Thursday, June 15, 2017

The 901 Scoop

The 901 Scoop
3536 Walker Ave
901) 421-5519


I took my mom and the monkeys (Satchel, 15 and Jiro, 13) to Sushi Jimmi for dinner. (More on that later.) The topic of rolled ice cream came up, thanks to my recent (negative) review of Rollin Sweets. Satchel had no idea what we were talking about since he didn't go or read my review, so Jiro busted out a YouTube video. I mentioned that I heard a second rolled ice cream place opened yesterday over by the U of M. One thing led to another and we decided to go check it out, just for comparison's sake.

I can truly say now that Rollin Sweets wasn't bad, rolled ice cream is just dumb. I don't care if that makes me sound like an old lady.

When we walked into The 901 Scoop, the first thing I was looking for was how many people in the store were actually eating and how many employees were actually rolling. There were only a handful eating and two gals rolling.

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What The 901 Scoop has going for it, is that they have several things you can order and get right away -- cookies, premade ice cream, sno cones, and coffee. The owner was also behind the counter doing his best to let us know how it all worked and what our options were.

There were 14 cups ahead of us--that's 14 orders of $6.50 rolled ice cream--which the owner clocked at a 30 minute wait.

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He said it took about six minutes per order. So let's do some math--two girls making seven each at six minutes per order, that's actually about a 42 minute wait. I had already promised Jiro we wouldn't wait, so the rolled ice cream was out.

Can we go back to my Rollin Sweets review for a second? You know the one where I clocked the gal making them at 3.5 minutes and I padded the entire exchange to 5 minutes? Well that girl was working her ass off. The girls at The 901 Scoop, not so much. They pretty much looked like they were hating life and there was no pep in their step, so to speak. One of them was spending a lot of extra time cutting off the edges of the ice cream so it was perfectly square before she rolled it. The other one was just looking pouty. I watched for awhile and only saw one finished product which was not pretty. Rollin Sweets at least had a good looking final product.

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I don't see how any business could last long term with just this concept.

Satchel ended up getting a Tiger Blood sno cone. The owner was trying to sell him on a Jolly Rancher sno cone with ice cream and whatnot which sounded good, but Satchel went old school. Jiro wanted a scoop of salted caramel in a waffle cone, but they were out of waffle cones (on Day 2). I was going to try what was billed as a candy bar taco, but it also required a waffle cone, so I went with a scoop of mint chocolate chip. My mom was mystified and passed on ordering anything. Our total was $9.33.

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Zzzzzzz...

There was nowhere to sit, so the monkeys shared a piano bench. Not sure why a piano is taking up prime real estate here, but ok.

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The end.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rollin Sweets

Rollin Sweets
26 S. Second
(901) 623-3497


After Jiro (13) and I went to Ono Poke, we headed downtown to Rollin Sweets for a little dessert. Facebook was buzzing about how great it was, and since Jiro actually knew what rolled ice cream was (he saw it on YouTube), I thought a Monday night would be a good time to check it out.

I knew it was on Second & Monroe, but not exactly where. After circling the block a few times, we found it a few doors down from Raiford's. As you can see, it's pretty easy to miss.

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As we got closer, I noticed this sign on the door. Uh oh.

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Now, had I been alone, I would have simply turned around and left. (Or had I been with a toddler or infant or any kid under the age of 13.) Jiro was not deterred. We went in, and while all of the seats were full and there were a few people watching their ice cream get made, we were encouraged to place our orders.

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Neither of us really knew what to do, not unlike what we just experienced at Ono Poke, so the cashier kind of walked us through the options. Again, they have some pre-selected combinations or you can make up your own combination. Then there are some specialty items like milkshakes and sundaes.

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I decided on Nana's Bananas at the cashier's recommendation and Jiro got the "Don't make me choose" which is composed of several different types of candy. Our total was $14. The cashier wrote our names and order on some cups and then put them in the queue.

