Thursday, November 1, 2012

Taste Bud Travels: Memphis (Pt 2) Three Angels Diner, Hog & Hominy, and Rendezvous

If you haven't had a chance to check out my last literary masterpiece (well, my last post) covering the first part of my weekend in Memphis, you aren't missing any critical plot, however you are missing some pretty delicious details, so check that out after you get done drooling over part two... it's okay, I'm drooling, too. 

Three Angels Diner

Located on Broad avenue, this diner has a unique and fun 50s
 vibe! Their walls pay homage to local artists, and their bar top can get you talking about old records!
We know from Part 1 where the locals get their burrito fix, but where do the locals brunch? Three Angels Diner is your answer. The brainchild of local chef, Jason Severs, already revered for his Italian fine-dining restaurant, Bari (ahem! incredible), this place offers up the kind of breakfast you imagine coming out of your grandmother’s kitchen, especially if your grandma is a chef with an eye for flavorful combinations (aren't they all?).

Now, it is brunch, so we are allowed to indulge, and indulge we will! We started with mimosas. Clearly, someone (below) needed one. To accompany his mimosa, Derren ordered their signature brunch dish, The Kitchen Sink. Listen as a serenade you with the mouth-watering details… It’s beef brisket hash, home made sausage, bacon, garlic cheese grits, flat top potatoes, and cheese, all topped with 2 fried eggs and house made salsa. 

Tired guy... maybe we should make that a double, ha!
It looks so innocent at first glance...
After demolition, it is clear that this breakfast is no joke!
While he was eating everything in the kitchen, I had my usual, the blueberry pancakes. If these breakfast delicacies every leave the menu, I will revolt (you've been warned!). Seriously, they are that good. The sweetened sour cream, which is generously drizzled all over the top, offers a delicious compliment to the maple syrup served on the side. Yes, I will have two orders. 

Light and fluffy, drizzled with sweetened sour cream!
Fresh blueberries, peaking out of their delicious cake surroundings! Yum!

Clearly, this is a noteworthy brunch. I highly recommend it for friends of all dietary considerations! They have vegan and veggie breakfast "meat" for your herbivorous friend, and an egg-white frittata for your friend who is actually sticking to that New Years resolution ($#@%!).  Oh, and if you see a cute bartender with a blonde, pixie cut, her name is Haley, and she is fabulous! Tell her I sent you, and maybe she'll tell you an embarrassing story about me! 

Don't be fooled by my brunch focus, this diner is definitely worth a stop any time of day; make sure to check out their daily assortment of vegetable sides, the delightful product of their local market hauls!

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Hog & Hominy

If you are looking for a true, foodie gold mine in Memphis, you have to try Hog & Hominy. This restaurant is the artful creation of Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer, two chefs already well-planted in the Memphis culinary scene with their restaurant Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. Hog & Hominy opened this year, across the street in Brookhaven Circle. With two kitchens sharing the same street, these guys are taking Brookhaven to a level of culinary genius likely to make the surrounding streets jealous.

Check out the cool host stand, and the smiling faces of our hosts!
You would be happy, too, if you worked somewhere so tasty. The gentleman
 in yellow was really helpful, explaining his favorite dishes and making sure
we were enjoying our meal (the blasted cocktails removed his name from my
The ambiance is fresh and fun, I love the industrial touches and the
exposed beams.
As part of Derren’s birthday, I promised to take him out to an astounding dinner, and man, did I deliver! We started with some cocktails. I had the Rusty, a seasonal combination of Tanqueray rangpur, hibiscus ginger syrup, lemon, and champagne, and Derren had the Old Fashioned (one of the many whiskey Master Cocktails), with Maker's Mark, their own orange bitters, demura syrup, orange zest, and an ice ball. 

Then, we shared some small plates. Here, we have the poutine with neck bone gravy, chili oil, and caputo cheese curd. Alongside, the equally wonderful Merguez sausage, a mix of lamb and pork, with harissa and pickled onion. No, I’m not speaking in tongues, possessed by the soul of a culinary genius, this really happened to me. I ate this.

