I have always dreamed of going on a road trip to Memphis, home of the blues, barbecue and B.B. King. For me, nothing beats the blues.
I thought The Twisted Tail, a new restaurant at Headhouse Square that once housed Kildare’s, featured barbecue, but the blues are king.
The dining areas are painted a depressing deep battleship gray, although there is a section with a bit of orange. Edward and I had dinner at the bar and returned for Sunday brunch where we sat at very comfortable light, shiny wood tables and chairs.
The bar is covered in a sticky material that was uncomfortable to the touch. The bartender not only mixed a fine Rob Roy for me and a martini for Edward, but made some recommendations from the menu.
We began dinner with dueling ribs ($12), roasted duck spring rolls ($8) and shared a smoked tomato salad ($10).
The ribs were a cute play on surf and turf. According to the menu, the pork ribs were St. Louis Wuxi Asian and the sea portion was pacu fish, which were both new to us. I have to say the dish was a bit imaginative and tasty. The dipping sauces were not too sweet or spicy.
The duck spring rolls were made with confit and were the usual run-of-the-mill variety. They needed more flavor, but the grilled vegetables and red cabbage were a nice contrast.
We could not detect a smoky flavor in the tomato salad although the vegetables were ripe and bursting with summer flavor. Slightly spicy arugula, baby greens, fragrant cucumber and pickled heirloom peppers were a tasty fillip to the salad.
The bartender helped me to select a glass of beer to go with dinner. She offered a sip of three before I decided on Left Hand Sawtooth ($5.50) from Colorado. It drank well with the daily special, which was pork belly made with Granny Smith apples ($19). I prefer real creamy buttery whipped potatoes but the bartender said “try them, you will love them.” First, my dinner arrived cold. The pork and greens were cold and the mashed potatoes were dreadful and cold. It was whisked away and I received a hot meal. Plain, lumpy mashed potatoes replaced the fancy ones but I still did not like them. The pork on the other hand, was nicely prepared.
Edward’s veal osso bucco brûlée ($22) was a disaster. The entire dish, including the homemade veal ravioli, was cold. The ravioli served in a charred tomato broth tasted like they just had come from the fridge. The veal was gray and lukewarm.
As our plates were whisked away, Edward noticed an entrée being returned to the kitchen as well. A gentleman, who may have been a manager, apologized and brought us complimentary flat bread ($9) to nosh on as our dinners were remade. It was nice — topped with tomatoes, grilled sausage, some creamy ricotta and oregano.
Edward sipped a glass of Dotes du Rhone ($10) when he received his new dinner. It was just all right. The veal lacked flavor, but the ravioli were OK.
Sunday brunch began with the homemade breakfast basket of scones, cornbread and sticky buns ($5). They were heated in the oven and came out so downright delicious we could not get enough of them. Soft whipped butter added to the goodness of the scones that were studded with dried cranberries.
The bloody marys ($8) lacked depth and richness in flavor. All I tasted was salt and some horseradish.
Edward loves chocolate chip pancakes ($9). Several buttermilk flapjacks dusted with powdered sugar arrived cold. My three-cheese frittata ($8) was brown and rubbery on the bottom and also was cold. Our food was whisked away again. I asked for a frittata made with cheddar and spinach. On the second try, Edward’s pancakes were not cold, but lukewarm. My frittata was a little hotter, but the cheddar imparted a nasty chalky aftertaste.
At least the American blues kept us from falling too far into the dining blues.
One tip of the toque to The Twisted Tail. SPR
Laura Catlaw grew up in the 1980s, but she knows the songs of the ’50s and ’60s hold a distinctive, American sound.