For years folks have run in Holiday Ham for a nice sandwich, a take-out container of Papa’s Pimento Cheese or a nice big ham bone to throw in a pot of soup. But these days there’s a new deli in town, offering all that plus a little more.
Pimentos Kitchen + Market opened in October in the new development on Poplar just east of Massey, and guess what? You can still get Papa’s Pimento Cheese, because when it comes down to it, it’s almost the same.
“Holiday Hams Holding is the umbrella company for both companies," said Andie Ray, director of marketing. “Pimentos Kitchen + Market is the rebrand, it’s Holiday Ham 2.0.”
Let’s see how many times I can throw “pimento cheese” in here, but you can’t write about Holiday Ham or any place named Pimentos without talking about it. There are other good pimento cheeses in town — there’s Tom’s Tiny Kitchen in the grocery and a nice version at Kathy Katz’s Cooper Street 20/20, to name only two. But if you want to sit down and eat a PC sandwich in a fast casual restaurant, this is your place.
Better yet, get a hummus and pimento cheese appetizer. I could eat this for lunch or a light dinner and be satisfied: A scoop of plain hummus, one of black bean hummus, and one of Papa’s Pimento Cheese, served on a few lettuce leaves and with lavash crackers. To make it a meal for two, add the ham and brie salad, my favorite selection from the garden and plenty to share.
The salad is full of fresh fruit: Cantaloupe, blackberries and strawberries, served over spring mix with slices of spiral ham, brie and dressed with a sweet and slightly (very slightly) spicy honey mustard. A raspberry vinaigrette comes with, but I like it with the honey mustard alone.
The menu is divided by shared plates, hot sandwiches, wraps, deli sandwiches, salads and soups. For dinner, you can order a full menu from the carving station. Selections includes pork tenderloin, smoked turkey, roasted chicken and such, each served with two sides and a pimento cheese biscuit.
And there’s breakfast, which is worth remembering next time you moan about 1) there’s no place for breakfast in Memphis or 2) there’s such a long line at your favorite breakfast place. You can choose from sandwiches or wraps, egg bakes, even a traditional cooked-to-order egg breakfast. I chose the Green Eggs and Ham — wouldn’t you? — and was happy with my scrambled eggs mixed with spinach, green onion and jalapenos, but felt cheated later when I realized I was supposed to get an avocado sauce that was absent. But the eggs were good, scrambled soft as requested, as were the potatoes and the grilled slice of ham.
You can also be a bit more virtuous with fresh fruit, baked oatmeal or a yogurt fruit parfait — or you can go all carby with a cinnamon roll or a slice of Cinnabon pound cake.
I regret not trying the Pimento Slaw Dog, a quarter-pound, all-beef dog grilled, topped with Papa’s Pimento Cheese sauce, slaw, banana peppers and pimento. It’s only available on weekends, and I planned to try it the Sunday after the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, figuring that I would have so blown my good intentions by then that some processed meat wouldn’t hurt. I pulled up the hours on Google and it showed that Pimentos is closed on Sunday, so I missed it. That’s wrong, though, as it’s open until 3 p.m. Bad Google.
I like the tuna salad and chicken salad sandwiches, which you can ask for deconstructed if you want them as scoops instead. The Southwest chicken salad made for dinner and lunch the next day — servings are generous. Desserts are from Frost Bake Shop, and the caramel cake is a must.
Pimentos is fast casual, so you place your order, take a number and have a seat. There’s a pleasant patio and the weather is perfect for it right now. You can order a local beer or a frozen lemonade to enjoy while you wait or with your meal. Inside is also pleasant, a nice place to connect to WiFi and get a little work done in addition to having a meal. It's busy at peak hours, but definitely should go on the list for telecommuters during off times when you can linger.
There are four Holiday Deli & Ham locations in town, the one Pimentos and another to come. After that, the locally owned business will expand to regional cities such as Nashville, Oxford and Little Rock. They’ll all be Pimentos, but the Holiday Hams won’t change names.