GO HARD IN THE YARD

Ed­i­bles, cock­tails put fun in laid-back Down­town venue

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - GO EAT DINING REVIEWS, BEST BETS & MORE - By Jen­nifer Biggs

When Loflin Yard opened, a friend’s first re­sponse was that it re­minded him of out­door venues in France. Mo­ments later, he looked around and said no, no — it re­minded him of Texas. Af­ter go­ing back and forth, he pro­nounced it to be in the style of “France meets Texas.”

Works for me, as hav­ing a place like Loflin Yard in Down­town Mem­phis is about as un­likely as French-texan fu­sion. It’s one of the most laid-back and fun spots in town, and the food and drink help make it so.

WHAT IT IS

Loflin Yard is eight Down­town lots adding up to about an acre, an­chored at the north­east cor­ner by the old Loflin Safe & Lock Co., which is where the main bar is. It also houses the kitchen. Most of the cook­ing is done in an out­side kitchen at­tached to the build­ing, there are a few ta­bles around the bar, and it’s where you or­der food from an out­side win­dow

Walk out the west door onto a pa­tio that over­looks a small water­fall, rem­nants of Gayoso Bayou,

once the source of the city’s water. Be­yond that is a wide ex­panse of lawn called the Front Yard, cov­ered in plas­tic Adiron­dack chairs, pic­nic ta­bles and big fans (and heaters will come when the weather de­mands it). The Coach House, a large event cen­ter that houses a much­needed sec­ond bar, is on the far side of the lawn. On other side of the Coach House (you can walk right through) is the Back Yard, an­other large out­door area bounded by rail­road cars.

Bands play on the porch of the Coach House, and so do kids.— of all ages. Pick up a gui­tar and pick away, if you want. Play a game A side dish of grilled corn is served Mex­i­can street style — on the cob, slathered in may­on­naise with lime and rolled in cotija cheese (sim­i­lar to Parme­san).

of rings. Run around with your well-be­haved dog.

This is, as co-owner Michael Tauer said, Down­town’s back­yard.

The food

Al­most ev­ery­thing comes from the smoky out­door kitchen, but I haven’t tasted any­thing that was too smoky — some­thing that turns me off. But it’s a good time to men­tion that a good foodie friend, a fre­quent re­view­ing part­ner, finds that the food isn’t smoky enough to suit him. This is per­sonal pref­er­ence, and liv­ing in Mem­phis, you’re bound to know how you like your smoke.

Three times I’ve tried the brisket, and I’ve been im­pressed with its ten­der­ness and fla­vor each time. Pull it with your fin­gers, eat it with a fork — you don’t need a knife. But while I’m a pro­po­nent of rea­son­able por­tions, I un­der­stood the com­plaints from my din­ing com­pan­ions when we re­ceived three slices for $14. They were hearty slices, but still. The $17 smoked trout, head and tail re­moved so it was about a 5-inch piece of fish, didn’t do much to stop their com­plain­ing. But it was a lovely piece of fish, stuffed with tar­ragon and lemon.

The grilled corn, served Mex­i­can street style — on the cob, slathered in mayo with lime, rolled in cotija cheese (sim­i­lar to Parme­san) — was fab­u­lous, as it tends to be.

And the sausages, made by butcher Aaron Win­ters at Miss Cordelia’s in Har­bor Town, were ex­cel­lent. So were the smoked chicken wings.

Lunch is served Fri­day through Sun­day, and we’ll try to ar­range for a CA Fri­day Lunch there. It’s po’boys and sal­ads, and we went with one of each. The wa­ter­melon salad with feta and arugula will pre­sum­ably fall from the menu when the weather changes, but the grilled ro­maine should stay. Both were good though not par­tic­u­larly in­spired. The big sur­prise — we’ll get to the po’boys — was the coleslaw made with peanut but­ter.

