At the request of a friend and reader of the blog, this week’s adventure led us to Pete and Sam’s. Pete and Sam’s is, from many accounts, an institution in Memphis. It is where the Italian legends of the area gather to feast and fellowship. Who knows good Italian food better than Italians who grew up eating from the pots and pans of mothers and grandmothers with deep Italian roots? So, this is the point where the King and I suffered great divergence in this week.
This experience made me remember that sometimes “good eating” comes down to a person’s idea of what’s good. Bad food is easy to define…if it’s nasty, it’s nasty, but a definition of what’s “good”, in terms of taste, is a little trickier to pin down. As I might have mentioned in a previous post, I have yet to taste a potato salad like my mamas. For a long time, I wouldn’t eat other people’s potato salads because they didn’t look like hers — smooth and yellow — because I tried someone else’s chunky, white version and determined that there was too much going on for me to handle, plus that person had put onion in theirs, uh… that’s a “no” for me, ma’am. Thankfully, at some point in my life (like two years ago), as my taste buds started to mature, I began to be able to appreciate recipe differences. I’m really glad I did because I had been missing out on so much.
I feel that I’m way more open-minded when it comes to evaluating dishes because I now take each dish for what it is instead of basing my opinion of it on a comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I still compare, but I try to appreciate what’s going on in whatever is before me. My husband, the King, Mmm, I’m not sure WHAT goes on in his head, but I can say for sure, he was NOT happy with this week’s adventure.
Here’s what we had…
- Appetizer: Crab cakes
- Entree – The King: Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp and Mushroom
- Entree – Me: Lasagna a l a Forno en Casserole with sides of Italian Spinach and Ravioli
Crab cakes: King(3.5/5) Me (4/5)
The crab cakes were good. I think we both agree on that. How good may be a point we could argue. The king pointed out that they tasted like Captain D’s stuffed crab, and he was exactly right. In my opinion, that’s mostly good. For me, these trumped the Captain in that the insides of these were smooth with no chunks… I’m starting to wonder if I discriminate against chunky food. Nah, it has it’s place. Anyway, the bell peppers could be seen when the cake was broken apart, but they were finely chopped, and the crab was thoroughly mixed in. I don’t know if they used Old Bay Seasoning or not, but me not being able to tell is another plus for me because people tend to be really heavy-handed with the Old Bay. Pete and Sam’s did it right with these. They were buttery and savory and just plain good.
Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp and Mushrooms: King(2.5/5) Me (3/5)
This section should be short because this had to be the most basic Fettuccine Alfredo I’ve ever had. The fact that this was the King’s meal, and the leftovers are still in the fridge two days later speaks volumes. I did enjoy the sauce because it was so smooth, but it lacked flavor…and salt. The King found fault in the mushrooms because they appeared to come from either a can or a jar, and he said they tasted watery and didn’t do anything to enhance the dish.
Lasagna a la Forno en Casserole: King(1/5) Me (“3.5″/5 -read below)
This one was tough for me to rate because of preference. I DO NOT like Italian sausage, but this lasagna was full of it. I did like the fact that it was gound and broken up really fine, but there was a lot of it. I hadn’t ever had lasagna made with Italian sausage. I grew up eating it with ground beef. I, however, do use pork sausage quite frequently in my Italian-inspired dishes.
Although the presence of the Italian sausage made me not love it, I put my big girl panties on and took one for all of you guys out there that love it. I think I would have actually really liked this if I had different preferences. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the preparation of the dish. It wasn’t the cheesiest lasagna I’ve eaten. Most of the cheese was on the top. Those no-value-added mushrooms were incorporated here too. The flavor of the tomato sauce was robust. I tasted the Italian trifecta–basil, oregano, and thyme. I could taste the sweetness of the tomatoes in the sauce being mellowed out by the salt pepper and garlic. Now, I think their sauces were on the sweet side to me, but again, in this case, I think it’s a preference thing.
To sum up my thoughts on the lasagna, it’s a “no” for me based on what I prefer, but I could see how it might be pleasing to someone else. Maybe I’ll have different expectations of Italian flavors after our trip to Italy this summer. I’ll let you know when we get back.
Italian Spinach: Me (3/5)
So, what is Italian Spinach? My taste buds say it’s sauteed spinach with enough garlic in it to ward off evil spirits from now till armaggedon. If you are a garlic lover, then this is the spinach for you! I like spinach, and I like garlic (not quite as much as was in this), so this was okay with me. There was something about it that tasted a little off. It might just be the amount of garlic, or it could have been the olive oil. I can’t quite call it, but I know I’ve tasted better in terms of Italian Spinach.
Ravioli: King(1.5/5) Me (2.5/5)
I was really looking forward to the ravioli because they make their own. The pasta itself was really good
Overall: King(2.5/5) Me(2.5/5)
Our overall ratings are based on more than just the food as you can read about in our ratings post located at the top of the page. This experience didn’t seem to sit well with either of us. Even as I write about it days later, something just doesn’t feel right. We arrived about 15-20 minutes after their four o’clock opening time and were the second customers in line. It took quite a while for someone to acknowledge that were there. The lady in front of us went up to the food window and told them that they had customers waiting, but they still seemed to take their time about coming to greet us.
Once the hostess emerged from the back, she was pretty friendly and sat us in a boot toward the front where I could see a good bit of the dining area. When I think about the atmosphere, I try to keep in mind that this is an old establishment, and for the sake of those who “grew up” enjoying the place, too much change can be a bad thing. With that being said, I think I understand why the decor seems so dated. The dining area is dark. The wood paneling on the wall is dark, the tables and chairs are dark, and from what I could see, there are no windows in the dining area. There are a lot of pictures of various icons who have visited the restaurant and/or the area, which I enjoyed, seeing as though this place is a big deal, historically speaking, in the Memphis area.
I know this is sad, but I do not remember our server’s name. This might be a good thing for him because I might not have very nice things to say about him. My eyebrow is most certainly raised at him. He seemed a little standoffish at first. This may have been just because he’d just gotten to work and wasn’t mentally ready for the day. I’m not sure. After we ordered, he kind of snatched the menus up — not out of our hands though because I’d be writing a different story today. I didn’t say anything because the King and our princes may or may not tell me that I jump to small conclusions before fleshing a situation out. I’ll tell you what,
The server’s attitude eventually changed for the better. I don’t know if he went somewhere and got his mind right, or if he saw the King taking pictures of the food and wondered if we were somebody that mattered. Either way, he kind of softened.
The amount of food you get is generous. The prices are reasonable for the amount of food you get, but I don’t know about the quality. I couldn’t really tell if the ingredients were fresh, especially since the mushrooms clearly were not.
One thing that really bothered me, even before we walked in was that we saw one of the guys who seemed to work in the kitchen walk outside in the back and lay his apron on a board that was sitting on top of a garbage bin. First, I wondered if he was a cook, and then I wondered if he was going to put that apron back on when he got ready to come back inside.
Although our opinions diverged quite a bit this week, we found each other once more when we decided that this won’t be a place that we’ll visit again. For some reason, I just didn’t feel comfortable here from the beginning, and even though I loved the crab cakes, unfortunately, the food didn’t change my mind.
Have you tried Pete and Sam’s? Share your experience with us. Have questions or suggestions? Please comment below, email us, or contact us on social media. We love hearing from you! Until next time, eat good and God Bless!!!Follow us on Instagram and Facebook!