Hubby and I realized we hadn’t yet been to Meridian since the chef change, and after a friend texted me about the steak tartare she was eating there, I knew it was time. I am a sucker for steak tartare (or tuna tartare, or whatever tartare).
Hubby and I took advantage of the lovely weather we were having (hello, autumn, I have missed you) and sat out on their patio. Alone for quite awhile (the place was just not very busy), but it was still lovely. We were mostly excited by the appetizers, which if you read a lot you know is often the case, and decided to split several. We started with the prime beef tartare (I think it was around $12) which was very good. The beef was, well, raw and nice and tender and flavorful, and when you added the egg yolk on top, it turned into a wonderful creamy mix. You need something to cut the richness, and there was some capers and onion mixed with the meat. It was served on top of a horseradish cream, which was the right amount of heat to help as well, although I wished there had been just a little more of it. The ripe bits of tomatoes were a nice acidic complement as well, and we LOVED the crispy fried garbanzo beans. We only regretted sort of stirring them in a little too soon, because they lost their crispness and they had been so great when you bit into a crispy one. Next time (and I will get it again if it is on the menu) I would scoot them aside and parcel them out with each bite. The flatbread served with it had a nice flavor too and the crispy edges were my favorite part. I would love them to be a little crispier as I am partial to things like potato chips with my tartare, but that’s just my own preference. You really didn’t care that much about the vehicle since the rest of it was so good.
We then got two more appetizers to share—the shrimp and grits ($13.25) and the hot/cold smoked salmon ($11.50). The shrimp also featured an egg, a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg that was quite honestly the highlight of the dish. Not to say the rest wasn’t good, because it was—the whole dish was great. There were two large shrimp on top of nice creamy grits with thin asparagus spears, melted leeks (one of my other favorite ingredients), that egg and little prosciutto. It was like a perfect breakfast—a little ham, a little egg, and some grits. Oh and shrimp. Honestly, I would be hard pressed to not get this again as well.
Hubby says the salmon was one of the menu items that has been on the Meridian menu for awhile, but honestly I can’t tell you if he is right or not. I can tell you that we enjoyed it although probably not quite as much as the other two dishes. It is ball of herby creamy cheese with the hot smoked salmon mixed in—it has that smokier flavor. Layered around the ball was the cold smoked salmon making a lovely presentation. The salmon was on top of red onion marmalade and drizzled with herb oil. I liked the marmalade for a little bit of sweet and tartness with the smoky salmon. It was served with nicely oiled and toasted sliced of bread, which was nice and thin to maintain all the flavor of the salmon. It is a very generous portion and probably a better portion to share with more than 2 people—it was the only thing we didn’t finish (and lick the plate). We also had a side of the fries ($5.50), which are really quite good. Our server told me one of their secrets is using a little sugar with the salt. They didn't taste sweet to me at all, but they were really good--fresh and crisp and plenty salty. They didn't really need the ketchup that came with them and they were good for dipping up leftover sauce from the other plates.
We had the classic Meridian dessert-- one which I know has been on the menu for awhile because I have had it before—the fresh made doughnuts. As always, you can’t really go wrong with freshly made hot doughnuts. They are shaken in cinnamon sugar and served with malted coffee to dip in. It’s a good one to share and hit the spot for a sweet ending, even if they aren’t mind blowing or anything.
We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and felt like with three appetizers between us, we had more than enough food. I am imagining the entrées are huge. I was a little concerned with their business though—the restaurant was pretty empty (including the patio) and a friend who went recently on a Saturday said the same thing. Our server, while exceptionally knowledgeable about the food and the chef, was almost over the top in the amount of information he gave (it was a situation in which I am pretty sure he assumed we knew nothing about food which I find annoying). But the food alone will make us return for sure.