Vlog #2

On today's vlog I will be reviewing the Hennessy sweet potato pie made by Chef Kenna! Check out the video for the review!! 

Today's music is provided by Black Rock Revival. Check out their FB page HERE!!!

Life is for Living and Pie,

Michael B. 

99 Cent Soul Food Express Pop Up Review

      So today I had a craving for some soul food for lunch. Memphis has some awesome soul food places and I have my go to favorites to satisfy my taste buds, but today I decided to try a new place. I've heard a lot of people talk about a new restaurant on Main St, 99 cent Soul Food Express. 

I must admit that the name of this establishment could be a bit misleading. When I first heard of it, I instantly thought  "Oh snap!! Soul food for just 99 cents!!" Sadly, that's not the case. Everything is not 99 cents. Only the sides are 99 cents.....clever marketing. 


I have to be 100% honest about this place. I won't say only great things about places that I don't truly feel are good.  I will say that the food is decent. I had the smothered pork chop, lima beans, and dressing.....oh and a cup of lemonade. All for the cost of $13.07.

Yes you read the right! $13.07!

I can’t believe I paid $13.07 for lunch and I’m still hungry afterwards

Let's be real here. the pork chop alone was $6.99. I literally paid $7 for 1 pork chop. Just 1. Growing up, I always ate 2 pork chops and I'm pretty sure you can go to your local Kroger and get 4 pork chops for $7. Maybe even less. So were these the best smothered pork chops I've ever had? Not really. I did like the gravy. It's definitely made from scratch. 

Moving on, the dressing isn't considered a side. It's $2 for 1 scoop. This also applies to Mac and Cheese. The only thing I had that was actually 99 cents, were the lima beans. They were pretty tasty. My mom would be so proud of me for actually getting lima beans. 

Again, I paid $13.07.....for lunch!

The interior was very clean and the staff was awesome. Kinda felt like I was at home or a family reunion, until the guy who would be my uncle hit me with the bad news that I would have to pay $13.07 in order to come over. 

I still can’t believe that meal cost me $13.07

I have to give them a thumbs up for some great lemonade, which is $2, and being in a great location. I don't believe there are any other soul food spots on Main Street. Keep in mind, they do have cheaper options like fried and baked chicken, but I was really wanting something other than those choices. I actually was torn between the pork chops and the meatloaf. The meatloaf is also was $7. Yeah I know. 

As I was walking out of the restaurant, 2 ladies were getting out of a car and asked how my experience was. They seemed like they were looking to try 99 Cent Soul Food out for lunch. I had to be completely honest with them about my experience. They asked if I knew of any other soul food places nearby. I sent them to The Four Way. 

Life is for Living,

Michael B. 

Memphis' 1st Caribbean Jerk Festival!

Yes you read that title correctly! Memphis got yet another festival, but this one is major! What's not to love about the Caribbean culture, music and food? I mean it's jerk chicken for crying out loud!! I've had all kinds of chicken, but I prefer my bird to be a bit of a jerk! See what I did there? 

View from Broad Ave

Memphis is definitely the city of festivals and this adds to a list of very established and iconic fests. It was well received because Memphis does have a nice Caribbean population and also a love for reggae music. And the music was everything! The rhythm and the easy vibes with powerful messages just ignites your soul! 

But what's a Caribbean Jerk Festival without Caribbean food? Nothing! I was in food overload! Walking onto Broad Ave was the best walk ever! The smells of food was intoxicating! Can i get that in a scented candle or a car air freshener? Who should I call for the jerk chicken scent?

The turn out the this festival was great! One thing I can say about Memphis and that's that we will go to a festival...especially when it involves food and music! The crowd was probably the highlight for me because they were extremely friendly and didn't mind the camera. They all had a certain swag about them that was very appealing. 

Ran into reporter Jerica Phillips!!

Please tell me this is not the cutest kid you've ever seen!!! I had to give this little lady her own little shoot!

I really enjoyed the festival and I can't wait until next year because I know it will be even bigger and better. My only suggestion would be to make sure you're properly hydrated...it was crazy hot out there! I literally sweated through my shirt and chinos! Memphis heat is currently undefeated lol. 

Life is for Living,

Michael B. 

Food Trucks at Court Square

Every Thursday, between 11-2, a truly magical thing happens in downtown Memphis. It's literally on par with my insane love for Taco Tuesday. That truly amazing thing is the Food Truck Rodeo at Court Square! 

