2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas

Page: < 12345.. > >> Showing page 4 of 7
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 13:35:06
There's an outside chance I might visit Memphis next year and if it happens I'm definitely going to try to work a visit to Gus' into the plans!
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 14:50:21
Next up on the tour was my long-time favorite Memphis bbq parlor Cozy Corner

On the short drive from Gus's, Michael Stern explained that they use the aquarium style bbq cooker, which are so popular on Chicago's Southside.  Unfortunately, despite this reminder, I failed to get a decent photo of it, even though it sits right out in the open.  Maybe I was mesmerized by the incredible smell of slow cooked meats that wafts through the air and hit us as soon as we got off the bus.  BBQ parlors can come in all shapes and sizes, but you always want to see smoke pouring out of the chimney,

like they have at Cozy Corner
When ChiTownDiner, Cousin Johnny and I travel together, we take turns paying, figuring over the course of a trip, it will all even out.  But we always send CTD up to the counter to do the ordering.  And he never lets us down.  Here is one of the menu boards

that he had to choose from.
Johnny and I grabbed the table closest to the counter and we heard someone ask if they could join us.  We were thrilled to see it was Jane Stern, who was driving her own car and meeting us at all of the restaurants.  She arrived ahead of us and already had her food.  She had a single rib,

a side of bbq spaghetti, plus plenty of sauce and white bread.  She generously offered some of the plate and I ripped the bread in half and dipped it into the sauce.  Immediately, I knew I was in trouble.  Cozy Corner has both a mild and a hot sauce and this was obviously the hot, which to my mild palate was absolutely scorching!  It took a good ten minutes before I could even think about eating anything else.
By this time, CTD arrived at the table with our food.  First up was the bologna sandwich,

which was thick cut, covered in plenty of cole slaw and sauce on a soft toasted bun.  Excellent! 
The pork bbq sandwich

surprised us by coming in a hoagie roll, but that just meant there was more to eat.  It is a beautiful tangle of dark and light/inside and outside meat

that is both crunchy and soft at the same time.  Cover this with the slaw and this is a great pork bbq sandwich.  It hurts me to say this but Payne's was still a little bit better.
The reason we send the CTD up to do the ordering is that we will often comeback with an unexpectedly great item and he did it again with the sausage sandwich. 

These were big, incredibly juicy links that exploded flavor in your mouth.  Add more of that slaw and sauce and you have the sleeper hit of the day!
As for the sides, there was baked beans,

which I heard were quite good, but who cares when there is bbq spaghetti

to eat!  Obviously, the better the sauce, the better the bbq spaghetti.   And the thick, slightly sweet, with the right amount of spicy zing sauce here makes for an excellent barbecue spaghetti.  Not only did I eat our bbq spaghetti, I ate Jane Stern's, too!  It wasn't going to waste with me around. 
Despite all of this food, we barely sampled the ribs and had none of maybe their most famous dish, barbecued Cornish hen.  Other tour participants were walking around and sharing their dishes, which is typical of these tours and most everybody got to sample anything they wanted.
While we were sitting around eating, owner Desiree Robinson (here posing with Michael Stern)

was walking around, chatting up customers and just beaming with pride.  She is the widow of Ray Robinson, one of the city's great pit masters and his photo hangs prominently

on the wall.  She has done a magnificent job of running Cozy Corner, so much that there are four generations now working here.  We were told that one daughter just comes in to make the banana pudding (and maybe one other item, my memory fails me here) and that kids get started at the age of two.  What could they possibly do at the age of two?  They greet customers at the door and say: "Welcome to Cozy Corner"!  It's that kind of place.  By the way, the banana pudding here is also really good, but someone's (not naming names) wandering fork attacked it before I could get a photo!
Going back to that photo of Desiree Robinson, anyone notice that she is carrying?  Here

is better look.  No, she is not the typical great-grandmother!
Cozy Corner
745 North Parkway
Memphis, TN
For the second time in only two stops, everyone boarding the bus was murmuring about the incredible food.
Okay, Payne's might have a slightly better pork barbecue sandwich, but overall, Cozy Corner is still number one!             
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/08 14:56:53
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 15:06:49
This is a great report, and I'm looking forward to more. By the way, just looking at the shot of the Cozy Corner I know it has to be fantastic.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 15:10:17
Thanks Michael!  And I agree with you 100%, that is what a bbq parlor is supposed to look like!
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 15:53:49
I never realized that Michael Hoffman and buffetbuster were into such hoity-toity upscale restaurants.
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 15:58:21
The locals must have wondered what planet this alien invasion of picture snapping, plate sharing, buzzing with excitement folks descended from!  We tried it all and the sausage was so unexpectedly great, it became the consensus favorite.  There was a near riot as we neared the last bite!  I was able to separate buffetbuster from the pack....
If there was any doubt as to the craziness (in a good way) of the group, when regulars left to see a huge deluxe motorcoach in the parking lot....the comments were priceless! 
The close proximity of the tables allowed for maximum sharing and Desiree worked the room like a pro!  
We all complimented her on the efforts of 4 generations and she said the secret was partially never teaching the word "tired" to any of the children and grand children!  A lesson many could benefit from!  
It's not often we have two stops less than 10 minutes apart...how about three each less than 10 minutes apart!  Challenge accepted!  
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/08 15:59:41
Oh, yeah. You ought to see the how upscale Wholey's in Pittsburgh is. And then there's the G&R Tavern in Waldo. But it's possible that Crabill's in Urbana is the most upscale of all. Why, most of the eight stools actually match.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/09 13:35:45
Some years ago I passed through Mason, Tennessee, where Gus's had an outlet there.  It was 3:30 in the afternoon, and they served me some fried chicken that was about three hours old.  But I could tell even in its slightly decayed condition that the taste was very comparable to that of the Bon Ton Mini Mart's fried chicken.  I will definitely have to come to Memphis to try it some time.
Interestingly, the only Memphis restaurant that I have only tried was early one Sunday morning a few years ago at Interstate Bar-B-Q, which was good (and very close to the interstate).  I'd like to go there sometime with another roadfooder doing the driving.  I'm not really a fan of driving in city traffic.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 08:48:47
When it was announced that Cupboard Restaurant would be one of the stops on the bus tour, I thought this one had the chances of being a clunker.  My first experience here was very good, but on my last visit just a few years ago, it wasn't very good.  The lemon ice box pie that day was especially poor.  At one point, I even said to ChiTownDiner and Cousin Johnny that I would probably skip eating here and save it for better places still to come.  Yeah, we all know that isn't going to happen. 
We arrived at the restaurant several minutes earlier than they expected, but this place is big enough that they were able to seat us in a fairly quick manner.  CTD, Johnny and I were shown to a table of four and since Danny (ChiBears15) walked in right behind us, I asked him to come eat with us.  Cupboard is best known for the high quality of their Southern vegetables and the menu shows quite a list,

