published Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Braly: Memphis’ Blues City a great place for ribs

A recent trip to Memphis took me into a downtown area where I’d never been. I’ve stayed in Beale Street hotels a couple of times, such as the famous Peabody Hotel, but on my last visit, I depended on priceline.com to choose a four-star-plus hotel.

After putting in a $125 bid, I found out that I was staying at The Madison near the corner of Main and Madison streets. It turned out to be in incredible boutique hotel within sight of the Mississippi River and within walking distance of all the great Beale Street restaurants. I couldn’t have been happier with the choice because I was really in the mood for some good ribs.

I had eaten at The Rendezvous on a previous visit, so I wanted to give another good barbecue restaurant a try. There’s no better way to get a recommendation than by asking a Memphian. Rendezvous is a well-known tourist place, but if you want the best rib house, ask someone who lives there. Had they recommended Rendezvous, I would have gone there, but after asking a couple of people at The Madison, I found myself sitting at a table at Blues City Cafe.

The ribs were great, and I brought an extra rack home to my husband, and he gave it a thumbs-up as well. My sister ordered a plate of tamales and chili and shared with me. Both were excellent.

To confirm we had come to the right place, the couple sitting next to my sister and me were also from Memphis. They said this restaurant was the only place they will go to get ribs.

So now you know. Go to Rendezvous for the experience, but if you want good ribs, go to Blues City. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s in the heart of Beale Street.

When I wrote a while back about a trip to Sperry’s in Nashville, I mentioned the salad bar and its popular red Roquefort dressing. Debbie Rogers of Ringgold, Ga., sent me an email saying she planned to visit Sperry’s on her next trip to Nashville. She also sent this recipe for us to try, adding that her favorite blue cheese comes from Sweetwater Valley Farms near Athens, Tenn. She found the recipe at cooks.com.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad

For salad:

1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce

4 ounces Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese

1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces

For dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

For dressing, whisk together red wine vinegar, coarse-grain mustard, sugar, virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, salt and pepper to taste, and blend thoroughly.

To prepare salad, wash, dry thoroughly and tear lettuce. Arrange on 4 salad plates, and crumble blue cheese evenly over each portion. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped walnuts. Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing over each serving. Serves 4.

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