VOL. 131 | NO. 223 | Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Downtown Dining Week Hails Food Scene
By Andy Meek
Downtown eateries like Cafe Pontotoc, at 314 S. Main, are welcoming diners this week to take part in what’s become a yearly celebration of Downtown’s vibrant, eclectic restaurant community.
The celebration is “Downtown Dining Week,” the event that kicked off Nov. 7 and runs through Nov. 13. Nearly 50 restaurants are participating this year by offering two-for-one lunches and special menus for $10.16 and three course dinners and special menus for $20.16.
The event, produced by the Downtown Memphis Commission, is meant as a way to hook diners on the culinary choices the neighborhood offers. That makes it also a boon for eateries like Milton Lamb’s Cafe Pontotoc, which has prepared a dinner menu that includes a soup or salad to start; a choice of entrees like crawcakes, stuffed meatballs, or shrimp and grits; and dessert.
“This is our third time to participate,” said Lamb, who with his wife Cherie opened their small neighborhood bar in the summer of 2014. “It’s a great event, and it’s a good thing to have all the restaurants Downtown working on something together.
“It brings a lot of people out, whether they’re from Downtown or other parts of the metro area. And it’s a very busy week for most all of us.”
Bardog is likewise offering a three-course dinner menu. And it has different set lunch specials during the week, offering things like Steak Philly Sliders on Thursday and Grilled Chicken Sliders on Friday. The lunch menu at Loflin Yard includes kale, wild mushrooms and white bean stew with toasted baguette, and its three-course dinner menu starts with a Brushetta plate, smoked salmon, and mushrooms followed by Cornish game hen, braised mustard greens and grilled polenta cake, finishing with a S’mores Skillet Brownie.
According to the Downtown Memphis Commission, the effort has consistently grown every year since its debut about a decade ago. An idea from Felicia Willett, owner and chef at Felicia Suzanne’s, led to the event’s launch. She had a friend in another city who’s a chef and whose downtown was doing something similar.
“This is an amazing event, one of the most popular for the Downtown community, bringing out thousands of patrons to our diverse, outstanding sampling of restaurants,” said Downtown Memphis Commission president and CEO Terence Patterson.
Sponsors this year include companies like First Tennessee Bank and Sysco. And restaurants that have joined the mix of participating eateries this year include new businesses like Scoops, a custom crepes and frozen treats shop, and Memphis Lighthouse in Court Square. They complement established standbys like The Majestic Grille, Felicia Suzanne’s and Alcenia’s and others from Beale Street to Main Street.
Downtown blogger Paul Ryburn wrote in a post on Nov. 6 that many restaurant owners, chefs and managers see the event as a major opportunity. “People who would never have the restaurant on their radar will come through the door,” he writes. “Show those people an amazing dining experience, and some of them will come back and spend money at regular prices. Or, even if they don’t come back, they will talk about their dinner, which will encourage others to check the place out.”
A full list of participating restaurants, including menus, is available at downtowndiningweek.com.