Ah, Overton Square! The revitalization of the Midtown entertainment district has led to so many shiny new restaurants with their adorable branding and goofy mottos.
While tiny food items and hilariously named drinks can be cool sometimes, that newness leaves some of us craving a real bar, the kind where the bartender rolls his eyes and people don't ask for chasers. Fortunately, Overton Square is still home to one such bar, attached but separate from the Bayou Bar & Grill. Formerly named Le Chardonnay, it went through a couple additional name changes before the owners settled on the Bayou Bistro. Those of us who frequent it, however, still refer to it affectionately as Le Chard.
Le Chardonnay has existed alongside the Bayou for the entirety of the Bayou's existence, tucked away in the corner to be enjoyed by those in the service industry well before Overton Square started looking like a carnival ride. It's a secret hideout from the glitz and specialty burgers; it's a simple place to enjoy beers for under $3 and avoid guacamole completely. The thing that's most appealing about Le Chard is that it's a bar for those who just had "one of those days." It's dimly lit, its ceilings are low, the music doesn't suck, and it's only open at night. You can squirrel yourself away in a corner with a whiskey neat and rest assured that the only person who will bother you is the one guy whose day was worse than yours. On top of that, your bartender will likely commiserate with you.
- Justin Fox Burks
Scott, who mans the bar three nights a week, also fronts a Smiths cover band, Louder Than Bombs. If you can't talk to a guy that spends a couple nights a week emulating Morrissey about your problems, then I don't know who you can talk to. Tyler and Megan round out the crew that holds down the bar. For a good time, watch them deal with an unruly patron. Live vicariously through them as they say everything to some drunk asshole that you've ever wanted to say but didn't want to get punched or fired for saying.
Though dimly lit and slightly smoky (they permit smoking after 9 p.m., when they become 21-plus), it does have the modern amenities that holes-in-the-wall need in 2018, like several large TVs. Le Chard is a perfect place to watch a game because the bar is decently sized with televisions at both ends. Also, it doesn't typically get busy in there until after 9 p.m., so you're guaranteed a seat when games begin around 7. The bar is home to many diehard Griz fans who gather to watch games during the season (though to be fair, after this season, probably every bar in the city was home to diehard Griz fans). The bar shares a menu with the Bayou, so you can order your po'boys and enjoy them in relative silence without having to deal with Bayou crowds. You can even enjoy said po'boy from the comfort of a couch next to the fireplace, another fine amenity unique to Le Chard.
Heading into summer months, it's important to know the location of all shady patios, and Le Chard has one of Memphis' best. It's to the side of the building under a canopy of wisteria. Like the inside, it's dim in there due to being completely shaded by the vines. It's not often crowded because no one knows about it. Wow your friends by taking them to a secret spot where you can nurse your hangover on a breezy patio, free of judgment.
Le Chard has a full bar available, plus all the draft beers that are offered by the Bayou's bar. When I say "full bar," remember that I'm talking about a bar where you go when you've had "one of those days." So don't walk in there ordering a frosé just because the patio is cute. Order a whiskey and loudly complain about your neighbors, as God and Le Chardonnay intended.
Le Chard remains unique in Overton Square because the joints are shutting down in favor of the new places. Support your local joints and go tie one on with the crew that still remembers when Overton Square was a ghost town. I'll buy you your first shot.