Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ellwood's Shack

Ellwood's Shack
4523 Summer Avenue
761-9898


I am a major fan of Summer Avenue and all that it has to offer. Ellwood's Shack is no exception. Everyone seems to LOVE Ellwood's. I have friends who go on and on about the fish tacos and the brisket. On and on.

There are two people who are not fans, or at least reluctant ones--Satchel (12) and Jiro (10), aka the monkeys.

The first time we went to Ellwood's they were closing. AT 7:00pm! (They have since extended their hours to 8:00pm.) The second time I took the monkeys they were in really bad moods. I have forgotten why, but it was bad enough that I didn't write up our visit.

So, what I am getting at is, third time is the charm. We went last week and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

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As you can see Ellwood's Shack is really a shack. It's adjacent to the Lowe's parking lot. It mystifies me how anyone ever decided to put a restaurant here, but Ellwood's is the third(?) to fill this spot.

We arrived around 6:00pm and had no trouble getting a table. World Cup was on the TV and everyone was happy. I went to the counter to place our order. Jiro wanted the wings that Satchel ordered on our earlier visit, Warren wanted a bbq sandwich with jalapeno slaw, and I had to get the fish tacos. Satchel was insisting he wasn't hungry, so I didn't order him anything. I added a side of potato salad for Warren, a Jarrito for Jiro and three waters. Our total was $27.31.

We reviewed our World Cup brackets until the food came out, which was only a few minutes.

Warren questioned whether I ordered his with jalapeno slaw, but later said the cabbage slaw had a kick.

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The potato salad is pre-made and refrigerated. As you can see here, it is made from sweet potatoes.

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(This is what Warren looks like when I say, "Smile.")

Jiro very delicately ate his wings. I asked what he thought of them and he replied, "They are good! They are just better other places."

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Satchel quietly reached in and one by one properly cleaned the chicken to the bone.

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Satchel also helped with the pineapple garnish.

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(If he is going to pose like this, I am going to post!)

The fish tacos, while not traditional, are quite tasty.

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I prefer mine in a hard shell, but these shells made from flour tortillas and coated with cheese definitely hold their own. The steelhead trout is really delicious. It looks like salmon because of the pink color, but it definitely tastes like trout. I liked the salad on top and the horseradish dressing was also nice. They were super filling though--I could only eat one. Warren ate the other one. I'd like to get them again, but a half order. $11.00 seems a bit high, in my opinion, especially with no sides.

Speaking of sides...Ellwood's needs to add French fries to the menu!

All in all, it was just fine and quite tasty. I see why people love it. Not sure I've found the dish that's going to keep me coming back, but should I ever find myself at Lowe's it'll be hard not to pop over. I think I need to try the BBQ nachos and the pizza. What's your favorite dish?

Elwood's Shack on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Tart

Tart
820 S. Cooper
287-9903


On Sunday, I took the family to Tart for brunch.



The awesome owners, Heather & Abby, play in my soccer league, so I was invited to the soft opening a couple of weeks ago. While there, I got to taste a lot of things, and was super impressed. I couldn't wait to take the monkeys.

The menu, which is written on a chalkboard near the counter, is a bit complex if you don't have a basic understanding of French. Or French menus at the very least. (Thanks to Holly over at ilovememphisblog.com for getting a photo!)

Tart

The monkeys (Satchel, 12, and Jiro, 10) were a bit star struck by the yummy things in the display case and Warren seemed unsure what to order, so I suggested they let me do the ordering. Since the boys love charcuterie now, I knew we had to try the breakfast antipasto. I also thought they might like a croque monsieur. On my first visit I fell in love with the French onion soup (technically onion soup gratinee) and was super jealous of my friend's salmon rillettes, so I ordered those too. Warren wanted coffee, so I got a large French press for us to share. And I couldn't complete the order without some pastries! Jiro picked a strawberry tart and Satchel picked a lemon one. Pshew! The gal rang everything up and gave me the total: $59.87. I admit I had to do a double take, but I knew everything was going to be great and I considered it a treat. I happily handed over my credit card.

The boys got their tarts and we went in search of a table. Jiro, did not want to wait on a table, so he just stood by and took a big bite.


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Then he gave me a little bite. Yum!

It took us a minute to decide where to sit. We ultimately agreed on the patio. Tart has a huge patio.

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(Photo taken at the end of our meal when many people had cleared out!)

Satchel greedily ate up his lemon tart and then chatted with his brother while we waited on the rest of our food. (I love the cards they use to number the orders.)

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First out was the coffee. The tables are on the small side, so no room for sugar or creamer. You have to go inside to the coffee station. (Where you can also get glasses of ice water.) Not sure how it happened, but I allowed Jiro to do my coffee.

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He did a great job. (Say hi to our friends Lauren & Russell in the background there!) Please note the awesome mugs made by my talented friend, Melissa Bridgman. And if you look close you can see that the stirrers are actually noodles. The monkeys LOVED that.

Ok, let's talk about the food. The breakfast antipasto was a HUGE hit. Jiro especially liked the honeycomb, which you can see at the tippy top of the picture. We all took turns nibbling.

