Uncle Lou’s truly is Sweet Spicy Love

Uncle Lou's window and logoI was first introduced to Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken as an alternative to Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken.  I think this was to convince a few of my coworkers to come along for the ride, we’re talking some die-hard Gus’ fans.

The truth of the matter is that a comparison between Uncle Lou’s does neither restaurant credit. They’re both amazing and some of the best chicken you can get in Memphis.

Uncle Lou’s has a wider range of delectables, however. And you can’t mention the differences without mentioning the Honey Butter Biscuits. These things are worth the drive from anywhere in Memphis. Words can’t quite describe them.

Featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Uncle Lou’s is every bit a staple of the Memphis community of which many have not heard.

With a fairly large menu, including everything from a fried bologna sandwiches to standard fried chicken, you’ve got to give Lou and company props for comfort food.

In my first trip, I knew I had to try the chicken, so I ended up with a fried chicken sandwich. It’s quite possibly one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Elevated in my mind due mainly to Lou’s Sweet and Spicy Love. Just the right amount of tanginess and very little real heat (yes, I went with Mild… sue me), but great flavor. To my great and quite pleasant surprise, it was far less messy than any sauced sandwich has any right to be.

I’d seen someone with their grilled chicken tenders, and they looked quite amazing. I told myself I’d indulge in an order of those next time I visited. The siren song of honey-dipped smoked sausage sandwich. I unfortunately didn’t have wax in my ears and the song led me directly into rocky waters.

It’s not to say the sandwich was subpar. It was actually quite good, but there’s only so much you can do with a smoked sausage that hasn’t been done before. The addition of Sweet Spicy Love was a major plus, but it just wasn’t mind blowing like the original chicken sandwich was.

I promised myself, next time, I would reach out for those grilled chicken tenders, and I would taste find out once and for all if you could judge this book by its cover.

Oh. My. God.

I think I’ve entered into an abusive relationship with these things. They punched me in the mouth, but I forgave them and came back for more. Seasoned with Lou’s “Corruption” a potent dry rub, they really pack a whallop and are incredible. On a plate with four tenders, the chicken looks as if it’s falling apart and really doesn’t need a knife to rip it apart. Even without the Corruption, these tenders would be great. They have all their juices locked in and a lot of the natural flavor comes through. As a “healthy” choice at Uncle Lou’s, it can’t be beat.

One last thing.

It may be cliched, but you know that you can expect something good at an establishment if you can find the proprieter there.

Lou’s there most days and is a distinct character. He’s always happy you’re there and wants you to truly enjoy his food. First-time customers are often welcomed with a hearty handshake.

You can definitely feel the love in the food and location, regular and Sweet and Spicy.

Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

Beatles Rock Band and DLC

Let me start by saying, I’m all for downloadable content (DLC). It’s added hours upon hours to my playtime with Rock Band and Rock Band 2. It’s smart for gamers and game companies alike.

But there comes a point when you realize you’re no longer getting a full game when you buy it in your local game retailer. Recently, we reviewed The Beatles: Rock Band (full review). It wasn’t necessarily life altering, as playing the original Rock Band was for some people, but it was a solid addition to the Rock Band family.

My problem stems from the fact that the game released with a meager 45 songs.

“Meager list, Bryan? Really?!” you may well ask me.

When you consider the fact that Rock Band 2 was released with 84 songs, it really doesn’t compare. Then, to top it all off, on the day of release, they already have their first downloadable track on sale. “All You Need is Love” is an iconic song, but it gets relegated to the realm of DLC? Not to mention releasing it on the day of the game’s release is almost a slap in the face to your customers.

“Oh, thanks for purchasing our game today, dear, dear customer,” Harmonix said. “By the way, if you want to play one of your favorite Beatles songs, please pay 160 credits.”

To reiterate, I’m all for DLC. In fact, I’m a big fan.

Just please give me a full game for my $60.

The Beatles: Rock Band, a first impression

Beatles Rock Band screenshotI played Rock Band for the first time in July. Before that, the idea of singing, drumming or even strumming (despite a few brief forays into group Guitar Hero) made me queasy. But I met a non-judgmental group of kids who welcomed me into their fold and handed me a mic.

Since then, I’ve sung “My Own Worst Enemy” on Expert (laugh if you must) and many other songs on Hard. I’ve learned to use the bass pedal at the same time I’m hitting another drum. I’ve bobbed my head over many a plastic guitar. I’ve come to love Rock Band.

Last night, my crack team of fellow RB players acquired a rented copy of The Beatles Rock Band (BRB), and I raced to their house after work to get my first eyeful of George, Paul, John and Ringo in all their Harmonix / MTV / EA glory. The New York Times preview, catchy commercials and well-played 9/9/09 launch had me so pumped, I couldn’t wait a minute longer.

Now, I’ve never played Aerosmith Guitar Hero, so BRB may not be original to this extent, but having recognizable faces, scenery and voices made this a more well-rounded musical gaming experience. And the background really stole the show on a number of levels. The graphics were superbly constructed; the background info on songs and albums kept things interesting; and the scene-setting elements (snippets of voices and studio noise, time-and-place indicators) transported me from a messy living room in 2009 to a 1960s “Ed Sullivan Show” set, a sold-out Shea Stadium and a London rooftop.

