…McEwen’s on Monroe
Hit or Ms. is pleased to introduce our first GUEST BLOGGER, Kelly Daniel!! Whoo hoo! Kelly’s a fellow downtown resident that loves giving kudos to local restaurants and happily wrote about her recent experience to McEwen’s. So read on and enjoy!
Last Saturday night my husband and I, parents to 15 month old twin boys, had a very rare dinner out planned with another couple to celebrate my birthday and Mother’s Day. Since our nights “out on the town” are few and far between these days, we knew that we wanted:
a) some place special
b) somewhere we had never tried before.
After asking several other friends for recommendations, we were led to make a reservation at McEwen’s on Monroe. And, yes, I would suggest making a reservation, more on that in a minute.
Before booking, I went to their webpage, and I’m happy to report it is very easy to navigate, up to date, and lists everything from their dinner menus to lunch features to specials on their homepage to their wine list. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that they have a “Small Plates” menu. I absolutely love picking several appetizers to eat when I am at a restaurant; since we do not get to eat out that often, I find that this is one of the best ways to sample multiple dishes at a restaurant instead of selecting one large main course.
The ambiance of the restaurant (which is why I would suggest making a reservation) is perfect for anything from a weeknight quiet dinner for two to a larger celebration. Reservations are suggested if you would like to dine at a table– the main floor of the restaurant is relatively small, which is a huge positive characteristic in my book because it keeps the restaurant quiet and the service timely.
Speaking of the service, our server ever vigilant– never letting a wine glass go empty or an finished plate sit too long on the table– but she was very personable; eager to describe the menu, tell us her favorites, and offer suggestions. The restaurant itself was nice and dark, which just emanates the feeling that you are actually having a fine-dining experience.
Side note: While I mentioned that reservations are suggested for a smaller table and necessary for a large party, they are not needed if you would like to sit at the bar. Our group of four moved from our table to the bar once the meal was completed since we were thoroughly enjoying our night out and just did not want to leave this welcoming cocoon in downtown Memphis. Sitting at the bar was just as comfortable as enjoying dinner at our table had been. In addition to serving the full menu at the bar, they have a full drink list as well. A vodka gimlet is a must taste here!
And heads up, McEwen’s is also terrific for private dining! If you are out to find a spectacular location for an intimate celebration or larger dining event, there is a downstairs part of the restaurant with a wine cellar that can be reserved for private parties.
Moving on to the main course! The table started off with wine: Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz-Mourvedre blend, which is now one of my favorite bottles and a “must-find” on my next trip to the wine store. And, the food was out of this world! As I mentioned, I am one to order a couple of appetizers for my meal out instead of one large entree. After our order was taken, a delicious basket of miniature homemade biscuits was placed on our table, soon to follow were our appetizers. My husband and I split the fried oyster appetizer. The oysters were nice and crisp and, despite being drizzled with a very light sauce (which was excellent to soak the biscuit in by the way), there was absolutely no sogginess to the oyster at all.
My next selection was the Wild Mushroom Salad. Normally when I order a salad at a restaurant I am slightly disappointed because it is usually a small handful of some type of green with toppings that are not too exciting (I am a regular salad eater, make a lot of salads at home, so I can be very critical of eating them while dining out). This was an exception: a hefty base of mixed greens were topped with not just a handful of mushrooms, but a hearty serving of warm, marinated mushrooms, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and all drizzled with walnut balsamic vinaigrette. The salad could have almost been a meal itself: I even had to get part of it to go, worried that I might be too full to enjoy my dinner!
For my main course I ordered the Southern Style Crawfish Cakes from the “Small Plates/Big Taste Menu” (which is how they refer to it). And this was the truth: these were not small, palm-sized cakes. Instead I was served two large crawfish patties that were bigger than my fist, lightly fried, which gave a welcoming crunch on the outside that was the precursor to warm, smooth, meaty, tender crawfish meat on the inside. The cakes included no “fillers”–there was no extra breading or any other additions– the chef let the crawfish meat speak for itself. Truly providing a big taste! My husband ordered the Pan Seared Chilean Sea bass (editor note: we’re right there with ya!), which was truly the most succulent, melt in your mouth sea bass I have had in a long time, served with mushroom risotto and sautéed spinach. The risotto was creamy and the spinach was moist and well-seasoned.
The night out was one to remember and one to keep us going back to McEwen’s for special occasions and with visiting relatives because of these three spectacular parts to the “dining out” experience: ambiance, food and service. And because of that, McEwen’s is a HIT! Even though the restaurant has been successful in downtown Memphis for years, this experience is just another reminder for why Memphians need to keep supporting this local spot or try it out, if you haven’t been before! Cheers to a great first-time trip with many more to come!
Thank Kelly! We’re making a ressie ASAP!