Yep, I know the four spots I recommended in the May 2001 issue are not downtown with all the touristy fun. You might not want to stray so far from Beale Street, Redbird baseball, and the Peabody ducks for a bite to eat.
If you still want a good meal without the fuss and cost of Chez Philippe, try McEwen's on Monroe. You can walk there from many hotels, and it's casual with an artsy edge.
Many Memphians are sweet on Chef Jennifer Dickerson (who moved here from KoTo), but you have to go at dinner to catch her cooking. Not knowing that, I went at lunch and had a satisfactory meal, but fear I missed what's truly special here.
Tender, orange-glazed smoked quail came with perfectly cooked green beans and cheese grits (which the waiter billed several times as corn pudding). Frequently preferring a glass of white followed by a glass of red, I applaud the choice of more than 40 interesting wines by the glass. 122 Monroe; (901) 527-7085. Dinner entrées: $13-$19; lunch entrées: $5-$7.
Rinaldo Grisanti & Sons: 2855 Poplar; (901) 323-0007. Entrées: $9.50-$28
Same song, second verse at Mélange. I went for lunch and got the strong feeling that dinner is when this place truly shines. (Though the dining room on a brilliant, sunny day was gorgeous.)
My beginning and ending here was wonderful, with a little sag in the middle. It was one of those "I chose wrong" cases on the entrées. I shouldn't have ordered something so mundane as fried chicken salad, but I guess I wanted to see if the kitchen could elevate the predictable. It didn't. But the butternut squash soup beforehand proved elegant. And dessert of precisely and prettily molded white- and dark-chocolate mousses came with showy, soaring spears of hardened, golden sugar syrup that turns heads as it's floating to your table.
Service was smooth and wooing, and I love the setting: kind of stark with earthy, neutral touches. It seemed to be a place I'd look forward to all week with a Saturday night reservation. I'll reserve full judgment until I fulfill that wish. 948 South Cooper Street; (901) 276-0002. Dinner entrées: $17-$25; lunch entrées: $9-$15.
KoTo: 22 South Cooper; (901) 722-2244. Dinner entrées: $22-$28; lunch entrées: $10-$17.
Jarrett's: 5689 Quince, Yorkshire Square; (901) 763-2264. Entrées: $12-$27.
McEwen's on MonroeThe Tower Café at La Tourelle: 2146 Monroe Avenue; (901) 726-5771. Entrées: $8-$15.
This article is from the May 2001 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.