There are some people in the world who refer to bacon as “meat candy.” I never really used this phrase myself. Delicious as it is, I’d never order it for dessert, or expect receive it while trick-or-treating. Though I should mention that if I found myself faced with either of these scenarios, I wouldn’t be mad. But I also still wouldn’t call it “meat candy.” It would just be “surprise bacon.”
Then I had lunch at The City Grille in Madison, and now I know what meat candy is all about. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The City Grille in Madison is located on Hwy 51, right next door to Hokkaido. It’s a rather new restaurant, only about 4 or 5 months old, but if the lunch I enjoyed there is any indication of the usual experience, then you can expect it to be around for a long while. The interior feels new and clean, and definitely suited to fine dining, with its high ceilings, dark painted walls and high-backed booths. However, the lunch menu is a remarkably nice mix of inventive salads, sandwiches, and appetizers, as well as some classic southern daily blue plate specials. In other words, the menu is interesting without being intimidating, and lunch prices run at a reasonable range of $9-13.
The appetizer menu covers a broad range of tastes, from standards such as cheese sticks, crab cakes, and fried green tomatoes, to proprietary items like the Duck Chips – homemade potato chips topped with duck confit, carmalized onions, and gorgonzola. Personally, I was compelled to sample the Tempura Lobster Roll – a sushi-inspired wonder of lobster & goat cheese risotto rolled in spinach wrap, tempura-fried and drizzled with sweet corn cream and “dragon sauce.” There’s a whole lot going on in this beast, and I’d be hard-pressed to say that any one flavor stood out over the rest. When it’s all thrown together, it’s a rich, creamy, crispy delight that I could probably have made a meal out of on its own. Alright, maybe I would have ordered a second one. But I didn’t because I knew I had an FGT & Praline BLT on the way.
What is a FGT & Praline BLT, you may ask? That’d be a “Fried Green Tomato and Praline Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich.” The fried green tomatoes were perfectly cooked – warm, with a light crispy batter, neither too hard nor too mushy. But the real star of the show is the praline bacon. This, ladies and gentlemen, is “meat candy,” and I can’t get enough of it. It’s crispy and salty, with a sweet glaze that tastes of brown sugar and pecans. The rest of the sandwich, while very good, is really just a vehicle to deliver praline bacon to those who are bold enough to give it a shot. My advice? Be bold.
My lunch companion opted for the New Orleans Style Roast Beef Po-Boy, and from where I was sitting, it looked like it delivered on that promise. First of all, it was served on Gambino’s French Bread, and that’s the proper starting point for a good po-boy. The roast beef was slow-cooked, and thick cut making for a pretty hearty sandwich. The bread could have been toasted a little crispier in his opinion, but the roast beef was spot-on, and that plate was clean by the end of lunch. Well, as clean as a roast beef po-boy plate should be, which is actually pretty messy.
Food: Diverse, and obviously prepared with a lot of love and attention to detail. They’re not doing anything halfway.
Atmosphere: Fine-dining feel, but not stuffy. Décor feels a little unfinished, but it’s a young restaurant.
Service: Our server was personable and knowledgeable, and the manager was very hands-on in helping us out when our first choice of beer wasn’t available. Once again, I’ve gotta appreciate that attention to detail.
The City Grille
1029 Hwy 51 North, Suite A
Madison, MS 39110
MON-THU: 11 AM – 10 PM
FRI-SAT: 11 AM – 11 PM
SUN: 10:30 AM – 3 PM