Sunday, December 16, 2012

Big Game, Big Beers, Big Portions - Kooky Canuck

On Saturday I had an old friend roll into town with lower level tickets to the Memphis vs. Louisville game at the Forum. This friend, who I attended college with in the late 90s, is one of those human forces of nature who turns up and you know you've just got to just go along and enjoy the whirlwind and live with the epic hangover when he is gone. 

The day started out perfect with great seats, an electrifying atmosphere for the 1:30 tip-off and a nice early lead before the game fell apart in a mess of epically one-sided officiating.

By the time the game ended we'd had several beers apiece and ended up at the Flying Saucer for additional drinks while planning our next move. We found out our mutual friend Jamie, one of the owners over at the Blind Bear on Main Street, had put together a pub crawl down Main for that evening. We knew we needed food if we were going to make it to the end of the night so we headed to the Kooky Canuck, which is right down the block from the Saucer on Second Street.

The unfortunately-named Kooky Canuck used to be called the Big Foot Lodge before a lawsuit from another Bigfoot Lodge on the West Coast forced a name change. Despite the awkward name on the outside of the building the restaurant and bar is still as devoted to big drinks and big portions of food as it was when it had the Big Foot moniker. It is most well-known as the home of the Kookamonga burger, containing four pounds of beef, which has been featured on Man Vs. Food on the Travel Channel.

The 34-ounce draft beers at the Kooky Canuck are also appropriately large. They seemed like a perfectly reasonable beverage choice for a group of people transitioning from a basketball game to a pub crawl.

While looking over the menu I noticed barbecue nachos. I'm normally pretty dismissive of barbecue nachos. In fact, if you lead off a discussion of a barbecue restaurant by praising the barbecue nachos I'll take that as a sign that I shouldn't take your barbecue opinions too seriously. It's not that barbecue nachos aren't good. It's that they are so easy to make well that they can be used to hide sub-par barbecue. Good nachos generally aren't something to brag about. Instead, if you actually manage to screw up barbecue nachos you shouldn't even be in the restaurant business.

That wasn't a problem at the Kooky Canuck. The nachos were incredibly good. They had plenty of real shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and onions, jalapenos and baked beans included with the pulled pork, sauce and chips. Those things are all expected to be considered "good" barbecue nachos. But what really elevated them to the next level was the cilantro sour cream they were topped with. And, as one would expect from the Kooky Canuck, it was a generous portion that kept hunger from being an issue on the pub crawl and later return to the Blind Bear that followed.

Beale Street is mainly for tourists, but I have a lot more fun visiting the restaurants and bars on Main Street. On a related note, in a recent post on Downtown resident Paul Ryburn's blog he mentioned the free Taxi Magic app for smart phones. It's a handy app that is simple to use and highly recommended for anyone planning foolishness like a 1:30 p.m. basketball game followed by bar hopping and an eventual  pub crawl.

Kooky Canuck on Urbanspoon


  1. Kooky Canuck is one of my favorite restaurants. Although it doesn't bill itself as a Soul Food restaurant, there are some things on the menu that you might like. In particular, the Deep Fried Cornish Hen is delicious. Tender and buttery, it is really good chicken. Although it's a few notches below Gus's, I think you'll like it. To make it a true Southern/Soul Food meal, order it with sides like green beans, sweet potato fries and/or coleslaw. If you're really hungry, get the BBQ Egg Rolls as an appetizer. Regardless of what you get, you'll never leave Kooky Canuck dissatisfied.
    By the way, your visit to the Saucer was on a rare day when I wasn't there. It's just my luck that I missed out on that. Hopefully the next time, if we run into each other there, the first round is on me.

    1. I kind of looked around for you at the Saucer because I know you frequent the place. I've never had a bad experience at Kooky Canuck either.