The Château de Versailles or Palace of Versailles, served as the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV. If you have ever visited, it is the definition of opulence and beauty, especially when taking a stroll through the ceremonial Hall of Mirrors. You can’t help marveling at the craftsmanship and purposed detail of every column, molding, and ornamental design.
On our recent Black Foodie Tour of Memphis, Tennessee, I once again experienced the marvel and appreciation of purposed design, but this time it was via some homemade fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Prive, located at 6980 Winchester Rd, Memphis, TN 38115 is a beautiful merger of superior interior design and exemplary low country Black American cuisine.
We were pleasantly surprised by the warm greeting received from the security staff when we arrived to dine on Saturday, because typically, security guards at popular restaurants, bars, and clubs are a$$holes. The wait was well over an hour, but we had driven from Miami, so we were more than happy to wait. While talking with the security guard, he suggested we speak with the manager.
Mrs. Geraldine Mims, the mother of American Rapper Yo Gotti, emerged from the busy restaurant to speak with us. Although she had no idea who we were, she was so graceful and genuinely concerned on our issue that it felt like I was talking to my auntie. Like, seriously. I know most people say that, but her countenance was so peaceful and authentic. She suggested that we return the next day to enjoy Soulful Sundays where SHE would be preparing her signature fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, and cabbage.
We returned the next day to find the place busy again. The restaurant is stand-alone space adjacent to a busy strip mall and the scent of Black Sunday dinner was filling the air as we approached the entrance. Folks waited peacefully and patiently outside and in their cars for exceptional cuisine that Momma Mims begins preparing as early as 6 a.m. (Yes, Yo Gotti. She is everyone’s mother when dining at her amazing spot so you and Robin need to share).
The Fried Chicken and Fried Pork Chop were both stars! The chicken was particularly remarkable, even for chicken-fanatics in Memphis and Nashville. The bird is perfectly prepared in every way—crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. The flavor profile was what I can only imagine to be a homemade house seasoning blend that Ms. Mims keeps guarded, as NOBDOY is allowed in the kitchen when she cooks. Seriously. I was in awe that she honors the tradition of the Black American grandmother who rushed all family out of the kitchen after assisting her chop and prep.
There’s also no need for a long buttermilk marinade because the flavor was persistent with each bite past the crunchy exterior. Our sides included macaroni and cheese, yams cabbage, collard greens, black eyed peas, and my favorite lima beans. Each side was prepared to Black Thanksgiving Grandma approval in taste, texture, and smell.
The manager of the space is Momma Mims’ daughter Robin, who was sweet and all about business as she consistently checked on the staff and food quality while our crew filmed the restaurant’s beautiful interior during this unplanned dining and review experience. Impressive, since our food came out the same as every customer. The only difference was our opportunity to speak with staff and tour their immaculately clean kitchen.
Next up was their Turkey and Dressing. Good God Almighty. Momma Mims gotta calm down with this type of cooking because I am trying my best to get at least two damn abs. That dressing was AMAZING! She obviously made her cornbread from scratch as a base, while incorporating sauteed aromatic vegetables in butter with the ubiquitous onion and celery. I wonder if she also added some herbs, as the dressing had a pleasant aromatic depth to it. Maybe sage or thyme, either way, it was well balanced.
A homemade turkey stock gravy is used to create the incredible drippings that smothered the deliciously baked Turkey Wings. The turkey was the right amount of tenderness, which made it easy for your fork to glide through while picking up globs of delicious dressing for a one-two punch to your palate! Yes, Lord!
The seafood was also on point. So much so, I devoured the shrimp and grits in under five minutes while Robin spoke with Momma Mims about restaurant business. My inner fat man tried in vain to downplay my greed and hunger, because I was literally salivating about the grits, which were creamy, buttery, and packed with flavor and topped with delicious sauteed shrimp.
This dish was a picturesque tribute to the African-American Gullah people responsible for this amazing pairing. Dating back to the 1500s, the Gullah people lived in small farming and fishing communities along the Atlantic coastal plain, as well as the chain of Sea Islands which run parallel to the coast in mostly Georgia and the Carolinas. Yeah, Black folk been cooking for a long time and Mrs. Mims folks’ are from the Mississippi Delta region, so there may just be a connection with this dynamic cooking.
The fried catfish was everything! I appreciated that it was crisp on the outside with a delicate, moist, dense meat that was not as flaky and had less of the translucency and iridescence that is sometimes a turnoff when preparing this white fish. Catfish can be difficult to fry, like chicken breast, because it can quickly become chewy and dry when overcooked. Momma Mims is skilled in not only frying the fish to a golden-brown consistency perfection, but the seasoning was flawless.
Our final seafood dish was the Lobster Bowl. That s#$@ WAS AMAZING! Being from Miami and knowing good seafood, I was super impressed that Memphis had a lobster comparable to any of Miami Beach’s respectable seafood forward eateries, but Momma Mims’ lobster had more soul. If you are a lobster lover, then this would be your wet dream. Wait, that was kind of uncalled for. Tell you what, I’ll use another more appropriate analogy because it was so f#$@&#* good that we will be back to cover their dinner and weekday menu. Yes, they are bougie and fancy with different menus for the weekdays and Saturday.
Prive was an amazing experience from dining to their incredible bar. Oh, forgot about their off the chain bar. I even had the privilege of making Ms. Mims and Robin one of my cocktails and let’s just say, I may have a career in sight as a moonlighting bartender. Can’t wait for our next visit in covering their dinner weekday menu. You can call Prive for reservations at (901) 552-4760.