One of the spots on my Memphis barbecue ‘to-do” list (along with being on the 29 BBQ Bucket List and Garden ‘N Gun’s “BBQ Bucket List”) is Cozy Corner Restaurant, near downtown. We arrived around 6:00 for “second dinner”. Owned and operated by Raymond Robinson and his family since the late 70s, Cozy Corner is a neighborhood cornerstone. Raymond’s daughter was seated at a table just inside the door and she spoke to everyone that came in – and many spoke to her first, by name. They smoke and serve standard meats, but are best known for their barbecued Cornish hens.
It’s a classic spot, certainly in terms of “vibe” as it feels like you’re stepping back in time when you walk in the door, except the TVs look more modern. And while the menus are on LED screens, they appear to just be updates of the handwritten chalk boards that were likely once hanging there. They offer their sauce in five heat levels – dry through super hot. As I knew my beloved would have the hen, and I was the only one who had eaten “first dinner”, I ordered a simple barbecued bologna sandwich, with hot sauce.
The slice of bologna has been smoked, then browned on the griddle, and it was topped with a slaw that had a mix of mustard and mayo in it. The sandwich was tasty and the “hot” wasn’t too hot. My partner ordered the Cornish hen plate, mild, with corn and barbecue spaghetti (more about that later).
The hen was tender and moist, like you’d expect chicken to be, with a good bit of smoke in the meat. And a lot more meat than I expected on a hen that size. The corn (wrapped in foil in the top of the photo) was simply boiled and good sweet corn, tender and tasty. And then there was the barbecue spaghetti.
Barbecue spaghetti was created by Brady Vincent in 1980, according to a great article from Southern Living on the history of the side. At Cozy Corner, there’s no actual barbecue in the spaghetti, just barbecue sauce cooked with the noodles. I need to try it at a restaurant close to the source recipe (the Bar-B-Q Shop) or a first generation derivative (Neely’s Interstate Barbecue) and see if I like it more. It didn’t seem to add much to the side options that traditionally exist with barbecue dishes, to me.