I hated it when I was a child and I don’t like it now, but I fig­ured I’d try the slaw de­spite the peanut but­ter (a plain mayo ver­sion is also avail­able). It was sort of a goopy mess, This Ten­nessee Whiskey old Fash­ioned is just one of­fer­ing on a packed drink menu at loflin Yard. Spe­cialty cock­tails are pre­pared with strong spir­its, liqueurs and bit­ter­sweet amari.

but a de­li­cious one as the PB was sea­soned with chilis, cut with acid and had a slightly — just barely — Asian hint to it. Try it.

You sure can’t com­plain about be­ing un­der­fed at lunch. The po’boys are ex­cel­lent and huge. We or­der the black­ened shrimp and the pork loin, and didn’t fin­ish half of ei­ther. They were piled high with pro­tein and top­pings — ré­moulade, let­tuce and tomato on the for­mer and braised red cab­bage and spicy aioli on the lat­ter. We sat near a fan, but the flies were bad; this should be reme­died now that the weather has cooled.

The Drinks

They had me at bar­relaged cock­tails. Are you kid­ding me? Put a Boule­vardier in a cask and let it sit a few weeks, and you get my respect. At Loflin, the sig­na­ture cock­tails are right up my al­ley, pre­pared with strong spir­its, liqueurs and bit­ter­sweet amari, those lovely herba­ceous di­ges­tifs. The way I see it, there are those who love amari and those who will come to love them. Loflin is one of sev­eral places in town to get to know new and in­ter­est­ing cock­tails, so pull out the menu and take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity.

I heard the Key lime pie is great at Hous­ton’s, so I stopped by to have a slice. I asked Ge­of­frey Knowl­ton, who was hav­ing lunch when I was there, if he’d ever eaten the pie.

“They have them bring it to me up­side down so I can eat the crust first,” Knowl­ton said.

Enough said. I asked for the Key lime pie right side up.

I loved it. It may be one of the best pies I’ve eaten. It was in­cred­i­bly fla­vor­ful. And I got a hefty slice in­stead of the sliv­ers I get when I or­der pie at some places.

“It’s more zesty than a nor­mal Key lime pie,” said bar­tender Hec­tor Martinez.

“It’s a per­fect com­bi­na­tion of sweet and tart,” said fel­low bar­tender Za­mon­treal Rodgers.

“It’s sim­ple and good, but dif­fer­ent,” said Hous­ton’s gen­eral man­ager, Al­li­son Strue­bing.

Pecans make the dif­fer­ence, she said. “We grind the pecans with cin­na­mon. That’s part of the gra­ham cracker crust. So they meld right into it.”

They also add pecans to the whip­ping cream that tops the pie, Strue­bing said.

The fill­ing is made with lime juice, sweet­ened con­densed milk, egg yolks, lime zest and heavy cream, she said.

Key lime pie isn’t on the menu; you have to ask for it. They carry it “as long as we can get good, juicy limes,” Strue­bing said. “If we don’t get good limes, we back off for a while.”

A slice is $8, but if you want to or­der a whole pie, which costs $56, call 24 hours in ad­vance. “There’s a de­posit for the pie pan so we get it back.”

If you want to start with the crust, you can turn the pan up­side down, dump the pie out and be­gin eat­ing.

Hous­ton’s, 5000 Poplar, (901)-683-0915.

PHO­TOS BY BRAN­DON DILL/SPE­CIAL TO THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

This sausage plate with chanterelle mush­rooms from Loflin Yard is served with a va­ri­ety of pep­pers and pick­les and over­sized toasted crack­ers. The Mem­phis-made sausages are the work of butcher Aaron Win­ters at Miss Cordelia’s in Har­bor Town.

PHO­TOS BY Bran­don Dill/spe­cial To THE Com­mer­cial AP­PEAL

Phoebe Plum­ley, 11, hoops it up while hang­ing out with her fam­ily (from left) eric Plum­ley, Amie Plum­ley and Frank Plum­ley, 8, at loflin Yard, which boasts kid-friendly Front Yard and Back Yard ar­eas. loflin Yard co-owner Michael Tauer calls the spot Down­town’s back­yard.

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