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And they went crazy for the onion soup! But they would only dip bread, lest they actually get an onion!

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You can see the croque monsieur in the back there, but here it is in all of its glory.

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It required a fork and knife, so was a little less appealing to the monkeys. It definitely got eaten, but not til the end.

And look at the salmon rillettes!

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The ramekins look small, but they really hold very nice size servings. The quinoa salad is super yum, and the salmon is perfect. Obviously the yummy baguette is what brought this dish together. I also had to share the baguette for soup dipping and antipasto enjoying. (The baguettes are the one thing not made in house. Tart trades homemade croissants with Cafe Eclectic for the baguettes.)

We actually had a bread crisis because we still had plenty of soup and salmon when we ran out. I went in to order another baguette and the monkeys tagged along. So, of course we got a couple more pastries. I insisted they try the raisin bread (because it is awesome) and Satchel wanted a brioche.

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We are gluttons! But seriously, don't leave without trying the raisin bread!

When we finally polished off all of the food, we just sat on the patio with our coffee and enjoyed the gotgeous day.

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Tart is Green Fork certified! And they supposedly have an art gallery thing going on in the bathroom that we somehow did not check out.

We will be back. In fact, I want to go right now!

Project Green Fork Certified Restaurant
Tart on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 29, 2014

4Dumplings

4Dumplings
6515 Poplar Ave. Suite 115
(901) 762-4184


The JCC pool opened on Memorial Day, so I finally had an excuse to take the monkeys (Satchel, 12, and Jiro, 10) to 4Dumplings across the street.



It's in a strip mall as you can see. The inside is bright and airy, yet stark. There was only one other couple there when we arrived, but it was a holiday and mid-afternoon.



The menu is projected on a large screen TV, and you place you order at a small counter.

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The menu is pretty simple, so it was easy to decide. Jiro wanted chicken dumplings, Satchel wanted pork, and I opted for shrimp. The menu says that the chicken dumplings come with celery, and Jiro tried asking to have his without that, but I explained that it was probably already mixed in. He decided to just go with the flow. We all got waters and the total was $27.86.

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It took us a minute to decide on a table because they were all a little wobbly. (I noticed the same metal tables on El Toro Loco's patio on Tuesday. Maybe they do better outside.)

The cashier, who is also a chef, according to the website, brought our waters right away. Soon, the only other employee in the store brought our dumplings. It literally took less than 5 minutes. I'm assuming they are already made and they just give them a quick steam. I loved the presentation (minus the styrofoam bowls).

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The letters indicated which was which, and we all grabbed our steamers.

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Jiro gave the chicken dumplings a thumbs up, despite the presence of green stuff. (His must not have been as hot as ours, because neither Satchel or I could use our fingers at first.)



"It has all the stuff I don't like and it's good," he said. (I love this kid!) He gave me a bite and the flavor reminded me of chicken noodle soup.

Satchel was eager to dig in and I was scared to get my fingers too close to him.



There were three cups of Asian slaw hiding behind the steamers, but I was the only one to partake. It was delicious and fresh.

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I was surprised to see egg mixed in with my shrimp, but it was ok.

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It was better with a touch of hot sauce from the cute little bottle on the table. (There was also soy sauce, I think, but none of us used it.)

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Each dumpling was about two inches long and very plump. None of us was able to eat all six, although the boys managed 5 each. Jiro and Satchel were both fans of the "skin" so maybe I should get them noodle dishes next time?

We discussed the name of the restaurant and Jiro noted that they named it 4Dumplings because they offered four kinds of dumplings. I pointed out that there were actually 5--pork, shrimp, chicken, beef, and vegan (made with tofu and chickpeas). He said, "Vegan doesn't count."

4Dumplings thinks it does, and they seem pretty serious about offering healthy choices. I am down with that.

On the back of each chair it read: "Eat Responsibly." I wasn't quite sure what they meant, but the website is clear:

We strongly believe a healthy and productive life begins with healthy eating. At 4Dumplings, our chefs design low fat, low calorie and high fiber recipes and choose one of the healthiest, cleanest and the most traditional cooking technique, steaming, to finish all the dumplings. There is no MSG or butter in our dumplings and we don’t fry at all.

4Dumplings promises you we will not serve any food or drink that is not healthy and we ask you to do your part – to eat responsibly.

What you eat today can either help or harm your future health.

Eat Responsibly = Healthy Choice + Moderation. It is so important for children to develop a healthy eating habit at early age. Parents and schools play critical roles.

We'll be back.


4Dumplings on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tennessee Brewery Untapped

Tennessee Brewery Untapped
495 Tennessee Street


If you haven't been down to the Brewery yet, you are missing out! There are only two weekends left, so pack up the kids and go get some food. They are open Thu: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm; Fri - Sat: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm; and Sun: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm. On Sunday, $1 of every beer sale goes to a charity of your choosing. (There are 5 different charities each week.)

Every week the Brewery looks a bit different, so feel free to go more than once! You have to see it at night! They've added more seating, more beer stations, and now there's even shade!