All photos taken by me with my Sony a5100 and Sigma 19mm lens. 

walking to Court Square from Main St. 

It's the best! Some of my favorites are always in attendance and there's literally something for everyone! You can have sushi at Sushi Jimmi's, you can have BBQ from Central BBQ, you can have great sandwiches from Food Geek, chicken and waffles from Waffle Mania, tacos from El Mero Taco. The list goes on and on!  

I decided to take my talents to Rawk n' Grub food truck to try the Bat out of Hell. 

 Rawk n' Grub food truck

Bat Out of Hell

The Bat out of Hell was spicy but great! They were a lot bigger than I expected and I didn't get to finish all my fries. It's two meatloaf patties with spicy cole slaw and jalapeño ketchup. it's very very good, but get some water!!

The other cool thing about Court Square on Thursday is the entertainment. Normally, there is music playing but this time there were dancers!!

So if you're in the downtown area on Thursday around lunch time, do yourself a favor and head over to Court Square and support local Memphis businesses! I will more than likely see you there!

Life is for Living,

Michael B.  

Great lunch picnic idea!!

Bring the 4 legged friends as well!

I always run into someone I know on Thursday! Hey Tanja!! 

Five places to find great seafood for a leaner summer diet

Doug Gillon - Guest Author

We're known for chicken and barbecue, but the Bluff City has some pretty solid seafood game as well. If you're looking to make a commitment to eat healthier this month, take the healthy heart pledge at snpmemphis.com and join the Seafood Nutrition Partnership in their effort to make Memphis a healthier city. Here’s some of our favorites spots in Memphis!

1) Shrimp & Grits: Felicia Suzanne’s – 80 Monroe Avenue

photo from FeliciaSuzanne.com

This is one dish chef Felicia Willet has said she can never take off the menu or there might be a revolt. The downtown restaurant’s version is served with wild gulf shrimp and Andouille sausage sautéed in a creole sauce over a crispy delta grind stone ground grit cake. Just like Felicia Suzanne's, it’s high society, Southern Style.

2) Char-Gilled Oysters: Pearl’s Oyster House – 299 South Main Street

photo from pearlsoysterhouse.com

All the oyster flavors at Pearl’s are pretty special, but the signature char-grilled variety has to be the best. These fat, fresh oysters are topped with chipotle butter and Parmesean cheese and served on a bed of salt with crackers and lemon. 

3) Catfish Plate: A & J’s Catfish Station – 5950 Knight Arnold Road

The bluff city does not hurt for quality fried catfish, this is true. But A & J’s Catfish Station in Hickory Hill is one of the places that’s worth the extra mile or two to enjoy. The homemade tartar sauce makes this meal complete.

4) Crab Legs: Half Shell – 688 South Mendenhall

photo from Halfshell-memphis.com

You almost can’t have a seafood list from Memphis without including Half Shell. This place has won awards for more than 40 years, and will probably be winning a lot more in the future. My favorite place in town to get crab legs.

5) Shrimp Creole: Déjà Vu: 51 S Main Street

Memphis got lucky when Gary Williams decided to cook in the bluff city, because he brought all the gulf flavor with him. Salmon, Catfish and Tilapia can all be ordered fried, grilled or blackened, but, to me, the Shrimp Creole is the hidden gem of the menu.

Lunch at Tastee BBQ

When I'm in the Whitehaven area, I'm always looking for a decent place to go and eat. They don't have lots of choices and I try my hardest to avoid chains or fast food. So today I came across Tastee Bar-B-Que on Brooks Rd. My good friends Mikel and Blake have mentioned them to me before so why not give them a try. 

Entrance 

Walking in gives you that familiar Memphis BBQ shop vibe. A small place that has some Southern charm, older style diner seating, and the intoxicating scent of BBQ. The staff was surprisingly nice considering where this spot is located. It was also very clean with a solid 92 rating from the health department. I never used to read those, but I find myself doing it more now. 

Choices!

I was in search of a BBQ chicken sandwich, but they only had grilled chicken. So I went with the Memphis standard pulled pork sandwich. The cashier asked if I wanted slaw on it. We briefly stared at each other and laughed a bit. You cannot have a BBQ sandwich without slaw in Memphis! That's just rude!

Regular BBQ sandwich with seasoned fries

I will say that I have had a better BBQ sandwich than this but it was not without it's own merits. I loved the sauce that they used. It was really sweet with a light punch at the end. The BBQ was pretty good. It was juicy and moist. I so hate when the meat is dry and you have to drench it in sauce just to stomach the food. The fries weren't anything to write home about but they were decent. 

