A burger or a plate of fried chicken is never too far out of reach when you're cruising around downtown Memphis after hours. And we wouldn't have it any other way. But if it's late and you're searching for something more refined, you have to be a little more savvy.
Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar is making that search easier with their late-night menu. The curated selection of small plates is designed to be paired with their wines and is served in a more upscale environment than the average bar.
"The whole idea was that if you're staying in a hotel around here or if you don't want to go fight the bar crowds, it's a quieter, more elegant place to hang out," chef Joshua Perkins says, "a place that people in their 30s and 40s can go after normal business hours and get a drink without having their hands stamped. You can buy a big bottle of wine and sit and eat dark chocolate, rather than get a slider and a beer."
Though they've had a late night menu since before Perkins took over the helm at Flight a year ago, he changed the focus of the menu last month, from a scaled-down version of the dinner menu, to one specifically designed for late-night eaters.
"We had a version of our regular menu, but I realized there's not really a need for that," Perkins says. "The [late-night] menu is a little more user friendly now and a lot lighter than it was before."
The late-night menu includes small plates of tuna wonton tacos, charcuterie, crab gratin, and hand-dipped chocolates. The price points have come down, more in line with restaurant's lunch menu than dinner menu. Flight's late-night menu is available Monday through Wednesday from 10 to 11 p.m. and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., although Perkins says they aim to please, so if you find something on the late-night menu and want it at lunchtime, don't be afraid to request it.
Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar, 39 S. Main (521-8005) flightmemphis.com
Already on Beale and need a place to hide out from the crowds? Head to the supper club tucked away on top of the new Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe and Honky Tonk. This little spot called the Twelve Bar so named for a staple chord progression of the blues.
With hours limited to dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, the Twelve Bar is pouring classic cocktails and serving up an elegant menu, for a change of pace from the old country favorites of "The Killer" served downstairs.
"The cafe downstairs serves the kind of food Jerry Lee Lewis grew up eating," says Alston Meeks, a self-described impresario behind Twelve Bar. "Chicken and sausage gumbo, fried pickles, burgers, and stuff. Upstairs, we have things like Crabmeat Justine, Oysters Rockefeller and Bienville, and a bone-in ribeye."
Though it's been open since January, owner Bud Chittom says the Twelve Bar concept is still coming into its own, and as such, it has yet to garner much attention. "It's open to the public, but we're most interested in bringing in Memphis people and Memphis music," he says.
The space has hosted some private parties — including Morgan Freeman's birthday party in May. Eventually, Meeks says they will probably add a membership component, keeping it even more under wraps than it already is.
"It's kind of a hidden place," says Meeks. "It's like a private retreat that still overlooks Beale Street."
Twelve Bar's chef is Andrew Armstrong, who was trained in New Orleans and has worked at Restaurant Iris and Fuel Cafe. He says the supper club concept is one he's still getting used to himself, but it's well-suited to the small kitchen and staff of this upstart venture.
"The idea is small plates that are filling but not expensive," Armstrong says. "There are only about 16 menu items, but I think every item is something special and everyone can find something they like. The kitchen is so small and I'm the only one up there, that I wanted to start with something small."
Twelve Bar, 310 Beale (473-8144)