The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

New Food Finds in Nashvegas
January 25, 2014, 2:10 am
Filed under: Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

We’ve had a sick family member in Nashville, and we spent last Sunday mostly in a hospital waiting room.

Not a fun way to spend a day, but we made it.

That morning, we had had breakfast at McDonald’s and then lunch from a vending machine. It wasn’t too bad though. I had stocked up on quarters, and so we feasted on chips and chocolate. Plus, the kiddos thought the vending machines were the coolest thing evah.

We were what you’d call “country come to town.”

Before supper, we said our goodbyes and searched for real food. We drove around and round and ended up at a J. Alexanders that we weren’t really dressed for and probably didn’t smell right for either, but we went right in anyway.

We started off with the Margherita flatbread thinking that Mr. Picky would like it. He did, but every one else really liked it. I do believe it is a recipe that I could make. I think I shall try.

Miss Helper had the Croque Madame, a very big-girl sandwich for such a little person. I stole a bite (or two. or ten), and it was very good. I could try to make this one too. Maybe. Mr. Picky had the Not Your Ordinary Mac and Cheese and didn’t try a bite. When we got home, Miss Helper and I ate every bit of what he didn’t eat straight out of the doggie bag. Divine. I’ve already found the recipe.

It shall be mine.

I had the beef tenderloin carpaccio in my ongoing attempt to eat the weirdest thing on any menu. I asked if it was a small plate because I thought the price was a little on the cheap side, and the waitress said that it indeed took up the whole plate which was indeed regular sized. Yes.

I loved it. The sauce was a little absent from the dish, but the rest was neat to eat and tasty too. I did worry about the results of eating raw beef, but no worries. I am not going to try to make this one at home, though. Ever.

Raw meat like that tenderloin is not going to be easy to find at our local country Kroger, I am sure.

I also had the roasted beet salad. Now, that was good. It was warm and the goat cheese was creamy and not too goat-y. Delish. I think I could swing this recipe too-if I can figure out just how to get beets around here.

I don’t want to go back to any hospitals anytime soon, but a trip to J. Alexander’s would be just fine.


Uncle Mick’s-Prattville, Alabama

The ride home from vacation is never fun.

This year, the trip from Destin was a quiet one. We were tired, full of memories, and road-weary. The movies were going in the backseat, and sand was still in our shoes. We had had enough fun for a while. Still, I had to have just one more foodie stop on the way home.

I did a little searching on my phone for a lunch stop as the miles rolled by, and Uncle Mick’s in Prattville, Alabama was a name I kept seeing.

Maybe it was that Uncle Mick’s sounded like a good place, or maybe it was the fact that they didn’t care where lunch came from, or maybe it was that they didn’t want to hear me whine about missing it, I don’t know. But regardless, the fam went along with the idea of stopping there for one last culinary adventure before home.

We took an exit and drove and drove and drove. There was a lot of huffing at this part of the journey as Mr. Opinionated was not too happy to be driving past the chain restuarants by the interstate to try a place we’d never heard of. He survivied, and we made it to Uncle Mick’s just before a meltdown.

We walked in, and the place was very nice. The food is served cafeteria style, and so we just walked right up to the start of the line.
We weren’t sure what to eat, but Uncle Mick was there to serve us some samples of several dishes. He was the nicest man and very good to us as we tried out his food. He said, “You like shrimp? You like fish? What’ll you try?”
I had the tilapia with the Corn Maque Choux and tomato salad w/Feta cheese. Even though we had just eaten fish for a week, the tilapia was still good. The corn was awesome. I had never heard of maque choux before, and it was a dish to try. Yum.
After all his huffing, Mr. Opinionated had the crawfish etouffee, and he liked it fine. He may have loved it, but he wouldn’t have let me know that.
Mr. Picky enjoyed the garlic bread. Go figure.
For dessert before the rest of the long road ahead, we had the bread pudding. When we ordered it, they set it aside and warmed it up when we were ready for it. It would have been better had we not just had the best bread pudding on earth at Harbor Docks.
This ride home was another long one, but Uncle Mick’s is a place to put in the GPS for good. The food and atmosphere were a nice break from the interstate-even if it took us a little while and a lot of huffing to get there.
Uncle Mick's Cajun Market and Cafe on Urbanspoon

No Complaints Here: Findley’s Irish Pub

A weekend trip to Nashvegas was what the doctor ordered after the last few weeks we have had around here. After searching and searching, our best bet for a hotel during fall break was the mammoth Opryland Resort, a place I mostly avoid like the plague.

