Stop in Mississippi's capital for some new surprises at these hip restaurants.

Morgan Murphy

Top-Rated: Schimmel's Fine Dining & Cocktails
I admit it: I harbor an addiction to this restaurant'shomemade potato chips. Months after eating here, visions of crispslivers soaked in vinegar and covered with sea salt linger in mymemory. Sometimes you can judge a restaurant by the small extras.In this case, Schimmel's doesn't stop with the perfectvinegar-and-salt potato chip--instead, they serve the $4.95appetizer with a warm blue cheese dipping sauce at lunch. Andindeed, just about every part of this restaurant, from thesuper-attentive staff to the dining room's huge banquettes,delivers more than you expect. Take the lunch menu, for example.Feeling adventurous? Go for the seared Asian tuna served with aginger-soy slaw and wasabi cream; it's just $10.50. If you'relooking for classic Southern cuisine with a twist, try the stuffedfried chicken Florentine, a marinated masterpiece packed withspinach and cheese then deep fried to perfection ($9.95). Thoughlunch here remains a good choice, dinner entices with a more robustmenu and live jazz many nights. 2615 North State Street; (601)981-7077. Lunch entrées: $8.95-$15.95; dinner entrées:$16.95-$39.95.

Elixir Restaurant and Bar
Devilishly hard to find, this trendy new eatery hides besidea Piccadilly Cafeteria. It's worth searching out (take Exit 100 offI-55; it's on the northbound Frontage Road, about a quarter-milefrom the exit). Elixir's fondue--rich, hot cheese and chunks ofFrench bread crostini ($10)--would please any palate on a springnight. The bar is popular with Jackson's chic set, and the menu hasa nice selection of appetizers. Don't miss my favorite: thesucculent crawfish won tons ($7). 4800 I-55 North, Suite 6-B; (601)981-7896. Entrées: $18-$28.

Bravo! Italian Restaurant & Bar
Bite into Bravo's tangy garlic-tomato-and-basil bruschetta($6.25), and you'll expect to see views of a Tuscan olive orchard.A trip through the parking lot will say ciao to that fantasythough. Bravo's menu is a true taste of Italy plunked ratherawkwardly into a mall built during the Carter administration. Haveno fear--the inside is charming, packed with more than 400 wineselections (28 by the glass), and awash in dishes such as theheavenly risotto. 4500 I-55 North, Highland Village, Suite 244;(601) 982-8111. Lunch entrées: $8-$15; dinner entrées:$13-$30.

The Parker House Restaurant
Begin your dinner here with the smoked duck quesadilla($6.95), which resembles a duck salad between two pancakes,garnished with sweet peppers and a smoky Gouda cheese. Order aglass of wine from the 200-bottle list, and dive into anentrée such as the sushi-grade tuna fillet served with gingerrice and a Thai barbecue sauce ($25.95) or one of the ParkerHouse's spectacular salads. I enjoyed the Black and Bleu, a medleyof mixed greens, blackened beef tenderloin, and homemade bluecheese dressing ($12.95). The setting is a modest, faux-Tudorranch-style building bedecked in many startling hues from the eraof Falcon Crest. Just go with it. 104 Southeast Madison Drive,Ridgeland, MS 39157; (601) 856-0043. Entrées:$16.95-$38.95.

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This article is from the April 2005issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and otherspecifics are subject to change, please check all information tomake sure it's still current before making your travel plans.

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