Confession: It'd been a ridiculously long time since I'd seen my Jessica. Like, half a year. (#friendfail #pleasestilllikeme) So yesterday at around 5:45 we met up at the raved-about East Tapas to remedy the situation.
East, owned by the same family as the adjacent Wang's, is an Asian fusion eatery specializing in delicious sharable appetizers ("tapas") and libations. The prices are awesome and the atmosphere is quite cozy (especially for being located inside a strip mall). Simply put, it's the perfect place to catch up with a friend.
Let's sample some tapas, shall we?
First up: "Asian Guacamole" (freshly made when ordered with cilantro, shallots, tomatoes, jalapenos, minced garlic and ginger, finished with salt and pepper and fresh lime juice). A home-run, slam-dunk guac. One of our favorites of the night!
Next out: "Truffle Mac 'n Cheese" (top; blend of sharp cheddar, cottage cheese, parmesan, cream cheese, and sour cream finished with white truffle oil) and "Bacon Wrapped Olives" (bottom; Yoder Bros naturally raised pork bacon wrapped around olives stuffed with shrimp, served with smoked aioli.) The mac 'n cheese was tasty (if a bit generic); the olives were the surprise favorite of the night--delicious!
The food just keeps on a-comin'! "Cold Sesame Noodles" (cold noodles marinated in sesame sauce with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, finished with Siracha). Probably tied for second-favorite with the guac; cool, refreshing, great depth of flavor.
Finally we have: (some sort of pizza of which I forgot the name) Not my favorite.
The service was great, and we were both very pleased when we received our bills--very reasonable for the amount of food we ordered! Probably the only odd thing about East would be the restroom set-up: they offer a single unisex stall which, unfortunately, wasn't very well-attended. Hopefully they'll improve the facilities soon.
Bottom line: Would I eat there again? Not sure if it'll be in my regular rotation, but it's a well-priced, buzzy little spot that I'll definitely keep in mind for my next GNO!
East Tapas and Drink
6069 Park Ave
It wasn't even dark yet and Jess and I were both jonesin' for some dessert, so off we set to Midtown! The just-opened Babalu had a 40-minute wait, so instead we walked a short distance to The Second Line, a more casual restaurant adjacent to (and owned by Kelly English, the same executive chef as) Restaurant Iris.
What's funny is that while English's two restaurants are located right next door to each other and both offer New Orleans-flavored fare, they couldn't be more different. Iris: three-month wait list. Second Line: walk right in, sit right down. Iris: quiet, romantic. Second Line: rowdy; music blaring, baseball game playing.
Oh, but the food at both? Outstanding.
Their menu was very tempting (and surprisingly poboy-heavy), but Jess and I stuck to our guns and asked what was available for dessert. We had two options: bread pudding or a root beer float. We chose the bread pudding, because bread pudding.
Such a good decision. The waiter said it was English's grandmother's recipe; I said it tasted like a churro (in a good way!) and he looked at me a little funny. No raisins and a bit chewy-er than your run-on-the-mill bread pudding, but no less delicious.
Jessica, j'adore. You are my gossip buddy, my fellow foodie, the rocker of the red lip, and I couldn't think of anyone with whom I'd rather enjoy a spontaneous Thursday night :) Let's not wait another six months to do this again!
Bottom Line: Would I eat there again? I feel like I need to visit once more to really get a sense of their full menu offerings, but knowing Chef English I'm sure it'll rock :)
The Second Line
2144 Monroe Ave
Memphis, TN 38104