Check out those delicious pieces of meat in the gravy; these guys don't
skimp on anything. 
I love the bite that pickled onions add to the sausage. Oh, and you have to
 taste the harissa for yourself. It is awe-inspiring.
Now, I know the pictures above are pretty distracting, I mean that it a whole lot of yummy, but the main event has yet to come! May I introduce to you, the Red Eye Pizza: pork belly, egg, fontina, celery leaf, and sugo. This pizza is definitely going on the list of the best things I have ever eaten. Seriously, it was otherworldly. You crack the perfect egg, cooked just until it’s set, and drizzle the yolk all over the pizza, which is generously topped with tender, melt in your mouth, pork belly. It was so rich and abounding with flavor, I felt like my eyes would roll back in my head. You HAVE TO try this pizza. Please. (How about some reverse psychology? I bet you won't go eat this pizza...)

Handling the pizza with such reverence! 
Feast your eyes! We were so excited, we forgot to get a picture before
 cracking the yolk. Oops.
Presented without comment.
The kitchen also blessed us with a bowl of their delicious creamed corn, a combination of corn (okay, that was kind of obvious), tarragon cream, black pepper, and Parmesan. The corn was fresh from the farm, which is great, however, this was probably one of the last times it will be featured on the menu due to the cold. Do not fear, Chef Michael informed me that they have some pretty naughty ideas for a carrot replacement. As if I needed another reason to come back...

So fresh and light, but creamy. A really great combination! 
To finish it off, we had some Parmesan gelato. If you have had this before, you are going to the right places. It was so simple, yet really complex at the same time (an oxymoron, I know). It was done beautifully, with the nutty-flavor of the Parmesan really shining through at the end of each bite. If I hadn’t been told I was eating Parmesan gelato, I would have just thought it was a simple and delicious nut gelato.

The perfect finish to an amazing dinner. 
All in all, this was such a great meal. I recommend you take your stomach out on a date to this place. I must warn you though, all subsequent dates likely won't compare.

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Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous

Located in an alley downtown, part of the fun of the Rendezvous is
finding it! 
Now (drumroll, please) no trip to Memphis, especially with the intent to inform others of its food greatness, would be complete without a family trip to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. Just like the famous restaurant’s tagline states, “Not since Adam has a rib been this famous.” Charlie Vergos started this landmark in 1948, and ever since, the restaurant has been pumping out tasty barbeque to locals and tourists alike.

When you enter the basement restaurant, you are descending into a world where pork rules, and good barbeque is the law. There is so much history in this place, you would be hard pressed to avoid reminiscing among the old, sentimental objects, and items with more history than your Internet browser. They take great pride in staying true to what works, whether it’s the delicious dry rub, or the staff. If you’ve gone to the Rendezvous in the past 20 years, you are likely to see a familiar face; Robert Senior has already dedicated 45 years to the restaurant, and has made it part of the family, welcoming his son to the team, a 24 year devotee.

People just seem to love this place, and I’m about to unveil some pretty concrete evidence as to why:

You start out with red beans and rice, which has a pleasant sweetness, and the sausage, ham, salami, and cheese plate, all dusted with a little of the famous dry rub (YUM, see below).

Red beans and rice to start!
Cheese, crackers, and sausage are like comfort food! It's a down home charcuterie!
Don’t get too carried away with your starters; the Rendezvous is known for its ribs, and their dry rub will send your taste buds into a standing ovation. It has salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, celery seed, paprika, and chile powder, and a few extras. It adds the perfect bite to the tender rib meat; you can taste the love put into the combination.

I had the perfectly smoked, and tender, chopped chicken, in addition to a rack of ribs. 

Protein, protein, protein... so delicious! 
A close-up of the tender meat.
I’m actually pretty amazed my family was able to carry on a conversation with so much goodness on the table. Definitely check this place, or revisit this place, next time you have a chance. 

Here's a guy who knows when it's time to shut up and dig in! 
I hope these two posts have opened your eyes to the variety of delicious food in Memphis; if I may say myself, we’ve kind of got it going on. You should consider taking your stomach on a vacation there. I think I have provided some pretty concrete evidence that you should, and I was only there a weekend. I really hope you enjoyed reading about my food journey in Memphis, whether it’s new to you, or you call Memphis home.

<a href=""><img alt="Charlie Vergos&#x27; Rendezvous on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Thanks for traveling with me, we should really do this again J

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