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"Uh...how long is the wait?" I asked, now remembering the sign on the door. "Oh about thirty minutes," she replied. Ok, no big. I told her we'd probably walk around for a bit. I wanted to show Jiro the new pocket park across from the Brass Door and I wanted to see the latest art installation in the Tops Gallery there, so I considered it a win. (Jiro probably wouldn't have otherwise agreed to a walk.)

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I also got to show him Raiford's. But it only took us about 20 minutes. When we got back to Rollin Sweets we knew we were in the for the long haul. So, we started a game of pass n play Scrabble. Most everyone else waiting was calm and I started to think this ice cream must be REALLY GOOD. But I also started to think, "Why do they only have one girl making the ice cream? What's everyone else doing? How are they going to stay in business like this?" I mean, it was crowded, but not crazy crowded.

At one point there appeared to be a shift change, or some of the employees went on break, I'm not sure. The sign on the door came down, a few more people came in, and then a new sign went up.

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So, yeah.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, it was finally our turn.

I was up first and had a giggle about the secret ingredients in Nana's Banana's.

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The gal poured a small cup of ice cream base on top and chopped everything up with a spatula. As she did this, it began to freeze. Then she flattened it all down, and then scraped it up in rows to make the spirals. (Click below for video.)

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I also timed her. It took her about 3.5 minutes for the whole operation. When she was done, I asked if I could have some toppings since I thought the cashier said it was unlimited toppings. She said yes, so I requested Reeses peanut butter cups. I mean cup. She said I could only have one. Ha!

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So I'd clock my whole order to be about 5 minutes from start to finish. If you look back at the ice cream queue picture above, there were a total of ten cups, but I think that was the queue after my order was completed. Anyways, if you order and want to gauge your wait, multiply each cup ahead of you by 5 minutes.

Back to my ice cream. Jiro and I both took a bite and it was quite delicious.

Jiro's turn was next, and I again timed her at about 3.5 minutes. I felt bad for her having to crush and chop everything with the spatula. I imagine she's pretty tired at the end of her shift. Seriously.

Jiro was scared to ask for toppings after my experience, but his ice cream already included several treats. It was also yummy.

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We went to sit down and enjoy our ice cream, and noticed two assholes took our seats in the window. Even when they saw us come back, they didn't say a word. Or a whole sentence like, "Hey sorry, do you want your seats back?"

We sat in their old seats, which were clearly not as good as ours.

A few other observations:

There are actually two stations where they can make the ice cream. I can't explain why they are only using one.

Also a woman who came in an hour after us got a milkshake after about 15 minutes. They made it in the back.

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Finally, once the ice cream melts a bit, or you mess it up with your spoon, it just looks like regular ice cream. So unless I walk by this place and it's totally empty, or they have trained a second person to fulfill orders, I will probably never go again. That place on Main Street that used to be Maggie Moo's basically does the same thing and it's faster and cheaper.

The end.

p.s. The bathroom was not stocked and didn't lock. I learned both things the hard way.

Ono Poke

Ono Poke
3145 Poplar
(901) 618-2955


I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Ono Poke, which I first read about a few months ago. It was opened by the same man who opened Skewer out east. (It's since closed.)

Last night, Jiro (13) and I went to go check it out. "What's poke?" he asked. Not having any official definition, I said, "It's basically sushi ingredients, but served in a bowl." Good enough, he was in. (Here's the official description from the Facebook page: Poké is a Hawaiian dish, fish salad served over rice. Fresh fish, salmon and tuna, and variety of vegetables are the main ingredients.)

Ono Poke is on Poplar near East High School, next door to the E's.

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The inside is cute and bright, if not a little stark, and has limited seating against the walls.

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They also have a couple of high chairs.

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The food is made "Subway style." You can pick from House Bowls or you can create your own bowl. (There are also a few other menu items like a Poke burrito, tuna tartare, and seaweed salad.) Having been to similar places (i.e. Genghis Grill, Zaka Bowl, etc.), I decided to get a House Bowl, specifically the Pele, because I didn't really trust myself to come up with a good combination. Jiro decided to go DIY.

