After a year of watching the transformation of Florida Seafood Kitchen into Los Arcos, a Mexican restaurant in the extended family of La Terraza and Las Casuelas, I am pleased to announce that The Arches—as the name translates—is open for business. Partners José Gutierrez, Martin Romo and José Miranda have opened the heavy wooden doors to a stunning building adorned with fountains, ceiling murals and carved wooden chairs emblazoned with the restaurant name. The large room with tile floors and elegant foyer with imposing portraits set a new bar for ambiance among authentic Mexican eateries on Nolensville Road.
The extensive menu is still in draft form as the crew tweaks a few dishes. Today we enjoyed ceviches with shrimp and fish, along with a basket of warm chips. We’ll definitely head back to try out the grilled poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp and the roasted pineapple filled with seafood and melted cheese.
Located at 3798 Nolensville Road, 837-3800, Los Arcos opens at 10:30 a.m. daily and is open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and later on weekends.
Quick poll: Which Food Network pilot would you vote to see?
• Brock Around the Crock, with host Sean Brock
• Paleta Palooza, starring the Paz sisters
• Theme Heat, hosted by Jeremy Barlow
• We Wish You a Marrow Christmas, featuring Laura Wilson
• Mr. Pink’s Potted-Meat Hoedown
Several thousand calories later—remember, I do it all for you—I have returned from dining walkabout, which led me, among other places, to Humphreys Street, behind Greer Stadium, where I was completely unable to find the much-anticipated new Judge Bean's Rio Grande Cantina.
But the surprise discovery of our jaunt was a little place called Kafé Krayp, located in the shadow of the R2D2 building on Fourth Avenue. Wedged in between a parking garage and Chile Burrito, Kafé Krayp, which serves—wait for it—crêpes, is nothing short of adorable.
With a subtle Euro-beat overhead and a monochromatic décor of chrome and glass, it's the kind of place you might expect to snack while strolling along the Champs Elysées. Despite the fact that the cutesy spelling of Krayp institutionalizes the mispronunciation of the French word, which rhymes with “steps,” this place wooed me with its giant crêpe irons and a dry-erase menu of sweet and savory crêpes rolled into cones, perfect for eating while walking.
We tried the mozzarella-and-ham version ($3.25), and we would have eaten our weight in different varieties—including smoked salmon with avocado and the chocolate-heavy dessert list. But we didn't have any cash, and the fledgling store, just a couple weeks old, doesn't have the plastic machine set up yet.
But we'll be back with a wad of ones. I'm thinking Bites outing?
P.S. A call to Greer Stadium finally solved the mystery: Judge Bean's is not yet open, but is coming soon to the location of the former Slugger's, inside the stadium grounds.
Kafé Krayp is located at 162 Fourth Ave. N.
We stopped by Jim's Nachos today, in the former location of Shake's on Granny White Pike. Perusing the menu of standard-issue Tex-Mex, Mr. Pink reasonably cut to the quick: “If I'm in a place called Jim's Nachos, by God, I'm going to order Jim's Nachos.” So when our server arrived, I asked for a full order of the eponymous dish.
“Jim's Nachos?” she repeated timidly. “Do you want them over rice?”
“Just nachos, please,” I clarified, as Mr. Pink sheepishly hid his smirk behind his water glass.
A few minutes—and two bowls of insipid salsa later—our order arrived. Fajitas were predictable and a bargain at less than $7. Tacos al carbon had the disappointingly unadorned flavor of, well, beef. At least the condiments were plentiful, if not homemade.
“Stop reaching for redemption,” Mr. Pink said, as I tried to accentuate the positive.
And then there were Jim's Nachos. A pale, monolithic plate of about eight wilting chips, topped with chunks of skin-colored meat, all sitting in a coagulating pool of white queso. Not even a salutatory sprig of cilantro to break the jaundiced monotony. Not what we expected, to say the least.
But then again, when you hang out with a guy like Mr. Pink, you come to expect a lot from a name like Jim.
Pat and Gina Neely, members of the Memphis family behind Neely's Bar-B-Que, are poised to join the pantheon of kitchen personalities when their new series Down Home with the Neelys premiers Feb. 2 on the Food Network. The Neelys, whose name now graces several restaurants in Memphis and one in Nashville, will launch a half-hour show, airing at 10 a.m. CST, that features recipes for their signature dishes such as Memphis-style ribs and barbecue spaghetti.
If you haven't tried Neely's yet, you might take advantage of the unseasonably nice weather to visit the Nashville outpost in MetroCenter. Regardless of how you like your 'cue, it's hard to argue with the serene deck perched over the man-made lake of the erstwhile Fountain Square. You've got less than a month to get there so you can say you knew Neely's before it was as big a name as Paula Deen.