Back to the sauce. I really liked this sauce a lot. I'm not a fan of the spicier BBQ sauces out there so the sweet sauce was a pleasant experience. The sauce literally is what makes the sandwich. It takes it from blah to damn this is pretty good. So i would say they do have one of the better sauces I've had.

Would I drive from Downtown Memphis or Collierville to Whitehaven just for Tastee Bar-B-Que...probably not. I will say that I will definitely consider them whenever I'm in the Whitehaven area again. I hear that the breakfast is very good. I will have to try that out before I can cosign that HaHa. 

If you're out in Whitehaven and have a taste for some BBQ, give them a try. Tell me what you think. I dare you to not like their sauce!

Life is for Living,

Michael B.

I love desserts!!

Rock'N Dough Pizza & Brew Co

I recently went over to Rock'N Dough Pizza with the guys of Dine01 for their Best Pizza in Memphis Month. This was their first stop on their quest, but I've previously had Rock'N Dough and I really enjoyed it. Here's a recap of this experience. 


Walking into Rock'N Dough you can't help but to notice the trendy chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I'm really into little details and they definitely got my attention instantly with these awesome pieces of art. 

The Burger, Pepperoni, and Cheese Pizza

Ok let's just jump right into it. Let's get to the pizza! I had a slice of the Pepperoni and a slice of the Burger, which tasted exactly like a cheeseburger but better! I'm normally not a big pizza fan and I especially don't go after a slice of Pepperoni, but I tried it anyway and I was impressed with Rock'N Dough's offering. I don't know if I can attribute it all to the dough, but it certainly helped. 


The sauce and secret dough are made fresh daily.

Rock'N Dough is known for their secret recipe dough. It's a recipe that even I couldn't get out of them, so it must be heavily guarded. The dough is actually very good. I can see why people go nuts over it. The pizza has the taste of a slice I had once while in Chicago. FYI, the slices are huge and you definitely have to fold this thing up to make it happen.  I can't say that I know what makes this dough tick. I tried to taste the individual ingredients in the dough, but I was unsuccessful. I will just say, go and see if you have better luck. 

Patio

Rock'N Dough started out on the food truck scene before getting a brick and mortar spot. They started out next to Amerigo on Ridgeway, but quickly outgrew that place and moved to their new location on Poplar and Highland. They also have a brand new location coming soon in Germantown. They also have a location in Jackson, TN. 


Rock'N Dough features a full bar, multiple big screen TVs for various sports, a awesome patio, and have plans to install a micro brewery as well. They sell pizza by the slice as well as by the pie. Side Note: I've always wondered why they called pizza pies. Things I may never know!  

Where the magic happens!!

I encourage you to try out Rock'N Dough pizza! Tell me how you like it! Drop a comment! Also, they have Sunday brunch!! Oh how I love a Sunday Funday! You can check out Rock'N Dough on their website at www.rockndoughpizza.com or via their social media pages! Go see my guy JJ as well! He's the area development manager and is a great guy to sit and have a conversation with! Tell him Mike at one901 sent you! 

Life is for Living,

Michael B.

Instagram: @_one901

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More than Just a Game

So most people head to FedEx Forum to watch the hometown  Memphis Grizzlies take on the best of the best of the NBA, but I decided on this trip that I would check out a few of the food offerings. Of course I wanted to see the Grizzlies play the San Antonio Spurs, but food is my life! I think there's a few people that aren't as interested in the game, but are more interested in the food and bars. 

Please excuse the flash lol.

My first stop was to the Draft Room, which is located on the Club level.  What better way to start my adventure than to go to a bar for a quick cocktail? The bar area features ample seating and some of the better views of the arena. The server was extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the local brews. I always test the servers! 

I ordered a whiskey and Sprite. Very original and not a drink that's hard to make. It came in a plastic cup, which was a bit disappointing since this was the Club Level, but I do understand it was more than likely for safety reasons. Can't have people dropping glasses all over the place. The drink was made with Sierra Mist instead of Sprite and was more Sierra Mist than whiskey. It was a different taste than I was used to. Not bad, just very different. 

My next stop was the 4/4 Grille, which is also on the Club Level.  I spoke with the manager and asked her what the specialty was. In unison, all the staff yelled out the Buffalo Chicken Fries. I must say this was very much worth it! It was a bed of waffle cut fries topped with buffalo chicken strips, cheese, onions, and bleu cheese crumbles! This is something you must get!! It's pretty spicy, so get something to cool your mouth off. It's enough for 2 people as well!

