Reviews

New York’s WPIX Morning News Review of Memphis Mae’s BBQ Bistro

UP NORTH, SOUTHERN COOKING.

The Journal News by Judith Hausman

jounalnewspicThe look at Memphis Mae’s BBQ Bistro is comfy and cool: wood, ochre-and caramel walls, snug booths. There’s even a civilized place to wait for takeout: a bench (outside) or the bar area (inside) and fancy chairs. The food is also comfy and cool, with down home cooking.

“We wanted first to bring Southern barbecue to Northern Westchester; it just hadn’t made it’s way up here, But we also wanted to expand the concept to include Southern comfort food.”

The menu comes from all over the South: Louisiana Abita beers, sweet tea, catfish and oyster po’ boys. The barbecue encompass just as much geography: there are Carolina, Texas and Tennessee styles, served with a square of sweetish cornbread, a wedge of watermelon and a choice of “fixin’s,” such as mac ‘n’ cheese, Hoppin’ John and collard greens.

There are also new-fangled dishes. Try hush puppies made with house-smoked catfish or pulled chicken instead of pulled pork. A modest amount of barbecued brisket or shrimp is piled on top of romaine lettuce, and served with a spoonful of smoked corn salad and barbecue ranch dressing.

Specialty ribs – the best seller – can be ordered wet-mopped or dry-rubbed, and the spice doesn’t push the envelope. (If you like a burn, you’ll have to turn up the heat with vinegar or hot sauce from the table squeeze bottles”.

Memphis Mae’s signature dessert is the smooth banana pudding, but there’s also pecan pie, brownie sundae, upside-down cake made with grilled fruit and a very sweet peach-blueberry crisp. After all, a Southern cook would sooner let you get away without wearing the hat and boots than without trying dessert.

Croton Cookout – Memphis Mae’s BBQ Bistro serves up comfort food.

In-Town Magazine by Mary Lynn Mitcham

Croton-Cookout-PicBy Friday night, I’m ready for two things: a cold beer and a casual dinner that I don’t have to cook. And while this isn’t hard to find in most of Westchester, Croton is an exception. Fortunately, there’s a new game in town: Memphis Mae’s BBQ Bistro. Located in the Croton Commons near the ever-popular Coach Nails, the restaurant opened last March with a barbecue menu that’s about as southern as s Scarlett O’Hara.

Inside, you’ll find a long, lean dining room that’s dimly lit and whimsical with light birch floors, simple wooden tables and chairs, and framed posters from Memphis’s Beale Street Music Festival. During the day, the place feels like a café. There’s no rush, no competitive table-turning, though instead of drinking coffee, you’ll fill up on chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp—all smoked over flavorful woods like hickory and oak.

“Memphis” may get top billing in the restaurant’s name, but the recipes hail from barbeque hot spots all over the country. Appetizers include catfish puppies from Mississippi (fried cornmeal with catfish mixed in), Georgia fried green tomatoes, and Idaho saddlebags (potatoes stuffed with pulled pork, chicken, catfish, or veggies). But the truth is, given that the entrées come with corn bread plus two “fixins,” you don’t really need an appetizer at all.

Even without the decadent sides, the entrées are filling. One of my favorites is the BBQ chicken and rib combo. The chicken had a nice crispy barbecue skin, but the meat inside was moist and flavorful. The ribs are offered wet or dry—as in, Do you like your barbecue flavor wet and saucy or rubbed in? The waiter recommended trying them wet and I was glad I did. The meat was soft and falling off the bone, and the sauce added a tangy bite. My husband’s “BBQ Road Trip,” a combination platter of Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, and three ribs, was equally satisfying, though the tasty pork and ribs easily outshined the brisket, which was stringy and flavorless except for the sauce.

Desserts, too, followed a southern,diets-be-damned mentality. The Mississippi mud pie, a blonde-brownie-like cake topped with peanuts, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream, was tasty, but Mae’s “Nana Puddin,” a delicious square of creamy pudding with fresh bananas throughout, was outstanding. Each bite went down effortlessly, which at least in my mind, seems like an ideal way to end a Friday night.