This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of MemphiSport.
The higher expectations for the Grizzlies and the awful looking Tams jerseys are not the only new things you will find this year at The Grindhouse. Over ten new food options have debuted recently inside FedExForum at the three in-arena restaurants (Opus, Lexus Lounge, and Jack Daniel’s) and many concession stands.
So far fans have been pleasantly surprised by the new additions to the menu. FedExForum’s foodservice provider Levy Restaurants develops most of the ideas for these wonderful culinary creations at their “Innovations Kitchen” in Chicago, Illinois.
MemphiSport recently sat down with FedExForum’s Executive Chef Mark Mabry for a tasting of all the fresh menu items. While each of the dishes are unique in their own way, the one thing they all have in common is that they all should be followed up with FedExForum’s newest dessert option- the Deep-Fried Banana Moon Pie ($3.50 at the State Fair by Section 113).
Spinach Artichoke Dip
$8.50 Opus and Lexus
Start the game off right with this tasty appetizer, which is available at Opus and Lexus. This fantastic appetizer is served with grilled pita chips on the side and is among the healthier choices that are offered (if you are into that sort of thing).
$8.50 Opus, Jack Daniel’s, and Lexus
Another fantastic way to tip off your evening in the Forum is with this delightful dish. It contains crawfish, smoked sausage, and grilled chicken, or as I like to call it, a whole lot of yummy. This wonderful creation is available at Opus, Lexus, and Jack Daniel’s. A delicious piece of cornbread is served with it, so if you plan on ordering this dish you should be prepared for quite possibly the most delicious gumbo you have ever tasted.
Seared Scallop Picata
Unfortunately this dish comes with good news and bad news. The good news is this is yet another scrumptious meal available at FedExForum. These seared scallops are served with roasted vegetable Israeli cous cous, lemon caper sauce and potato gaufrettes. If your taste buds are anything like ours then you will cherish every bite. The scallops are not only seared to perfection, they are the biggest scallops I have ever had. You will be in awe at the way this mouthwatering meal dances across your taste buds. Now it is time for the bad news. The seared scallop picata is not a daily menu option. It is a part of the Opus’ daily fish specials, but if it is on the menu when you go get it and I promise you will not be disappointed.
Staff favorite $6.50 Plaza Level Concessions
These yummy treats pleased me the most. Let us start this yummy journey off with the Not Yo Dog, a true treat for any nacho lover. It is covered in nacho cheese, sour cream, and tomatoes. If you close your eyes and take a bite into this hot dog you will swear you are actually eating nachos. For those of you who love kraut let me introduce you to the Deli Dog, Justin Ford’s personal favorite. It is topped with kraut, Thousand Island dressing and Celery Salt and is a splendid treat. Sink your teeth into this dog and get ready for a splendid taste sure to please the pickiest of eaters. This next dog’s name says it all. The Heater. Covered in buffalo wing sauce and topped with blue cheese slaw it is a tasty treat for anybody who needs to spice up their day. Be sure to have a drink close by because this dog definitely comes with a little kick. Next up in this fab five of hot dog delight is Kevin Cerrito’s personal favorite of the bunch, the Big Kid Dog. This particular dog has gooey mac and cheese oozing out of it and is topped with Fritos to give it that much needed crunch. I know what some of you are thinking “Macaroni and cheese on a hot dog, yuck!”, but this dog is every cheese lover’s dream. Last, but certainly not least is my personally favorite of the five loaded dogs, the Frito Pie Dog. Chili, cheese, and Fritos on a hot dog is a wonderful way to enjoy the game. I need to recommend a napkin for those of you who are bold enough to try this delightful dog. You can find any of these dogs at your nearest plaza level concession stand.
Double Cut Pork Chop
This is yet another fantastic dish served at Opus and is stuffed with roasted red peppers, crispy pancetta, and Jack cheese. The masterminds at Innovation Kitchen could have stopped there, but they did not. Instead they decided to serve this already delicious pork chop with the best whipped potatoes I have ever tasted and sautéed green beans, topped with Madeira demi glace. “These ain’t instant,” were the only words Justin could manage to say in between his bites.
Grilled Caprese Flatbread Sandwich
Staff Favorite $11 Opus
This mouthwatering sandwich is the winner for the healthiest dish, and the favorite of two out of three MemphiSport food critics. It is a sandwich stuffed with buffalo mozzarella, plum tomatoes, fresh basil, kalamata olives and basil aioli on two pieces of grilled flatbread. Sadly, you can only get this dish at the Opus.
Staff Favorite $10 Plaza Level Concessions
You can find this appealing assortment of awesomeness at the plaza level concession stands. Three different meatballs with three different sauces will certainly leave you wanting more. The Italian meatballs are covered in a rich marinara sauce, and tastes as good as watching a Rudy Gay dunk feels. If you want a meatball that will spice up your day try the chicken meatball with green Chile Verde, it is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Lastly there is the pork meatball with ginger soy barbecue, a true delight for anybody that loves the taste of deliciousness.
Grilled Chicken Panini
Yet another Opus exclusive, the grilled chicken Panini consists of grilled chicken, roasted tomatoes, baby spinach, and provolone. If you want a delicious meal look no further as this slam dunk of a dish. It has that perfect combination of being healthy while still filling you up.
$6 Plaza Level Concessions
I know you what you are thinking. “What is so special about something as simple as a fruit cup? You do not have to cook it.” Honestly there is nothing special about this dish until you put a sprinkle of chili lime salt and a dash of lime juice on it. You will be taken aback by the way these two ingredients enhance the tastes of all of your favorite pieces of fruit from strawberries to cantaloupe.
Grilled Free-Range Chicken Breast
$23 Opus and Lexus
The grilled free-ranged chicken breast puts other chicken dishes to shame. You get a chicken breast drizzled with a creole mustard cream, atop dirty rice and served with some of the tastiest seasonal vegetables around. Both Opus and Lexus carries this delightful treat, so head over there for a meal that is sure to wow your tastebuds.
Written by C.J. Hurt, Photos by Justin Ford