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Table Talk: Downtown Dining Week, Erling’s in the Doubletree, Bog & Barley restaurant coming soon

Welcome back to Table Talk, where Daily Memphian food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to your inbox every Wednesday.

I’ll have a story about this coming soon, but you need to mark your calendars and make your reservations now: Downtown Dining Week is Nov. 1-7 and this year 57 restaurants are participating. That’s so far, as there might be a few added before it starts. 

Let this be your save-the-date notice; popular places fill up fast so you need to make reservations now. Maciel’s, Catherine & Mary’s, the Rendezvous, The Majestic Grille, Backlot, Cima’s — the list has something for everyone. Felicia Suzanne’s is on it, as it has been from the beginning (chef/owner Felicia Willett was a founder of Downtown Dining Week). This will be the last one in her building as she’s moving in a few months, so take advantage of this week to sit on that great patio one more time.


Last week I took a few days off, but I started my staycation (can you call it that when it’s all house and yard work?) at the DoubleTree in East Memphis sampling some of the dishes that will be on the menu at Erling Jensen Small Bites, the restaurant that will open in the hotel later this month. Topgolf Swing Suite is part of the new place, so there are two bays in the center of the restaurant, each with big interactive screens where you can play games from golf to zombie dodgeball. 


Chef Erling Jensen (left) and Pace Copper (right) CEO of Cooper Hotel, announced on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, they are teaming up for a small bites restaurant including a Topgolf Swing Suites inside the Doubletree on Sanderlin. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian)

As I ended the week a bit sick from a reaction to my flu shot, I had a friend pick up my plate from the Memphis Greek Festival. At least I got my kourambiethes fix, even if I didn’t have all the fun. But the DM’s Julia Baker went to the festival and you can click here to read about it; the most important thing to know, though, is that it will be back in May 2022. 


A selection of Greek pastries are seen during the Memphis Greek Festival at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. (Brad Vest/Special to The Daily Memphian)

I’ve watched the pastry volunteers make kourambiethes for years, but only this year, as I took a bite of one still warm, just dusted in a heavy coat of powdered sugar, did I realize how much they remind me of the pecan crescent cookies my late mother-in-law made at Christmas.


I helped her make these cookies in her later years and they were a bit of a pain. The dough is so soft that we’d have to stop to refrigerate it a few times during the process, but they turn out those kourambiethes by the hundreds at the church. I’m making them this year, and am sharing a recipe with you today. We’ll all need to practice before the holidays, so line those countertops with butcher paper, sift on the powdered sugar and get to it. 


The dusting of kourambiethes is done on long tables at Annunication Greek Orthodox Church in preparation for the annual Memphis Greek Festival. (Jennifer Biggs/Daily Memphian)

I missed this while I was out last week, but can tell you it’s exciting restaurant news to me. DJ Naylor, owner of Celtic Crossing and the best whiskey-tasting host around, is opening Bog & Barley in the Regalia Shopping Center in Spring 2022. Unconfirmed word is that it’s in the former Great Wines & Spirits, which will make the center of the upscale center a nice little dining nook with Salsa, Ronnie Grisanti’s, Paradise Café and Sweet Lala’s Bakery as immediate neighbors.

Part of the excitement is that the chef will be Reny Alfonso, back in Memphis and now working for Naylor to overhaul the menu at Celtic. You’ll remember him from his 6-year run at Chez Philippe; he’s an excellent chef and this is a super team. I’ll keep up with what’s going on and fill you in as the project gets moving.

What a fall weekend we have before us! The Memphis Food & Wine Festival returns after skipping 2020 for COVID, and the chef lineup is impressive and the wines, divine. We’re giving away two pair of tickets, which is a niiiice gift. Click here to enter and good luck! 


Chef co-chairmen Jose Gutierrez and Wally Joe came to the studio to talk about the upcoming events on Sound Bites, and you can listen to it by clicking here, plus read my earlier story about the festival by clicking here. 

Also this weekend, there’s a Brewfest and Brunchfest at the Liberty Bowl, proving the old saw about when it rains it pours. Tickets are still available (and you must buy online as you can’t buy at the gate). Click on this link to get to the Eventbrite page to buy tickets for either event. 

Brewfest is Oct. 16, 3-7 p.m. and includes more than 50 beers to sample, some local, some regional, some from afar. Tickets are $45 plus fees. Brunchfest begins at noon Oct. 17 and you get your tickets at the same place; they’re $50 and include mimosas and Bloody Marys as well as brunch foods.

Finally, Big Bad Breakfast opened last week (also while I was out), but I made it over on Monday and had a mighty fine breakfast. Read New Eats to see what it tastes like when John Currence comes to East Memphis.


Huevos rancheros (left) and redneck benny are two of the numerous breakfast dishes at Big Bad Breakfast, which also has a smaller lunch menu. (Jennifer Biggs/Daily Memphian)

Have a lovely week, friends. I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy some of the weekend activities but even if you’re not, at least get out and enjoy the cool temps. It’s definitely sweater weather and for the first time in years (I’m a summer person), I can’t wait.

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