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Back Again

Chez Philippe returns to its roots; options from Uptown.

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Chez Philippe in the Peabody hotel is going back to its roots, while adding a new chef and new hours. Chef Jason Dallas, a native Memphian with more than 10 years experience as a chef in four- and five-star restaurants and luxury historic hotels, will direct the restaurant's return to classical French cuisine after a brief foray into Cuban-fusion cuisine.

"It's always been a French restaurant in presentation and technique, but different chefs started to experiment more and get out of the box," says Kelly Earnest, director of public relations at the Peabody. "People know Chez Philippe to be a classical French restaurant. Instead of trying to do something different, we wanted to be who we are. We're staying true to what Chez Philippe is and always has been."

Which means when Dallas unveils his new menu in January, it will include such French-inspired dishes as tuna steak au poivre, herb-crusted rack of lamb with root vegetables and truffle gratin, an open-face chervil ravioli stuffed with crab meat, and braised short ribs with gnocchi.

One thing that will not change, however, is the Peabody's embargo on "Duck l'Orange" out of respect for the hotel's famous feathered residents. "We don't serve duck here," Earnest says. "Chez Philippe very well may be the only French restaurant in the world that will not serve duck. It's a tradition that dates back to 1981 when the hotel reopened. We decided we were never going to serve duck. It wouldn't seem right."

The restaurant also will change its hours to highlight the new late-night, tapas-style menu. Wednesday through Saturday, the restaurant will be open from 6 to 10 p.m., and the late-night menu will be served Friday and Saturday, from 9 p.m. to midnight in the lower tier of the restaurant and in the hotel's Lobby Bar. The menu is called "Petit Philippe" and features a selection of eight small plates, which range from $8 to $12, with dishes such as "Escargot à la Bourguignon," shrimp and salmon terrine, and filet of beef.

Chez Philippe, The Peabody 149 Union (529-4188)

peabodymemphis.com/dining

Jennifer McCullough started by providing weekly supper-club dishes to her friends, which eventually led her to launch The Uptown Grocer, a purveyor of homemade frozen entrées and appetizers.

"I would come up with a weekly menu and e-mail it to about 50 or 60 people," she says. "It was really difficult, because I basically had one big catering event one night a week, so I had a lot of pressure to cook a lot of food in a short amount of time."

Instead, McCullough began freezing her entrées, using the commercial kitchen and walk-in freezer at Café Society. Her first retail freezer went into Palladio Antiques and Arts a few months ago.

McCullough takes classic recipes, from appetizers to entrées, all of which reheat well (she includes heating instructions) and uses fresh ingredients to distance her products from the processed frozen foods in the supermarket. "Everything I make is from scratch," McCullough says.

Appetizers serve four to eight and include house-smoked trout dip, spinach and artichoke dip, and bacon and bleu cheese dip topped with toasted walnuts. Entrées serve three to four and range from chicken Tetrazzini to meatloaf. Meat ragout for spaghetti and Southwestern breakfast strata are available à la carte, and you can pick up apple-cinnamon bread pudding for dessert. She wants to keep the number of dishes to around 11 and focus on expanding to other markets in the city. She's already got her eye on a location in East Memphis. "My goal is to be along Poplar Avenue eventually, to have a presence in every area of town."

Appetizers range from $9 to $15 and entrées from $14.50 to $25. She also sells ecobags in three different sizes to make transport easier for her customers.

To see the full menu or for more information, visit theuptowngrocer.com.

The Uptown Grocer at Palladio, 2169 Central (theuptowngrocer@gmail.com)

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