Time for a Change 

The first day of spring is around the corner, which means that many restaurants in town will be updating their seasonal menus soon. Several local eateries, however, couldn't wait until the warmer weather to show off their new menus. Other places are newly open for lunch or have added Sunday brunch.

Here's what's going on:

At the Majestic Grille, the dinner menu has been given a makeover and Sunday brunch is now served.

The revamped menu includes a selection of artisan cheese, house-smoked salmon, and shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and Andouille sausage for appetizers. For entrées, there's grilled pork tenderloin, Atlantic salmon, the "Smoker's Anonymous" barbecue ribs (using a barbecue team's secret recipe), and roasted mahi-mahi, plus many steak choices such as filet mignon, New York strip, bone-in rib-eye, hanger steak, and filet au poivre.

The brunch, which is offered along with the regular lunch menu, includes smoked-salmon hash browns, two different frittatas, steak and eggs, huevos rancheros, French toast, and shrimp and grits -- and all dishes are under $15. A big draw of the brunch -- and we do mean big -- is the Majestic Mimosa, a bottle of champagne with orange juice and fresh oranges for $12. Regular mimosas and Bloody Marys are $3 each.

The Majestic Grille, 145 S. Main (522-8555)

Lulu Grille has recently unveiled its spring menu.

"First Plates," as the restaurant calls its appetizers, include Lulu's Classic Beginning, a plate to share that comes with house-smoked salmon, assorted cheeses, marinated vegetables, olives, and accompaniments. Lobster asparagus ravioli, jumbo sea scallops, grilled quail, and duck quesadillas are also available as a first course.

Dinner items come with a salad and include lamb loin, veal piccata, venison chops, two choices of certified Black Angus steaks -- cowboy rib-eye and New York Strip -- duck breast, jumbo shrimp, salmon, mahi-mahi, and sea scallops as well as a couple of pasta dishes.

For brunch, Lulu Grille now offers a full-scale à la carte menu with a variety of eggs Benedict, such as the traditional with Canadian bacon, poached egg, and hollandaise or with parmesan-crusted tomatoes and wilted spinach, smoked salmon, or grilled portabella mushroom. Omelets and frittatas come in several varieties as well, and the menu is rounded out by waffles, French toast, eggs and hash, a small variety of sandwiches, and, of course, mimosas, Bloody Marys, Bellinis, and screwdrivers. None of the brunch choices is above $12, and all items include the "brunch bar," with cinnamon buns, muffins, fruit, and pasta salads.

Lulu Grille, 565 Erin (763-3677)

Interim Restaurant & Bar, in the space formerly occupied by Wally Joe restaurant, recently opened for lunch. The menu is to-the-point, offering appetizers such as chicken salad with toasted almonds and sage pesto, Gulf Coast crab cakes, and macaroni-and-cheese casserole. Sandwiches include cheeseburgers, tuna melts, and steak sandwiches, and there's pizza with chorizo sausage, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, and Fontina cheese. Entrées include a fresh fish of the day, grilled chicken breast, wild mushroom risotto, roasted pork tenderloin, and pasta with either grilled chicken or shrimp.

The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Interim Restaurant & Bar, 5040 Sanderlin (818-0821)

click to enlarge Benjamin Vaughn, executive chef at River Oaks
  • Benjamin Vaughn, executive chef at River Oaks

Benjamin Vaughn, executive chef at River Oaks restaurant, has given his menu a spring makeover as well.

Among the appetizers are Sauternes-poached nectarines and shaved avocado with hearts of frisée, dandelion greens, citrus mustard vinaigrette and brioche; red and golden beets with blood orange vinaigrette; Florida spiny lobster agnolotti; elk carpaccio with shaved summer truffles; mustard- and herb-crusted sweetbreads with roasted aubergine and crispy shaved polenta twills and asparagus confit; and a charcuterie selection of house-prepared meats and local cheeses as well as a daily selection of specialty oysters. Meat lovers will be satisfied by the restaurant's variety of lamb, duck, chicken, and beef entrées. The fish selection for spring includes Yellow Fin tuna, Florida grouper, Diver scallops, and Halibut cheeks.

River Oaks,5871 Poplar(683-9305)

The Peabody hotel will honor St. Patrick's Day throughout March with a celebration of Ireland. In addition to Chez Philippe's "Taste of Ireland" dinner on March 15th, the restaurant is offering weekly Irish specials, including entrées of steak and Guinness pie, Irish bacon and cabbage soup, lamb stew, and desserts such as gooseberry crumble and Bailey's bread pudding with chocolate-chip Bailey's ice cream.

The Peabody's Lobby Bar and Corner Bar will feature Guinness, Bushmills, and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Celtic Crossing liqueur, and will serve Irish Coffee, Irish Stingers, and Irish Chocolate Kisses.

Chez Philippe's "Taste of Ireland" dinner offers a five-course menu with traditional Irish dishes that have a modern twist. Irish-born Patrick Reilly of the Majestic Grille will accompany chef de cuisine Reinaldo Alfonso in the kitchen during this special evening. The dinner starts at 6 p.m., and the price is $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity. For reservations, call 529-4188.

The Peabody, 149 Union (529-4000)

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