plus the waitress told us about a couple of extras.  We decided the best way to go would be that all four of us chose two each, with no repeats, except one. 
Our first plate

held (clockwise from the left) fresh buttered squash, eggplant casserole, fresh turnip greens and mac and cheese.  There wasn't a loser on the plate, with the bread crumb heavy eggplant casserole and the bitter greens being my favorites, while others extolled the squash as the best on the table. 
Unfortunately, there was a little miscommunication at the table and the other plate of vegetables was attacked before a photo could be taken.  That plate had the fried okra, green beans, corn pudding and more mac and cheese.  The sweet corn pudding was a delight in both texture and taste.   The green beans were not as porky as what you see in many Southern restaurants, allowing the freshness of the vegetable come through.  It appears fried okra isn't for me, because I can't remember the last time I enjoyed them.  The okra is so small, the deep fried coating to vegetable ratio is skewed too far in the wrong direction.  Obviously, this is my issue, since many people love fried okra.
Sitting at the table next to us was another group of Roadfooders,

including Corky, Boyd, Beth and tour veteran Carolann.  We were swapping dishes back and forth, which allowed us to try several more of the vegetables.  Thanks to them, we were able to try the Italian spinach, but for the life of me I can't remember what is was exactly we liked so much.  Can anyone else chime in about the Italian spinach?
Dessert time!  These included the custardy banana pudding

and the breading heavy, super sweet apple cobbler. 

I had warned tablemates earlier about the bad lemon ice box, but undaunted, a slice got ordered anyway. 

This version wasn't nearly as gloppy as my previous experience, but is still too sweet and not enough tart.  The best of the desserts was sent over from our neighbors: the ultra-rich chocolate silk pie.

Since this was in the middle of lunch hour, the restaurant was very busy and the staff did a great job of getting us in and out in a reasonable amount of time.  The Cupboard was certainly not the highlight of the tour, but was nowhere near the disappointment I thought it could be.  Besides, all these vegetables were the perfect change of pace for all the barbecue we would be eating on this day.
Cupboard Restaurant
1400 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN
A couple photos on the way out:  ChiTownDiner

posing with the mural that takes up most of the outside wall and Marvin (screen name Cubs Fan), Chris and Amy chatting.

Since we were ahead of schedule, this allowed the first audible of the tour!   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/10 08:56:49
Double Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 09:21:50
Great vegetables!  I need a recipe for eggplant casserole.  You just don't see it very much, and I love eggplant!  That one looks delicious!
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 09:59:53
While buffetbuster showed a picture on one side of our table....on the other side, pie was going on!

These guys got 3 slices and a banana pudding before the main courses arrived!  Experienced Roadfooders!
As for the missing veggie foursome....

Here's 3 of the 4 with the green beans having been removed so "someone" could check for porkiness!  This one was fried okra, corn casserole, mac n cheese (the only double allowed by vote) and somewhere out of camera range, green beans!
Our dessert threesome....

Apple cobbler, banana pudding and lemon ice box pie!

Our fearless leader, a man on a mission, the guy saying "Who Me?" when inquiries about the green beans began to surface....
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 10:16:53
Here's 3 of the 4 with the green beans having been removed so "someone" could check for porkiness! 
If the green beans disappeared due to a porkiness quality check, then it must of been me!

mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 11:41:38
Two interesting points RE- the Veggies.
1. Is it Corn Pudding or Corn Casserole (see conflicting labels in the text.) Claudia Sanders (Mrs Harlan...) called her entry in the veggies,  served at her Shelbyville, KY Dinner House,  Corn Pudding.
2. Same type of 'Naming Differences' come with the Eggplant casserole. CSDH titled hers "MOCK OYSTERS".  The dinners at CSDH provide unlimited access to family style servings of eight different and delicious Veggies, with the two mentioned and a wonderful Stewed Tomato dish as my favorite.
  The entree's tend to lose a lot of their glamor when supported by a veggie assortment like these.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 16:58:15
Looking at the photo from the menu, they do call it corn pudding at The Cupboard
Oh, I remember those vegetables from Claudia Sanders, with the corn pudding and the green beans being my favorites.   
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 18:41:32
Here is a photo of the Aquarium smoker at Cozy Corner
post edited by Big_g - 2013/11/11 13:17:22

Attached Image(s)

Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 18:42:52
And a shot of the GREAT Sausage sandwich
post edited by Big_g - 2013/11/10 18:52:50

Attached Image(s)

Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/10 19:38:13
Very nice big_g!  Thanks for the photos!
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 08:24:25
I see the note on the menu states that they don't use any meat products in their vegetables.  That would definitely affect what I'd order here.  I like the fact that they use many fresh vegetables rather than canned ones, and they proudly state it and even have a mural showing it!
Great report.  Having a lot of vicarious fun!
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 09:01:32
Great report so far!  I will start posting my pictures from the tour tomorrow.
post edited by ChiBears15 - 2013/11/11 09:05:27
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 11:07:56
I completely missed that fine print about Cupboard Restaurant not using meat in their vegetables.  That would certainly explain why the green beans were not porky, which is what you expect in Southern green/pole beans.
Outstanding!  So much looking forward to your additions.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 12:20:43
While we were dining at Cupboard Restaurant, Michael Stern came over to our table and asked if we had ever heard of Muddy's Bake Shop.  Had he asked this question a week earlier, the answer would have been no.  Coincidentally, Roadfooder NancyPalooza had just visited Memphis the week before the tour and raved about Muddy's on Facebook.  Apparently, some women who had just finished eating at Cupboard had asked Michael about this large group and when he told them it was an eating tour, they told him we had to visit Muddy's.  Since it was close to our next scheduled destination, we were off to make a quick dessert oriented side trip!
Since Muddy's

is located in a fairly large and busy shopping center, this proved problematic, but our bus driver Chester handled it like a pro.  One glance at the pie case

and it was obvious that we came to the right place.
Although all the cookies, cupcakes, bars, etc. looked wonderful, we stuck with the pies.  We decided on a few slices from that first case, content that we didn't, for the first time ever, over order.  So there we were, minding our own business and the next thing we know, we got ambushed by a strawberry lemonade cake.

So this got added to our cache.  If that wasn't bad enough, right behind that was a peanut butter banana cake.  Finding strength we didn't know we had, we managed to not add that to our order, thankfully!
Once paid up, we took our haul outside and ate at one of their tables out front.  That strawberry lemonade cake

was moist, with bright, sweet lemon icing, but if I had it to do over again, the peanut butter banana would have been a better choice.  The chocolate chess pie

was dense, rich and gooey and would have been better eaten with a glass of milk.  As much as I enjoyed it as first, I quickly tired of the taste.  This was one slice that was best made for sharing.  My favorite at Muddy's was the tangy buttermilk pie

with a buttery, substantial crust.
We saw plenty of other baked goods being passed around between other Roadfooders, but unfortunately, no other photos.  So, I would love to know what everyone else ordered at Muddy's and how they liked it.
Kudos to Michael and Stephen for finding a way to make this unexpected stop happen!
Muddy's Bake Shop
5101 Sanderlin Avenue
Memphis, TN
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/11 14:11:56
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 12:30:53
I love audibles on a food tour!  And we even had 30 minutes between stops to get a little digesting in!  What a great recommendation by NancyPalooza!  I have virtually the same photos fro this stop so not much to add...
We did have a bag on our table that had various bars in also...
We did exercise some care at this visit as we had a large scale stop less than 5 minutes away....
BTW - this was a bus drivers nightmare and he handled it with a big smile and precision driving! 
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 13:44:24
Keep'em coming, folks. This report could fill a book !!!
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 14:49:23
Just a few short minutes away was our next stop, Germantown Commissary

This bbq restaurant (notice I didn't say parlor) has the reputation as being one of the very best in Memphis, but in some ways it doesn't quite fit in with the other big names in Memphis barbecue.  First of all, instead of being in a questionable urban part of town, it is located in the wealthy suburbs.  And......  they have valet parking! 

Can you imagine?  It will be hard not to hold this service against the restaurant, but we will try our best.
The building itself is big enough that our entire group fit into three long tables in the back room to the left, although it was a little tight in there.  A couple shots of the Roadfood crowd: 

The menu is fairly big,

with plenty of non-barbecue options and once again, we will try not to hold that against the restaurant.
Our party of three decided to split two dishes.  Considering the amount of pork we were consuming, the barbecued shrimp

was a nice way to mix things up.  How can you not like shrimp covered in bbq sauce, but this was still nothing special.  A combination plate with ribs and pulled pork 

gave us a nice overview of the main meats served.  The pulled pork was tender, though overly sauced and made a better impression than the ribs.  The baked beans were heavy on the liquid, but the deviled eggs with plenty of paprika were a highlight.  We liked them so much, we placed an extra order of deviled eggs.
There was a basket of pulled pork nachos floating around the table (sorry, photo came out too blurry to use), which we got to sample, but this was a combination of flavors and textures that just didn't work for me.  It wasn't all bad news, as the custardy banana pudding

was excellent and maybe the best of the entire trip.
At one point during our meal, I saw Judy Rushmore taking a photo of Wayne's sandwich

and once again, got a bad case of photo envy.  So I asked him to turn around and let me get the shot. 

