After extensive renovations, Mélange, which closed in January, has reopened with an updated look, a different menu, and a new name -- Dish.
After four successful years, partners David Nestler and Chef Scott Lenhart decided to transform their restaurant at 948 S. Cooper into a hip tapas bar with an emphasis on Mediterranean flavors.
"When we opened Mélange, we did something different and it's been successful, but I think the duality from late-night crazy business to fine dining confused people," says Lenhart. "This is more of a modern approach. Tapas is really popular right now. It's being done in a lot of cities, like Miami, Chicago, and L.A."
Tapas is typically a Spanish style of dining, where friends share many small portions of appetizers, which, as seen on the new menu, can be as simple as olives or cheese cubes or as elaborate as sauté of frog legs Provençal or Syrah-poached figs with bacon. In addition, the Dish menu will feature some Mediterranean entrées such as Tagine of Cod served in a traditional, shallow earthenware tagine dish.
"We've changed our wine list to reflect that region, and we have a fun new drink menu," says Lenhart. "We're going to have sangria all the time, and we've expanded our sherry, Madeira, and port selection."
Lenhart and Nestler completely revamped the interior of the restaurant to complement the casual, friendly tapas tradition of sharing food, drink, and conversation. They combined the dining room and bar into one large space with a variety of seating, including a banquette surrounding an open grill, comfy futons, and booths on raised platforms.
"We wanted to bring more life into the space, with seating at different levels and an open feel," says Lenhart. "We used rich chocolate and cream accented with bright orange and lime-green."
Jim's Place East has hired a new sous chef, Keith Campbell. Campbell is a Memphis native whose first cooking influences came from hanging out in the kitchen with his Grandma Rosa. He sharpened his skills with on-the-job training at different upscale restaurants near St. Louis.
Having worked at both French and Asian restaurants, Campbell plans to work the varied influences of his career into the Jim's Place menu.
"Customers can look forward to some nice citrus sauces, more seafood dishes, sautéed mussels, and new pasta dishes," says Campbell. "I have a little black book that I have a lot ideas in."
However, before Campbell's creations even make it as a special of the day, the dish must earn the approval of the restaurant's three partners, brothers Dimitri and Costa Taras and their brother-in-law Angelo Liollio.
"If I'm thinking of something new, I make it, and they try it out," says Campbell. "They're great to work for because they give me a lot of liberty in the kitchen."
Cordova resident William Brumley has been cooking ribs competitively for almost 20 years, but in December he took a hobby and a dream and opened Beaver Creek Bar-B-Que in Gallaway, Tennessee.
His team, Barbro's Smokers, used to participate in about six regional competitions each year and even won third place for ribs at Memphis in May's World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in 1992.
After 26 years working for a beer distributor, Brumley decided it was time to try something new and became his own boss, doing lawn service and remodeling for a few years. One day last fall, a simple afternoon drive on his Harley-Davidson brought Brumley to Gallaway, where he saw a for-rent sign on a building.
With the help of family and friends, he turned a free-standing building into a down-home barbecue joint.
"We've got it fixed up with old farm stuff for a real rustic look. We made a lot of major changes," says Brumley. "If it hadn't been for my family and my younger son's friends, I probably wouldn't have gotten the doors open."
Brumley's oldest son, Cliff, 36, is in the kitchen with William every day, while wife Barbara handles the finances. Though not directly involved in day-to-day operations of the restaurant, the couple's youngest son, Chris, 27, carries the barbecue torch too. Chris took over his father's cooking team and changed the name to Tam's Smokers.
In addition to award-winning ribs and barbecue, Beaver Creek Bar-B-Que offers cafeteria-style plate lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ribs are only served Friday and Saturday night, but Brumley hopes to expand his hours once he hires more staff. Brumley says that a popular item on the menu has been one that he invented himself: the pork quesadilla.
Beaver Creek Bar-B-Que (901-867-1751) is located at 708 Hwy 70.