TGIF: The Growler

growler oxford msBy Danny Toma, staff writer

As a college town, Oxford has never lacked for a place to drink, even back when it was not legal to do so. There are all manner of student bars, sports bars, and music bars, where the common theme is large crowds, loud noise, and good times–some of which might even be remembered the next day.

But one thing Oxford had been lacking was a quiet place to enjoy a drink–a place where you could go to have a civilized conversation with friends or even relax by yourself to contemplate life and what it has to offer. No longer. Since September of 2014, Oxford is now home to the Growler, a craft beer bar for those of us who are looking for high quality beers and ales and a pleasant place in which to enjoy them.

Business is growing by leaps and bounds at Growler, showing that the bar has fulfilled a long-time need in Oxford, and it’s no surprise. Their taps dispense beer of the highest craftsmanship, and, what’s more, they have a commitment to highlighting Mississippi beers. Mississippi beers? Absolutely! The craft brew movement has really taken off in the Magnolia State, and you can now find as good a beer produced here as anywhere else in the country. Brewers such as Yalobusha (located just down the road in Water Valley), Lucky Town (Jackson), Lazy Magnolia (Kiln), Southern Prohibition (Hattiesburg), and Crooked Legrowler oxford ms 3tter (Ocean Springs) are all featured at the Growler, which typically dedicates between one-third and one-half its taps to Mississippi beers.

The rest of the taps are mostly filled with other regional brews, such as Abita, Wiseacre, Yazoo, and Sweetwater, but these rotate more regularly. Some of the more popular national craft beers, such as Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada, are also often available. Not a beer drinker? Don’t worry. The Growler is now carrying Memphis’ own Smith and Forge cider. For the designated drivers and teetotalers among you, they have Abita’s very fine root beer on draught. For solid sustenance, the Growler features an ever-changing menu of food items, ranging from sandwiches (using Oxford’s own Honeybee Bakery breads) to various types of bar foods.

growler oxford ms 4New events are in the works for the Growler. They’ve recently acquired a dual-chamber infusion system for flavoring beer and plan on holding weekly events where they pair a particular brew with a flavoring agent to provide completely new taste experiences – think white chocolate with chocolate stout, or, even more daringly, cheesecake with Abita strawberry ale. In addition to this, Monday nights are soon to be “Cards Against Humanity” nights, where the popular party game will be played with prizes given to winners.

The Growler is located at 265 N.  Lamar Blvd., Suite Y (behind Highpoint Coffee) and is open Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m. They are also open to hosting group events (such as private tastings); just drop them a line at thegrowleroxford@gmail.com.

And if you can’t get enough of the wonderful beers while there, true to their name, they have “growlers” available – half gallon jugs for transporting beer. Buy a growler and select your favorite brew to fill it; you’ll have it to enjoy at home for the times you just can’t make it downtown.

 

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

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TGIF: snackbar

In our new TGIF feature, we spend a few moments familiarizing you with cocktail/drink menus around Oxford. This week, we take a look at the beverage menu at snackbar (located at 721 North Lamar, next door to Big Bad Breakfast).

Several years ago, my friend Tracy and I started the tradition of going out for drinks every Friday after work. When snackbar opened and we discovered its rotating seasonal cocktail menu–and skilled bartenders like Jayce (now bartending in S. Carolina) and Brian–it became our regular hangout. Because of this, I’ve tried just about every cocktail–if not every cocktail–on the snackbar menu. Don’t read that as me being a lush. It has taken years, and many menu rotations for me to make my way through it, but I’m now able to go in and know which cocktails pack a punch, which are best for sipping over an hour of “girl talk,” and which I can have three of without thinking twice.

So, with that said, let’s take a look at the snackbar winter menu….

snackbar_menu_drinks-page-001

Going to snackbar to grab a Bud Light doesn’t make any sense. You have highly skilled bartenders who can make you whatever you can dream up–on or off the menu–so unless you really detest liquor, go the cocktail route.

I also recommend sitting at the bar, if there’s a seat available. There’s an art to crafting a cocktail, and personally, I enjoy watching a drink come together, from the pouring to the mixing to the spices and garnish that finish it off. I compare it to dining in a restaurant with an open kitchen, except you’re watching them craft your drink instead of cook your meal.

