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!

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