overton square

No-Holds-Bari

Bari Ristorante e Enoteca celebrated its 12th anniversary with a seafood-filled four-course dinner and wine pairing this past Veterans Day. The sold-out event, hosted by owners Jason and Rebecca Severs, delighted restaurant regulars and newbies (like myself) with an expertly-curated Mediterranean meal.

Located in Overton Square, Bari could be considered a fixture given its decade-long tenure in the revived arts, dining, and entertainment district. Typically known for skillfully crafted cocktails (Hey, Brad Pitts!) and artisanal cheese plates, Bari also offers noteworthy wines and high-brow fare.

The vino selection was moderated by Tiffany Werne of Frederick Wildman & Sons. Tiffany prefaced each course with a botanical and geographic description of authentically Italian wines. “Tonight is about giving and rewarding experiences…these types of dinners expose people to new things they won’t always get,” Tiffany said. “You end up learning about a new recipe and are able to be at eclectic and fun places.”

Her favorite pick? The pairing of the Le Ragose Amarone, Veneto with the pan-roasted barramundi and monkfish. A 1,200-foot elevated Ragose vineyard produced this bold, yet supple, red wine that complemented the pescetarian dish due to the owners’ “out-of-the-box thinking,” Tiffany said.

“They served red wine with two fish courses,” said Lee Eilbott, an event guest. “I was pleasantly surprised. I got to experience and taste things that you would never order on a menu,” she added.

The evening ended three hours later when Chef Jason Severs and his wife and co-owner Rebecca thanked the attendees for their support of the restaurant over the last several years. “I love it when the restaurant is full,” Rebecca said. “We host these dinners about twice a year. It’s always nice for others to get what you’re doing.”

While this was a special occasion, several items including the wines can be ordered on your next visit. But if you have a penchant for the connoisseur’s tour, be on the lookout for future wine dinners at Bari. This one cost $75 and was certainly worth it for the quality of rare ingredients, impeccably paired wine, and the familial ambience.

Special thanks to Lauren Edmonds for the food photography and Lisa A. and Catherine H. for this spontaneous house-warming gift.

Patio Hopscotch across 38104

Springtime in Memphis summons the stodgiest from their cubes to outdoor dining. Fortunately, for self-professed people watchers and the light-depraved, patios are aplenty.

They’re in such abundance that I couldn’t begin to list them all. Each one offers up its own vibe, perks, and unique menu. So, I’ve narrowed it down to a dozen decks within the 38104 zip code:

These places pack patrons on weeknights and weekend afternoons. Below is an interactive map that includes individual descriptions for each and easy-to-map directions.

So bike, hopscotch, or stumble your way through Midtown (with shades and sunscreen, of course).

 

Mixin’, Minglin’, and Movin’ the Needle

ASPIRE is the new network on the block for young professionals, and it’s warming up more than its own house. It’s fighting poverty, pushing service, and connecting faith-minded millennials across town.

That’s a lot for a Thursday night, but it didn’t deter the 60-plus who attended the kickoff for ASPIRE: Catholic Charities of West Tennessee‘s initiative for young adults. The first meeting was held at Overton Square‘s Local Gastropub and featured Chris Wallace, general manager for the Memphis Grizzlies and board member of CCWTN, as the guest speaker.

Mike Allen, president and CEO of CCWTN, founded ASPIRE for recent college grads and other young people who yearn to connect and serve others. “Feel the energy in here. Some people know each other, but a lot don’t; hopefully, tentacles will spread,” he said.

John Austin Tubbs, a student at Christian Brothers University and ASPIRE steering committee member, said that he got involved “because of the networking and that it’s uniquely based in volunteering.”

Allen personally informed Tubbs and other key influencers about ASPIRE because he considers it “a breeding ground for future board members and volunteers.” While Allen’s goal is to support Catholic Charities, it’s not the only resolution. He’s also focused on the overall potential impact to the city. “If they wind up on another board, then that’s also a win,” Allen said.

The events, which are promoted through Facebook and Twitter, are open to all and involve a service component such as bringing food or clothing items for a pantry or shelter. Social media is how Alison Powers, a design engineer with ThyssenKrupp, learned about the program. “I belong here; these are people that I get energy from,” she said.

After graduating from Stanford, Powers moved to Memphis for her career and has since been involved with her church and anti-poverty issues as a board member for the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality. “The sense of community is something unique to Memphis, and I love that,” she added.

Upcoming (and cleverly titled) events include May’s “Cosmos & Claret in a Convent” with Amy Weirich and September’s “Burgers with Bishop Terry” in Bishop Steib‘s backyard.

[The CA also published an article about ASPIRE (which is how I found out).]