (usually ten minutes). Even though I like the food and service, it's unlikely that I will ever dine there at night because Alfred's party atmosphere is too much for me. Not trying to put Alfred’s down, but if I'm ever there during that time, it'll be more about the party and the musical acts and less about the food. However, it's good enough for lunch and will be among my choices to dine at as long as I work at FedExForum. Go Grizzlies!

Alfred's on Beale on Urbanspoon

LabelsAppetizers/Bar Food, Barbecue, Beale Street, Downtown, Soul Food

Ken's Food Find on Pinterest

Follow Ken's Food Find

Ken's Food Find on Tumblr

View on Tumblr

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Courtyard Buffet (Gold Strike Casino)

Struck Gold With Pasta

This past Easter, my Mom treated me to dinner at the Courtyard Buffet at the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica County, Mississippi. Initially, we were going to the Paula Deen Buffet at Harrah's, but my Mom changed her mind when she realized how expensive it was. As we entered the parking lot for Gold Strike and two other casinos, my Mom wanted to see how much the buffet at the Horseshoe was. When we discovered that the Village Square Buffet was about as expensive as Paula Deen, we headed to Gold Strike.
The Courtyard Buffet used to be my go-to place for Thanksgiving dinner when I returned to Memphis after serving over nine years in the Air Force. Then one year, for whatever reason, I decided to go to Village Square and it was a good choice. I was very impressed with the wide variety that Village Square offered, which led to it being my new favorite buffet. In terms of quality, both buffets (and Paula Deen) are about the same. That said, I didn't mind my Mom wanting to save a few bucks by choosing Gold Strike's buffet.
Although it had been a few years since I had been to the Courtyard Buffet, not much of it has changed. As usual, it offered the standard fare of meats and vegetables but it also had something that I hadn't noticed before. As both my Mom and I headed back to our tables with our first plates of food, we noticed that buffet had a pasta bar. As I looked over the contents of the bar, manned by a sous chef, I was impressed by how fresh everything looked. So after finishing my first plate, I got myself a plate of pasta.
The pasta bar consists of a variety of ingredients, with linguini, bow tie pasta, Marinara and Alfredo sauces being the main components. After looking everything over, I decided to go with a seafood theme and chose lobster and shrimp over bow tie pasta in Alfredo sauce. After the sous chef sautéed the lobster and shrimp and mixed it up it up with the pasta and Alfredo, it was topped with Parmesan cheese and parsley to complete the dish. The result was a beautiful plate of pasta that I was anxious to drive into.

From the first bite, I knew the Alfredo pasta was going to be better than I expected. The sauce was thick and creamy, which earned high marks because that's the way it should be. Too often when I get Alfredo, the sauce is so watery that I often need I bib to keep me from making a mess of myself. The shrimp and lobster had a sweet flavor that might have come from being sautéed in olive oil. I was really happy that the kitchen staff "de-finned" the shrimp (yes, I made up a word that a certain blogger will surely point out). I hate when I have to pull the fins off shrimp as I eat pasta, gumbo, jambalaya or anything else that it is mixed in. I appreciate the cooking staff for doing that as well as everything else that made my pasta dish a great meal.
As my Mom saw the joy I was getting from my pasta, she decided to get a plate of her own. Unlike my plate, hers was prepared with ingredients chosen by the sous chef. Like mine, she got Alfredo bow tie pasta with lobster and shrimp. However, instead of parsley, the chef spiced my Mom's pasta with cayenne and garlic. It turned out to be as good as mine and Mom was very pleased.

I can't speak for my Mom, but in my opinion, the pasta at the Courtyard Buffet was the best I've had in Tunica. My conclusion might be premature because I hadn't had the linguini or Marinara, but because of the quality I previously experienced, I have faith that pasta with those ingredients will be good as well.
Aside from the pasta, the food at the Courtyard Buffet is average for a buffet. The plate that I had was a slice of prime rib with sides of mashed potatoes and broccoli and cheese. The entrée wasn't any better or worse than what can be found at most buffets, so I wouldn't recommend driving from Memphis just for it. However, when the rest of the Tunica experience is mixed in, a buffet dinner isn't a bad way to either start or finish the day. Personally, I'm not much of a gambler so what I just said might seem like a contradiction, but it seems cooler to say that I was at a casino than at Piccadilly.

For dessert, I chose cheesecake. It was covered in chocolate and cherry flavored swirls which was alright. While eating it, the pasta bar's sous chef brought out two slices of strawberry cake covered with strawberries and whipped cream. Although my Mom loved the gesture, I was stuffed and couldn't eat anymore. I managed to put down a couple of bites before throwing in the towel. Unfortunately, we couldn't take the cake with us because of the buffet's no take-out policy, so we had to leave it behind. Overall, my Mom and I enjoyed our meals and were glad we chose the buffet at the Gold Strike Casino.

In summary, the Courtyard Buffet is decent place to dine at and it's much cheaper (by about $10) than either Paula Deen or Village Square, even though it has less variety. The pasta bar far exceeded my expectations. While the pasta isn't five star good (or even as good as Bardog Tavern), for a buffet it's outstanding. For anyone who decides to dine at the Courtyard Buffet, I highly recommend the pasta.

NOTE: The buffet is now called "Buffet Americana" and it has been remodeled. Food is about the same.


Courtyard Buffet (Gold Strike Casino) on Urbanspoon

LabelsBuffet, Dessert, Pasta, Tunica

Ken's Food Find on Pinterest

Follow Ken's Food Find

Ken's Food Find on Tumblr

View on Tumblr