Buffalo Chicken Fries from 4/4 Grille

Buffalo Chicken Fries from 4/4 Grille

The next stop was to Memphis' own, Rendezvous. Come on people. There's no way you can go to any arena in Memphis' without getting some BBQ nachos! It's a rite of passage! You haven't experienced an event without them. It's pretty much a law. Don't break the law people!  

The BBQ from Rendezvous was good as always. As a true Memphian, I opted for the pork, but they also offer chicken as well. I also stuffed my face with a sausage and cheese plate. Something so simple, yet so fulfilling! 

At this point, I was completely stuffed, but I'm no quitter and I had to keep pushing! I ended up on the Event Level and stopped by the Horseshoe Club featuring Kelly English. Now this is the spot that amazed me the most! The atmosphere was incredible! I will let the pictures do the talking for this spot. One of the walls has windows that look out the the tunnel leading to the locker rooms! That was the most amazing part of it all! I was briefly here for a quick cocktail and a parfait! 

I found my second wind after I left the Horseshoe Club and ended up at Jet's Pizza! I'm not the biggest pizza fan, but the smells were intoxicating. Jet's is on the Plaza Level. The pizza was decent, but again I'm not the biggest fan of any pizza. Trust me, I get funny looks whenever I mention that I don't care for pizza! 

Next up was another quick cocktail! I probably didn't need it because the Uber driver got to hear my rendition of Prince's Purple Rain! Nevertheless, I had another! I stopped by the 901, which is also on the Plaza Level. 901! How fitting!!

At this point, I decided to call it a night, but I had one last stop to make! I had to go by The Creamery! You can't wrap up dinner without any dessert. I couldn't muster the energy to eat the ice cream, but there was a little kid that gladly took my ice cream off my hands for me. 

It was time to go home at this point. I didn't want to see another plate, cup, or even fork! It was time for some sleep! While I love sports and the FedEx Forum is an awesome place to watch them, there's a lot more going on than just the game. It's more than Just a Game! It's actually a really cool place to hang out with friends at a bar or for a different type of date night. I really enjoyed my experience and the opportunity to be able to try most of the spots out. Yes, I only tasted the tip of the iceberg! There are lots more places to eat and have a drink. 

I encourage you to go to the FedEx Forum and make it a day! Go cheer on the Memphis Grizzlies to victory and also enjoy some good food and drinks! Also, it's a great place for people watching! You're sure to see some of Memphis' finest!!

I want to give a special thanks to the Grizzlies PR department for helping make this story possible!! You guys are great!!! It was the opportunity of a lifetime!!

Life is for Living, 

Michael B. 

Testing My New Lens on Main St.

I recently purchased a new lens for my Sony mirrorless camera and wanted to test it out. I bought a Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. It wasn't as expensive as I thought it might have been and it's definitely an upgrade over the kit lens that came with my camera. 

Main Street  

Main Street  

So I decided that the best place to try this new glass out was on Main Street since there's always something and someone to see.  

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This is where the new lens really shined. I would have had to use flash before, but the 50mm kicked ass! There's also so many little fine details scattered around the bar that's technically a speakeasy. I was able to get some great shots with high shutter speeds that would have been impossible with my kit lens.  

So, of course I had to get something to eat and most bars aren't really known for having good food. It's the complete opposite at The Blind Bear. They actually have really good food. I normally go on Sunday to partake in their Hungover Like A Bear Brunch. I love the chicken and waffles, that can easily feed 2, and the $3 Mimosas. I usually go for the Man-mosas, which is a mimosa with splash of vodka. Plus i get to see one of my favorite bartenders, Brad Wilson! For this trip it was the crawfish mac & cheese and the grilled fish tacos...

I enjoyed my meal and it was back out to Main Street. But before a left, two things really caught my eye and I had to try to get a decent shot of each.

Headed back out and got a few more random shots. 

Her name was literally Bee like Beyonce...the whole name!

I'm really enjoying this Sony 50MM prime lens. It's definitely an upgrade over my kit lens but I will have to get used to being further away from my subjects. I will look into possibly getting a 35MM prime lens as well. I think that would be better for events and food photography. Either way, I'm now taking insanely better pictures! That's the biggest plus!

Life is for Living,

Michael B. 