Actually, that is a pretty good looking sandwich.  We may be trying this the next time here.
On this day, I felt Germantown Commissary was the weak spot of the tour.  There was nothing bad here, but considering our last bbq meal was at Cozy Corner, well, you aren't going to be able to compete with that.  And I have no doubt that if they were located in my town, I would eat here twice a week.
Germantown Commissary
2290 S. Germantown Road
Germantown, TN
We got one more tour stop to make and it is even more barbecue!  And even better, it is a place I have never been to, before. 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/11 14:55:07
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/11 21:05:17
Did anyone try the caramel cake or lemon icebox pie by any chance?  The menu says the desserts are homemade.   I realize you all had just been to a pie place, though, so maybe this was the last thing you were thinking about.
On this trip, are any of these BBQ places making a distinction between wet and dry rub ribs?  When I went to Corky's last year they did, so I wondered if others do as well.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 04:56:26
In a group our size, no doubt that someone did try the caramel or lemon ice box pie.  Hopefully, someone will chime in with a comment or maybe even a photo.  And trust me, pie is never the last thing I am thinking about! 
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 07:50:32
As you can see we went off the traditional bbq path with decent bbq shrimp (for a change of pace) and several deviled eggs which were really good!  But the star of the show...

....was the banana pudding....and we doubled down on what would be my top banana pudding or at the very least, as good as it can get banana pudding!
With the three long tables, sharing reached new heights and I saw other desserts go by, tried a few but alas, no photos!
I am adding this disclaimer - everyone has a different standard for best of.  With this banana pudding, I like a ratio of almost equal parts, and that's what we got!  Many have to few cookies or no whip cream...this was just perfect!  
post edited by ChiTownDiner - 2013/11/12 11:03:05
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 10:58:46
I have previously visited most of the big names in Memphis BBQ, but somehow have missed out Central BBQ.  My Memphis friends tell me good things about the place and we heard equally positive things about the ribs they served at the annual Roadfood NOLA Foodfest.  I was really looking forward to this one. 
Central BBQ started out in Midtown on Central Avenue, but there are now three locations.  We would be eating at the new downtown location, which is right next to the National Civil Rights Museum.  

Great neon sign

out front!  I knew I liked this place right away from the cute photos of kids

you get to place on the wall when you make a donation.  This place is big enough that we could all fit into one room in the back.  This room had large windows that were opened up to let air in, which made for a pleasant dining atmosphere on such a beautiful day.  Unfortunately, the light pouring

in wreaked havoc with my photos.  
On the back wall they have two really well done murals

of the city.  They have all the major sights of the city, but what surprised me is that they also had several other bbq parlors listed on the map.  Cozy Corner, Payne's, Interstate, Leonard's, they were all represented on the mural.
This was one of the restaurants where Roadfood was picking up the tab and we were all getting a set plate of food.  First thing at our table was a basket of house made bbq chips,

followed by pulled chicken nachos. 

The chips were crispy, the chicken was nice and tender, the shredded cheese worked well with the other ingredients and this was clearly better than the bbq nachos we just had at Germanton Commissary.  Not everyone at my table shared my enthusiasm for them, though.
We each received a plate

with a couple of dry rub ribs, a pulled pork slider, a dry rub wing and a wet bbq wing, plus a side of cole slaw.   I particularly liked  
the ribs, with the mixture of seasonings adding plenty of flavor.  The pulled pork on the slider

was certainly moist enough, but could have used less sauce.  In fact, if there was one weakness at Central BBQ is that no one seemed to like the sauce.  Which helps explain why the dry rub wing was much better than the wet wing.
The staff at Central BBQ was excellent!  To a person, they were friendly, smiling and treated us very well.
Overall, the food at Central BBQ was very good.  One trusted Roadfooder even told me that it was her favorite bbq parlor for the entire tour.  Still, I would like to return and go to the original location when more appetite is available.
Central BBQ
147 E. Butler Avenue
Memphis, TN
The official tour ended here.  You had the option of remaining at Central BBQ to enjoy a few adult beverages, walk the mile or so back to the hotel or ride the bus back.  The majority of the participants chose to walk.
Once back at the hotel, quick naps were in order.  After all, we still had dinner plans for the night.            
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/12 11:09:57
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 11:14:14
Here's another view of the inside area...

Followed by my plate, which as indicated is the same but in a slightly different light...

I think this shirt summed up how our stomachs were feeling...

...that one was on-sale at the counter shop on the way out along with a wall of other catchy bbq slogans!  
We definately needed a little break at this point!  
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 13:53:10
Over the course of the day, we made plans to have dinner out with Chris and Amy.  And right before the tour ended for the day, Wayne asked what we were doing for dinner, so we invited him to join us.  At 8:00PM, we met in the lobby of the hotel and walked a few blocks to Automatic Slim's Tonga Club.  

In the Roadfood universe, there are several restaurants with great names.  If Automatic Slim's isn't number one, it is surely top five.
Because ASTC has a more expensive menu than the typical Roadfood restaurant, I was concerned about not being properly dressed.  My wardrobe for this trip was entirely shorts and t-shirts.  Not only did we fit in fine the way we way were dressed, but didn't even have to wait for a table.  We were led upstairs to a round table in the corner.  Here

is part of the menu page with the entrees.
CTD went for the shrimp and grits, which he seemed to enjoy.  Sorry, no photo!  Cousin Johnny surprisingly went for the Hawaiian marinated ribeye

with lemon parmesan French fries.  Despite how full he was from the tour, Johnny still put away his entire meal!  I am so proud to say he is my cousin.
I needed something different than what we had eaten earlier in the day, so I went with the blackened redfish,