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The House Made bowls come in the large size ($13). I chose white rice as my base, and it was a lot of rice--at least two cups. I also had a choice of raw tuna or marinated tuna. I went with raw. Then I got a close up of the other ingredients as I watched the guy put my bowl together. I thought everything looked nice and fresh, except the shrimp. They looked a little skinny and formerly frozen.

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Even though it was a pre-made bowl, I ended up having the choice of four toppings at the end. Dangit! I probably should have just passed, but I added cilantro, masago, seaweed salad, and pickled ginger. Pshew! They guy said the Rice Krispies were a must, but I didn't believe him. Jiro went with a large bowl including shrimp, crabstick, tofu, broccoli, edamame, pineapple, carrots and Pele sauce. I think he eventually called it quits on the choices. While we mulled over drink options, the cashier packed everything to go.

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Jiro wanted to split a coconut water, but I wanted Kombucha (and was happy to see it as an option), but in the end, we both went with the free infused water which Jiro eventually said was too gross to drink. (It was not.)

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Our total was $28, and the cashier happily unpacked our food when I said we'd be dining in. When we sat down, I could barely get a photo of Jiro's bowl before he started chowing down. "This smells good," he said.

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Mine didn't have a smell, but I thought it looked pretty good.

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Jiro asked if we should mix everything up, and I said yes. (This task would have been easier accomplished with a real fork.) Neither of us could finish, and I think we were both relatively pleased. Not wowed, but pleased. I told him I thought they should have the sauces out on the table like at Zaka Bowl so we could add more sauce, and he agreed. (The bowls got pretty dry after a bit, though they did give us some soy sauce packets. I am anti soy sauce.)

They've only been open a few days, so I imagine there will be some fine tuning. Maybe they'll even hook up with Project Green Fork (hint hint). I will probably take Satchel (15) to see what he thinks. All in all, my advice would to be to study the options before ordering and not go too crazy with the toppings. I think simple is better. I'll probably go with a smaller snack bowl next time and focus on the things I REALLY like.

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Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Lucky Cat Pop Up

Lucky Cat Pop Up
247 Cooper


I have been a fan of Lucky Cat Ramen since they started doing pop ups at the Cove. Even though the Cove was letting kids in to eat ramen, that's my bar and I didn't wanna take the monkeys (Satchel, 15 and Jiro, 13). Now that Lucky Cat is doing a six month pop up in the former 1912 "Tapas" bar (did it ever have a name?) I got the monkeys there as soon as I could, which ended up being Day 3 of them being open and Day 8 of the third worst storm and subsequent outage in Memphis history.

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I'd been working non-stop, and was more than happy not to cook dinner. The monkeys and I arrived around 6:00pm and the place was packed. Sarah, one of the owners, greeted us at the counter and took our order. I already knew I wanted the yuzu veggie, but the kids were perplexed by the menu.

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"Don't worry about all the stuff that sounds weird, " I said. Then I encouraged Jiro to try the miso pork and Satchel to try the shoyu pork. (They didn't have the collards the day I was there or I would have tried that. I didn't get my own pic of the menu, hence the one from Instagram.) Satchel also went with a $1 side of spicy chile oil. They used to serve large and small bowls at the Cove, but now it's just large and they are all $12. I saw the steamed buns on the menu and decided to add an order of those as well. They used to come two to an order, but now they are $4 each. Sarah told me they had a vegetarian version with eggplant but I stuck with the BBQ, and ordered 3 thinking we'd each eat one. There were a few bottled drinks to choose from, but I only remember there being Iced Tea because I was sure the monkeys would want tea, but they didn't. Anyways, our total for three bowls of ramen and three buns was just under $54, plus tip. Sarah gave us a number and we went to look for a place to sit.

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They have normal tables (which were all full) and then several community type tables. We just happened to know a family sitting at one, and they had three extra seats for us. AND even better...the dad had even already gone down to Fresh Market and bought beer! After working for 8 days straight, I was never more thankful for a beer. (Lucky Cat doesn't have a beer permit, and I'm not sure they can get one for a pop up, so BYOB.)

