The Cooper-Young district welcomes New Orleans style gulf seafood to their array of restaurant options to choose from. Whether you are out for brunch or dinner, Elwood’s Shells will you give that much-needed change in your typical cuisine.
Much like Elwood’s Shack, its sister restaurant on Summer Ave., Elwood’s Shells is small and gives off a homestyle feel. The atmosphere is full of color, flowers, and artwork. Original paintings from Lamar Sorrento line each of the walls. Shells wanted to showcase local Memphis art and the staff’s favorite artists like Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, and even Hemingway.
Tim Bednarski, owner of Elwood’s Shack and Shells, originally planned to open up the second location in downtown Memphis, but things fell apart. Luckily, he came across the building in Cooper-Young and instantly fell in love with the location and neighborhood. The concept he had for decades has finally come true, and we all get to experience the food behind the brain of the operation.
Bednarski had family in New Orleans and grew up with Gulf Coast seafood. His childhood comes to life in Elwood’s Shells, and we have no complaints. He created the menu with his life-long experience in the restaurant business and even threw in old recipes such as the clam chowder.
It takes more than one guy to run a restaurant though, and Elwood’s Shells brought in Memphis’ A-team with some of the best chefs in the 901 along with the thoroughly trained servers from Huey’s—pretty much guaranteeing a positive service experience.
Enough with the restaurant environment talk, let’s get down to the good stuff…the food.
If you know me, you know I am a sucker for breakfast food. And breakfast items UNDER $10?? Count me in. I am all about getting the most for your buck and the Debris Burrito did not disappoint. It is a fat burrito stuffed with something that most breakfast places don’t have –New Orleans style roast beef– then egg, shredded hash browns, jalapenos, onion, tomato, and cheddar cheese. The side of homemade tomatillo sauce is there if you’re feeling a little extra kick. It’s not egg heavy like most breakfast burritos though, but some extra beef never hurt. If you are one of those people who can’t stand a little spice, then this dish may not be for you.
Second on my list was the Banana Foster Waffles. Fresh bananas, Belgian waffles, and homemade whipped cream might be my new favorite combination. I have never had Banana Foster Waffles before this (sorry), but this certainly won’t be my last. It had a good balance of crunch and sweetness with the sugar pearls and rum sauce. The whipped cream was to die for. It was thick and didn’t melt away after a few minutes like the kind you buy at the store.
I have never been a big grits lover, but I decided to be open-minded and give the Shrimp and Grits a try. Let me tell you, I was shook. I could never get past the texture of normal grits, but these were something special. The grits have three cheeses in them, and my Wisconsin side loved every bit of it. The shrimp and sausage were perfect as expected and the smoked plum tomatoes gave the dish that extra bit of flavor but made a big difference. This one also had a little bit of a kick to it as well. 10/10!