There is an unassuming little space downtown on GE Patterson Avenue, in the historic South Main District. It’s near more famous venues like the Arcade and Central Station, and it has been a number of restaurants over the years — it was Rizzo’s before Rizzo’s moved around the corner to a larger location, and it was Harry’s Detour before that. It is now Scoops Parlor, which opened in February. You might miss it if you’re not looking, but I am here to tell you that you should be looking. This little gem is a hidden treasure in the burgeoning South Main scene. It’s great to visit on its own, or it’s an ideal place for a charming break during a shop, stroll and wander through the area.
Scoops serves gelato, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but they also serve crepes, and this was the brilliant surprise for me — they’re not just crepes with gelato (though you can do that, too), but a full selection of savory and sweet crepes that make a deliciously filling meal. There are a few set special combinations on the menu, but the build-your-own option menu is a real treat. Choose your crepe soft or crisp, and fill it with a choice of chicken or beef, a wide variety of vegetable fillers, cheeses, saucy drizzles and savory sprinkles. There’s a sweet build-your-own menu, too, with everything from Nutella to fresh peaches.
I made a visit to Scoops with a friend and a group of kids, and the kids were dazzled by the opportunity to choose what went in their lunch, not to mention that they got to eat it with their hands. Each child ate every bite of their savory crepes, filled with everything from a simple chicken and cheese with a ranch dressing drizzle for the youngest diner, to a slightly more adventurous version filled with grilled beef chunks and sautéed mushrooms with two cheeses.
My friend filled her savory crepe with well-seasoned chicken, artichoke hearts and spinach, while I went for one of the specials on offer: the barbecue chicken crepe, and it was wonderful! Pieces of that tasty grilled chicken breast were piled into a crepe, covered in cheese, folded into a neat parcel and drizzled with a tangy, delicious barbecue sauce. The homemade barbecue sauce is stand-alone good and really made that crepe.
Crepes are made to order on those wonderful flat crepe griddles you see at street stalls in Paris (It’s such a treat to see them in Memphis!), and the fillings are assembled on a flattop griddle. The smell of the ingredients being freshly cooked is mouthwatering.
We were a mixed bag on our dessert choices: a few crepes, a few gelatos and then a gelato to share. I again chose the special crepe, strawberry cheesecake. No sickly sweet pie filling goop here; the tender crepe was wrapped around a not-too-sweet cream cheese filling and covered with macerated strawberries and their juice.
One young diner filled a crepe with so many sweet things, I can’t even remember them all, but there was Nutella involved and a delectable caramel sauce that would go well on any combination. Crepe pricing begins at $4 for a basic crepe, and depending on your fillings and drizzles, goes up to $10.
Now, back to the gelato. Right up front at Scoops is a freezer case of gelato, locally made by The Creamery, in an ever-rotating selection of creative and unique flavors. (I can attest to the gelato’s freshness: A new container of Tennessee Whiskey flavor was delivered by The Creamery’s Will Johnson while I was there). Other flavors on offer that day included the Blueberry Browned Butter, an inspired concoction with the subtle nutty undertones of browned butter with the light sweetness of blueberries. In addition to the Tennessee Whiskey, there was another adult flavor, Red Wine Sorbet, in the case. Scoops of gelato are $4; double scoops, $6. Unlimited toppings are just $1.
A recent check of the menu lists flavors like Salted Caramel, Strawberry Crème Fraiche and classics like Dark Chocolate and Mint Chip. Scoops takes the build-your-own concept a step further at the gelato counter, where you choose your flavors and a nice choice of toppings and sprinkles for a custom dessert. One of the younger diners was in love with the Cookie Dough Gelato sprinkled with M&M pieces.
When the weather’s nice, wandering around the shops and galleries on South Main is a great Memphis day out, and a stop at Scoops for lunch or a frozen treat just makes the experience sweeter.
Scoops Parlor is located in the South Main District at 106 GE Patterson Ave., Memphis, TN 38103. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more, call (901) 305-8577 or visit Scoopsparlor.com.