While it is primarily a beer garden--the best beer garden ever!--there's always at least one food truck, usually two. Watch their Facebook page to find out which one(s). (Fuel, Stick-em and Rockin' Dough, three of my favorites, are regulars.) The Truck Stop food truck is a permanent feature, and it changes its menu daily.

On the day we went, they had tacos:

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Yes, a little pricey. But you are paying for the atmosphere and potentially helping to save the building from being demolished later this summer!

There's games for the kids inside, including shuffleboard and ping pong.

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And often there is music outside. We went to hear our buddy Jeff Hulett play.

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The kids weren't as excited about the tacos as they were everything else, so we just had a snack.

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Jiro was REALLY excited about his Jarrito, until he spilled it all over his shoe. (Don't ask.)



Whether or not you take the kids, the Brewery is a great place to sit, chat and enjoy local & regional beers.

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You might even luck out and go on a day when Adam is doing personalized poems.

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The restroom sitch is all port-a-potties, but they are clean, well stocked with TP, and there's plenty of hand sanitizer.

The Brewery has its own free parking lot adjacent to the building. There is also a lot a cross the street for $10, which supports local rugby players. Street parking is available too, but it can be tricky. (I got a ticket during BBQ fest.)

What are you waiting for? Check it out!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar

Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar
39 S Main Street
(901) 521-8005


Since there was no school for the kids and no work for me on Friday, I decided to treat the monkeys (Satchel, 11, and Jiro, 9) to lunch at Flight. Satchel has been DYING to go ever since my mom told him about the molten chocolate cake she had there on her birthday in November.

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On the way downtown, the kids kept asking me if Flight was fancy. "A little," I said. "As fancy as Iris?" they wanted to know. "No, definitely not," I said. However, once inside they both accused me of lying and immediately went into best behavior mode. I was totally fine with that.

Flight is fancy-ish at lunch, probably moreso at dinner. The monkeys were crediting the tablecloths and second level seating for the fancy feel. We sat on the patio because it was a nice day and I like watching the people walk by.

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I let the monkeys preview the menu on my phone, but we still had some debate when it came time to decide. I had explained what a flight was, but they weren't quite ready to try one. Thankfully, the menu is very flexible so the boys could basically get what they wanted. Satchel waffled between the burger and the French dip, but ultimately decided on the burger. Jiro, in a bold move, ordered the shrimp po-boy. He admitted that when I ordered them (repeatedly) on our Nola trip that they looked good. I decided on the salad flight.

When we ordered the waitress noted how well-mannered the monkeys were. They were both full of pleases and thank yous, which made me very proud.

Satchel was starving (he refused to eat breakfast because he was "saving room for molten cake") so we decided to try a charcuterie plate. Typically charcuterie is a bit too fancy for the monkeys, but this one was a hit.

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Satchel went straight for the pickles and Jiro the strawberries. Then Satchel convinced Jiro to try the duck sausage and I convinced them both to try the prosciutto. Once I demonstrated putting cheese on the toasts they attacked full force.

I had to order some extra toast and when the waitress brought it out, it was a bit thicker. I described it as super toast. Then Satchel asked me to stop being such a super geek!! (He's just days away from being 12.) Despite casting such stones, it was Satchel and Jiro who spent the next several minutes having a math argument.

Thankfully the food arrived and they switched their focus. Jiro's po-boy was huge. (I could have actually ordered him a half serving, but didn't.)

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How do I eat it?" he asked me. I cut it in half and told him just to grab it like a burger.

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He enjoyed it, and not surprisingly could only make it through half. I never got a bite of it, but I could tell by looking at it that the fry job was not up to Nola standards.

At one point Jiro noted that the table next to us was having a flight of wine, which I thought was cute.

Let's talk about Satchel's burger. He was absolutely smitten.

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Yep, that's a brick of fried mozarella on there.

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Somehow I didn't get a bite of the burger either! Satchel loved it, but asked me to cut it in half so he would still have room for his cake.

My salad flight was great. My only complaint was that the chicken on the cobb was a tad rubbery. The Sante Fe, in the center, was my favorite. Satchel said, "I wish you could save the strawberry salad for when I am older and less picky."

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Finally it was time for dessert. We were debating whether one molten cake would be enough, but at Flight, you get three desserts! So we had a custom order flight of three molten cakes. Problem solved!



Satchel asked me to take a "before" picture of him since he was sure that the cake was going to be life changing. Ha!

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I forgot to do an after of Satchel, but you can see the excitement on Jiro's face.

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Honestly, I didn't think it was anything special. The inside was more like pudding than lava, but the monkeys gobbled it up and loved every bite. I didn't leave any on my plate either!

Our total bill came to $73 plus tip, which is definitely more than I would normally spend on lunch, but we really had a fun time and the monkeys enjoyed eating at a "fancy" restaurant. Our waitress was great and I wouldn't hesitate to go back for a special treat.

(The monkeys also asked that I note that the mints in the foyer are chocolatey and delicious.)

Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
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