The new Chai Bourbon Hot Toddy warms me up on a cold day with its blend of house chai bourbon, local honey, lemon and cinnamon. And usually, if I start out with one type of liquor I’ll stick with it. So from the Chai Bourbon Hot Toddy I may continue with The Mamie, which features peach-infused bourbon, Blue Moon Belgium White and a pickled peach garnish. Whatever I choose, Tracy usually orders something different, which I sample before ordering the next round.

snackbar_menu_drinks-page-002

Snackbar’s bar hours are Monday through Saturday 4 p.m. to Midnight and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Have you been to snackbar for a cocktail? Tell us what you recommend in the comments below.

–Liz

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TGIF: Tapas Bar

tapas drinks page 1tapas drinks page 2In our new TGIF feature, we’ll spend a few moments familiarizing you with cocktail/drink menus around Oxford. This week, we’re taking a look at the beverage menu at Tapas Bar (located in the former location of Lusa Pastry Cafe at 1120 N. Lamar Blvd.)

Since it is a tapas bar, you’ll find the expected red and white wine sangria; Brazil’s Caipirinha; and a twist on the Brazilian Caipiroska. Additionally, there’s a full wraparound bar offering additional cocktails, wines and beers. You have the option of grabbing a table and some tapas, or saddling up to the bar for a closer look at the liquor offerings.

I’m hoping to see additional sangria selections and Portuguese-inspired cocktails in the future.

Tapas Bar is open Tuesday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday/Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight., Brunch is Sat/Sun 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

–Liz

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Master of the Pit: Nick Reppond

Lamar Lounge pig danny toma

Nick Reppond monitors the pit at Lamar Lounge.

By Danny Toma, staff writer

In the beginning man discovered hogs. The hogs were cooked over a slow fire. Man discovered that they were good.

Years later, man began cooking only select pieces of the hog, and the memory of whole hog barbecue faded away, left to be carried on by latter day keepers of the flame.

nick reppond lamar lounge danny toma

Barbecue runs through Reppond’s veins.

One of these flame keepers is Nick Reppond, pitmaster for Lamar Lounge, the only commercial whole hog barbecue operation in the state of Mississippi. While smoking the entire pig is the oldest, most traditional way of making barbecue, and is still the norm in much of eastern North Carolina, it had all but died out in Mississippi until Lamar Lounge brought it back in the summer of 2013. Now, barbecue aficionados can make the pilgrimage to 1309 North Lamar and taste the difference for themselves.

Lamar Lounge smokes three to four hogs per week, on average. The process starts between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 pm. Reppond fires up the blend of oak and hickory (with some pecan) and gets the hog fest underway. He starts with a relatively high temperature of around 300 degrees to sear the pig, but then drops it to around 200 degrees for the rest of the cooking time. It’s not a scientific process, as the heat is usually measured by placing a hand on the cooker, but the product comes out consistently well–the result of years of barbecue experience. He leaves the smoker in the hands of his associate for the rest of the night and returns early in the morning to finish it up. By 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m., the meat is ready to be served in the restaurant for lunch and supper.

Reppond has spent his entire life around pork. Growing up in Memphis, barbecue runs through his veins like smoky sauce, and he even spent a few years on the Memphis in May competition circuit. In addition, he worked many summers on his family’s hog farm in north Louisiana, so making barbecue as a living seemed foreordained. Perfecting his skills with such luminaries as Rodney Scott of Hemingway, South Carolina (Scott’s Barbecue) and Sam Jones of Ayden, North Carolina (The Skylight Inn), he returned to Mississippi to take on the role of pitmaster at Lamar Lounge.

All of Lamar Lounge’s hogs are sourced through Homeplace Pastures of Como, which breed pasture-raised, heritage hogs (Red Wattle-Duroc mix) that are well-taken care of and humanely slaughtered in a special facility in Summerville, Tennessee. These hogs forage well on their own and are never housed on concrete. In addition, the Red Wattle breed goes back to the very origins of the American colonies, so, in tasting Lamar Lounge’s barbecue, one gets a chance to sample pork as it used to taste before factory farms and mass production.

Lamar Lounge exterior danny toma

Find customer reviews for Lamar Lounge on EatingOxford.com by clicking the photo above.

