Ladies and gentlemen, today, we see that bastion of greasiness, ancestral breakfast home of dozens of hung-over hipsters the Barskdale Restaurant face off against midtown-ish late night favorite Republic Coffee.
In this corner, the Barksdale Restaurant.
237 S Cooper St
Memphis, TN 38104
Order: Two eggs scrambled, grits, bacon, biscuits, one pancake, coffee, a small OJ.
Coffee: The coffee at the Barksdale Restaurant (henceforth Barksdale’s) definitely tasted like the instant stuff. Drinking coffee there is a purely utilitarian experience, but it does get the job done. (5 points)
Biscuit: Barksdale’s biscuits are consistently inconsistent. Some days (like yesterday) they were small, round, and a little dense. Other days, they’re flatter and wider, saltier and more delicious and buttery. I prefer the latter biscuit, but the ones that were served yesterday weren’t terrible. (6 points)
Bacon: This is probably the best bacon I’ve had so far – not too crispy, not too limp. It’s total Goldilocks bacon. (8 points)
Scrambled Eggs: I’m realizing that it’s kind of hard to mess up scrambled eggs. These had a good texture and weren’t at all runny or rubbery. Bonus points to Barksdale’s for offering egg substitute (an extra .50) (7.5 points)
Pancake: The pancake was seriously awesome. It was sweet, but not too sweet. It was great with just butter on it. It seemed like it had a little bit of a French toast flavor to it. I want to have this pancake’s babies. (9 points)
Grits: Barksdale’s grits were alright, if a little runny. They needed some butter or something as a thickening agent. Again, a purely utilitarian item. (5 points)
Service: The service at Barksdale’s is great. It’s fast, efficient and super friendly. It seemed like everyone that came in knew the waitresses by name. The coffee refills were frequent and the food and check came quickly. (9 points)
Atmosphere: The Barksdale Restaurant is a total greasy spoon. It’s also bizarrely UT-themed (Bob, the owner, went to school there). There are pictures on the wall of local celebrities (Jerry Lawler and Miss Tennessee were over my booth) and plenty of Tigers and Grizzlies posters. (8 points)
Price: The total came to $8.65. Not bad for a full belly and great service. (7.5 points)
Total Score: 65 points
And in this corner, the challenger:
2924 Walnut Grove Rd
Memphis, TN 38111
Order: coffee, the Tupelo breakfast (scrambled eggs, biscuit, grits, bacon). They didn’t have pancakes.
Coffee: Republic is primarily a coffee shop, so their coffee is really good. It’s smooth, mild, and definitely better than instant coffee. (8 points)
Biscuit: The biscuit was disappointingly dry and flavorless. It desperately needed the butter that came on the side and a big swallow of water to wash it down. (4 points)
Bacon: Republic’s bacon was alright, if a little tough. It wasn’t too crunchy, though, and it had a lot of flavor. (6 points)
Scrambled Eggs: Again, it’s hard to screw up scrambled eggs. Republic’s had great texture and taste. (Sidenote – the menu said that all of the eggs were scrambled. I’m not sure why, unless they’re using powdered eggs.) (7.5 points)
Pancake: Republic doesn’t have pancakes. There’s been a bit of debate on how to score a place that doesn’t have one of the judging items. I gave Three Little Pigs 5 points for pancakes because I thought that since they didn’t have them, I would just give them a median score. At the same time, pancakes are a very basic breakfast food. If you can make a waffle, you can make a pancake. (5 points, because that’s what I did before.)
Grits: The Tupelo breakfast came with cheese grits. Sadly, the grits would have probably been better without the cheese. The texture was a little closer to couscous than most grits (which was good) and they did have flavor. Too bad the flavor wasn’t very good. (3.5 points)
Service: The service at Republic was pretty good for the first part of the meal. My order was taken quickly, the food showed up in a reasonable amount of time, and there were coffee refills.When it was time to pay, the waitress was nowhere to be found. (5 points)
Atmosphere: Because Republic is primarily a coffee shop, it’s totally fine to stick around and get some work done. There’s local art on the walls and decent music playing over the speakers. It’s a little dark inside, though, so you may want to sit next to a window. (7 points)
Price: The total came to $10.65, which seems a little pricey for the amount and quality of the food. (6.5 points)
Total Score: 52.5 points
Winner: The Barksdale Restaurant will go on to compete in round two.