The Memphis restaurant formerly known as Grill 83 continues its transformation from regular ol' hotel restaurant to destination eatery.
First came the name change to eighty3, a play on the address of the Madison Hotel: 83 Madison Ave. Then came the addition of an outdoor dining area, which added a bistro-chic vibe, plus an outstanding place for cocktails and small plates after a long workday or even for a full-blown romantic meal. Now, a new executive chef has taken the reins at eighty3.
A new covered patio expands the dining room at eighty3, the Madison Hotel's restaurant — Photo courtesy of Lisa Buser
The transformation began with the name and décor change; the always-intimate space feels livelier with its crystal-studded bar and colorful wall hangings. eighty3's new outside space is also intimate, but actually seats a lot of folks under its canopy.
The patio overlooks Main Street, which is open only to pedestrian, horse-drawn carriage and trolley traffic for a number of blocks. The patio is open-air when weather permits, and it's warmed with heaters when there's a chill in the air.
The full restaurant menu is available, although some of the small plates continue to be our favorites, including the grilled Gulf oysters. Not to be missed is the chicken with mac-n-cheese waffles; the crispy fried chicken sits on a waffle made of mac-n-cheese – who would have ever thought to whip up that combo? – and is drizzled with a bourbon pecan sauce.
Other highlights include a crispy version of shrimp 'n' grits infused with rosemary, as well as the restaurant's signature skillet cornbread with a killer jalapeño-honey butter.
eighty3 offers small plates and al fresco dining in Memphis — Photo courtesy of Lisa Buser
Much of the menu at eighty3 is meant to be shared, and the pricing is very wallet-friendly. Small plates are priced from $6, with entrees starting at $15.
The restaurant's new executive chef is Max Hussey, who earned his toque working in some of the best restaurant cities on the planet, including New Orleans and San Francisco.
Hussey arrives with a bit of must-have Memphis cuisine cred, having come from the award-winning Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cookin' in San Francisco. Hussey worked for two Emeril Lagasse restaurants in New Orleans, as executive sous chef at Emeril’s Delmonico and as sous chef at Emeril’s.
At eighty3, Hussey plans to continue the restaurant's emphasis on a globally-inspired menu with a tasting menu program, and he'll also be developing a line of proprietary seasonings, including dry rubs and marinades.