The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis
First look at The Lobbyist at Chisca: Creative fare. Modern elegance.
There are restaurants that come and go. It’s the nature of the restaurant industry, especially since 2020. But some restaurants you miss more than others.
P.O. Press Public House and Provisions is one such establishment. I might even go as far to say as fans of this Collierville restaurant have been longing for its return since the doors closed in September 2019.
The restaurant, which received much fanfare, was barely open a year before its untimely closure after black mold was discovered in the building.
For over three years, chef and owner Jimmy Gentry looked for just the right spot to reopen. A handful of options looked promising, but nothing was the right fit — until now.
The Lobbyist at Chisca officially opened Jan. 20 in the Chisca building, in the space that formerly was a Swanky’s Taco Shop.
“I am just happy to be back in a restaurant kitchen,” said Gentry, who has been focused on his catering company, Paradox Cuisine, since P.O. Press closed. “That’s the thing I am most excited about.”
What’s on the menu at The Lobbyist at Chisca
Gentry has a talent of taking common Southern ingredients and transforming them into memorable dishes through his creative use of technique and garnishes.
Expect a focus on locally grown produce and locally raised meats.
Gentry is a chef who takes the concept of farm-to-table in the true sense of the term. His dishes are often dependent on the offerings that local farms can produce, sometimes changing weekly but always changing seasonally. Gentry sources as much as he can from farms in the region. He said the opening menu is 98% sourced locally. That’s a feat that takes effort.
A “Produce” section is on the menu as it was at P.O. Press — making vegetables a focus, rather than an afterthought.
“Even though we are not a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, we do put a huge focus on vegetables,” he said.
Vegetables are given the same attention to detail as other restaurants give
appetizers and entrees. Each vegetable dish is artfully prepared and plated.
Carrots cooked sous vide with a kimchi vinaigrette are served al dente and chilled with a velvety house-made kewpie mayo. The flavor of the kimchi is subtle and perfectly balanced. Fried garlic, sesame seeds and furikake add the finishing touch to the dish.
Okra is thinly sliced lengthwise and charred until tender and smoky. A buttermilk crème fraiche provides a creamy contrast to the char on the okra and the spice of the dish’s pickled fresno chile garnish.
Gentry said he plans to bring back some dishes that were P.O. Press favorites, as well as add new signature dishes.
His famous Corn Mash dish is one such returning item. A bowl of decadently creamy stone-ground grits is topped with roasted squash that is almost caramelized and drizzled with a bacon jus and topped with toasted pepitas. It’s a dish made with humble ingredients, that is a standout of textures and flavors.
While there is a heavy focus on vegetables, there is plenty on the menu for those carnivores.
A lamb tamale is a standout item on the shareables list, but after one bite you may not want to share it. The tamale is perfectly executed, with a lamb filling that is flavorful but not gamey. The green pea harissa is what makes the dish memorable. It’s a garlicky mash that adds a bright and zingy contrast to the richness of the duck and masa in the tamale.
Gulf redfish is perfectly cooked, tender and flaky, and served over an aromatic bed of chana masala (a North Indian chickpea curry). It’s an interesting fusion of Southern and Indian cuisines that makes for a delicious bite that is light and warming at the same time.
The restaurant will also feature a selection of cured meats and sausages from Gentry’s Charcuterie by Paradox, a division of his business he launched in 2022 using meats from Home Place Pastures in Como, Mississippi.
In addition to the creative fare, expect a bar that features craft cocktails, as well as a curated wine list.