Reppond says that the restaurant’s focus is to continue concentrating on making consistently good barbecue. Because of the long absence of whole hog barbecue from the Magnolia State, it doesn’t have the strong following it does in other parts of the South, but Reppond is confident that as more people come to know it, they won’t settle for anything less.

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

Winner List – Oxford’s Best Eats 2014

SAMSUNG

A few months ago, we asked EatingOxford.com readers to participate in a 40-question survey to help choose the best in Oxford’s restaurant scene (best burger, catfish, sandwich, shrimp & grits, chef, customer service and more).

The votes have been tallied and the winners are listed below. In addition to finding the list here, you can locate it easily at any time via the “Oxford’s Best Eats” page on EatingOxford.com.

We hope this will inspire you to explore some new restaurants in Oxford; let us know your thoughts about the winner selection in the comments section below.

–Liz

 

Newk’s Eatery

newks banner

  • Best Sandwich
  • Best Soup
  • Best Salad
  • Best for Healthy Eating

My Michelle’s

my michelle

  • Best Catering/Tailgating

Ajax Diner

  • Best Plate Lunch
  • Best Vegetarian Selection
  • Best Country Cooking

Snackbar

  • Best Restaurant
  • Best Restaurant for a Date

Boure

  • Best Customer Service
  • Best Restaurant for Hanging with Friends
  • Best Restaurant for a Business Meeting

Handy Andy

  • Best Burger
  • Best Barbecue

Oxford Grillehouse

  • Best Steaks

Ember’s

  • Best Biscuits

Tre Amici

  • Best Italian

Soulshine Pizza Factory

  • Best Pizza

Tequila’s

  • Best Mexican

Jinsei

  • Best Sushi

Rice & Spice

  • Best Asian

Bottletree Bakery

  • Best Bakery

Big Bad Breakfast

  • Best Breakfast
  • Best Brunch

Popeye’s

  • Best Fried Chicken

John Currence

  • Best Chef
  • Best Restaurateur

Buffalo Wild Wings

  • Best Wings

High Point Coffee

  • Best Coffee

Ya Ya’s

  • Best Frozen Yogurt

City Grocery

  • Best Shrimp & Grits
  • Best Bartender (Chip Moore)
  • Best Bar

Oxford City Farmer’s Market (loop)

  • Best Farmer’s Market

Chick-fil-A

  • Best Fast Food

Lamar Lounge

  • Best Fries

McAlister’s

  • Best Sweet/Unsweet Tea

Chevron 4-Corners chicken on a stick

  • Best Late-Night Snack

Taylor Grocery

  • Best Catfish

 

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Attention restaurant winners: If any of you still need winner certificates, please contact Liz@EatingOxford.com.

 

 

 

All is New Again at Rooster’s Blues House

roosters signIf you haven’t been to Rooster’s Blues House lately, you haven’t been.

A new kitchen, new menu, new chef (Jeff Robertson), and new specials are all beckoning new and seasoned customers up those familiar wooden steps and onto the balcony of Rooster’s Blues House at 114 Courthouse Square.

Owner Scott Michael says that the newly condensed menu focuses on three amazing burgers, wings, smoked barbecue nachos and Rotel house fries. “Our Coldwater River burger is a hefty 16 ounces of meat topped with bacon, jalapenos, Rotel, and homemade barbecue sauce,” says Michael. “We want people to know they can come here for burgers, fries and wings and find the best prices on The Square.”roosters menu

And speaking of great prices, every Tuesday night, Rooster’s Blues House offers every item on its menu for only $5, and Monday nights have become famous for 25 cent wings and $3 pitchers of beer.

Rooster’s regularly hosts live music on the weekends and tunes into the Ole Miss game on the televisions, but did you also know that you can  grab dinner there any night of the week and enjoy lunch on the weekends? The kitchen is open 7 days a week, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday to Sunday the doors open at 11:30 a.m. for the lunch crowd.

Don’t miss happy hour and late-night drink specials, and keep up with the latest food specials and band appearances via the Rooster’s Blues House Facebook and Twitter pages.

–Liz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon: Tapas Bar

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Oxford’s 11 Best Patios (Oxford Citizen column from July 10)

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Cellar Undergoes Remodel

cellarHave you been by the Cellar recently? For those wondering, it’s the lower-level bar of The Levee, which was, for a short time, called McCarthy’s Irish Pub, and then changed back to the Cellar.

