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VOL. 133 | NO. 80 | Friday, April 20, 2018

New Chef Takes Over at The Brass Door

By Andy Meek

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A new chef is moving into the kitchen at Downtown’s The Brass Door, taking over for Patrick Reilly, who’s spent the past six months helping to breathe new life into the re-opened Irish pub.

Demitrie Phillips, right, is taking over for Patrick Reilly, left, as chef at The Brass Door, which reopened in November. (Photo courtesy of The Brass Door)

Demitrie Phillips is taking over as chef and kitchen manager and will be helping execute the new menu Reilly created, in addition to managing a kitchen that’s been streamlined to bring quality and consistency to the restaurant.

Phillips brings an extensive resume with him, first making his mark on the Downtown dining scene at the restaurant Meditrina, where he was handpicked by Tsunami chef Ben Smith and the late Thomas Boggs of Huey’s.

While at Meditrina he showcased fresh dishes relying on his Greek heritage and extensive culinary training. He’s also helped craft menus at Bardog and Cafe Keough.

After a culinary sabbatical in San Francisco, Phillips came back to Memphis to lend his talents to Curb Market, where he’s worked as chef.

Reilly, along with his wife Deni, have been working to breathe new life into The Brass Door through their consulting company Majestic Hospitality Consultants. Reilly describes Phillips as a “serious culinary talent” who’d had a hand in some of Reilly’s favorite menus around the city.

“Demitrie has already begun to put his mark on the menu with some outstanding specials,” Reilly says. “He made this trout special the other day with a cabbage and bacon hash that tasted so much like home, I’m beginning to question his Greek heritage.”

Phillips, for his part, said he’s excited to be a part of the rebirth of “The Door,” which has a new focus on elevated pub fare and has positioned itself as a top quality casual dining option Downtown.

With food sourced from the freshest ingredients, including local produce, sustainably sourced seafood, aged beef and select Irish imports, the food at the pub is now as much of a draw as a perfectly poured pint of Guinness.

The menu - which takes inspiration from the Irish countryside of Reilly’s birth - offers classics like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, while at the same time exploring twists on modern Irish fare with dishes like the Roasted Vegetable Balti, a mild vegetarian curry or the John’s Lane Shrimp that features Gulf Shrimp in a roasted red pepper and Power’s whiskey sauce.

“There are not too many pubs anywhere, let alone in Memphis, where they are hand-cutting their own steaks, and putting the attention to detail into their food like we are here,” Phillips says.

The Brass Door re-opened in November with new management, new staff and the tweaked menu that focuses on elevated pub fare and includes Irish spirits, top quality wines and Irish and local craft beers. It’s open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner and also has a weekend early morning breakfast, as well as a Sunday brunch.

“Our goal has always been to be an authentic family pub,” said owner Scott Crosby. “The food that Patrick and now Demitrie are making fits perfectly into that vision. My family is comfortable enjoying brunch after church on Sunday, there are healthy lunch options for weekday lunch meetings, and you can grab a great steak and nice glass of wine for dinner.”

In helping reposition The Brass Door through their consulting operation, the Reillys operated from an understanding that pubs in Ireland today are more than a place to enjoy a good point. The country is experiencing what Reilly describes as a genuine food renaissance, and much of the change taking place is happening in the pubs, where families congregate to enjoy meals together.

“It was our goal,” he says, “to bring that same experience to The Brass Door.”

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