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Raven & Lily finds new home for its fine food in Collierville

By Updated: March 15, 2019 11:29 AM CT | Published: March 15, 2019 4:00 AM CT

Like his restaurateur friend Jimmy Gentry around the corner, Justin Young came up under Erling Jensen, a local rock star chef who’s turned out a generation of chef/owners from his kitchen. Many of them have things in common: They love dogs, can do a spot-on impression of Jensen, and they’ve taken his attention to detail and creative bent to their own places.

Young and his wife, Amy, opened Raven & Lily in Oakland in 2016 and kept it going though it was out of the way for Memphis diners. When Mac Edwards closed Brooks Pharm2Fork in January, space opened on the Collierville Square and in August, Raven & Lily opened there with some of the same but also some new dishes.

Raven & Lily

Best Choices: Spiced lamb sausage risotto ($26); shrimp and grits Benedict ($15); cinnamon roll ($6); chicken patty melt ($12); roasted sweet potatoes appetizer ($9)

Website: ravenandlilyrestaurant.com


120 W. Mulberry Street • 901-286-4575


Price:  to ($=$10 or less per entrée; $$=$11-$25 per entrée; $$$=$25-$35 per entrée; $$$$=$35+ per entrée)

Alcohol: Full bar

Bottom Line: Raven & Lily has a casual, laid-back vibe but the food, particular brunch and dinner, gets an upscale treatment. It can get loud when crowded and tables are close, but sitting in the bar cuts down on the noise. It’s an excellent addition to the Collierville dining lineup.

Let’s start with dessert, which I’m generally content to ignore – but not here. I have good news and bad news: The Chartreuse ice cream was one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life, and that’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s not on the menu and it’s unlikely it ever will be.

“I’d have to charge, like, $16 a scoop,” Young explained, offering a serving when we visited after he’d been playing in the kitchen. He took a full bottle of the pricey, herbaceous liqueur, reduced it to concentrate the flavor and remove the alcohol so it would freeze, and made three quarts of it. It might appear on special dinner menus, and you can always ask if he’s got it when you go. Don’t count on it; I mention it only to show you that while in some ways Raven & Lily seems like a diner, there’s serious stuff going on.

The chocolate soufflé with crème Anglaise will have to do and you won’t feel deprived. It’s decadently rich, so don’t be fooled by its airiness. Once you stab your spoon in the middle and release the air, the soufflé becomes a fudgy cake made all the better with the heavy sweet cream poured over it.

Now to the main courses. The lunch menu is a nice mix of sandwiches, salads and entrees. The Raven & Lily burger is a bit of a monster, one stacked so high that it’s hard to eat the traditional way. The bun is big, the patty is big, and it’s stacked with caramelized onions, bacon, fried green tomatoes and a fried egg. Get your knife and fork ready, or kudos to you if you successfully tackle it with your hands; you’re better than me.

The roasted chicken patty melt was my favorite dish at lunch, but don’t expect an actual patty melt (even though, yes, it says patty melt on the menu). A bed of coarsely ground creamy grits is topped with toast (bread is made in house), a grilled boneless chicken breast, a fried egg and tangy chow chow.

Fries are excellent, thin and with plenty of crisp bits.

Beef deckle isn’t on the regular menu but has been an offered special most times I’ve eaten at Raven & Lily. It’s the ribeye cap, currently my favorite cut of beef, and Young does an excellent job. On a recent visit, it was served over hearty roasted vegetables tossed in a pan sauce. It was reminiscent of a Sunday pot roast, just with a tender and medium-rare steak instead of a slow-cooked roast. Whatever way it’s being served, I recommend it.

I reluctantly allowed my dinner partner to talk me into ordering roasted sweet potatoes for an appetizer; my dislike of this generally vile tuber is known to anyone who knows me or reads me, but well, guess who ate her sweet potatoes? These were grilled, served with roasted carrots, bacon, onions and topped with blue cheese. They were fabulous, so good that I would eat them for a meal with a salad and leave fully satisfied.

Another winner is the spiced lamb sausage, made by Young, served in risotto and topped with, of all things, fried oysters. It honestly didn’t make sense to me, yet I was drawn to it and loved it. The risotto is on the bottom of the bowl, a piece of toast tops it, a zesty lemon-basil gremolata is on the side, and the oysters are on top with pickled red onion and a scattering of micro greens.

The restaurant serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss the cinnamon roll, served warm, covered in crème Anglaise for a glaze with dollops of caramel sauce on the plate. It’s also available with ice cream for dessert at lunch or dinner.

The brunch menu includes standard eggs and bacon, though the latter is pork belly cured in house. You can order biscuits and gravy, lamb chilequiles with the sausage Young makes, an omelet, a BLT with pork belly (very good, but I’ll ask them to hold the mustard next time) and plenty more. We loved the shrimp and grits Benedict, a delight of a dish with thick slabs of toasted brioche, shrimp and tasso over grits with an andouille cream sauce and two poached eggs. Every element was on point.

Raven & Lily is quiet enough when there aren’t many people, but the noise level escalates quickly as it fills up, particularly if there are large parties in the fairly small dining room. High tops at the bar are available and there’s enough of a wall between the two rooms that it dramatically cuts the noise back. Service is friendly and efficient. If you live in Collierville, you know how lucky you are to have so many new restaurants. If you don’t, here’s another reason to make the trip.

<strong>The spiced lamb sausage and parmesan risotto has crispy oysters and a lemon-basil gremolata at Raven &amp; Lily in Collierville's historic town square.&nbsp;</strong><span>(Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)</span>

The spiced lamb sausage and parmesan risotto has crispy oysters and a lemon-basil gremolata at Raven & Lily in Collierville's historic town square. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

<strong>The roasted chicken patty melt has green tomato chow chow, fried egg and grits on toast at Raven &amp; Lily.</strong><span>&nbsp;(Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)</span>

The roasted chicken patty melt has green tomato chow chow, fried egg and grits on toast at Raven & Lily. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian)

Topics

Dining Reviews Raven & Lily Collierville Restaurants
Jennifer Biggs

Jennifer Biggs

Jennifer Biggs is a native Memphian and veteran food writer and journalist who covers all things food, dining and spirits related for The Daily Memphian.


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