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The monkeys got waters from the jug in the back and then we waited maybe 5 minutes before our ramen came out. The buns were not far behind. Jiro, who is a little picky, seemed slightly worried when he saw his, but I told him to just eat it. And he did. Every bite.

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Satchel didn't say a word, just dug in.

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The veggie was just as yuzu yummy as I remembered. Satchel wanted a taste and eventually took it from me.

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I let him take it because neither monkey would try the buns due to the slaw on top (weirdos). So, I ate two and a half of them!

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MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

We all left full and happy. (Our friends and table mates were experiencing it for the first time and were ooohing an aaaahing and loving it.) Satchel's main complaint was that I drank my beer too slow!

For only being open three days, I was super impressed by how organized they were and how fast the service was. I also think they did a great job making the space look super cute. I never went into the tapas place so I'm not sure how much work they had to do, but I think it was substantial.

I did feel a little weird about having a $50 ramen dinner when the monkeys would just as happily eat $.25 ramen, but this is no regular ramen. I love what Zach & Sarah are doing and without alcohol to boost sales, I understand why the prices are a bit higher than in the past. I'll definitely be back, and I'll take the monkeys.

One last thing, they are only serving dinner Thursday-Sunday. They open at 5:30pm. I've seen various closing times posted (9:00pm, 10:00pm and 11:00pm). The Facebook page doesn't specify. It may just be a matter of when they sell out. So, go early!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wimpy's

Wimpy's
150 N. Avalon
901-249-2725


I noticed Wimpy's on a trip to Home Depot, as it is tucked into the strip mall in the parking lot. I was intrigued. I did a little research and discovered that their burgers are made to order, the sauces are house-made, and the milkshakes hand-spun.

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The next time I needed to go Home Depot, I had Satchel (15) with me. I told him that Wimpy's was the midtown version of Sear Shack. That sold him.

They have outdoor seating, which is very important to me.

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The inside of the restaurant is clean and bright. It's an order at the counter kind of place, and then they bring everything out. Well, except drinks. You get those yourself.

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There's a mix of the Wimpy we know from the Popeye cartoons and a reimagined, modern day Wimpy, decorating the walls (and menus and cups, etc.).

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We were both impressed by the menu, particularly the free toppings.

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Satch went with a buffalo chicken sandwich with pineapple. I got The Wimpy with pimento cheese and banana peppers. We decided to share some fries and Satch also got a cookies and cream milkshake.

The food came out after a few minutes and we dug in. Satchel's eyes literally rolled into the back of his head when he tasted his sandwich. "It's soooooooooo good," he said. (It was three chicken tenders with buffalo sauce and a big slice of pineapple. Simple, but all of his favorite flavors.)

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He also immediately began dipping his fries in his shake, which I had to try. Yum! on both the shake and the fries dipped in shake.

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I was pleased with the way my burger looked and tasted. I liked that it had fancy lettuce. It was also a good size--I had trouble finishing it.

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When we were done, Satchel noticed that he could have gotten fried pickles and cheese fries. "We are definitely coming back," he said.

I ended up going back the next day with Jiro (13) and one of his buddies after soccer. (I kind of felt bad for trying a new place without him.) They both ordered plain burgers and shakes, but were both very happy.

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And then about a week later, I ended up going back with both monkeys. Satchel got his same buffalo chicken sandwich, but also got the cheese fries he'd been craving. (Just fries with cheese sauce on top, nothing special. Satch added the ketchup.)

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I tried the grilled chicken salad with bacon, which was pretty fine. I'll basically eat anything with banana peppers listed in the description.

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Jiro had another plain burger and an order of fried Oreos with strawberry sauce. These were a hot with both monkeys.

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Again, we were all happy with our meals. The staff has been super friendly and I haven't found anything to complain about, which is weird.

The bathrooms are also very nice and have a changing table.

Go try it for yourself and let me know what you think.
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