The Inn at Hunt Phelan
533 Beale St,
On Mother's Day I had two requests: 1) Having brunch at Hunt Phelan and 2) seeing Star Trek. I made my requests a little late, so we ended up with a 2:30pm reservation. (Brunch normally runs from 11am-3pm.) This actually ended up being perfect since we (Team Oster plus my mom, my sister, and my neice) practically had the place to ourselves.
The innkeeper & chef, Stephen Hassinger, has two children who go to school with the monkeys (Satchel, 7, and Jiro, 5), and believe it or not, he cooks lunch for the whole school every day! (Yes, he's our Lunch Daddy.)
When we walked in, Stephen greeted us at the door and I told him how excited the monkeys were to finally eat at "Mr. Steve's restaurant." Of course the monkeys, pretending to be shy, were hiding behind Warren looking rather sheepish. "Their excitement is palpable," Stephen joked.
There were several happy families finishing up their meals and making their way out, so I definitely did not feel weird about bringing a troupe of monkeys to such a nice restaurant. (Unfortunately, it was a very cloudy and rainy day which kept us from getting to explore the lovely gardens in back or even sitting on the patio.)
We were seated in the main dining room and with just a few minor tweaks, got everyone next to who they wanted to be next to.
Satchel immediately started reading the menu. "I want eggs. And hashbrowns. And bacon!" he said. His cousin similarly started listing her demands. Jiro, who was exhausted from a sleepover the night before, put his head in my lap and said he didn't want anything. (Normally this would alarm me, but I knew he just needed some coaxing.)
Our very peppy waitress came over and introduced herself as Kathleen, but quickly added that if we didn't like the service, her name was Bernard. She was great and quickly got everyone's drink orders. The kids had either apple or orange juice, and the adults decided to live it up with one of the many $9 specialty beverages listed on the menu. I had my first ever Mint Julep, my sister had one too, my mom had a Bellini, and Warren had a Sazerac.
Next we had the great food debate. Everything sounded so enticing, I was glad that we had a big group. We all planned to taste each other's. In honor of my big day, I decided to order my first ever shrimp and grits (an appetizer) and the smothered beef brisket. (Although looking back I'm not sure how I passed up the crawfish omelet!) My mom ordered a pan roasted seabass, my sister the grits and grellades, and Warren the roasted red pepper, spinach, and smoked gouda quiche. Kathleen suggested breakfast samplers for the kids, which was great. Jiro insisted he only wanted eggs, and my niece also wanted a bagel with cream cheese.
One could easily spend a fortune on brunch--and we willingly did, but with a little planning and cooperation from the monkeys involved, you could have a lovely meal for a reasonable amount. (A la carte menu items for the kids are in the $2.50-$3.50 range. Appetizers range in price from $9-$14. Entrees are $15-$24.)
We had a lovely time chatting as we sipped our drinks and the monkeys were very well behaved. The food came out quickly and soon everyone was happily eating. The shrimp and grits was my favorite. I can't believe I waited so long to try it! (Although other versions I've had since, pale in comparison.) Overall, everyone seemed quite happy with their food. We all traded bites and there was hardly a crumb left when we were done.
The kids did get a little restless towards the end of the meal, so we sent them outside for just a bit between cloud bursts. My mom, who plans imaginary weddings as a hobby, went too and was thrilled to finally get a peek into the backyard.
Once we were paid up, Kathleen humored us and snapped a few photos in front of the fireplace. The only snafu we experienced was the toilet in the lady's room that was, uh, clogged, and dangerously close to overflowing. Despite that minor detail, we had a fabulous time and definitely plan to go back on a sunnier day.
(The Hunt Phelan also offers dinner Wednesday-Saturday 5-11pm and has ten beautiful guest rooms. It's also a great place to have a drink before heading downtown.)