Rocking out generally keeps one from being able to focus on the background for long, so I was pleased to see that some of the improvements in this version of RB extended into setup and gameplay. Multiple singers can harmonize on several songs and see individual rankings after performing. Scrolling through menus is accompanied by the appropriate instrument’s sound effects (cymbal, et al.). Instrumental difficulty ratings remain on the screen after a song’s been selected, offering further review opportunities before choosing a level. All small things, but important and helpful nonetheless.

Oh, and I got a healthy ego boost every time the game called my voice FAB!

Now, this is not to say BRB is without its shortcomings. Far from it, in fact. With all the pre-release hype and the help of surviving Beatles McCartney and Starr, one may be expecting miracles from this game. But Apple surely maintained a heavy hand. And reproductions can go only so far. The result is something of a letdown.

Purported to contain 45 tracks, and coming straight from the case with 43, there is little room for unlocking new songs. It’s unclear, but it appears the unlocking goes hand in hand with the new Achievements feature, which challenges players to a variety of feats: maintain “Beatlemania” (star power) for a full minute, score 1,000,000 points in a single song, etc. The vivid colors fall short when it comes to Beatlemania and grooves, making the moving notes difficult to see.

And, of course, there will be some degree of greed associated with a highly acclaimed band such as the Beatles. This comes across as key songs that are missing from the song list, likely to appear as purchasable extras in the coming months. While it’s nice that the game offers nuggets of audio and visual history, I want to see songs unlocked, not photos. (An entry in Yahoo!’s Pepsi Music Blog explains the thinking behind this change in unlockable content.) Without this progression, the game experience feels stationary and stale.

Overall, I loved seeing the all-out craziness of the lyrics to “I Am the Walrus”flow across the screen and belt out a solid “GOO GOO G’JOOB!” my heart sank a little when I didn’t fall in love with The Beatles: Rock Band. I wanted to. I really did. And, as my fellow gaming musician pointed out, “I’d pay 40 bucks for it.” But you should want to pay the full $60 for the Beatles. You should be willing to dole out $100, even. I suppose it was impossible for a video game (even one with as many layers as Rock Band) to really do the Fab Four justice. But I am glad they’ve regained the spotlight for a little while and their songs will touch another generation of technology-centric youth.

And you really should check out the BRB Web site – it’s so beautifully done, I almost prefer it to the game.

-Photo via thebeatlesrockband.com

First time at the Madison Ave. Kwik Chek

I was a Midtown Memphis guy for a year. I’ve lived in Memphis my entire life. I work Downtown.

I had never, before today, entered into the Kwik Chek on Madison Ave. between Rembert and Morrison.

A very nice lunch surprise awaited me.

Looking for a quick lunch to pick up and bring back to the office, a couple co-workers and I ventured forth with the Kwik Chek as a recommendation from Mr. Alex McPeak, one of those guys that is an absolute guru for local eateries (he has yet to lead me astray).

When walking into the store, keep in mind, this is no high-end restaurant. This is a convenience store that also sells sandwiches. Don’t let the surroundings confuse you, head right back to the deli counter and stand confidently as you look over the menu posted above.

I couldn’t resist a wrap named the Hey Zeus. With a name like that, who could? With parmesan and feta cheese, who could resist it?

I wasn’t expecting a toasted wrap, but a toasted wrap is what I received. It will be hard going back to lifeless, flabby wraps after this. The wrap had just enough crisp, but not so much that you’ll end up slicing your gums on it.

The meats, chicken and roast beef, lettuce, mustard and lemon pepper dressing all blended together beautifully, but I can’t stress enough, there was also feta and parmesan. They really had me at “Hello” on this sandwich.

My compatriots had a Bloody Valentine, a vegitarian delight with habenaro sauce stuffed into a pita, and a pita stuffed with corned beef and provolone.

This trip can fall under the category of “lunch success.”

See for yourself when you’re in the area.

Kwik Chek on Urbanspoon

Blizzard must be reading this geek’s mind

Via worldofwarcraft.com/cataclysm

No, seriously. Within the past couple months, Blizzard Entertainment has made quite a few announcements ranging from new features to their newest World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm.

Most of these announcements seem to be centered over a long list of things I’ve been griping about for more than a year.

When The Burning Crusade launched in 2007, the Horde picked up Blood Elves as their new race. The first thing that was evident to me was that Blizzard had released the first race ever to not have the Warrior class. With Cataclysm’s new class/race combinations, Blood Elves pick up Warrior as a playable class.

Also coming in Cataclysm, the Horde’s new race: Goblins. Goblins hold a very dear spot in my heart. They’re easily the most entertaining race in the Warcraft mythos. Goblin Sappers in Warcraft II always brought a smile to my face. And now a band of Goblins will be joining the Horde as a playable race.

Not only do I have nothing but love for Goblins, but this also fills a hole in general on the Horde. Since WoW’s release, the Alliance have had a “small” race, Gnomes. With Burning Crusade, the Alliance gained their “big” class to compete with Tauren, the Draenei. Where was the “small” race for the Horde?

We have our answer.

One last note, Blizzard in their never-ending daily quest for money has also opened up faction changes. I’ve had a few Alliance characters begging to be moved to Horde for a year.

Sitting there unplayed. Unloved.

Now, my Human Warrior can feel loved again as my Troll Warrior.

Thanks for taking my money, Blizzard.

Photo courtesy of worldofwarcraft.com/cataclysm