In the Beginning

I rarely use this column for shameless self-promotion. But this month, with your indulgence, I’d like to do just that, on behalf of two of our staffers who have published books that reflect their passions, just in time for the holiday season. You can check out all the details in Leonard Gill’s book column this month, featured on page 78.

Bruce Meisterman, advertising director of MBQ: Inside Memphis Business, our sister publication, has had a lifelong love affair with the camera, and his latest literary effort, Arn? Narn., focuses upon a unique and faraway place: Newfoundland. Bruce’s photography captures the stark beauty of Canada’s easternmost province, an island that has seen its traditional cod industry devastated by international trawlers over-fishing its famous waters. There’s nothing fishy as well about the impact which global warming has had upon contemporary Newfoundland and its struggling economy.

Pamela Denney, this magazine’s dining critic, also has lots to say about fish in her new book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Memphis: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings. Flipping through the pages of this excellent compendium, I am reminded yet again of just how far this city’s dining scene has evolved in the three-plus decades of Memphis magazine’s existence.

I remember just how slim the pickings were in Memphis when we published our very first annual dining guide, back in 1983. That was the year that Tom Martin, our longtime food critic, came up with the “Dinner at 8” concept that we continued to use for many years.  The number in that title referred not just to the famous 1933 movie starring Jean Harlow and Lionel Barrymore, but also to the total number of establishments in Memphis that were qualified to provide fine-dining experiences. As Tom’s editor during the early 1980s, I can tell you that, more than once, we had to lower our standards considerably just to come up with eight quality restaurants!

Today, happily, you can get to double digits in terms of great places to eat without even leaving your immediate neighborhood. The culinary scene in modern Memphis is as cosmopolitan and eclectic as that in any city in this country. From exceptional indigenous fare to white-tablecloth cuisine that rivals that served in any of the world’s great culinary capitals, this city rocks and rolls in terms of all things gastronomical.

Pam’s book features some 200 different restaurants, many of which she’s reviewed in these pages. We’ll be talking about lots of them in our forthcoming “Dining Guide,” our 30th annual such publication. You won’t want to miss it!

More importantly, we hope you’ll want to be an integral part of it, by participating in our online Readers’ Restaurant Poll, the results of which will be published in that February 2013 issue. The poll itself goes live at at midnight on Thursday, November 1st. You don’t have to rush to the polls that night, however; this is one election that will last the entire month, until midnight on Friday, November 30th.

Here’s your chance to make your opinion count in what has long been this city’s premier dining publication. We look forward to seeing how the votes line up when the results are published in February. Thanks for your support!

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