It's not every day that a hotel restaurant becomes a must-eat for locals. But in the case of the venerable Peabody Hotel, attracting the local crowd has never been an issue.
This downtown Memphis hotel – the site of that famed duck march – is home to the city's only true French restaurant, Chez Philippe. And its Capriccio Grill – a more casual but no less yummy Italian steakhouse – has long been a welcome refuge to downtown visitors and locals alike.
To appeal to the business crowd, the folks at Capriccio have changed up their lunch offerings, offering a full complement of Southern specialties with a bit of a twist in addition to their regular American and Italian fare, including sandwiches, a pasta bar and pizzas.
The Capriccio burger includes a branded bun featuring the famous Peabody duck — Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies
There are plenty of lawyers, financial types and kings of cotton located in the downtown business district who want an excellent but fast lunch, and that's a tough find in the city's central business district.
Capriccio's quiet yet elegant atmosphere lends itself well to a business lunch: it's the kind of place where hushed conversations are almost expected, and tables and booths are positioned in such a way that one can actually conduct business in relative privacy.
The twist in Capriccio's Southern comfort food is that you can order small plates to share or full-on entrees, whichever you prefer.
Starters to share include some serious Southern favorites, cooked just like your grandma (assuming she was from the South) would make them. Fried green tomatoes come with a side dish filled with toppings of bacon, cheese and more. Who knew you could make fried green tomatoes better with cheese and bacon?
Fried green tomatoes come with sides of bacon, sour cream and cheese — Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies
Shrimp and grits – a staple at Southern restaurants – gets an upgrade thanks to hunks of shrimp in the grits – not just on top of them.
Southerners are particularly fond of deviled eggs, and Capriccio offers up a few different options of this staple that we've not seen anywhere else.
If you've never had traditional buttermilk fried chicken, this is the place to start. Chef Andreas Kisler says the hotel's long-time cooks – all of whom apparently have grandmothers who make killer fried chicken – are true to the process that delivers such crisp-on-the-outside and juicy-one-the-inside pieces.
The crispy and to-die-for fried chicken comes with Johnnycakes, a southern specialty — Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies
This is Memphis, so of course there's some kind of barbecue (pork, thank you very much) on every menu in town. Capriccio's take on barbecue is in salad form, and it comes in a jar – pulled pork with barbecue sauce that you (or the server) can pour atop lettuce.
Also in a jar, dessert is a thick and luscious Mississippi mud pie.
“Grandma puts everything in a jar,” Kisler says. “Everything is more fun than just food on a plate."
Mississippi mud pie – it just tastes better in a jar! — Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies