590 N. Perkins
Mortimer's is one of those places I always wanted to go to, but never did for whatever reason. Honestly from the outside it looks a little "eh" so maybe that's what turned me off? Or the fact that it's in East Memphis? I dunno.
A few weeks ago, I was working on a list of festive places to have a beer, and my mom suggested I include Mortimer's. She has a retiree group that lunches on a regular basis and they'd just been to Mortimer's. She told me all about the decorations and I was almost sold.
I asked another friend, who basically knows all of the coolest places in town, to describe Mortimer's to me. He said it was the perfect place to go on a cold, winter night. Then he got a far away look in his eye and waxed poetic about the people who gather round the bar and how it oozes of blue collar class and...well, we went and had a beer on the next cold winter night and I was in love.
I love that the bar is narrow enough to talk to the people on the other side. I love that there's all local beer on tap. I love that the weekend bartender, Christopher, is the son of the owner, Sara Stewart. He is also the namesake of his deceased uncle, Chris Bell, of Big Star fame.
Speaking of, I love the Big Star wall:
I super love the fireplace and seating area replete with bookshelves and fake books. I mean, does it get any cozier than that?
(Don't worry, they have warm weather covered too, thanks to this lovely patio.)
Ok, so I think I've made my point. Mortimer's is cool as shit. But how's the food? I took the monkeys (Satchel, 14, and Jiro, 12) to meet my mom for dinner last week. Satchel was HANGRY AF, traffic was bad, and we had to get to a Skater Princess recital immediately after dinner so everyone was a bit tense. When we arrived the bar was full and there were several tables full of people (mostly over 60). Luckily, we got seated right away, and I told the monkeys to make some quick food decisions. (You can see the extensive menu here.) I already knew I wanted gumbo and my mom and I planned to split a shrimp po boy. Jiro immediately zoned in on the hamburger and Satchel followed my lead with a shrimp po-boy.
When the waitress came to take our drink orders, I asked if we could order our food and told her we were in a bit of a time crunch. She was amenable and all was well.
Waters come in cups you can take home, which is always nice. This is the mort bird, which was made up, according to Christopher.
I swear our food came out three minutes later. I have never seen Satchel eat something as fast as he ate his shrimp po boy.
I'm pretty sure he paused for just a second to get the lettuce off. (He asked just this morning if we could eat at Mortimer's for dinner because he was craving a po boy. I can only assume that means he actually tasted it before inhaling it.)
Here's another look at the one my mom and I split.
The po boys come with a side, and gumbo is a choice, woohoo! I had to order my own, so I got a big bowl.
Not a great picture, but it's tasty.
Jiro's burger came on the same bread as the po boys and ended up being more than he could eat.
Everyone was done eating and the check was paid in about 15 minutes. (Our total was $43.66 plus tip.) So, yeah, those of you with kids who can't sit still--Mortimer's might be the place for you!
We ended up needing to kill time. Jiro was "forced" to talk to his grandmother...who told us that in 1981 when the Knickerbocker was closing, my dad almost bought it. (The Knickerbocker was the original family restaurant owned by Sara's dad--who also owned the Little Tea Shop & Danver's--Vernon Mortimer Bell. She kept a lot of his recipes, moved a few doors down the street and opened as Mortimer's.) My mom can't remember why my dad didn't buy it, but it was a fun tidbit to learn. (My dad briefly owned a restaurant, Speedy's Grill, in Hot Springs from 1976-1978 so maybe he wasn't quite ready to give up the dream when we moved to Memphis.)
And I was "forced" to pose in front of the fireplace.
I'm going to print it out and see if they'll put it on the bulletin board.
Finally, I love the moose with his red nose.
Even without the Christmas decorations, Mortimer's is cozy and cool. The service is stellar and the food is damn fine. Take the family or sit at the bar--either way you're sure to have a good time.