Happy 10th birthday, Majestic Grille

One day in December 2005 I was walking down the Main Street Mall, on my way for a beer or two at the Saucer, when I ran into my friend Patrick Reilly. I had met Patrick two years earlier when he managed the Gibson Lounge and I attended several events there. Later Patrick managed Swig, the martini bar in the location that is now the Silly Goose. On that winter day, Patrick told me about his latest project. “Have you heard about the new restaurant?” he asked.

“No, not yet,” I replied. “Is it going to be Downtown?”

“Yes, in the old Gordon Biersch space,” Patrick told me. I had eaten at Gordon Biersch several times and while I did like their crawfish pizza, I hoped that their closing would make way for something local. Patrick began to tell me about the new restaurant that he and his then-girlfriend Deni were planning. “Did you know the building used to be a movie theater?” he asked. “It was called the Majestic. In the 1930s it was the place to be to watch the latest movies and shorts and newsreels. We’re going to keep the movie theater theme and call it The Majestic Grille.” Patrick said that it was going to be a place that while classy and elegant, would also be a place where diners would feel comfortable being themselves. The menu would be upscale American, but unlike some nice restaurants, the portions would be sizable, not skimpy. They were planning a bar where guests could get a cocktail on par with any cocktail lounge in town.

Patrick and Deni, you NAILED it.

When people ask me “What is your favorite restaurant?”, the Majestic is my answer.

When out-of-towners ask where they should go eat, the Majestic is my first recommendation.

There is no dish Downtown that says “comfort food” like the Majestic’s half roasted chicken, in pan juices with garlic mash and green beans. Of course I always ask for their focaccia bread and plenty of butter.

My favorite steak Downtown is the Majestic filet. I get it cooked medium rare with the garlic mash. Sometimes I will get the filet the simple way, topped with Majestic butter. Other times I will get it Au Poivre with a peppercorn crust and Jameson sauce. Like the chicken, it never disappoints.

When I want something more low-key, I might order the Majestic Burger, which can stand up to any burger in town. Other days I might decide on the Majestic’s Famous Grilled Cheese, with aged cheddar, bacon, tomato, and Creole mustard.

In 2007, the restaurant added Sunday brunch. Our regular brunch spot Sleep Out Louie’s just closed and the Majestic’s bar was a perfect place for us to relocate. Many a Sunday I would start my day with the smoked salmon hash or the breakfast flatbread. One of our group, my “DAWG” John D, even got a breakfast named after him. The Majestic is a very popular pre-theater and pre-ballgame destination, so much so that they eventually backed up their opening time to 10:30 AM on Sundays.

The holidays are always a special time. During the month of December the Majestic hosts Sunday suppers, family-style dinners that feed four. Diners are treated to classic Christmas movies on the big screen. The big holiday event every year is Clark’s Christmas, with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the screen, with a costume contest and tacky sweater contest. This is one of the most popular Downtown events of the season and it always sells out with a long waiting list.

I have spent several New Year’s Eves with friends at the Majestic. Those were some of my favorite NYEs ever. They have their regular menu plus a few surprises from Chef Patrick, and it is an elegant but unpretentious spot to ring in the new year, a place for my friends and me to feel at home away from the craziness.

I’ve been to wedding receptions there. I’ve been to art openings there. I’ve been to rallies for my Congressman there. What an asset to Downtown. Our neighborhood just would not be the same at all without this lovely restaurant which, as of yesterday, has been open for 10 years. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a gala celebration of this milestone, a fantastic evening with good friends, good food, and good cocktails.

Congratulations Patrick and Deni. Downtown is so much richer a place because of the two of you.