When I was a chubby vegetarian kid, I would beg, plead, or do just about anything to get my parents to take me to La Montagne (formally located at 3550 Park Ave.) It was the kind of place that bigger, more progressive cities had, but it was smack dab in the middle of Memphis, TN. They served oat burgers, spinach fantasy, pesto pasta primavera, nachos, and toasted ravioli--all totally vegetarian. But the reason that I had to go, the reason that I'd do anything to get there, was the tofu fajitas. There were magic. I ate them for lunch or dinner nearly once a week for over 10 years. It was the favorite restaurant of The Wife & me. If you are what you eat, then I'm a tofu fajita. I can still remember Terry razzing me as he did every time I went in there: "You want a menu? Because I already know what you're going to order." He was right. I'd take the menu, look it over, and order the exact same thing I always did: fried tofu, onion, mushrooms, green peppers, lettuce, pico do gallo, a huge-wheat tortilla folded into quarters, and refried beans on the side. The weird thing about the fajitas was the way that they were served. They put the warm tofu mixture over the top of the lettuce.
All of a sudden, one day La Montagne was gone. The "For Sale" sign in the front garden told the story. It said to me that there would be no more fajitas or oat burgers or smoothies. TCV was sad.
Then one recent Monday night, I ran into Chef John Bragg
at a local watering hole. We tipped a few back and talked about food. I told him that he had my eternal respect because he was the chef at my all-time-favorite restaurant La Montagne. This conversation birthed the idea for a story which will appear in the next Memphis Flyer
. John cooked amazing vegetarian dishes for us in his kitchen at Circa
, The Wife wrote the piece, and TCV took the pics. Most importantly, Chef Bragg gave us, and you dear reader, the recipe for the much-missed La Montagne tofu fajitas. Read it Wednesday, when the paper comes out or go online
for it. And see what's coming up that you will just have to attend this September 5.
I liked La Montagne, but I loved Babylon Cafe on Union. I guess it was the funky atmosphere. Even a back-sliding, meat-eating sinner like me misses both those places.
I think it's 55 w/out wine. they are doing full pours for 75.
I am so sorry that your favourite restaurant closed down. But, hey, way to create food and good writing via collaboration! I think that is fantastic.
The tofu looks great! And I will be checking in on your blog to find a link for the upcoming article...would love to try that recipe.
John Bragg here. First thanks to TVC and his lovely wife! We had a great time cooking together. I wanted to clear up any confusion about the wine dinners and the pricing. The $75 program on 9/3 features both full pours (with refils) and will have special wines - all organic selections from Heller and maybe someone else. The $55 deal on Sundays is more of a "tasting pour" and the dinner is available with or without the wine - so don't worry about having to decide between eating well and having air conditioning! Lastly for Michael, you can grill tofu on your grill but you should fry it first (or buy the one from Viet Hoa that is already fried) marinate it and then grill. Make sure the grill is clean, hot and that you use some oil or pam or something like that. Have fun and I hope to see you soon.
Please oh please might you share the recipe? I've tried to find it in the original article and everywhere else, but have turned up nary a clue. It looks superdelicious and I'd love to give it a try. Thank you!
Here is the link to the recipe.
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