Monday, August 1, 2011

RR: McEwans Oxford (& the weekend)

First things first - IT'S FINALLY AUGUST!  Which means, it's almost Fall!  Woooo hoooo!  I cannot wait for Summer to be over!  I'm hoping August will bring us a small respite from the heat.  (Actually, even if it brings us lows less than 80, I'll be happy.)  So stay tuned - you might notice my attitude getting better and better as the month goes on.

So this past Saturday, we had a sort of interesting night.  We chatted with another couple about possibly doing something that night, and they invited us to come along with them and some other friends to Oxford, Mississippi to try dinner at the new McEwans.  McEwans is a well-known, nice Memphis restaurant located downtown.  They just expanded to Oxford (as in, a few days ago), which, for those who don't know, is where Ole Miss is.  I had never actually been there, so I was definitely on board for a dinner trip.

We loaded 6 people into our friend Patrick's Tahoe and headed down.  It was a fun ride of good conversation, music, wine, and general road-trip giddiness (it's about an hour away).  We arrived with a few minutes to spare before the reservation, so we ventured into Square Books, this iconic book store on "The Square."

My first impression of the restaurant was how cool the interior was!  The space itself is neat (with lots of exposed brick) and a nice layout, and they have decorated it wonderfully - kind of rustic meets posh, but totally comfortable.  Our table for 8 was in the very front of the restaurant such that we had full-on windows facing The Square (making for fab people-watching).

We talked to the owner (a friend of our friends) when we first walked in, who warned us they were still ironing out some kinks.  But overall, in my opinion, it didn't feel like a restaurant that had just opened - I was impressed.  The menu is essentially the same as the Memphis one, but abbreviated.

Our table started with some crab & gruyere dip.  I only had one little piece of cracker dipped in it, but it was lovely - crabby and cheesy and flavorful.  Then instead of a salad, I opted for a small plate of lobster risotto.  The flavor was great (definitely white wine and butter going on), and the lobster was cooked well.  The risotto, on the other hand, wasn't; it was a little too al dente for my taste (which makes me think "al dente" wasn't their ultimate goal).  But overall, the rice didn't kill it for me - the dish was pretty good.

But my entree - oh my goodness - my entree was delicious!  There were quite a few good looking fish dishes on the menu, but I decided to go with the catfish.  Catfish is never my go to dish (and in fact, it often gives me heartburn), but because of the preparation and the sides with this one, I couldn't resist.  The fish itself was encrusted in sweet potato and then drizzled with a light honey mustard sauce.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I'm not sure if that sounds awesome, but it most certainly was.  And the sides?  Macaroni and cheese and spicy collard greens.  Love.  In my opinion, macaroni and cheese from a nice restaurant is almost always awesome - and this one absolutely didn't disappoint.  And the collards actually were spicy, which I loved, and were cooked really well.  It was such a delicious dinner, I wasn't unhappy with any part of it.

Note that I was super full at this point.  But given that we'd driven all the way down to Mississippi (for goodness sakes!), I decided to get dessert.  I went with the McEwans classic, banana cream pie.  It had been awhile since I'd had it, and while this one was most certainly delicious, in my mind/memory, it was a little bit better.  But that's ok.  Obviously bananas and cream and chocolate and an awesome crust (maybe made with some pretzels?) are going to be good no matter how you fix them.  And the pie was.

So overall, I'd recommend McEwans Oxford.  The drive down was fun (the drive back, not so much), but it made for a more festive night than just going downtown to our local one.

And really, that was the highlight of the weekend.  We didn't do much else (because, as previously mentioned, it's too hot to do anything).  Hope you guys had fun ones as well!

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