Chef Kelly English's newest restaurant venture may have opened over six months ago, but I'm determined to bring back the chatter after (finally) trying it for myself and instantly becoming obsessed. That's right. . .I'm obsessed with this restaurant concept, which highlights my second favorite Southern city with a curated, clever approach.
And, by the way, this is not just The Second Line -- it's his Second Line. Chef Kelly English's, that is. Every ingredient, every presentation and detail was chosen by Chef himself with complete authenticity. You can feel his downplayed yet utterly contagious and charismatic New Orleans flare as soon as you walk through the doors.
The renovated home serves as a welcoming entrance to the booming Overton Square neighborhood. It may be modeled off New Orleans fare and libations, but the "casual, honest, delicious, and true" traits seem to reflect Memphis perfectly, too. Personally, the fusion of New Orleans' finest foods with Memphis' funky atmosphere couldn't make me happier.
I arrived at 5:05 along with a swarm of preppy, post-work businessmen and women. The cocktail scene is clearly happening from open to close. Evan and I walked through the house and entered the fully-packed patio, taking a seat on turquoise bar stools. We showed up for a drink, but we obviously needed a taste of something, so the bartender recommended besh bbq shrimp. The peeled and made-to-order skillet is inspired by my favorite New Orleans chef, John Besh (see New Orleans under critiques, and you'll find I frequent his restaurants). You can soak up the sauce with a fresh French loaf, delivered from a family bakery in New Orleans.
But back to the cocktails. My "farmers market" gin and cucumber cocktail was excellent, naturally sweetened with honey and lemon. I felt refreshed after every sip, though I savored the drink for as long as possible. Evan's whiskey cocktail had hints of mint and peach -- it screamed summer without unnecessary frills and cheesiness.
I can't wait to revisit The Second Line for a full meal -- I'm already planning out my menu. Fried oyster salad. . .a mushroom debris po boy. . .Here we go, people. . .