Archive for the Memphis Mae's (Croton-on-Hudson) Category

Memphis Mae’s BBQ Bistro

Posted in Memphis Mae's (Croton-on-Hudson) on May 8, 2009 by jaydel818

Croton Commons
173 South Riverside Avenue
Croton-on-Hudson, New York

5 Second Summary:

Price Range- Entrees $15-24 (at time of posting)
Ambiance- Cozy, bring-the-family bistro
Cuisine- Southern barbeque
Hits- Mix of Texas, Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Memphis styles, smoky flavors from a variety of fruitwoods/hickory/oak/pecan, friendly service
Misses- If you’re not from the area, it can be tough to find (even with GPS!).
Admittedly, I’ve waited awhile to post this write-up.  It’s kind-of a funny story, and I owe Memphis Mae’s a very roundabout debt of gratitude.  You see, it was after eating at this comfort-food classic that I first learned I had a terrible food allergy.

Make no mistake— we had a great dinner there.  On the way home, I felt woozy, and within an hour I was reenacting Linda Blair in The Exorcist. My first reaction was, “Ugh.  Bad shellfish.  Now what in the heck am I going to write about this place on the blog?!?”

However, a week later, at a different restaurant, I had a shrimp entree again with a similar reaction.  No hives.  No throat-closing.  Just massive gastrointestinal upheaval.  Both times, no one else eating the shellfish had gotten sick.  Just me.  I had no idea that food allergies could come on so suddenly and unexpectedly, or that they could take such a form.  At the prompting of several friends, I visited an allergist and discovered a shiny, brand-new shellfish allergy, which coincides rather poorly with my food blogging habit.

At any rate, I heartily apologize to Memphis Mae’s for even temporarily thinking that they might have been responsible for my mishap.  In truth, our dinner there was incredible, and my only regret is that I’ll have to choose another plate next time.

My boyfriend Rich and I arrived on time and simply couldn’t endure the sensuous smells long enough to wait for my dad and brother, Mike, who got lost en route.  Scanning the entire menu, which was neatly printed on a chalkboard over the bar, we made some quick but wise picks.  In no time flat, we scarfed down an order of fried pickles and a plateful of the house-smoked Memphis BBQ chicken wings, which had a fruit-sweet flavor mixed with vinegar tang.  The waiter seemed surprised when I said the sauce tasted “fruity,” so I guess that isn’t what they were going for.  They did have a rounded sweetness I can only associate with a fruit scent, and they were big, meaty, and crisp with charred, smoked edges.

While we waited, Rich made friends with our waiter, discussing the merits of a variety of hot sauces, which ultimately resulted in a “how-hot-can-you-handle” hot sauce dare among the three men at the table.

When they finally arrived, true to form, my dad and brother ordered a repeat of our appetizers, nodding between chomps to indicate their approval.  The fried pickles were sliced lengthwise into quarters, marinated in jalapeno brine, breaded, and finally fried crisp.  I probably would’ve enjoyed them more sans the jalapeno heat, but such is Southern style.  (I know my own subjectivity and compensate by bringing a full pack of tissues to any tasting that might involve spice.)

For dinner, I had the Memphis-style BBQ sauteed shrimp, which -for the record- was absolutely delicious: large, crisp, and soaked in a flavorful, reddish-brown soup of “plate sauce.”  Two sides ( or “fixin’s”) came with each entree, and I had chosen Hoppin’ John rice, a “dirty” rice dish peppered with… well, peppers, onions, and black-eyed peas, and Drunken Yams, scalloped yams with an orange-bourbon sauce.  The rice was a carb-lover’s dream and, frankly, a very welcome respite from spice that cooled down my palate about ten degrees.  Although one expects any yam dish to be sweet, the drunken yams were a bit too sweet.  The orange was a nice side note, but the bourbon didn’t come through quite as much.  Perhaps a bit of kosher salt might have toned down some of the hyperactive sugars.  The plate was topped off with a rectangle of Tennessee buttermilk cornbread, which was gone before one could even say the words “Tennessee buttermilk cornbread.”

A host of down-home desserts beckoned, including “Mae’s Famous Nana Puddin’  ” (banana pudding), “Smokey Mountain Chocolate Nut Pie” (with house-smoked pecans and walnuts), bite-sized breaded and fried banana pudding nuggets served with chocolate sauce (as if banana pudding weren’t delicious enough), and plain ol’ pecan pie.  After burning their throats with punishing hot sauce attempts, the boys weren’t up to dessert.  Although my taste buds were tempted, the straining top button on my jeans begged me not to tempt fate.

This nondescript storefront in a seemingly innocuous strip mall turned out to be a surprisingly delish meal.  The staff was friendly and welcoming, and the portions were substantial.  Great barbeque is too often served in unapologetic dives, as if the proprietors can only focus on food or decor, not both.  However, with its brown, tin-tile ceiling and clever old cable fans amid warm yellow walls, Memphis Mae’s offered both food and ambiance.  It seemed like the type of place where families were welcome, but it would also be great for an adults-only, good-food-and-good-friends dinner.

Whether eating in or taking out, the authentic Southern style and large portions demand that you check your Weight Watchers points at the door.  Would I go back? Absolutely.

Now if only I could kick this shellfish allergy.  Alas… have EpiPen, will travel! 🙂