Memphis Black Restaurant Week: Onix

The second stop of Memphis' Black Restaurant Week was Onix, which is located at 412 S Main Street in the heart of Downtown. It's in a perfect location! A nice stroll from both The Orpheum and Beale Street. I have been to Onix before, but only for the live music they feature Thursday through Saturday. 

 

The atmosphere of Onix is top-notch. the artwork and lighting is truly the highlight of the venue. It's as if you've walked into an art gallery that features the smooth melodic groove of neo-soul music. If I had to image Jill Scott's home, I would think it would be similar to this. There's also ample seating and a small stage upfront for the night's entertainment. 

For this trip I was accompanied by Justin Harrison of Dine01 and also the President of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, Mickell Lowery. We each tried to get something different to really experience what would be offered to the customers patronizing for the week. 

Appetizers

Main Course

Dessert

I have to be completely honest when it comes to my review....as much as I love to remain completely positive, I can't say that the experience was the best I've ever had. I will say that the atmosphere was the best part of the trip, though the appetizers were very decent. Contrary to the stigma, the service was actually pretty good. The server, Tara, was very nice and friendly and explained the menu perfectly. 

It was the little things that left much to be desired....like the white toast instead of having rolls or some other type of bread. Also, the garnish around my chicken was a bit over the top, but I saw that there was an effort put into making the dish look more visually appealing. The food was neither particularly good or bad...it was just food. It was easy to forget. I don't know if that is an accurate description, but when I left Onix I was still on the hunt for something more satisfying to eat. 

From speaking to others, I hear that the chicken and waffles is the best dish that they offer. I wish Onix featured that dish on the Black Restaurant Week menu. I'm plan to go back soon and try this dish out. I'm hopeful I will have a better experience on my next trip. 

 

Life is for Living,

Michael B. 



SweetPea's Table Popup Review

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I was down in Olive Branch, Mississippi today trying to decide what to have for lunch. I found a spot called SweetPea's Table on Yelp and got my little sister to tag along with me. Normally, I'd be way more prepared, but I think the Popup is a great way to get people the best info about a place.  

Basically, I'm doing this review without my notes, camera, or even laptop. Just my iPhone and winging it, so bear with me.  

I had no clue what to expect when I walked into SweetPeas. I knew it was a meat and two place, which I absolutely love, but that was about it. I don't normally eat when I come to Mississippi, but today I was starving. I'm so glad I stopped. 

 

The Atmosphere 

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There's nothing overly fancy about the place but it definitely has a traditional southern restaurant vibe. The staff was very welcoming and friendly, there was local artwork on the walls for sale, and even a stage with guitars and drums. I can tell this place is rocking some evenings. Seems like the whole town came out for lunch because it was packed!  

The Food  

 

Fried chicken breast with green beans, mashed potatoes, and corn bread.  

Fried chicken breast with green beans, mashed potatoes, and corn bread.  

The fried chicken was amazing! It literally tasted like the chicken my mom fried in a cast iron skillet. the green beans were seasoned very well and the mashed potatoes were also very good. I definitely wanted to take a nap after. 

 

Catfish with Mac and cheese and Lima beans  

Catfish with Mac and cheese and Lima beans  

My sister had the catfish. I had to sneak a piece of it from her and it was pretty good. She wasn't much on sharing today so I can at least say it looked good, but it think this picture below should speak for how well it tasted..... 

 

Kelly enjoying her lunch  

Kelly enjoying her lunch  

The cherry on top 

 

Homemade from scratch banana pudding

Homemade from scratch banana pudding

Is there some type of award out there for banana pudding? Can I possibly nominate someones? I feel like this banana pudding is from a different dimension or from the future were it was perfected by many otherworldly  cooks on the art of banana pudding. I will say this with absolute confidence and without second guessing, this is hands down the best banana pudding I've eaten in my life! No question about it at all!  

 

If you're in Olive Branch, Mississippi and you're looking for some good homecooking, do yourself a favor and stop by SweetPea's Table. i give it two things up, but I honestly wish I had more hands so I could give more. 

SweetPea's Table is located at 8948 Midsouth Dr in Olive Branch, MS. 

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

One and Only BBQ Review!!

Ok, I'm about to say something that will possibly get me shunned in Memphis....Keep in mind this is solely my opinion and I'm certainly open to having my opinion changed...

ONE AND ONLY HAS THE BEST BBQ I'VE HAD IN MEMPHIS!!

There.....I said it....Ok, there are no BBQ assassins after me at the moment, but as the week progresses, I can't guarantee my safety. 

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