It’s been written that the name McEwen is derived from Gaelic origins, an ancient family name symbolically associated with the enduring and distinctive yew tree. Stalwart, unique and different; the yew tree was an extraordinarily important part of Celtic history.
In June 2011, Lee Cauthen, long-time manager of the Downtown Grill, partnered with Bert Smythe and John Littlefield of McEwen’s Memphis, 120 Monroe Avenue, to open McEwen’s Oxford.
“McEwen’s on Monroe was and still is one of my favorite restaurants in Memphis,” Cauthen said. “When the Downtown Grill closed, I knew there was going to be a void to fill on the Oxford Square and I wanted to remain in the restaurant business. It was perfect timing to form a partnership with McEwen’s Memphis to bring my favorite dishes from there to merge with my vision for a new restaurant in Oxford.” Burton Webb is a manager of McEwen’s Oxford. Webb said that the Oxford restaurant strove to be different from its inception.
“Our menu was based off of the Memphis restaurant’s offerings,” Webb said. “Scallops, sea bass, salmon – signature dishes,” Webb said. “However, our chef develops his own dishes to expand the menu according to his culinary roots. The impact of being unique among all the other restaurants on the Square provided us a great opportunity. The owners strove to be bold and gregarious with the décor, yet provide an atmosphere that allowed customers to relax and just have a good time. McEwen’s has been well received, and we are very appreciative of the community’s support.”
McEwen’s Oxford is closed on Mondays, but Tuesday through Friday, they’re open for lunch and dinner: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner. Hours are extended on Friday and Saturday evenings until 10 p.m.
“Our chef, Dustin, developed a fantastic Sunday Brunch menu that has proved to be very popular,” Webb said. “We started serving brunch on Sundays the beginning of August.”
Dustin Little is the executive chef and studied at the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon. Little has been a chef for 11 years.
“After college, I came back to Oxford and studied under Chef Potter at the University Club,” Little said. “I’ve worked here since 2012 and absolutely love it. Some of our specialty dishes include fresh Mississippi-caught catfish, breaded with fresh masa, which is finely ground corn meal, served over cheddar cheese grits that are locally stone-ground and topped with a Roma tomato and crawfish ragout. We also offer a fantastic seared duck breast and a Compart Farms Pork Osso Buco.”
McEwen’s also has a full bar and serves many specialty cocktails. Our bartenders were trained by Alchemy in Memphis which is owned by two of the partners. “One of our most popular cocktails is ‘The Grove’ in a Glass, which is fresh lemon juice, Maker’s Mark bourbon, Grand Mariner, cane sugar and mint.”
McEwen’s also enjoys offering its customer’s something different and unique when it comes to their palates and their pocketbooks, tantalizing them with singular foods at amazing prizes.
“This past summer we promoted a weekly tasting menu,” Webb said. “It was offered on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and was strictly the chef’s creation based on fresh foods he had on hand. He would come up with a four-course tasting menu — $35 per person, and it was really to invite local patrons in to get a taste of something they might not usually be served. So, it gave the chef and our customers something different to look forward to.”
Webb has worked at several upscale restaurants in Oxford before coming to McEwen’s, including 208 South Lamar and City Grocery, but he said it was the personal touch at McEwen’s that sets them apart.
“People always tell our wait staff that they know everyone by name,” Webb said, “And it’s true. We have customers who come in on a regular basis and they’re remembered each time. It makes a difference. We appreciate our customers and want them to keep coming back to see us. Our staff really strives to provide the best service and food in Oxford.”
Unique style, personalized service and the most savory of foods around; McEwen’s does the ancient family name proud.
Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.