The folks with the Redbirds not only built a world-class park, but they've also made sure that fans are well-fed.
"Our fans don't worry about where to go to dinner before the game," explains Michael Brulator, general manager of Ovations Food Services, "We try to offer a well-rounded menu with something for everyone."
I dined on perfectly seasoned fried catfish, roasted corn and my favorite -- a Rendezvous brisket sandwich slathered with horseradish cream and the restaurant's famous dry rub. My husband kept his barbecue nachos, the park's best-selling item, for himself. I didn't get get a single bite . . .
AutoZone Park also takes ballpark basics to a new level with The Big Dog, a half-pound hot dog slathered with homemade chili, cheese and onion rings, and its micro-brew selection of beers on tap.
The park also has a special cart for heart-healthy items such as fruit plates and turkey paninis, as well as a booth just for kids' goodies.
If you still have room, you should try the ice cream nachos for dessert. Yes, you read correctly: a big plastic helmet filled with soft-serve ice cream, chocolate sauce and cinnamon-sugar- encrusted tortilla chips.
There are only two more home stands before the season ends, so head down to AutoZone Park -- and go hungry!
Taste of the Garden
On Saturday, the Memphis Botanic Garden hosts an "herbal tea party" as part of its Taste of the Garden Family Cooking and Gardening Workshop Series.
From 10 a.m. to noon, Sabine Baltz of Fratelli's in the Garden will make mint tea, herbed goat cheese and tomato salad. In addition, horticulturist Sherri McCalla will discuss growing and harvesting herbs. The cost is $6 per adult and $4 per child ($20 maximum per family). Call 576-4116 for reservations.
Tuscany, the latest restaurant by Glenn and Martha Hays of La Tourelle and Cafe 1912, opens tomorrow at 2146 Monroe.
Tuscany will serve Northern Italian food at moderate prices, in a casual setting. Open for dinner only Wednesday through Sunday, Tuscany will also offer a Sunday brunch that can be ordered either a la carte or as three courses for $20. Reservations are recommended; call 726-5771.
Ciao Bella at 552 S. Mendenhall is still open despite prior reports that it would close at the end of July.
Having lost its lease (only one restaurant can be in that strip mall at a time, and a Pei Wei is moving in elsewhere in the strip), Ciao Bella is looking for a new location. However, since Pei Wei has yet to start construction on its restaurant, Ciao Bella owner Judd Tashie has requested to stay in his current location until Pei Wei opens. We'll keep you posted.
Longtime Midtown favorite Marena's has closed. Chef/owner Morteza Gerani will be opening a new place in Brookhaven Circle with the Marciano Corp.
Taking its place will be Roustica.
Featuring American Contemporary cuisine, Roustica is the brainchild of chef Kevin Rains, formerly of Equestria Restaurant and EJ's Brasserie.
"The name Roustica was derived from 'rustic,' being everything will be made from scratch including bread and pasta," explains Rains. Roustica is scheduled to open the beginning of September.
Smoothie King has opened a new location in East Memphis at 2801 Kirby Parkway. In celebration of the opening, all retail items at the Kirby location are 15 percent off for the entire month of August.
Starting this week, Encore Restaurant is offering valet parking at its Second Street entrance. The charge is $7.
New on The Grove Grill's Sunday brunch menu is roast prime rib of beef and eggs, as well as huevos fritos with chorizo potato hash. Old favorites such as crab cake benedict and cinnamon french toast are still on the new menu, too. If you bring in your church bulletin, you will get 10 percent off.
Memphis on The Food Network
Tune into The Food Network on Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. to see Memphis sites on Alton Brown's "Feasting on Asphalt." While in town last week, Brown visited the Pink Palace Museum to see its full-size reproduction of the first Piggly Wiggly store, dined on ribs at Jim Neely's Interstate Bar-B-Q, sipped on cherry shakes at Wiles-Smith Drug Store and enjoyed chitlins at Melanie's Soul Food.
Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.