DINE

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - BEST BETS: - By Michael Don­ahue

I had to check out the “Ge­orge Lapi­des Spe­cial” at Mis­ter B’s restau­rant af­ter Rabbi Micah Green­stein men­tioned it dur­ing a memo­rial for the late sports broad­caster at Tem­ple Is­rael. Lapi­des, who was 76, died June 14 af­ter a three-year bat­tle with an in­cur­able lung dis­ease.

Lapi­des was a col­league of mine at the old Mem­phis-press Scim­i­tar. The sports depart­ment, where Lapi­des was ed­i­tor, was next to the fea­tures depart­ment, where I worked. I re­mem­ber once be­ing paired with him for a dou­bles ten­nis match. I played ter­ri­bly and we lost. In mock (or maybe it wasn’t mock) an­guish, Lapi­des col­lapsed on the court and just lay there. That was the only time we played ten­nis to­gether, which prob­a­bly was fine with him.

The last time I saw Lapi­des was at Oak Hall. He car­ried his por­ta­ble oxy­gen tank with the de­light of a tart of pas­sion fruit curd topped with fresh fruit.

Be­fore you in­dulge, you can eat a nice meal of lean pro­tein and healthy greens with a chicken salad, or get your grain on with a quinoa salad.

When I’ve vis­ited re­cently, the mer­cury has been a touch too high for a hot soup. So I passed on chicken and an­douille, but was happy to order a cup of cold av­o­cado and cu­cum­ber soup to go with my sand­wich. It’s a go-to sum­mer soup for me, light and fresh but creamy enough from the av­o­cado that it’s a bit lush, a bit in­dul­gent. It’s del­i­cately sea­soned with just salt and pep­per, as far as I could tell, and ex­cel­lent with a cold sand­wich of pesto, roasted tomato and moz­zarella, sort of a cap­rese salad on bread.

We also tried a brisket Reuben, which was OK same ease he’d wear one of the store’s Ermenegildo Zegna ties. He still was the same Ge­orge Lapi­des — in­ter­ested and in­ter­est­ing.

Lapi­des and his wife, Bar­bara, were reg­u­lars at the restau­rant, said Mis­ter B’s owner Theresa Baker. “Prob­a­bly 10 years they’d been com­ing in,” she said. “He was eat­ing our craw­fish étouf­fée and he de­cided he wanted it over wild rice on a plat­ter. So, he started talk­ing about it on the ra­dio and he said, ‘You’ve got to go to Mis­ter B’s, but order that étouf­fée this way.’ That would be Ge­orge.”

Their reg­u­lar craw­fish étouf­fée is a soup that comes in a cup or a bowl, Baker said. She de­scribed it as “very thick soup — craw­fish tails in a creamy base with mush­rooms, pep­pers, onions and a blend of spe­cial herbs and spices.”

“He didn’t want it in soup form,” said Baker’s hus­band, Russ Pen­ninger, who works at the restau­rant.

They still of­fer the soup on There are few ta­bles in the din­ing area near the gift shop. But there are plenty of shady spots out­doors to en­joy lunch while tak­ing in the gar­den views.

but felt a bit skimpy for $10. All of the sand­wiches, in fact, were more like a home­made por­tions than what you typ­i­cally find in a restau­rant, but the por­tions were ad­e­quate (two of us didn’t fin­ish two sand­wiches, shared soup and potato salad). Still, on a sand­wich that is gen­er­ally hearty, I think the beef could’ve used a bit of beef­ing up.

The best of the lot was the turkey with Swiss the menu, but Baker said, “Ev­ery­body started com­ing in and ask­ing for the étouf­fée the way Ge­orge Lapi­des liked it. Last year, we up­dated our menus and we put his spe­cial on the menu be­cause we had so many peo­ple ask for it. Peo­ple came in and said, ‘Can I get the Ge­orge Lapi­des spe­cial?’ So, we said, ‘OK. We’re just go­ing to name it that.’”

I love the dish, which is spicy, but not over­whelm­ingly so. You get a hefty por­tion, so if you’re or­der­ing some­thing else, you eas­ily can split it.

Lapi­des, who of­ten vis­ited the restau­rant three times a week for lunch and/or din­ner, “had a pas­sion for life and things he be­lieved in,” Baker said. “Es­pe­cially Mis­ter B’s. When he would talk about Mis­ter B’s on the ra­dio we knew what­ever he sug­gested for the day peo­ple would come in and order it. We would all lis­ten for what­ever he would say. That would be the meal of the day.”

An­other one of my mem­o­ries

cheese, av­o­cado and roasted tomato. It’s a grilled sand­wich, ob­vi­ously served warm and the heat did a lit­tle trick on the toma­toes and av­o­cado, fus­ing a near-gua­camole cre­ation that worked great.

A bit of a dis­ap­point­ment to me re­flects more on my in­abil­ity to re­mem­ber than on the sand­wich. Ham, Gruyere and fig sounds divine to this fig fa­natic, but of course I

should’ve known that the sand­wich would be made with fig pre­serves, not fresh figs (still a cou­ple of weeks away from lo­cal har­vest). It was too sweet for me, and I’ve made this mis­take more than once: I see “fig” on the menu and think I’ll love the item, but it’s re­ally just the fresh fig that I dig.

WRAP UP

The Ge­orge Lapi­des Spe­cial at Mis­ter B’s restau­rant in Ger­man­town.

of the iconic sports­caster dates to Oct. 31, 1983, when the PressScim­i­tar shut its doors for good. Be­fore the paper folded on that date, Lapi­des made sure ev­ery­body on his staff had a job. I’ll never for­get that.

Park + Cherry (named for the streets that in­ter­sect at the north­east cor­ner of the prop­erty) does what it does very well, but it’s lim­ited by space and by plan. It’s not like The Brush­mark was or like Fratelli’s Café at Mem­phis Botanic Gar­den, but it’s a nice lit­tle spot and one worth ex­plor­ing when you’re in the mu­seum or the gen­eral area. Out­side of lunch hours, to-go food is avail­able (hum­mus, prepacked sand­wiches and so on), and the restau­rant is part of Food Truck Fri­day, which runs through Septem­ber at Dixon.

So, maybe they need to add a hy­phen to the name of that Mis­ter B’s dish and make it “Ge­orge Lapi­des — Spe­cial.”

Mr. B’s is at 6655 Po­plar in Ger­man­town; 901-751-5262

MICHAEL DON­AHUE/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

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