Turns out the bar is currently undergoing a remodel, so we checked in with executive partner/co-founder/manager Seth Klein for the inside scoop.

EatingOxford.com: How long has The Cellar been open and why have you decided to remodel?

Seth: The bar itself has been around since 2007, but in early 2012 the decision was made to venture away from the Cellar theme and it was turned into McCarthy’s Irish Pub. After much deliberation, we decided that McCarthy’s was not a good fit and we wanted to bring the Cellar back due to the success it had previously. Therefore, we decided it would be best to give the bar a whole new look and feel instead of just changing the name.

EatingOxford.com: What changes will be made during the remodel?

Seth: The entire bar is undergoing a remodel. We are adding new flooring and seating as well as making multiple changes throughout, which will help bring the feel of an upscale martini lounge to the historic Oxford square.

EatingOxford.com: How long will the remodel take?

Seth: About one month. The remodel is scheduled for completion in early to mid-August 2014.

EatingOxford.com: Will The Levee be affected at all?

Seth: The Levee will not be affected. The Cellar is closed until the remodel is complete, but the Levee is open for business as usual.

EatingOxford.com: Will the menus at the Cellar change after the remodel?

Seth: Yes. The overall goal is to focus on great martinis and great cocktails. Our martini menu and specialty drink menu will offer a wide variety of new and exciting beverages to enjoy. We plan to use fresh juices and fruits as well for many of the drinks we are adding to our menu. We also have plans to add new beers, some of which will be catered to customers trying to live a little healthier. We also plan to add a bunch of great items to our food menu.

 

Opening Soon: The Wine Bar

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Movie Nights at Lamar Lounge

movie night 1Have you been to Lamar Lounge for the new Monday Movie Nights?

Each movie night features a special cocktail, and free popcorn is always included.

Check out the schedules for April and May included here and we’ll see you at the movies!

movie night 2

An Oxford Favorite for 20 Years and Counting

proud larrys exteriorThere’s always something going on at Proud Larry’s; whether it’s chef Jon Myrick whipping up his latest specials in the kitchen; bartenders pouring the newest craft beers from the taps; or a band setting up on stage for a waiting Ole Miss crowd. This constant flurry of activity is just part of what has kept Proud Larry’s at 211 South Lamar a local favorite for the past 20 years.

Recent activity at Larry’s includes the introduction of a new menu, which is just days away from debuting. Jon Myrick tells EatingOxford.com that, among other drool-inducing items, there will be a chili dog that’s braised in beer and topped with black bean chili (stay tuned for the full menu announcement).

In order to fully understand the diversity of Proud Larry’s, just walk past it on a weekday afternoon, a Friday night or a Sunday morning. You’ll find lunch crowds enjoying the outdoor patio on a sunny day, families gathering for brunch on Sundays, and music lovers piling in to see popular bands on a weekend night.

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Scott Caradine (pictured), and his wife Lisa, own Proud Larry’s.

In a college town like Oxford, co-owner Scott Caradine understands that in order to keep a business running during slow summer months, you must diversify. So even though Proud Larry’s originally started in 1993 as a bar where you could get pizza and hear live music, over the years the menu and space have expanded in order to cater to his customer’s needs and wants. “We wouldn’t be here today without the support of Oxford locals and students,” says Scott. “We’ve done a really high volume of food over the years, and it’s thanks to the great staff and management who care and understand that it’s about the whole experience for the customer.”

Today, in addition to the popular pizza, you can find appetizers, salads, sandwiches, calzones, and a full kid’s menu, including the following menu favorites.

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Chef Jon Myrick always has a new special
up his sleeve.

