Cooking with Barb
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 1:24 pm
By Barb Ford
First, never ignore the icons. Make a reservation at the Rendevous and you can't go wrong. They were originally a ham and cheese sandwich place, so if you start with one of their appetizer plates, you will be enjoying a bit of their original history. Everybody knows they are most famous for their barbecue ribs. Charcoal grilled with a dry rub, they are one of the Memphis favorites. However, if you venture out of the norm a bit, you can find some other gems, like their charcoal grilled lamb ribs or their giant skillet of barbecue shrimp. You have to call ahead ((901)523-2746) for the shrimp, and I suggest doing so early in the week. Also, I would head there early on a Friday night if you can-they don't take reservations and fill up fast!
Next, there is no better place for Saturday lunch than Karen Carrier's Beauty Shop Restaurant. It is literally set in an old Beauty Shop, complete with those beehive hair dryers-and was the spot where Priscilla Presley got her hair done back in the day. The menu is the real treat here, featuring flavors from all over the world. If salads are your thing, you can't go wrong with a Thai Cobb Salad-all the usual Cobb ingredients blended with crispy duck, mangoes and a mint Green Goddess dressing reminiscent of that 1950's favorite. Or perhaps try the Grilled Romaine, paired with Ripley tomato, crisp bacon and spicy pecans. If you lust after a really good sandwich, this place is a paradise. They have an amazing sandwich they call The Beastie Boy and I call roast beef heaven-with sharp horseradish, roasted red peppers, lemony aioli and a warm au jus dipping sauce. There are also traditional New York lunch options like a real pastrami sandwich and a luscious Rueben. But for the lighter diner, perhaps a succulent smoked salmon club sandwich or a mouthwatering bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with avocado are more appealing. Desserts are 1950's standards-homemade shakes, scrumptious cakes and ice cream floats dominate. You get the idea-lunch at the Beauty Shop is a wonderful adventure, not to be missed!
After your lunch, you may want to pick up some culinary prizes for foodie friends back home. I would head to Phillip Ashley Chocolates or to Muddy's Bake Shop. Phillip Ashley Rix, one of the world's great chocolatiers, offers up some uniquely Memphis takes on chocolate. He offers the Memphis Truffle Collection-that features a truffle for every flavor you would find dining in a Memphis barbecue joint, including Memphis BBQ, Mama Jean Sweet Potato, CocoLoco and Arnie (half sweet tea caramel and half lemonade Ganache.) His chocolate bacon has been much copied, but never equaled. At Muddy's Bake Shoppe, Kat Gordon and her team bake things we can only wish our grandmothers had made. They have some ridiculously rich toffee bars and an amazing array of other cookies. If you are visiting folks in Memphis, a pie or a dozen cupcakes from Muddy's is the perfect hostess gift, and yummier than any bottle of wine!
Finally, there is the Majestic Grille, known as the spot for dramatic dining. Here, in the heart of a grand old movie theatre, owners Patrick and Deni Reilly have brought a bit of old Hollywood glamour to the Memphis dining scene. They are locally known as supporters of the arts, and pride themselves on helping art organizations grow. They even pioneered a special program for music students at the University of Memphis to help students gain exposure to working in a professional performance environment. So Sunday Brunch could also mean enjoying a live performance of jazz or blues along with the best brunch in town. While they do serve the standard Southern fare of biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits and eggs and bacon, brunch also includes six signature flatbreads (think wild mushrooms or grilled artichoke) and sandwiches (try their grilled aged cheddar cheese sandwich with local tomatoes, bacon and creole mustard on artisan bread.) French toast, pancakes and steak and eggs are offered up alongside distinctive items like smoked salmon hash and vegetable frittatas with goat cheese and Parmesan. This is really the best way to end a lovely Memphis weekend!
Now I know we can't all get away for a trip to Memphis, so I am leaving you with Felicia Suzanne's deviled egg recipe to try soon.