Fried Pickles

Whoa whoa whoa slow it on down…fried pickles?

Yes.

Josh and I had the pleasure of visiting the Memphis Taproom recently, which has a variety of tasty bar food offerings, including the fried pickles that mended my relationship with the vinegar-y little cucumbers that have haunted my taste buds for my entire life.

I have always love pickled things: beets, green beans, carrots, olives, etc.  But actual pickles have evaded my love for as long as I can remember.  That is, until the chef at Memphis Taproom decided to beer batter those little green guys and serve them up with horseradish dipping sauce.  My taste buds sang at the final union of pickles and satisfaction.

Recently Josh and I hosted a group of men for an ultra-manly ultra-geeky night of Dungeons and Dragons, and I was faced with the task of feeding them.  These fried beauties immediately came to mind (who else could I ever make these for?)  I thought at first that I would have to figure this out on my own, but a quick google search yielded possibly the best link of my life:

The Memphis Taproom Recipe for Fried Pickles

Beer-Battered Pickles
Peanut oil, for frying (I used a mix of peanut and canola since our peanut oil was woefully low)
1 cup all-purpose flour (plus a little extra for dusting the pickles)
1 tablespoon  sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Cayenne Pepper (MTR said to only use a pinch, but I didn’t buy their bluff and used much more to achieve the flavor profile of the pickles from the restaurant)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 cup beer (MTR uses Lion’s Head, I used Dreamweaver)
kosher dill pickle spears

First, add the proper amount of oil to a deep sauce pan and set your heat to medium-high (or if you are so blessed, crank up your fryer).  If you start the oil before anything else, it will be hot when you are ready to start.  Next, mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and whisk the buttermilk and beer before combining the wet and dry together.  Pat dry a selection of spears, dust with flour, and dip the spears into the batter and coat well. Once you are sure the oil is hot (with a thermometer handy, it should be around 375 degrees) start adding the spears.  Be sure not to over-crowd the oil.  Let the spears fry on one side until they are golden brown, then flip and repeat. Once both sides are golden brown, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

The result is a huge platter of delicious little beauties for you and your friends to enjoy (to the chagrin of your waistline).  The recipe is officially supposed to yield 5 spears, but I got a lot more.  What a perfect snack (and it’s even a good introduction to the world of frying, as this is a pretty easy project in the kitchen).

Thank you chef Kimball of Memphis Taproom for sharing this with the world.  I am a little happier knowing that people are still willing to share their secrets.

Good Dog Bar

Like Dogs? Like Bars? Then this is– actually you can’t bring a dog here, but you can look at lots of nice dog pictures as you enjoy a beer and a burger at this great center city bar. Located on 15th street between Walnut and Locust, Good Dog Bar is the antithesis of the big name steak houses and celebrity restaurants that inhabit the area (nothing against them though!). You can get a meal for around ten bucks in a very cozy themed dive setting.

The Drinks
Good Dog has a dozen beers on tap (8 standards and 4 rotating) with another 2 dozen assorted bottles and cans covering domestics, crafts, and imports.  Holly and I both had beers and they were served quickly. They also make cocktails though these vary wildly.Of the 4 times I’ve gone to Good Dog over the years I’ve only gotten one once. That cocktail was the Bob Loblaw (of Arrested Development fame): a margarita with pineapple juice and jalapeño infused tequila that was an experience. Most of the time its silly vodka cocktails that probably taste like candy. As with valor, discretion is the better part of imbibing.

Beer Menu

Cocktail Menu

The Food

Appetizer: Truffled Cheese Steak Empanada

These sound really lame (like cheesesteak eggrolls) but delivered for above both of our expectations. The empanadas were crisp, not greasy, and the dough tasted slightly sweet. The truffled cheddar cheese and sliced ribeye were an amazing combo. Equally important was the bourbon infused Rogue Chocolate Stout dipping sauce that cut through the richness of the empanadas.  Hands down the best appetizer in a long time.

Main Courses

Josh: Roast Beef ( From the Specials menu)

Sounds like something out of the golden-age of Diners, at first appearances this sandwich looked like a regular roast beef sandwich that I could whip up at home. This sandwich however sports their own seasoned and roasted beef with a delicious mustard, sweet peppers, and swiss on nice sourdough bread. It came Good Dog’s signature fries (shoestring cut mix of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes) and overall it was a good meal.

Holly: Fried Tomato BLT

A ate this sandwich as a shout-out to my Mom.  As long as i can remember, she would almost always get the BLT at any restaurant (and when she went to Good Dog, guess what she had?).  This tasty variant was made with perfect sourdough toast, basil mayo, and of course the fried Tomato–which I was sadly kind of disappointed in.  The words “fried” and “tomato ” are almost always separated by “green” for a reason.  The crunchier texture and acidic bite of a green tomato would have been refreshing in this sandwich, but the fried ripe tomato just didn’t deliver like i wanted it to.  The flavors were great–it was mostly a texture issue that contributed to my overall lack of satisfaction with this entrée.

Food Menu

The Design

You want a dive?  Good Dog is the definition of dive.  The best part about the ‘decor” of most dives is the old-man-club appeal of wood paneling, dark colors, and dim lighting.  Good Dog delivers on all of these points, and also provides a plethora of adorable doggie portraits to view while you munch on tasty treats.  Good Dog is definitely a step up from your standard center city dive, but all the charm that you would expect is still present.


The Overall Experience

We went for an early dinner this time, and our service was very punctual.  Sometimes it can be incredibly busy at Good Dog, so if you go during normal dinner hours or on a weekend, expect to wait for a seat and your food.  This time we walked right in and sat down, which was great.  Our waitress was sweet and our food came almost too quickly, if you can even complain about that.  It was a good time, as always.

The Receipt

Good Dog is pretty affordable.  We didn’t keep the receipt this time (shame on us) but it was under $50 for a meal and drinks for the two of us.

Our Ratings

Drinks: 3/5

Food: 4/5

Design: 3/5

Service: 5/5

Budget: 5/5

Overall Experience: 5/5

Will We Visit Again: Yes. Good Dog has good food at good prices and every time we’ve been there the service has been great. Not a place that will blow your mind with its offerings, but a great place to relax and grab a bite and a beer.