Yet, here we were.

We got our room when we and half of the South got checked in, and then we got a different room. The second one was the keeper. After traveling all day and then the long, long line at check-in, and then the room hopping, supper sounded like a great idea.

The way we used to travel, we would never, ever eat at the hotel where we were staying. Hotel restaurants always seemed too swanky and expensive. Lately though, we have changed our ways and have started eating at the hotel more often since it is so convenient even if it is more expensive.

Luckily for us, this worked out very well for us at the Opryland Hotel at Findley’s Irish Pub.
We were starving when we sat down. The whole hotel was swarming with conference people from Merry Maids and three weddings that night.

We started with the fries with gravy, or as we call them at home, Boo Fries.
These were fine, but I make better at home.

Regardless, while we were eating our Boo/Gravy Fries, we were enjoying ourselves. The restaurant very comfortable and busy. At a table next to us, though, an older couple was not having a nice time. The man ordered fish and chips. He sent the fish back for some weird reason. Then, he proceeded to send back the fries. They were burned, he said for all to hear. Our waiter, a nice non-Irish guy, explained that that was just the way the fries were made. The man still insisted on different fries. We were eating the same fries with gravy and cheese, and there was nothing wrong with them.

Really, Ridiculous Old Dude? You apparently need more gravy and cheese in your life.

The waiter brought out fresh fries special made for Mr. Complainy Pants that were still not good enough.

His wife, however, ate most of them. I am sure they went nicely with her salad, and I am also sure our waiter had to comp the couple for their pickiness even though he offered a substitute side for the still-not-good-enough second batch of fries.

Thou Shalt Not Be Rude to the Wait Staff should be a Commandment.
We had no complaints. Mr. Picky had the grilled cheese. He didn’t complain, and his name is picky.
Miss Helper had the pasta. Loved it!
Mr. Opinionated had the pub burger. He liked it, but at the price we paid for it, it was a little bit of a let down. It may have been full of fancy stuff, but it was still just a burger.
I had the Bangers and Mash. It was awesome.

This summer, I really, really watched what I ate and tried to be healthy. I lost several pounds, and realized that I could eat better.

This dish erased every bit of the work I did this summer. It was worth it.

The potatoes, the sausage. Good grief. The mustard sauce. The salad on top with the vinaigrette. Heaven.

We travel to Nashville once or twice a year. Next time we go, I hope we get to eat here again-minus all the Merry Maids and the complaining old guys.
Findley's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Mugshots-Tuscaloosa, Alabama

When you live anywhere close to Memphis, it is a goal in life to eat at all of the Huey’s in and around town. It is like an unspoken dream to eat at them all, even though they are all pretty much the same. I have eaten at all but maybe two.

Now, a new dream of mine is to eat at all of the Mugshots. I live no where near them, but still. Dare to dream, I say.

The second Mugshots I got to cross off my bucket list of Mugshots was in Tuscaloosa, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

We are not fans.

However, the town is neat and the food at Mugshots was great.
We started off with Scooter’s Moo Cow Cheese Wedges and the queso dip. The fried cheese was very, very good. It is hard to beat a good fried cheese.
Mr. Opinionated had the Come Back burger and loved it.
I had my second peanut butter burger. It is the best burger around, and nobody ever wants to share a bite. Win-win, I say. The bread on this burger is perfect, and the peanut butter is devine. I love it. It would be no problem to make this at home, except for the buns.

The people at Mugshots have the best buns. Giggle, giggle.
Mr. Picky had a grilled cheese, of course.

It is my hope to continue my tour of Mugshots and finish my bucket list someday. I think I can-one peanut butter burger at a time.

Homemade Boo Fries

So, you know how it goes. You go to a restaurant far from home. You see something unique on the menu. You order. Your taste buds are taken on a journey to Awesomeville. You mourn the fact that you may never taste this dish again.

It is a sad, sad cycle. What to do?

Try to make it at home, and if it fails, you never tell anyone.

If it succeeds, you can post it on your foodie blog for your foodie friends. Both of them.

That, you two, is what is happening here. While at Acme Oyster House, we ordered Boo Fries for no other reason than they sounded interesting. Yet, they were fabulous. Life changing? I don’t think that overstates things. Really, delish.

