Back to Memphis…and then to Oxford.
After the three days of the Great Memphis Region Barbecue Sandwich Tour, I headed to the Memphis Airport to pick up Liza, Michael, Ella, and Lily, and headed to Oxford, Mississippi, for the David Tanner-Taylor Montague wedding. I’m an easy-going guy, and I didn’t want to insist on a continuous diet of barbecue places for everyone else. Also, or perhaps more important, I didn’t know of any good barbecue places in Oxford. And, truth be told, I was kinda ready for a change. But where to eat? The default answer for most visitors to Oxford is a John Currence restaurant.
John Currence is a big deal, winner of a James Beard Best Chef-South Award (2009). He has several restaurants in Oxford. We chose Bouré rather than City Grocery, Big Bad Breakfast, or Snackbar because it was the first of his places we came to on the Square, and it was really hot and humid out. It was a good choice.
I ordered a Pimiento Cheeseburger
and a side of fried okra for the table.
That’s a lot of okra, and that’s a moderately spicy sauce for dipping.
Michael ordered the Peacemaker, a shrimp, oyster, and crawfish Po’ Boy.
Looks good, doesn’t it? The bread was toasted and that’s a remoulade sauce.
Nancy and Liza ordered salads, and Ella had her usual, a grilled cheese sandwich. Lily, being three moths old, did not articulate an order, and dined separately.
Let’s start with the salads. Nancy and Liza loved their salads. Great ingredients, very fresh, good dressing. (Yawn.) They were both well pleased.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move to Ella’s grilled cheese.
Ella eats a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. She used to eat a lot of scrambled eggs with cheese, but now it’s grilled cheese, with the occasional macaroni and cheese (which is excellent at The Avenue here in DC, just up Connecticut Avenue), bananas, and berries; and ice cream when she can get it. Ella really enjoyed the sandwich. That’s way too much food for a 2 1/2 year old, so one or two others had a taste. Ella’s sweet potato fries also ended up being “for the table.” This was an excellent grilled cheese sandwich. It actually had been grilled rather than toasted, a serious problem with kids’ menus in the DC area. And it was grilled with butter (they don’t do that a lot up here), and had grown-up cheeses.
Now Michael’s Peacemaker. The seafood was well fried, and looked really good. The issue in my view was whether the oysters, crawfish, and shrimp would blend properly. Michael’s emphatic answer was, “Yes!” (a rough translation of “mmm! mmph!). I’m bad about asking people questions when their mouths are full, a holdover from days when I used to do it on purpose. Best of all was telling a joke when someone had a mouthful of milk. But that was when I was immature. I’m a grown-up now. Often.
Let’s move on to the Pimiento Cheeseburger. I had thought about getting a Peacemaker, but, having named the Delta Burger at Oxford’s Southern Craft, Stove + Tap, as having the Best Pimiento Cheeseburger I’d Ever Eaten, I needed to give Mr. Currence a chance to top it. And, indeed, my cheeseburger was great. The burger was indeed excellent. The meat was flavorful and cooked to order (rare) with a nice bit of crust. The bacon was truly exceptional. I mean it was great bacon, house-cured from Fatback Project pigs. The bun was a delicious sourdough bun they get from Sysco. It was a great burger, the sort of burger that James Beard Award winners make. People should write songs about burgers like that.
But. I could not taste the pimiento cheese as a distinct element of the sandwich, as you can at Southern Craft Stove + Tap across town. It might as well have been a cheddar cheeseburger or an American cheese burger. It was superb as a burger, but not a great pimiento cheese burger. That crown, the coveted crown for Best Pimiento Cheeseburger in the World, still rests with Chef Bubba Gross of Southern Craft.
I would go back to Bouré in a heartbeat, and I don’t hesitate to recommend any and all John Currence restaurants. Indeed, I recommended his restaurants to Senior Paris Correspondent Barbara Somson as a must-stop when she was passing through Mississippi with daughter Becca Eisenbrey, the distinguished Texas attorney. Of course, they loved it. I think they ate at City Grocery.
Go to Bouré.
And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box. Or bookmark us and check in from time to time. If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the destination city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, often close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome. And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.