If you want to entice a seasoned restaurateur to open an eatery in a quiet suburb, offer him just the right spot. Mac Edwards is no stranger to the Memphis restaurant scene. He has been serving up delightful farm-to-fork fare with his quirky Southern charm inside the I-240 loop for decades. Opening a spot in Collierville was not on his radar until he got an offer that was too tempting to turn down. “This location is the filet mignon of Collierville’s historic town square. I couldn’t say ‘no’ when they called,” jokes Mac, with a clever culinary reference to boot.
The former owner of McEwen’s on Monroe and current owner of The Farmer and Chandelier, Mac is passionate about supporting local farmers. A founding board member of the downtown Memphis Farmers Market, Mac sources ingredients from vendors that provide sustainable, pasture-based meat and poultry and produce grown without pesticides. “Buying local is the best way to go,” says Mac. “There is no better way to buy food than when you can look the person in the eye who grew the vegetables or raised the chicken. Yes, it’s good for the local economy, but what it really comes down to is that locally grown food just tastes better.”
Commercial real estate agent Stephen Levy made the wise decision to introduce Mac and Watty Brooks. Watty’s father was the proprietor of the longstanding Brooks Pharmacy, and she was looking for a new tenant. Luckily for folks in Collierville, the two hit it off, and Mac nabbed the desirable spot for his latest endeavor. And, if you know Mac, you will find it no surprise that he thought it fitting to pay homage to Brooks Pharmacy in the name of his new eatery, Brooks Pharm2Fork, which opened in late January.
Mac also brought the pharmacy’s history into the design of his charming restaurant. “I wanted the restaurant to be comfortable,” explains Mac, “and I wanted it to be interesting, so I used as many artifacts from the original pharmacy as possible.”
The down-home décor perfectly complements the country cooking, while also embracing the historic nature of this old town square. The old-school interiors offer the feeling of walking into a small town country café that has a funky modern edge. Mac kept the original exposed brick walls and added reclaimed wood to the partitions. For seating, he chose antique wood and metal school chairs. A large wooden community table is the centerpiece of the dining room, over which hangs an eye-catching light fixture featuring Mason jar globes.
And from the original pharmacy: multiple signs, a nut warmer and a popcorn dispenser adorn the walls. He even has the store’s Wonder Horse. (Fun historical fact: Wonder Horse toys were invented and originally manufactured in Collierville in the 1960s!) “I wanted it so that wherever you sit, you are always seeing something new,” Mac adds.
Tucked away in the back of the restaurant is a cozy bar that you might miss if you didn’t know it was there. It is the perfect hangout for a glass of wine or a cocktail before or after dinner. At lunch, the bar stools and cocktail tables are packed with diners.
And — the food!
If you have dined at The Farmer, you will recognize many of the menu items. All of the favorites are there: Pan-seared Lake’s catfish in a smoky tomato broth, pot roast, bahn mi sandwiches, the open-faced ham-and-pear sandwich and the chicken tostada salad. “We serve elevated comfort food,” says Mac, “or you can think of it as fancy Southern food.” Whatever you call it, his dishes are classic recipes with a modern twist.
To start, consider a cup of the winter squash bisque with marshmallow crème fraîche. The hint of marshmallow adds a fun and tasty twist to a classic silky soup. Mac’s to-die-for farm-fresh deviled eggs — the preparation changes daily at the whim of the chef — are perfect for sharing. For the main course, try the oven-roasted chicken. Topped with a classic au jus, this piece of brined chicken is fork tender and absolutely delicious. The chicken is perfectly complemented by a mélange of oven-roasted vegetables which include potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers and onions.
The most popular dish on the menu is the old-school salmon patties. “It’s my mother’s recipe. She used canned salmon, but we use fresh roasted salmon. I think it is so popular because it is very comforting and no other fine dining restaurant in town is serving it.” Mac is also a wizard with vegetables. With three freshly prepared seasonal, farm-fresh options, the vegetable plate is an entrée not to be overlooked.
For lunch or lighter fare, order the chicken Cobb salad. This lovely salad includes a blend of baby greens, oven-roasted chicken, hard-cooked farm egg, Marmilu Farms bacon, local tomatoes and sliced avocado. The Porto Burger is a new menu option worth considering. This sandwich — a great big mushroom cap on a fresh-baked bun, topped with oven-dried tomato, onion remoulade and crisp lettuce — makes for a filling and tasty lunch.
Save room for dessert, though! Just like every good Southern host, Mac offers a selection of homemade cakes and pies. He just might arrive at your table with a big, sinful wedge of strawberry cake and a smile, just doing what he does best — delivering down-home culinary goodness, from farm to fork.
Brooks Pharm2Fork is located at 120 East Mulberry St., Collierville, TN 38017. Lunch is served daily, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., no reservations except for groups of six or more. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner reservations accepted for any size party. To make a reservation, call (901) 853-7511 or visit brookspharm2fork.com.
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