Cheap Eats did some walkin’ in Memphis and came up strong with some non conventional Southern eats. Just how unconventional? Well, a little bbq for breakfast may not seem too out of the norm down in Tennessee, but on a paleo friendly waffle? Or how how about some duck for lunch? And don’t even get me started on a Thai curry classic with a Chinese twist. Well, actually you did get me started, so I guess I gotta keep going with one more bite of Cheap Eats Memphis!
the spot: Bedrock Eats and Sweets 327 S. Main st Memphis TN 38103
the eats: Smokehouse Waffle (half order)
the bucks: $6.50
the full nelson: Cheap Eats goes Paleo!!
If someone would have told me that Cheap Eats Memphis was going to start the day with a paleo friendly breakfast, I would have pinched myself so I could wake up from the healthy daydream. But the dream ended up becoming my breakfast reality. For the record, the paleo diet means you eat whole and unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and meats. When it comes to havin’ bbq for breakfast on a waffle, the kicker becomes finding the right substitutions for sugars, processed flour and the like. Good thing Chef and Owner Brandi Marter studied chemistry in college, and knows how to mix whey protein powder, almond flour, arrowroot starch along with coconut oil and a couple more ingredients into a paleo friendly waffle batter. Wondering how she pulls off a barbecue sauce without refined sugar? Try honey and molasses. Wondering how I got this niche meaty ladened waffle for $6.50? I ordered the half, which was plenty.
the spot: Lunchbox Eats 288 S. 4th st Memphis TN 38126
the eats: 3rd Period Smoking birds w/ chips
the bucks: $11
the full nelson: Not your typical lunch lady cafeteria fare
My days of going to the school cafeteria were not particularly memorable. Perhaps I should have had Chef Kaia Brewer as my lunch lady. If I did, then I would have most likely been dreaming of the 3rd Period Smoking Bird sandwich by the end of 1st period. I mean, how can you not start thinking about the trifecta of chicken, duck and turkey gracing two huge slices of Texas Toast, as soon as your cereal digests? Granted, my school lunches may not have set me back $11 but my school lunches also didn’t come with house made potato chips. Not only is this a bonafide Cheap Eats Memphis find, but it’s a chance at redemption for all those weak school lunches you ate off a tray. And it’s all thanks to Chef Kaia Brewer: the ultimate lunch lady.
the spot: Frost Bake Shop 394 S. Grove Park rd Memphis TN 38117
the eats: gooey butter cookies
the bucks: $1.25 each
the full nelson: a St. Louis sweet treat classic makes its way down south
I grew up in St. Louis but sadly not on the tradition of the gooey butter cake. Thankfully I rectified this malaise in adulthood. For the record, gooey butter cake is a dense rich cake, primarily composed of flour, butter, sugar and eggs; a concoction hailing from St. Louis, MO. Now how did this treat from St. Louis end up in Memphis and in cookie form? I place the blame squarely on Bill Kloos, owner of Frost Bake Shop. Bill moved down to Memphis from St. Louis a few years back and started a wholesale baking operation that spawned Frost Bake Shop as well as a distribution deal with Williams-Sonoma. In Bill’s capable hands, the classic cake recipe shifted into cookie form. At a buck and a quarter each, it goes without saying that this is no doubt a solid snack for Cheap Eats Memphis. Butter, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla are folded into the cookie dough, which gets spiked accordingly with chocolate and strawberry, if you choose those flavored versions of the basic gooey butter cookie. They are all good, but my fav is the classic gooey butter cookie. Lately I have been appreciative of the power of a butter driven sweet. Looking back at the success of Frost Bake Shop, I’m sure Chef Bill Kloos would concur.
the spot: Mosa Asian Bistro 850 S. White Station rd Memphis TN 38117
the eats: Rainbow Panang Curry with Chicken
the bucks: $12
the full nelson: a Thai Curry Classic with a Chinese twist
Mosa Asian Bistro bills itself as an Asian fusion restaurant, which at the surface seems like an accurate assessment. When you look at Chef Eddie Poa’s long and storied career as a chef in Memphis, you realize Mosa is more a reflection of Memphis coming to terms with the variety and range of cuisine from the Asian continent. His Rainbow Panang curry is a perfect example. Eddie applies a batter to the chicken as if he was making Orange chicken, the Chinese American classic. Then he drops it into a Panang sauce, which is a Thai dish. The application of Thai and Chinese cooking is certainly fusion, but its also something more. Eddie would explain to me that this is a way for him to cook food that will have appeal to his older and newer customers. The older customers will certainly be familiar with Chinese cooking, as for many years Chinese food was the #1 “ethnic” food in America. The newer generation of customers however will want more variety, coming into Mosa with a appetite that stretches from Kimchi to Kung Pao Chicken and beyond. Seldom have I encountered a dish that seems like it was the product of a food truck concept, when in reality is a history of cooking Asian food in a medium sized city in the South. Now that’s something I would pay $12 for and a great way to end Cheap Eats Memphis.
And that was all she wrote for Cheap Eats Memphis! Four memorable meals and I had just enough change to get me a pair of blue suede shoes. Well, I didn’t have that much left over. And I guess all the blue I need are the specs on my face. On second thought, I’ll just take my change and get another butter cookie.
Until next time my friends . . . Stay Thrifty!