Back in January 2015, Cozy Corner in Memphis suffered a fire, and in March opened a temporary location across the street at Encore Cafe.
The ‘old’ Cozy Corner had its own unique atmosphere. The new space is open but somewhat dark, and has a different vibe. When Shugie dropped an entire container of baked beans which splattered in a large area in the middle of the restaurant on the way to the trash container, no employee (they were watching) came to help me clean it up. Other customers just watched. In fact, another patron came to the very table I was kneeling beside and I was just about to say, “oh, it’s so kind of you to help me with this, but you don’t have to” when he reached over me to grab some napkins out of its dispenser and walked off. Know how we all help someone with a spill or somesuch? No camaraderie that day.
And when we were leaving, some people in the parking lot were arguing loudly (not enough to call the police, but enough that I shuffled the boys to the car in a hurry).
It was just a different mood all-around. And while I’m piling on, they serve the food in big full-size styrofoam containers whether you’re eating in or not, so there goes a million+ years in the landfill.
The overall taste is something I didn’t ‘get’ either (and I’m in the minority on this). The meat of the cornish hen had no flavor, smoke or otherwise, and was dry. There was so much sauce on top and all around that it seemed as though the inside was just a vehicle for sauce delivery.
We also ordered for the table: bologna sandwich, beef sandwich, and a rib / wing plate. The beef sandwich was the best among them, but that’s not saying much.
We’re working our way through Memphis barbecue — besides Cozy Corner, we’ve been to Rendezvous, Neely’s (now closed), Corky’s, Tops, Jim Neely’s Interstate, and Central.
We still need to get to BBQ Shop, Elwood’s, Pollard’s, Leonard’s, A and R, One and Only, Marlowe’s, and Germantown Commissary.
Last month, Dan Conaway in the Memphis Daily News went on abut how ‘if it doesn’t involve a dead pig, it’s not barbecue’ — a sentiment widely held outside Texas, but he does bring up some universal truths:
…Barbecue is not a verb. You don’t barbecue anything. If you’re fortunate enough to be given the skill, and you have a whole pig or some portion thereof, you can cook, or smoke, or make, or fix a whole mess of barbecue. You don’t eat a process.
Barbecue is not a place or a device. I’m not going to a barbecue, just like I’m not going to the corner of steak and onion rings. If there’s anything red hot on my patio, I’m not calling it a barbecue, and I’m not putting anything on a barbecue except slaw and sauce. You don’t eat an event. Or grill. Or cooker. Or pit.
Myron Mixon with Jack’s Old South won Memphis in May again this year.