Fried Larry: mozzarella sticks, toasted ravioli, fried mushrooms

Lobster Nachos: Chilled lobster knuckle salad, avocado salsa, and Sriracha sour cream on house-fried corn tortillas

lobster nachos

Lobster Nachos

Fat Larry Pizza: Italian sausage, beef, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, peppers, onions, mushrooms, black olives and mozzarella

Basket of Fries: Fresh-cut Idaho potatoes, deep fried and seasoned with Larry’s Original Fry Spice (same recipe since 1993)

Larry Burger: 8 oz. seasoned certified Angus beef grilled to order, served on a whole wheat bun with mayo and creole mustard, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle on the side

Larry Burger

Larry Burger

Larry’s Creole Catfish Sandwich: Creole seasoned pan-fried Mississippi catfish filet on Gambino’s French bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle and Larry’s remoulade sauce on the side

Shrimp & Grits: Sauteed Gulf shrimp, tasso ham, andouille sausage, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and scallions in a spicy creole cream sauce on Mississippi Grit Girl cheese grits

“We make almost everything from scratch, including our pizza dough, sauce, meatballs, fry spice and more,” says Scott. “When people think of Proud Larry’s, I want them to think about our fun, laid-back, family friendly environment and our high-quality, fresh food.”

Daily Lunch Specials

  • Any lunch-portion pasta with salad and drink for $9.95
  • Featured pizza slice of the day, cheese, pepperoni, BBQ chicken or Fat Larry with salad and drink for $8.95

In addition to the specials above, chef Jon creates a new lunch and dinner entrée special each day, ranging from crab cakes to Carolina barbecue pork sandwich to pork with caramelized onions and more. The Blue Cheese Cole Slaw was a hit a few weeks back, and Jon is sharing his recipe with us below.

pork w caramelized onions and humboldt fog cheese

Pork po’ boy with caramelized onions and Humboldt fog cheese (special)

 

Proud Larry’s Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Recipe courtesy of Jon Myrick

  • 1 3-lb. bag shredded cabbage/carrots/purple cabbage
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 c. blue cheese crumbles
  • ¼ c. green onions
  • ½ c. sugar
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients to combine. Pairs well with pulled pork.

So whether you’re new to Oxford or have lived here your whole life, there’s always something you haven’t seen or tried happening at Proud Larry’s. And if there’s a special dish you fall in love with, try asking Jon for the recipe; you may get lucky.

 

 

 

Proud Larry's on Urbanspoon

Sunday Alcohol Sales Approved

drinks uberculture

Photo: uberculture (Flickr)

Last night the Oxford Board of Aldermen voted 6 to 1 to approve Sunday alcohol sales.

The ordinance change will go into effect in 30 days, at which time all restaurants and bars will be able to serve alcohol on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturdays closing times will NOT be affected.


8 Little Known Facts About Oxford’s Rib Cage

trio pic created by eating oxfordThe Rib Cage has been serving up lip-smacking ribs and finger-licking sauces since 2003, but I bet there are a few things you still don’t know about this Oxford institution.

Let’s test your knowledge with the 8 fun facts below…how many do you know?

 

  1. The original Rib Cage opened in Pickwick, Tennessee, in 1987 and is still open.cheese plate
  2. Buck Walden, the owner of Oxford’s Rib Cage, bought the Tupelo, Mississippi, outpost of the Rib Cage in 1997, which he ran until 2006 and then closed to focus on his Oxford location.
  3. You can find pocketbook-friendly specials such as 2-for-1 ribs, nachos, and quesadillas running Monday through Thursday at Rib Cage.
  4. There are 11 secret spices in the Rib Cage dry rub (also known as “dust” to those in the know).
  5. The ribs at the Cage are smoked at 275 degrees over a 50/50 mix of hickory and charcoal.
  6. While Ole Miss students love the upstairs and downstairs bars, the restaurant is also very family friendly, known for having some of the most kid-requested grilled cheese, hot dogs and cheese sticks (not fried) in Oxford.
  7. The ribs can be shipped anywhere in the country overnight.
  8. The restaurant’s BBQ Quesadilla has developed a huge Oxford fan following, causing a tortilla shortage on some nights!

So, how did you do? Did you get them all correct?

interiorIf you haven’t been to Rib Cage lately, here are some additional tips:

  • The upstairs is open 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (M-F), 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, and has a casual, family-friendly restaurant atmosphere.
  • The downstairs is open 4:00 p.m. until close Monday through Saturday andbar 2has a bar feel. Food is also served downstairs.
  • Menu favorites include the BBQ quesadilla, cheese plate, ribs, barbecue nachos, and Rib Cage melt. See the full menu here.
  • Catering is available seven days a week. More info here.

 

 

 

Rib Cage on Urbanspoon

Interactive Restaurant Opens on Thacker Loop

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