Filled with an overabundance of love for Memphis

So, for lunch yesterday, some of the guys from the office and I decided we’d give Main St. Hound Dogs a chance.

We’d all seen him on Twitter and heard good things about him. We’d even stopped and talked to him for a few minutes while walking down Main St. on our way to another lunch destination downtown. Christopher McRae is genuinely one of the nicest guys you’ll find in Downtown eateries, and he spends his midday at a hot dog cart by the trolley tracks!

Open from “11ish to 2ish” Monday through Saturday, Chris sells his dogs (turkey and beef) and his fresh-squeezed limeades (regular and cherry) on the corner of Union Ave. and Main St.

Photo of Main St. Hound Dogs from norococo.blogspot.com : Main St. Hound Dogs blog

If I worked in Downtown proper, I’d be at his cart multiple times a week. The dogs are cooked decently, but are prepared with a good selection of toppings. One companion (@aranhia) got his turkey dogs with “all the standards:” deli mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, relish and onions.

My other companion (@blakepalmer of @memphisnews fame) went with two beef dogs, one with deli mustard, celery salt and salsa (I’ll be trying this next time) and one with sauerkraut, celery salt and mayo. Continue reading Filled with an overabundance of love for Memphis

A good lunch for a Bardog (oh the puns)

Sorry, I’ve been fairly quiet on posting recently, gang. Living life. Was ill for the better part of last week, too. I’m going to attempt to do better. – Note from the Geek Management

I hit Bardog for lunch with @rakuette not too long ago. The place has a lot of personality and it’s actually really welcoming as you walk in (I walked in from the rain, so perhaps that’s where the impression came from).

Meatball Hoagie and friesThe bar has two floors: the top floor is more of a bar and the bottom floor has no smoking and is more of the restaurant setting with more seating.

We sat at the bar on the top floor. Having a bar that’s nice to serve food on is a tricky business. Bardog’s misses the bill a little bit. It was a tad too high even for my 6-foot-3-inch frame and was even worse for my shorter lunch companion.

The fare is slightly upscale for a bar, including a $25 “Surf and Turf” entree.

We stuck to sandwiches, though.

I ordered the Meatball Hoagie and my compatriot ordered The Amazing Island Club.

I can’t speak for the club, but the Meatball Hoagie was quite delicious. Stuff with eight meatballs, provolone and parmagiano with marinara, the sandwich was perfect for the dreary October day. The problem lay in eating it without making a mess.

Innards of a Meatball HoagieThe bread was slightly too light to handle the dense meatballs and marinara. I had to eat the second half of my sandwich with a fork and knife, feeling distinctly British for some reason (who knows?). Flavor-wise, definitely a hit, but the bread was quite possibly a big whiff. I think a meatball sandwich needs a heartier bread. Not so stiff and crusty that you injure your gums, but something that the sauce won’t soak completely through.

Like the innards of the sandwich, the fries that came with our meals were a quite good. They’re seasoned with sugar. I love a good mix of savory and sweet and these were just right. Crispy, light and with the sugar, definitely something different, but lovely.

I’ll be giving Bardog another go in the coming weeks and will let you know. I think I’ll try the Sliders next.
Bardog Tavern on Urbanspoon

The long-awaited South Philly review

Cheesesteak and Water iceThat’s right, folks, I realize I’ve been slacking a little bit, but we’re back on schedule with a post about what has got to be the best cheesesteaks in Memphis (perhaps even the Mid-South).

I’ve eaten at what are arguably three of the best cheesesteak joints in Philadelphia: Pat’s, Jim’s and D’Alessandro’s. Although it’s been years since I had a cheesesteak in Philly, I’d put South Philly’s sandwiches right up there with those titans.

South Philly’s aim, according to their Web site, is “that the sound of the cook chopping the steaks on the sizzling grill, the savory aromas and the come-as-you-are setting bring the flavor of Philadelphia to you even before you take that first bite.”

This isn’t marketing hyperbole. When you walk into the restaurant, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the scent of cooking beef, the clang of metal on an iron griddle and the symphony of good conversation that seems to always be there when I enter (maybe that’s because I always enter around lunchtime on a weekday).

Scattered about the walls are photos and memorabilia from around Philly and they even have a sign teaching you how to order your sandwich, starting with whether you want the cheesesteak “WIT” or “WIT-OUT” onions (you should definitely order it “wit”).

When the food gets to your table, it’s hard not to notice one key thing: cheese integration. This is what makes or breaks a cheesesteak for me, and South Philly’s has been perfect nearly every time I’ve been. Each bite has a perfect mixture of beef, cheese and onions (I’m a purist, so that’s all you’ll find on a cheesesteak I order).

They’ve also brought another staple of Philly cuisine: water ice. I’m far from a connoisseur of water ice, so I can’t speak to how good their ice is. I enjoyed the Strawberry Lemonade flavor I tried, but it didn’t blow my mind quite like their cheesesteaks.

The thing that really puts South Philly over the top is the dedication to service. Owner Mike Dinwiddie is in the shop most days and if anything is ever wrong, he does his absolute best to make it right.

I promised previously that I would get to the bottom of the recent drought in the TastyKake market. I e-mailed Mike, and he took time out of his day to let me know what’s going on.

Unfortunately, Tastykake does not have a distributorship near Memphis. To the best of my knowledge they only distribute in the Delaware Valley, and as far south as Virginia, and as far north as NY.

Mike mentioned that shipments to out-of-region vendors may have stemmed from one person trying to “help out cheesesteak joints” and that it may have become too much of a burden.

South Philly may begin to sell Hostess in the future.”They are local and local is good,” Mike sent about Hostess.

My hat’s off to Mike for replying to me so passionately (he also informed me that they’e just switched to a local water ice vendor “Parker’s Water Ice” and that they use Amoroso, a roll “Philly people go nuts over” and Ritter meats) and for running an absolutely incredible “cheesesteak joint.”

If you haven’t already, hit them up downtown. If you’re in the area, you can order on-line and they’ll even deliver to certain areas.

It’s completely worth it.

South Philly on Urbanspoon