Sunday, April 15, 2012

Headed South to Memphis

Memphis Cafe
2920 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

I have a certain fondness for Memphis Cafe. I moved out of my parents house in early 1995, and it just so happened that Memphis opened its doors that year as well. I was lucky enough to move to the same neighborhood as this upstart eatery. At that time of my life I was experiencing my first taste of independence, and I also got my first taste of Memphis Cafe.

Memphis was like no other restaurant I had been to at this point of my life. I was a basic hamburger, pizza and breakfast kind of eater. The food here at Memphis showed me that there was more to life than just eating at Ruby's, Red Robin and Islands, (no offense to any of these restaurants, because I still do enjoy going to them occasionally).

Memphis is located in a building straight out of the 50's. In fact, to be more exact it is from 1953. A trio of friends got together and restored the dilapidated building, turning it into a retro roadhouse joint, serving southern comfort food with a twist. The dining room is furnished in lots of yellows, with wood all over the place. The room is dark and a little cramped, with lots of action going on. Let's see if Memphis is as good as I remember.  

After getting seated, we were brought these Mini Cornbread Muffins. This is their version of a bread basket. I must say that I am kind of a harsh critic when it comes to cornbread, but these little muffins were pretty moist, not too crumbly, and made even better with the real butter that came alongside of them. I definitely could have eaten another bowl of these, but I was saving myself for dinner.

Katie had her heart set on the Zuni Flatbread Appetizer. This flatbread was topped with sage pesto, corn salsa, and pepper jack cheese. This was an interesting appetizer to me. I liked the corn salsa and the lightness of the toppings, but this would have been better with crisper flatbread and the chicken option that is offered for an extra two dollars. Can not say that I would get this again.

Since I did not order an appetizer I got a Caesar Salad instead. At Memphis their Caesar included romaine lettuce of course, along with garlic croutons, Parmesan cheese, egg less anchovy, and garlic dressing. The dressing was very oily, but I warmed up to it as I ate the salad. The best part of this Caesar was the garlic croutons. Really added good texture and flavor.

Katie actually stole the dinner selection I was going to have when I walked in here, but I was gracious enough to let her order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. What a good boyfriend I am. This chicken is served with mashed potatoes and mustard greens, then smothered in an andouille sausage gravy. Katie felt the chicken was dry in some parts, but the breading helped out some. Of course the gravy helped out too. Very good, without being too rich. The biggest surprise for Katie on this plate were the mustard greens. Cooked well and not too greasy, these could definitely stand on their own. A really good comfort food plate.

So it was plan B for me, with the Southern Meatloaf. The meatloaf was covered with aged cheddar cheese and red wine gravy. This meatloaf tasted like a Christmas tree with gravy. Lots of rosemary in this. Really gave this moist meatloaf a different kind of twist. The mashed potatoes were pretty smooth, and of course they went well with the meatloaf. This meal hugged my insides on the way down.

It's good to know that Memphis is still as good as the last time I was here. Even with the restaurant being busy, the service was still strong this night. The menu is not real large, but there is enough variety for everyone to find something they would like on it. Most of the meals are going to set you back about a $20 bill, not too bad. The serving sizes are not overly large, but you will not have to stop for more food on the way home from Memphis. The vibe here is kind of hipster, and gets even more that way as the night winds on. I can still be proud that Memphis helped in making me the food lover I am today.

Out of five steamboats, (because the city of Memphis, Tennessee has a steamboat on it's city seal, symbolizing the cities transportation, trade and commerce on the Mississippi River), five being best to zero being worst, Memphis gets 3 steamboats.

For more information on Memphis, click here:

Memphis Cafe on Urbanspoon

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