Ever since The Second Line was announced, Memphians (and a lot of food publications) have been eagerly awaiting Kelly English’s newest venture in the 901. I had the great pleasure of joining some friends and family for one last practice run before the official opening on Saturday at 4 (note, as they wait on a full liquor license, it will be beer-only for a bit). The more I eat Kelly’s (and his team’s) food, the more I recognize how much I like everything they’ve ever put on my plate. So, like many of you, I’ve been dying to try his favorite casual New Orleans favorites.
The Second Line is in a renovated house on Monroe right next to Restaurant Iris and roughly across the street from Overton Square. Inside, it has a nice large bar, a number of table for two and four, and a major patio out back that probably doubles the seating. Once we get into patio weather, it is going to blow up out there. A couple TVs at the bar mean this will be a prime place to take in a game with a nice meal and some drinks. I love the copper and teal color scheme going on inside, and the comfortable, open feel of the place. The interior is only broken up by what looks like an old brick fireplace that separates the main dining area into two spaces.
Second Line – First Course
My mom and I were joined by a new friend Jen, a New Orleans native, who gave our table some instant credibility and great company for a really fun dinner. It is well written on this blog that I love getting seated with new people at dinner, as it is such a good way to get to know some new people. To get started the four of us ordered up some appetizers from the Eat These First section of the menu. Everything looked strong, so it was a trouble to limit our order to only four items…
I love meat, and I love pie, so obviously we had to get the meat pies. These were excellent with a crispy crust and a tasty interior. Definite recommend, but do I really need to recommend a meat pie, c’mon?
We also tried out the happy enchiladas, which have a pretty awesome provenance. Angela English described dreaming about this dish complete with the mole on top, white cheese on the bottom and pork inside. She woke up and told Kelly that these had to be on the menu. Here they are on day one, and I’m a big fan. When you see her, ask her about how they got their name for another good story.
The next skillet had some tasty crabmeat and corn hushpuppies. Yum!
My highlight of the starters was the gulf shrimp midnight snack, which is a piece of brioche toast topped with gulf shrimp, remoulade, and a poached egg. Get out of here. Just so delicious and rich.
I saw some of the other starters around, and the shwarma, the Brignole salad, the pimento fries, and the rangoons all looked pretty sweet. Hell, it all looked good. (See full menu)
For Richer or For Poboys
At this point the three of us were pretty pumped up and starting to boarder on a little full. But that wasn’t stopping anyone from getting some poboys. Kelly had been telling me recently about the importance of the bread, and this bread from New Orleans did not disappoint.
I got the Johnny Snack, which is a ham and cheese poboy with gravy. The bread was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and made even softer by the gravy. The ham and cheese were flavorful and the pickles were the icing on the cake. The fries were dark, crispy, and tasty. Our dining companion was excited that Crystal hot sauce was at every table, as she says it is the go-to hot sauce, so much so that she gave it as wedding favors. It was a great addition to the sandwich and fries, for sure. Use it.
Jen went with the Verno, a braised chicken thigh poboy named after Chris Vernon. Listen to his show if you don’t already. Like the ham, this one got great marks. She got hers with the stewed beet greens, which would make an awesome part of a veggie plate.
My mom went old school with the shrimp poboy, and she loved it. Just pure, fried shrimp goodness dressed to impress with lettuce, tomato, and pickle.
She got an awesome side of the Asian-inspired Fancy Ass Cole Slaw, which was great and had a nice little kick to it.
Final First Thoughts
I’m pumped about Second Line opening up for real on Saturday. I’m proud of Kelly and Angela for all of their hard work in creating a new, exciting place that serves excellent food and has great service. They’re creating jobs and giving people a great place to hang out. As a Memphian, I love people that are behind our city and trying to push us ahead both to outside audiences and the one inside that sometimes needs a little extra love. These two (and all of the team at Iris/TSL) are just that, and Memphis is lucky to have them.
So, get on over to Monroe, and enjoy their version of easy, comfortable food, and enjoy it. I’ll see you there, often!
You want to go to there:
The Second Line
2144 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104