Last Brunch at The Majestic Grille?


A Sad Ending

The Majestic Grille has discontinued its popular weekend brunch. When I heard about it, I was both shocked and dismayed about the news. It has been a staple of Memphis' Downtown dining scene for many years, something that its residents became accustomed to. Personally, I take pride in being among the first to regularly dine there when the Majestic's brunch was barely on the map. Over time, the restaurant's brunch became so popular that diners had to make reservations for a table because the restaurant was killing it (even getting a seat at the bar was tough). But now, as of last Sunday, it is gone for good but I didn't let the moment pass without getting brunch one last time.


Although I love the Majestic's brunch, I usually never get it on a Saturday, because I either get breakfast with my Dad or get brunch at another of my favorite restaurants, Bardog Tavern. However, despite having breakfast with my Dad, I made sure to get to the Majestic for one of its last brunches (in case you're wondering why I didn't convince my Dad to go to the Majestic, let's just say he's not much into Downtown despite liking The Majestic Grille). In choosing from the menu, I thought of my good friend John D. Like myself, he was one of the first to hit up on Majestic's brunch and was always a frequent regular. When it came to brunch, he usually kept it simple by getting eggs, bacon, biscuits and grits. Inspired by this, the restaurant added that to the menu and named it "John D's Breakfast" in honor of my friend. Everything about the "John D" was excellent, from the scrambled eggs to the cheddar cheese grits. There's nothing cheap about this entrée, for it's far better than a chain restaurant like Denny's and served in a classy environment that IHOP can never match. Even though it's a basic breakfast entrée, it's the quality of John D's Breakfast that sets The Majestic Grille apart from most restaurants, setting a standard for what Downtown Memphis should be about.


Although the "John D" is popular, my favorite Majestic brunch entrée is the sausage frittata (which in Italian roughly translates to "fried" according to Wikipedia although "fritte" is more accurate). A frittata is similar to an omelet but instead of it being folded in half, it's spread across the plate. As the name implies, it's an Italian entrée although I can't remember eating one when I lived in Italy (but I ate a lot of omelettes there). The texture of a frittata is fluffier than an American omelet and more resembles the filling of a quiche or a European-style omelet. Like a quiche, all the other ingredients are mixed in and cooked inside the frittata, which is often topped with cheese or some other garnish. In Majestic's sausage frittata, the "garnish" is aged cheddar cheese with Andouille sausage, scallions (aka "green onions") and Parmesan cream stuffed inside. Because everything is cooked together, the combined flavor flows throughout the frittata that can be tasted in every bite. As far as I know, I don't know of many Memphis restaurants that offer the unique experience of a frittata, which will make missing it all the more sad for me (I guess I can learn how to make one by watching a YouTube video). So to my tasty frittata, I bid adieu, hoping that we might meet again.
After I finished my last brunch at The Majestic, I sat back with a Mimosa and absorbed the atmosphere of the restaurant. From the cartoons playing on TV screens atop of the restaurant to the polite sounds of other diners, the Majestic was a special place to go for brunch and socializing over drinks. Nothing against other restaurants, but the Majestic is unique in that combines the nostalgia of the past through its use of an old theater with the swankiness of fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. With its brunch being gone, I'll have to find another place that comes close to it (maybe one of Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman's restaurants?)
Despite not having The Majestic Grille's brunch, there are many great restaurants to dine at in Downtown Memphis. Everywhere I look, I see new restaurants, bars and other businesses popping up Downtown to attract both tourists and Memphians. As someone who is a borderline Midtowner (who happens to have nice restaurants within walking distance from home, including Cafe Eclectic), I love going to Downtown Memphis to eat, drink and have a good time. I appreciate all the businesses and workers who help make that possible with their hard work and dedication to their profession (mini side note: I'm also a part of that community as a part time worker at the FedExForum). Having said this, not everyone shares my appreciation and respect for Downtown given some of the recent incidents that have occurred there. From fighting on Beale Street to shootings in other parts of Downtown, it's apparent that there are some people who are bringing the neighborhood down. That's not good for the rest of us, for we are now under suspicion by police and other authorities who will assume the worst. For example, during a recent visit to a bar I frequent, the security guard frisked me very thoroughly before letting me in. When I say "thoroughly" I mean, well, I wanted to offer him a cigarette after he felt me up. I guess he didn't have the "blind" faith that I was a good guy and loyal regular of that bar. Although I felt violated (actual cops aren't that thorough), I understood why he did it, not wanting to take any chances of things going sideways. I hope this isn't Downtown Memphis' future, for it will be a shame to see it denigrate into another crappy part of town. I know we can all do better, so let's step our game up in making Downtown Memphis great for everyone!


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