with crawfish risotto and asparagus.  The fish itself was firm and flaky, but the star of the plate the creamy risotto, with the crawfish sauce.  Wayne also ordered this dish.
Sorry, I can't remember what Chris and Amy ate, but they wisely split a meal, saving appetite for the next day's tour.
Automatic Slim's Tonga Club
83 S. 2nd Street
Memphis, TN
After this, I was exhausted.  It was straight to bed, since the tour was starting earlier the next day.  
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 14:07:34
As the married couple at the table...they choose oysters!  In great quantity! 
Double Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/12 23:55:57
As usual, terrific report, BB. I so enjoy reading about people's travels and get local food. Thank you everyone for your contributions. BB, I really admire your's and Johnnie's eating capacity and ability to go out in the evening as you do. I'm a big eater, myself, but I could never make it and by 8 pm, I'm not in bed but I'm definitely winding down for the evening. My (very old woman that I am) response to an 8 pm dinner invite would be 'you want to have dinner when????????? Guess I'm not much fun. Bad thing is I'm only 53 but I guess I run out of steam fast in my middle age! 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/13 07:30:35
Thanks so much!  When it comes to appetite I do okay, but am clearly third between ChiTownDiner and Cousin Johnny.  Eating late has never been a problem, in fact I find it preferable. 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/13 07:31:46
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/13 08:37:55
Here's a look at the shrimp 'n grits....

which was a really fine rendition of a classic dish.  All of the components came together nicely for a 4- star dish!  The grits were flawless and combined with the sauce, cheese and shrimp created one of my favorite dishes of the trip.
You may have noticed there are no dessert pictures from this stop.  Well, they basically ran out of dessert having only one choice left and it really didn't appeal to anyone!  There was actually a collective sigh of relief as by now and after 8 food stops, we were reaching maximum capacity.
I do tip my hat to Cousin Johnny for ordering and then finishing the Fred Flintstone Steak! 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/13 08:43:46
Because of the close proximity of all the restaurants around Memphis on the first day of the tour, we were able to get it done in around eight hours, which is rather impressive logistically.  Saturday, the second day of the tour would be different because of the distances we needed to drive.  But, it would be well worth it!
We met in the hotel lobby just before 8:00AM, boarded the bus and headed across the Mississippi River into Arkansas.  Michael Stern got on the microphone and informed the participants about our schedule for the day.  The first stop was going to be Ms. Lena's Pie Shop in De Valls Bluff.  And then he said something that caused me great concern.....
When they first announced that we would be doing a day in Memphis and a day in Arkansas, I naturally assumed the great Family Pie Shop in De Valls Bluff would be on the schedule.  So, I wrote Michael to remind him about the lesser known pie shop in town, Ms.Lena's.  He wrote back and said that he plans on contacting them to see if they could accommodate us.  Great!  And I didn't give it that much thought.
.....until Michael mentioned he not been here before and didn't know about it until I wrote him.  And now it hit me that we have a bus full of people who are driving well out of their way to visit a tiny little pie shop on my recommendation only.   I spent the rest of the drive to De Valls Bluff keeping my fingers crossed that Ms. Lena's would be on their A game and trying to figure out how I was going to get home, if they weren't!
I shouldn't have worried, because the pies here were far better than I remember.
The parking for Ms. Lena's is small enough that only a couple of cars can fit in.  We drove past and it took a good mile or so until Chester was able to find a reasonable place to turn around.  And when the bus parked, 

it took up the entire lot.
The building itself is interesting and almost looks like two small houses were joined together.  The Roadfooders lined up on the porch

since no more than three or four people could fit inside at one time.  The sign just inside the door

is a classic!  The inside looks completely different than when I was here a few years ago.  Back then, the space was open and you could choose your slices of pie out of a refrigerated case.  Now, there is a counter you order at,

with all the fried pies lined up on a back shelf. A few more interior shots

show the folksy charm of the place.
Once my interior photos were taken care of, I got out of line to give more people some room.  This left ChiTownDiner to do the ordering for the three of us.  And we all know how this is going to end.  He comes back with a container

holding all eight flavors of fried pie they had available!  I remember that there was apple, strawberry, pecan, pumpkin pecan, chocolate, apricot and then memory fails me.   Can anyone finish the list?  All the fried pies were still warm, wrapped in a napkin, with one or two letters on it to identify it, since they all look the same from the outside.  Before we dug in, Michael came over to get a picture and in true Roadfood fashion, 

while holding a fork in his mouth!
We all started grabbing different fried pies, with apricot being my first choice. 

Even before tearing it open, it is easy to admire the beauty of it.  Look at how much wider the edges are and there even seem to be some bubbles.  You could just feel how brittle and flaky it was.  I tore it open, grabbing a large chunk, sat it the rest back down and enjoyed the fresh fruit flavor inside.  From there is became of frenzy of trying to sample as many different kinds as possible.  The apple was a standout and somehow I never got to try the strawberry.  Although all the fillings were first rate, the crust was clearly the star. 
After a while, it occurred to me that I hadn't taken anyway inside shots of the fried pies.  Sorry, I only have two, chocolate


pumpkin pecan.  There was actually one flavor of fried pie that wasn't ready yet when we arrived and this came out just a few minutes after the others.  They call it the woodpecker

and it is especially popular with the local hunters.  It has chocolate, marshmallow and maraschino cherries.  I am not a big fan of this type of cherry and the marshmallow must have been melted into the chocolate.  This was probably my least favorite of the fried pies.
You would think this would be enough, but CTD, bless his pie lovin' heart, came back with a couple slices of regular pie, too.  Although not quite as magical as the fried pies, the chocolate


coconut cream were still excellent!
One of the things that contributed to this being such a memorable stop was that since there is no place to sit down, we all just stood around as a group, 

sharing our pies and chatting about how good these were.  As for people going back for seconds, yup, it was the usual suspects,

including Cousin Johnny!
As if this place couldn't get anymore charming, the owner's granddaughter,

Gracen came out in her pajamas and coat and started snapping photos and video of us.  She also passed out business cards and brought us a big piece of kitty litter cake to try. 