So, we are home now, and the chance of Boo Fries from Acme Oyster is a dim possibility. It just isn’t gonna happen anytime soon, but they were so simple that I thought that maybe I could recreate them. How hard could it be? Plus, the husband had already given me the go-ahead to make a roast (not his favorite thing to eat) to try out the fries. So, I tried them.
Success, my friends. Success.

Good gosh almighty, they were good. All I did was make a roast in a pretty simple fashion.
I used a small roast with an onion, celery, potatoes, and a package of Crock Pot savory pot roast seasoning. I left it in the crock pot all day, and then just before suppertime, I fried up some frozen French fries. To serve them up, I plated them with the fries, then the juice from the crock pot, and shredded Cheddar cheese on top.
This recipe, as simple as it is, is a keeper. Three out of four of us loved it, and it was pretty close to the Acme’s dish. It was a happy and proud moment for me and my stomach. May the cycle of vacation food be broken again someday. If I can do it again, I promise I’ll tell you both about it.

Merlin’s Pizza-Destin, Florida

After just a few days in Destin and apparently one too many seafood restaurants, Mr. Picky began his campaign for the food that he can not live without-pizza.

On the table in our condo, a little plastic two-sided holder gave the TV station list on one side and an ad for Merlin’s Pizza on the other. From the time he saw the ad, Mr. Picky had to try it, and after yet another meal of seafood, he was ready.

Since we were on vacation, and while on vacation, anything goes (almost), we ordered him a cheese pizza pie from Merlin’s one late, late night. The waiting was the most exciting part. At home, we live so far in the country that Domino’s doesn’t know that our neighborhood exists, but in Destin, the pizza will come to your door. That blew Mr. Picky’s mind. It was heavenly.
When it arrived, it was as if the pizza kid was Santa. Mr. Picky got to open the door and pay the dude. It was great.

Then, we opened the pizza box.

I thought Merlin’s pizza was great. It was a homemade pie with lots of fresh spices. Yum.

Mr. Picky, though, is a die-hard corporate pizza man. In his opinion, there is no reason to mess with perfectly good run-of-the-mill pizza, which he has eaten plenty of. He didn’t like it and was mad at the plastic TV station holder for the rest of the trip.
Next time, when vacation comes around and a late night pizza is in order, I think we’ll stick to the plain Jane pizza variety. Not because Merlin’s wasn’t good, but because my one kid who lives for pizza wants “regular” pizza-preferably, the kind where all he has to do is open the door and pay.
Merlin's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Mid-Destin on Dwellable

Blue Bank Fish House and Grille and Resort-Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee


If you live within a hundred miles of Reelfoot Lake, there are plenty of things to do while visiting.
You can fish. You can visit the museum and pet a snake or an owl named Luna. You could swim, although I wouldn’t. You can shop for redneck souveniers. Whatever you do, there is one thing you are supposed to eat when you visit there-fish and only fish.

For years growing up, every holiday observing a parent (Mother’s or Father’s Day) seemed to be celebrated at Reelfoot Lake. The preferred place to eat by the older crowd is Boyette’s where you eat family style. It is a very good place to eat, but the lines are long. While at Boyette’s you might eat ham, or if you are feeling adventurous and open to ridicule-chicken, but fish is the dish to eat.
For some reason several years ago, our family visited Reelfoot Lake and went against the norm. We ate at Blue Bank. Going further from the norm, we ate steak, and it was the best steak around.

Then, they sold the place and moved. Boo and hiss.
For a while, we were wandering around the lake when we visited for lack of a place to eat. It wasn’t long, though, before the Blue Bank opened in a new, improved place, resort-style.

We ate there early one Saturday night. It was cool and a little windy at first, and then the weather turned fierce. We had a great table by the window, so we got to see it all.
Luckily, dinner was not the disaster that the weather was. We didn’t wait in line even a minute, and we started out with the fried pickles, which were fine.

Mr. Picky had an order of hush puppies and chicken strips. Mr. Opinionated and Miss Helper ordered the fried fish. I guess some fish-ordering habits die hard.
They liked the fish. I got a bite, and it was good stuff.
I ordered the steak with sautéed mushrooms. Dadgum, it was good. It was nice to have a good steak from what felt like an old friend.
We are so glad that Blue Bank is still around. The old-fashioned fish places are good, but nothing beats a good steak with a great lake view.

Walking around the lake.

Walking around the lake.

Blue Bank Fish House & Grill on Urbanspoon

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