Anybody who’s in a book club knows there are four key elements that must be in place for a meeting spot to qualify as great: relative quiet (as in, the ability to hear each other), late weeknight hours, ability to make a reservation, and a good drinks menu. It’s a definite perk when the restaurant offers round tables that seat large parties, since it’s much easier for a group to interact and maintain a single, inclusive conversation around a round table than a rectangular one. Other perks, but not requirements, are menus that appeal to a wide range of tastes, friendly service and easy, ample parking.
Here’s a list of 7 great restaurants to meet with your book club in Greater Memphis.
Soul Fish Café, Germantown
The Germantown location of Soul Fish Cafe is key here, because it’s big, with multiple rooms and several tables and areas that are large enough to accommodate a group. Also, the menu includes something for almost everyone, including the vegetarian in your club. 3160 Village Shops Drive, Germantown. 901-755-6988.
Bounty on Broad
Bounty on Broad's philosophy of shared dishes makes it fun for a larger group, and its upstairs dining room is relatively quiet with a home-like atmosphere, perfect for a discussion. Plus, the food is artful, interesting and always delicious. 2519 Broad Ave., Memphis. 901-410-8131.
A private room at Ciao Bella is available here when you reserve it in advance, and roundtables are a possibility, too. Classic Italian fare is typically crowd-pleasing. Plus, the bar here is extensive, great for the wine and cocktail lovers in your group. 565 Erin Drive, Memphis. 901-205-2500.
This Memphis staple might not meet every requirement on the list (i.e., it’s loud), but no matter what, when you meet at Huey’s your group is sure to have a great time. Prices are cheap, the food is great, and you’re guaranteed not to get run out of the place before your discussion is over. Locations in various parts of town.
South of Beale
Located on the trolley line in the South Main Arts District, South of Beale has all the elements you need for a perfect book club meeting. Depending on the night of the week, you’ll likely find the place quiet enough for easy banter (unless your club meets on weekend evenings, and then, well, you should probably give up and choose somebody’s living room). Plus, the food is consistently good, the alcohol freely flowing and the ambiance second to none. The staff will also place a “reserved” sign on your table when you call ahead.
361 S. Main St. 901-526-0388.
Mollie Fontaine Lounge
A little outside the box, this restaurant/lounge in Victorian Village has a moody, languid vibe that’s great for intellectual (and somewhat drunken) discussions. Set inside a century-old Victorian mansion with a reputation for being haunted and tidbits of its history hanging on the walls, Mollie Fontaine is sure to set the tone for a fun meeting – and pull some book club members out of their comfort zones. Be sure to start talking before the music starts playing – or ask to be seated upstairs. 679 Adams Ave.
Jim’s Place Grille
It’s classy, with a diverse, crowd-pleasing menu that includes some Jim’s Place signature Greek dishes. The atmosphere is laid back and the conversation level generally at a low buzz, which means it’s easy for everyone to hear and chime into the discussion. Also, the interior design is elegant and upscale, which makes it a great place for family gals (and guys) to dress up a bit and enjoy some grown-up time. 3660 S. Houston Levee Road, Collierville. 901-861-5000.