Don't worry, those are tootsie rolls.  Just before we left, Gracen boarded the bus to have everyone sign the guest book.  It took her mom calling from the pie shop to get her to come back inside!
With the quality of the pies, the informal and rustic nature of the shop itself, this was one of the more memorable stops were have ever made on a Roadfood tour.  There were a lot of happy, smiling faces on the bus when we left.
To read more about our visit and a much better description of the food, here is Michael Stern's review. 
Ms. Lena's Pie Shop
2885 Highway 33S
De Valls Bluff, AR
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/13 08:55:31
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/13 09:35:14
One of the favorite stops of the tour, I kept wondering how folks find this place....

....but look at the crowd! 

Peach and blueberry may be the final 2 of the 9 flavors...I liked them all.  As we were near the beginning of the line, we had our choice of tables and we selected booth #1 which was the top of the bbq grill!  It really complimented our al fresco dining experience!  These folks couldn't have been nicer and this was a truly memorable Roadfood stop! 
Sometimes, timing can be everything....

....as we made it in on one of the two days they are open! 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/13 09:46:51
Yes, peach and blueberry were the other two.  Thanks for that!  And that shrimp and grits looks wonderful!
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/13 20:02:33
Just wait i will be getting even with you two....  
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 07:31:42
Just like big_g, ChiBears15 came to the rescue with a photo of the aquarium smoker at Cozy Corner

And another of his photos, this time a group shot of our table from Central BBQ.

Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 07:36:47
I can read Cousin Johnny's mind....how much bbq can I eat and still get the biggest steak at our next meal!  He's such an engineer! 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 08:16:43
From what we were told, tour organizers Michael Stern and Stephen Rushmore attempted to get ahold of Mary Thomas of the Family Pie Shop and unfortunately, had no luck.  As we were sitting on the bus, preparing to leave Ms. Lena's, we were unsure of whether we should stop in or not.  After all, as great as the pies are at Family Pie Shop, the place is also extremely small and Mary Thomas can be, shall we say, cranky at times.  One of the women near the front, I think her name was Alyssa and I apologize if that is wrong, called and got through.  So we made the two minute drive over to pie stop number two on the day.
It was decided that instead of the entire busload of people descending en masse on the tiny place, Stephen Rushmore would go in and get as many pies as he could.  It felt a little like sending Daniel into the lion's den.  Needing help to carry all these pies, Alyssa and ChiTownDiner accompanied Stephen.
While sitting there on the bus, I noticed that Craig's BBQ across the street was now open and it did occur to me to go grab a pork bbq sandwich to go.  But, I knew if I went, others would surely be right behind, which could lead to us getting behind schedule.  A few people got off the bus to take pictures of this very rustic pie shop, with the words "pie shop" painted on the white cinder block exterior wall.
Finally, Stephen, Alyssa and CTD emerged with bags full of pies in take out containers, which were then passed around the bus.  Johnny and I ended up sharing a slice of custard pie,

which was wonderfully light and eggy.  But it is the chocolate pie

here that makes me swoon.  Like Ms. Lena's fried pies, Family Pie Shop's pies have their own distinct appearance, due to the color and style of the meringue.  That and one slice is actually one quarter of a pie!  The filling is luxurious, with deep chocolate flavor, while not being overly sweet or rich.  One of my very favorite slices of pie anywhere!
Since CTD was one of the insiders on this pie mission, no doubt will fill us in on the behind the scenes info.
Family Pie Shop
Route 70
De Valls Bluff, AR
While Ms. Lena's clearly has the better of the fried pies, I do prefer the regular slices at Family Pie Shop.  Can you even imagine living in De Valls Bluff and having two world class pie shops in your town.  We may have found where I am retiring someday!    
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/14 08:21:03
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 09:11:11
I didn't know about Ms. Lena's when I visited Family Pie Shop, so can't compare, but I absolutely loved the apricot fried pie from Family Pie Shop.  The filling was delicious and the crust so flaky--just a wonderful little dessert! 
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 14:24:13
Family Pie Shop is not a modern style building by any standards...

...and as we walked up, the door was locked.  Before we could even peer inside, the deadbolt turned, a young man came out and also said, go on in!
Mary Thomas was in the kitchen and looked up and said, I don't have any pies.  I am just filling them and then they need to go in the oven.  We began with small talk and as we continued, Mary indicated there might be a slice or two in the cooler.
This is where we got lucky!  Alyssa asked if she wanted some help and to our surprise, Mary let her in the kitchen.  Turns out, there were 2 whole pies and several partial pies in the cooler.  We told Mary we would take them all, so she started slicing and packaging each one individually.  We ended up with near 25-30 slices! 
But the best part is we were frozen to our cameras in the front room of the store as we had heard the no photos rule!  Alyssa, seemingly part of the staff at this point, asks if she can take a picture or two, and she gets a yes!  You never know...pie where there was none, someone gets to go backstage at the concert and in a no photo zone, pictures including in the kitchen are allowed!
We must have looked pretty funny to everyone on the bus as we came out each carrying a stack of to-go containers.  The pies were delightful and this tour stop had a storybook ending!
We need the inside pictures for evidence! 
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 15:02:21
Fantastic report!  Great pictures!  Wonderful ending for the morning pie stops!
Though I think I would have been with BB and snuck off the bus to Craig's and carted back a few sammies!
With the recon on Lena's I'll have to plan my next trip around her shop times. 
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 15:18:48
I am more than a little perturbed that NOW I find out that while I am inside hard at work on pie for my friend, he is relaxing in the comfort of the bus and not out getting us sandwiches!  
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/14 22:49:27
Those pictures of the fried pies at Ms. Lena's sure do bring back awesome memories.
One of the funniest moments of the trip for me occurred on the bus as we were leaving Ms. Lena's.  I got on the bus and asked ChiTownDiner, "Which of the nine fried pies did you try?" 
He replied, "I tried all of them."  LOL!  A professional foodie! 
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/15 03:11:51
A terrific report, just keeps getting better as I can't think of two words that sound so good together as "fried pies". It's nice to have multiple inputs on the tour as well, great stuff!
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/15 04:03:21
Looks like you guys had a blast!  Sounds like the only thing that could have made it better was to skip Germantown and head back to Paynes for a 2nd time ;-)
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/15 12:33:02
One of the funniest moments of the trip for me occurred on the bus as we were leaving Ms. Lena's.  I got on the bus and asked ChiTownDiner, "Which of the nine fried pies did you try?"  He replied, "I tried all of them."  LOL!  A professional foodie! 
I love this!  It would never occur to ChiTownDiner to not sample all nine!  Thanks for sharing that.
Thanks to everyone for the nice comments.  They are very much appreciated. 

Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/15 14:59:36

One of the funniest moments of the trip for me occurred on the bus as we were leaving Ms. Lena's.  I got on the bus and asked ChiTownDiner, "Which of the nine fried pies did you try?"  He replied, "I tried all of them."  LOL!  A professional foodie! 
I love this!  It would never occur to ChiTownDiner to not sample all nine!  Thanks for sharing that.

Thanks to everyone for the nice comments.  They are very much appreciated. 

This coming from the OTHER of my two table mates that ordered the entire menu at Rotier's and the poor waitress had to bring an EXTRA TABLE for allthe food.
Double Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/16 12:24:27
A few photos from our collection catching us up to where we are now on the trip report....
We got the pulled pork nachos at Germantown Commissary - just ok - pork was rather dry, sauce a bit overwhelming. They were just ok.

We ordered the lemon ice box pie, having very fond memories of it from our last visit. This visit didn't live up to our prior expectations, perhaps because we had already sampled better versions this trip. It was good, just not as good as some others.

At the unscheduled Muddy's Bakery stop, Tim got a Lemon Drop cupcake, and a Red Velvet cupcake. The lemon drop was not very good - very very dense cake, and an overly sweet, fake lemony icing. The red velvet, however, was excellent - and that was eaten a day later on the bus on our way to Arkansas! Light, moist cake, and an excellent cream cheese frosting.

Inside Miss Lena's....

Roadfood professionals at work!

Our first round of fried pies - strawberry, coconut cream, and apple. Seriously yum. I can't decide which one I liked best.

Inside view - strawberry, coconut cream, and apple. Tim went back in and got a pumpkin pecan after these were finished.

Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/16 16:44:53
Wonderful additional photos and descriptions!  Too bad I didn't get a photo of Tim going back in for more!
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 06:26:20
A quick recap of the day's events.....
So far we have been to Ms. Lena's Fried Pies and Family Pie Shop, two of the best pies shops in the South, if not the country.  Up Next?  Ed & Kay's in Benton, best known for their sky scraping meringue pies!  Considering Arkansas very well might be the best state in the country for pies, this is not a complaint!
Truthfully, when I read that Ed & Kay's

was going to be on the tour, once again I thought this may end up being a weak spot on the day.  The pies are good, but in two previous visits, their regular food was just okay.  Once parked, we were led in though a side door into a back dining room that I hadn't noticed before.
Whether it was to tease us or left there as a preview of things to come, there was one of the meringue pies 

just sitting by itself on a counter in our dining room.  Anyone with a camera was getting up to take this photo, while oohing and aaahing.  And if you got up to use the restroom, you would also pass these pies

sitting on a shelf just outside the kitchen.  You could feel the anticipation in the air, despite the fact that no one on the bus was exactly pie deprived right now.
The menu is fairly big, but knowing the quantity and quality of the food ahead, there was no sense it overeating.  Our table of six

(from left foreground, ChiBears15, Chester the bus driver, Judy Rushmore, Cousin Johnny, ChiTownDiner and myself)decided to concentrate on a couple of vegetable plates, saving room, of course, for lots of pie.  Here are the vegetable selections

for the day. 
The first plate

has squash casserole and purple hull peas, while the second plate

includes more squash casserole, fried okra and green beans.  Additional sides enjoyed were macaroni salad, chick pea salad and great northern beans, but those photos I either missed or they didn't turn out well.  The vegetables were much better than on previous visits, with the highlights being the squash casserole (lucky we had two orders of it, because it went quick) and I am always a fan of porky green beans.  The six of us passed around the plates until there was nothing left.
Because we were in Arkansas, we decided to enjoy another local specialty, cheese dip. 

This is basically chips along with the restaurants own homemade cheese dip.  Not bad and this would be good to munch on while watching a game, but this was just a time killer until the pies came out.
Since we have been so patient and made our mothers proud by eating our vegetables first, it was time to look over the pie list on the menu. 

Yeah right!  We have the ChiTownDiner at our table and he is not about to wait for pie!  Moments after sitting down, he asked our waitress to bring out a slice of the peanut butter and she brought this

gorgeous slice of pie to our table.  They even told us that this slice was free since it was actually a mistake.  Huh?  The top layer of peanut butter was creamy and rich, but the bottom layer was so thick, you couldn't cut it with a fork.  Or a fork and a knife.  Maybe a jackhammer would have done the trick.  No problem, who is going to complain about a free slice of pie?
Among the pies we got to sample were the apple,

the French raisin,

lemon meringue

and coconut cream. 

