Re:2013 Roadfood Bus Tour Memphis/Arkansas
Thu, 10/24/13 8:04 AM
CTD had never eaten at Alcenia's, which sits just outside of downtown Memphis, so we made that our next stop. I had eaten here only once before and had a disappointing meal, which you can read about halfway down this old thread. They are supposed to be open until 5:00PM, but when we pulled up the place looked dark. We were concerned that maybe the Travelin Man decided to join us on this trip. Once we stepped inside, we were greeted immediately by a young man who turned out to be our waiter and the owner, B.J. Chester-Tamayo, who gave each of us a big hug! The inside is vividly decorated, with nothing but color everywhere you look. Even the seats were interesting and lively, but still comfortable. When B.J. asked what we were doing in Memphis (apparently we don't sound like locals. Who knew?) and we told her we were in town for the annual Roadfood Bus Tour, we became her new favorite customers. The menu is so full of great sounding items, it would take eating here a week straight to get through them all. We placed our orders and waited. Our drinks came in tall plastic cups, with my sweet tea being as sweet as I can ever remember anywhere, but it still tasted freshly brewed. The first thing out to us was the fried green tomatoes. Which kind of threw us off, because neither of us ordered it. Well, we know better than to look a gift vegetable in the mouth, so we dug in. I probably would have preferred a different sauce than ranch dressing, but how can you complain about free food? Besides the tomatoes were perfectly tart. We loved them! Even better yet, was the catfish bites which came out next. Once again, something we didn't order. It was at this point that I realized that we would not have the appetite (or time) to visit as many restaurants as we would have liked on this day, so just sit back, relax and enjoy the great meal in front of us. So we did. The catfish bites were misshapen chunks of meat in a spectacular, highly seasoned coating that explodes flavor in your mouth. CTD was even more impressed by the pickly, homemade tartar sauce, which he was still talking about days later. Another thing I liked about Alcenia's is that they didn't bring the food out all at the same time. They bring it out when it was hot and ready. CTD got his entrée before I did, which was the fried pork chop, along with mac and cheese and a side of spaghetti. The spaghetti, which is a common Mid-South side dish, was the only throw away food we ate here and I don't think either one of us took more than one bite. The mac and cheese was supremely creamy and cheesy. Not sure what kind of cheese they used, but it tasted like a mixture. The pork chop was thick, juicy and had the same coating as the catfish bites. Without a doubt the best fried pork chop I have ever had and may have been the single best thing I ate all weekend. There was also a side of cole slaw, but I don't remember even tasting it. Maybe CTD can elaborate on it. My dinner was the dark meat fried chicken that also had the same delicious coating on it. I could have eaten a meal of just the skin on this chicken, but the inside meat was also tender, though not as juicy as I would have expected. Really good fried chicken, but it did not reach the heights of the pork chop. Besides, I will take great Southern vegetables over just about any meat. And the vegetables here are perfectly done. The green beans are cooked in pork juice and you can really taste the piggy flavor. They asked if I wanted okra in my lima beans and of course I said yes! The limas were buttery and a little sweet and I finished the entire bowl, which was no easy chore on this day. As if that wasn't enough, they also brought out a bowl of the cabbage for us to try, just because Jane and Michael Stern liked it so much on their previous visits. And it is easy to see why. The cabbage contains lots of spices, with pepper at the forefront and was the top vegetable on the table, at least for me. There were also some thin griddle cakes on the table, which I ignored, since there was too many other things to concentrate on. CTD seemed to enjoy them, though! At this point, I am very full with absolutely no designs on dessert. But, as usual, CTD had other plans and ordered a slice of the custard pie, which was brought to us warm. Light and eggy, this was the perfect conclusion to a memorable meal. The service here was informal and constant, without being overbearing. Our waiter was incredibly polite, calling us sir throughout the meal. B.J. also made several trips out from the kitchen to check on us and answer our questions. She is a genuine person and a fabulous host. She told us all the recipes are from her or her 92 year old grandmother, who lives in Meridian, MS. She has had a lot of success lately, deservedly so, appearing on national tv shows and writing a cookbook. But none of it has gone to her head and she is still a grounded, very kind woman who sincerely loves what she does. Since it was CTD's turn to pay, I never saw the bill, but whatever it was, it was a bargain for the quantity and especially the quality of this food. What a great experience! Alcenia's 317 N. Main Street Memphis, TN 901-523-0200 As full as we were, our work wasn't done, since there were two places we had to get to before they closed for the day at 6:00.
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 11/8/13 8:00 AM>