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Cupboard Restaurant

1400 Union Ave., Memphis, TN - (901) 276-8015
Posted By Michael Stern on 9/18/2005 4:49:00 AM
The Cupboard Restaurant lost something in the year 2000 when it moved to a former Shoney’s on Union Ave. Gone was the ramshackle charm of the older, smaller place that had been known for great Southern-style vegetables since 1943. But the gains were well worth the change: more seats (you’ll wait less for a table at noon), plenty of parking, and a vast, comfortable dining room with broad enough aisles for waitresses to tote big plates overflowing with good things to eat.

What has not changed is the quality of the vegetables. Here are some of Memphis’s best – and that’s saying a lot in a city where vegetable cooking is a fine, fine art. The printed menu, which is different for each day of the week, lists a choice of five entrees and eighteen to twenty side dishes, plus dessert. Among the entrees are such plate-lunch paradigms as baked chicken and dressing, beef tips with noodles, and a fried veal cutlet. One entrée plus three vegetables – served on an unbreakable partitioned plate, so buttered squash doesn’t mingle with rutabaga turnips – costs $7.78.

We arrived at the Cupboard after several days of pigging out on barbecued pork so much that we were ready to oink; so we skipped the entrée altogether and each got a four-vegetable plate ($5.95), sweet tea on the side, plus blackberry cobbler and lemon ice box pie for dessert. All meals come with a basket that holds creamy-centered cornbread gem muffins and yeast rolls.

Exemplary veggies! Of special note were the plain sliced fresh tomatoes (and we do mean fresh!) as well as tangy fried green tomatoes. The sweet potato was one whole one, baked in its skin until marshmallow-soft. And we loved the luxurious corn pudding.

Cupboard cookbooks are available for sale near the cash register, and they contain excellent recipes. But where we live – NOT the South – such fine raw ingredients make only rare and brief appearances in the supermarket.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
fresh vegetables
Lemon Icebox Pie
corrnbread gem muffins
Lemon Meringue Pie
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Four great vegetables. Clockwise from top left: steamed cabbage, eggplant casserole, crowder peas, and fried green tomatoes.
"Four great vegetables. Clockwise from top left: steamed cabbage, eggplant casserole, crowder peas, and fried green tomatoes. "
Michael Stern





Probably the best bread basket in Memphis: tiny cornbread gem muffins and puffy yeast rolls. Both, of course, arrive oven-hot.
"Probably the best bread basket in Memphis: tiny cornbread gem muffins and puffy yeast rolls. Both, of course, arrive oven-hot."
Michael Stern


Clockwise from top left: yam casserole, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, and corn pudding.
"Clockwise from top left: yam casserole, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, and corn pudding."
Michael Stern


We felt we were in the right place as we approached and noticed a lovely looking watermelon propped against the host's podium. Boxes of whole fresh fruit abound throughout the Cupboard dining room.
"We felt we were in the right place as we approached and noticed a lovely looking watermelon propped against the host's podium. Boxes of whole fresh fruit abound throughout the Cupboard dining room."
Michael Stern


Warm, sticky, and sweet, fruit cobbler is a heavywheight that gives the bird to desserts that are purport to be lite or lo-cal.
"Warm, sticky, and sweet, fruit cobbler is a heavywheight that gives the bird to desserts that are purport to be lite or lo-cal. "
Michael Stern


Eight separate vegetables, plus bread.  On the left plate: fried green tomatoes, great northern beans, carrot-rasin slaw and collard greens. On the right: fresh tomatoes, eggplant casserole, corn casserole and a whole baked yam. Bread is in the background, but condiments (such as vinegar pepper for the greens) and sweet tea are not shown.
"Eight separate vegetables, plus bread. On the left plate: fried green tomatoes, great northern beans, carrot-rasin slaw and collard greens. On the right: fresh tomatoes, eggplant casserole, corn casserole and a whole baked yam. Bread is in the background, but condiments (such as vinegar pepper for the greens) and sweet tea are not shown."
Michael Stern


A dessert tour de force: lemon meringue pie that is taller than it is wide ... and even more delicious than it looks.
"A dessert tour de force: lemon meringue pie that is taller than it is wide ... and even more delicious than it looks."
Michael Stern


Balm for the tongue, lemon ice box pie is silk-smooth and cool; and its flavor is a precise balance of sweetness and citrus tang.
"Balm for the tongue, lemon ice box pie is silk-smooth and cool; and its flavor is a precise balance of sweetness and citrus tang."
Michael Stern


Located in what used to be a Shoney's fast-food restaurant, the Cupboard brings high standards to the quick-eats table.
"Located in what used to be a Shoney's fast-food restaurant, the Cupboard brings high standards to the quick-eats table."
Michael Stern



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