For whatever reason, the humble Crock Pot has stirred some unexpectedly passionate conversation on Bites over the past couple of weeks. We’ve maligned the Pot as a subversive holiday gift designed to keep women barefoot and pregnant. We’ve implied that it can do no better than turn good cream of mushroom soup into bad mush. We’ve even suggested that food-forward people like former Capitol Grill chef Sean Brock would have little use for the Crock Pot beyond storing liquid nitrogen for use in avant-garde cuisine.
But in fact, Sean Brock is a Crock Pot fan. Now manning the kitchen at McCrady’s in Charleston, S.C., where he harvests his own veggies—ably assisted by his radish-hunting dog Yuzu—and blogs aggressively about culinary exploits such as savory cotton candy and foie gras pound cake, Sean took some time out to offer the following Crock Pot tutorial. And if you want to check out what else he’s up to, visit his blog, Ping Island Strike.
First you carefully chop up a half-pound of cooked bacon—or hey, just use Bac-O’s. (At this point, you know it’s going to be good.) Add a heaping handful of chopped parsley. All you need is one magic elixir to combine these head-scratching ingredients into a company-pleasing juggernaut. Voila! Bust out the Durkee’s Famous Sauce—the mustardy/mayonnaisey/vinegary whatsit that has graced Southern shelves since the advent of post-funeral casseroles. Spoon in enough to make a fine paste.
At least that’s how my friend the Green Fairy remembered the recipe for this oddball hors d’oeuvre, as related to her with a straight face by a well-meaning relative. (She left out the important last step: “Now carefully scrape into a five-gallon garbage can.”) With several weeks’ build-up of marshmallow cream fudge, cheese straws and Chex party mix slowly leaving my system, I’ve decided it’s time to pay tribute to some of the weirdest festive food items I’ve encountered on a buffet line.
Sliced ham wrapped around baby dills and cream-cheese logs? Check. Petits fours that, upon closer inspection, were actually quartered Krystal’s cheeseburgers? Check (ulp). Cap’n Crunch diligently toothpicked and served with a bowl of dipping milk? Check. (Oh, wait—I brought those.) C’mon—raid the cabinets of your memory, and spill the cobwebbed contents.
Best festive-food memory: a sullen high-school friend telling my mother her snack mix needed more salt. He seemed pretty cocky about it, until she told him he’d eaten her bowl of potpourri.
A couple weeks ago, I received a package from a friend in San Francisco, which included two items: a plush toy called "Cute Poo," roughly the shape of a pile of number two, and a magazine called Meatpaper—issue number one—which calls itself "Your journal of meat culture."
The enclosed note read: "One of these made me think of you, and the other is for [my seven-month-old son]. Guess which one is which."
At any rate, Meatpaper is more interesting than I thought it would be. It's about meat, but its editors distinguish themselves from other magazines about meat by saying: "Meatpaper is the only magazine about the idea of meat." (Emphasis mine.)
Which is to say that they consider meat from many angles. For example, alongside an article on "the new school of old-school butcher shops" there's an essay on whether kosher meat is ethical, which poses the question: "[I]f killing animals through schechita is less cruel than killing them by conventional means, wouldn't the least cruel path be not to kill them at all?"
There's also an essay about meat art that includes discussion of a dress made of lamb and a meat-themed poem (not written in a strict, ahem, meat-er). In this New York Times article, editor Amy Standen (a former vegetarian) says, “We find over and over again that bacon is the conversion meat.” Apparently the second issue poses the cannibalism question.
I called Davis-Kidd to see if they carry Meatpaper, but the person I spoke to said they don't. The magazine's website says it's carried at Barnes and Noble.
UPDATE: The two magazine articles are now linked to the online versions.
Yesterday we stopped for lunch at Chimalles Mexican Grill, the new burrito place on Demonbreun. We ordered two fish tacos, one chicken taco and a beef Debraska taco. Our recommendation: Stick with the beef, which was along the lines of pot roast, and load up on the fresh salsa, including mango and pineapple, on the bar at the back of the room.
If I had to guess, I'd wager that the Chimalles team spent a fair amount of time out on Thompson Lane, taking in the details of a longstanding and much-loved little burrito joint. Chimalles is a large store, with a cavernous effect and an echo-y ambiance in the turqouise room with accents of wood and corregated. The oversize paintings of Southwestern icons are cool, and the service, while a little awkward and somewhat thwarted by a language barrier, was generally enthusiastic. We would have enjoyed a little guidance in how to build a fish taco from the many ingredients on the toppings line, but there didn't appear to be any recommended recipe. We had a little of everything, which, generally speaking, was very fresh: cilantro, pink onions, pico, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, corn-and-bean salsa, sour cream, and a mysterious pink cream dressing, which sounded like “wasabi sauce.”
The store is clean and colorful, and the price is right—we clocked out for under $12 for two—but I couldn't help feeling a sense of dislocation, a certain something that I couldn't put my finger on until later. Upon reflection, I realized why I was out of sorts: The buffet line moves from left to right.
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