With the sugary crust, the apple was just fine, but clearly outshined by the other pies.  The lemon meringue was a little too sweet for my taste, but you have to admire the beauty of that meringue!  The general consensus was the French raisin was number one.  Unfortunately, with me taking the pie photos (at one point I picked the two meringue pies up and took them to another table to try and get better light), I completely missed out on the French raisin.  No doubt that CTD will add comments about what he liked about it.
As usual on one of these these tours, there was plenty of sharing from table to table, which allowed us to try the dreamy peanut butter meringue, which was my favorite at Ed & Kay's and to get a shot of another tour favorite, the PCP,

which stands for pineapple, coconut and pecan.
A few more additional photos

from our visit to Ed & Kay'sCTD especially loved the separate pie case,

which sits in the main dining room.
Of the six places we visited on this day, Ed & Kay's clearly finished in last.  But that is more of a testament to the quality of the other stops than an indictment of this place.  This was a much better stop than I expected.
Ed & Kay's
15228 I-30
Benton, AR
Okay, after three straight pie stops, even I am ready to eat something.  And considering we were next headed to Hot Springs, we are about to get back-to-back greatness!          
Double Cheeseburger
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 06:48:30
Wow!  Great vegetables and PIES!  Yes, let's hear about the French Raisin - looks very interesting!  The PCP also looks quite unique.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 07:46:30
As De Valls Bluff is to Arkansas pies, Hot Springs is to Arkansas BBQ.  The fine people of this small city is fortunate enough to have two of the great Roadfood BBQ parlors. 
Our first stop was Stubby's Hik-Ry Pit Bar-B-Que.  

When our bus pulled up, we could see they had a nice welcome for us on their outside sign.  That is Carolann posing underneath the sign.  Stubby's isn't a particularly big place, but we got lucky that they weren't busy, so we all fit in comfortably.  You order your food as you go down the short cafeteria line and pay at the register.
Of course our group of three decided to order the Stubby's Super Ultimate Platter,

which would include beef, pork, ham, ribs, half a chicken, beans, slaw and bread.  Actually, our group of three turned to four.  When boarding the bus after eating at Ed & Kay's, Wayne said to us something along the lines, that he has been social so far, but he was going to sit with us at the next two stops!  I assume this wasn't because he enjoyed our sparkling personalities as much as he knew ours would be the table with plenty of food!
My favorite meat is ham and the pit ham here has a clear smoky flavor and is one of my favorites anywhere.  The ribs are long, meaty and first-rate.  That is all the meat I ate, because the star of the menu at Stubby's is the Pot O Beans.  Normally, this side dish comes in a tall bowl, but the nice people here were including free beans to every Roadfooder, so ours came in a side dish. 

The beans are covered in more of that pit ham and slathered with a generous amount of that world class bbq sauce.  It is a mixture of sweet, tangy flavors and textures that is impossible to beat.  Everyone else at the table can eat the bbq, this is what I came here for. 
We shared a table with Jane Stern who ordered the other great side at Stubby's, the smoked pit potato.  Imagine a huge baked potato, topped off with baked beans, cole slaw, pork and bbq sauce.  It is as good as it sounds and Jane passed it around the table for us all to enjoy.
The people at Stubby's were incredibly friendly and genuinely happy to be hosting us.  Owner Chris Dunkel was unable to be here on this day, but his mother,

here posing with Jane, proved to be a gracious host.  
A few more photos from Stubby's interior:

Stubby's was one of the real highlights of the tour and I heard more than one person say that this was their favorite bbq parlor of the tour.
Stubby's Hik-Ry Pit Bar-B-Que
3024 Central Avenue
Hot Springs, AR
No time to rest on our bbq laurels, because another great bbq joint is only a ten minute drive away! 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/11/17 07:50:23
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 09:23:54
Funny how both of these places are known for their Beans, as well as their meat.
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 10:35:48
We had a reasonable drive to Ed & Kay's arriving about 30 minutes after our pie stops....

There were the usual photographs being taken everywhere....

Danny and Cliff in action.
Here's what the chick pea salad looked like with a combination of chick peas, feta cheese, tomatoes and a vinaigrette dressing....

Here's a close-up of the squash casserole and as Cliff indicated, it was the star of the show!

Here's our foursome as named above by Cliff...

And for my money, the star of the show....the French raisin!

Typically, we eat and taste a lot of food on the tour stops so there is never really a need to get extra stuff to go.  However, in this case, I was mad at my self the rest of the day for not getting an extra slice of the French raisin to go for a snack later on.  It was that good!
While Cliff referenced the pie case, I really looked at it as a pie room as there were pies cooling, waiting to be sliced, etc. on the counters directly behind the pie case.  Lots of plates, silverware, all the tools of the trade in one room dedicated to the art of pie!  Nothing better than that!
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 11:27:03
Here's our tray!!!

...with the sampler weighing in near 5 lbs!

Here's Jane's "potato"...

...weighing is at 3lbs!  This is not a stop for the weak of heart! 

We were so welcomed here I just had to post another photo of the sign!  What a wonderful staff....and the beans were the highlight and I also loved the "plain" ham sandwich shown on our tray.  Good stuff!
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 14:36:59
Fantastic pics Gregg!  I can still taste that chick pea salad from Ed and Kay's... Delicious!
Filet Mignon
Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas 2013/11/17 16:51:57
Danny - that was a fun stop!  And I am still mad I didn't grab an extra piece of the French raisin! 
Page: < 12345.. > >> Showing page 4 of 7