The people of Germantown keep good secrets. This may explain why I never heard about Blue Honey Bistro after 2+ years of operation until a few weeks ago.
I missed Jennifer Biggs’ September 2017 review of the tiny restaurant when she still wrote for The Commercial Appeal. She rated Blue Honey at 2.5 stars but stated they should succeed and that “a little time should make a difference.” She was right.
While visiting over morning coffee recently, Glenn Hayes of Cafe 1912 shared his plans to dine at Blue Honey Bistro. Paul took advantage of a day off from work to join Glenn for lunch there and couldn’t stop talking about it afterwards.
Chef Drew Bryan and wife Courtney co-own and operate the restaurant. The couple brings extensive education and experience to their enterprise. Drew, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City, Spring Creek Ranch in Collierville, River Oaks in Memphis, and Blackberry Farms in Walland, Tennessee. Courtney brings front of house experience from familiar Memphis establishments: J. Alexander’s, the old Jim’s Place East, River Oaks, and Acre Restaurant.
The Bryans knew they wanted the word honey in the name of their restaurant because of its inviting imagery. They settled on Blue Honey after the couple encountered a unique blue-colored honey mysteriously made by bees in North Carolina. They built a rare restaurant around this concept.
Paul and I recently visited Blue Honey with my mother for Saturday brunch. The small restaurant faces Poplar Avenue just east of Forest Hill-Irene Road in a strip mall. The cozy decor includes bright white wainscoting and furniture below deep dark blue walls and contemporary honey gold sconces and chandeliers that remind you of the name.
Since its last review, the bistro began offering a full bar with enticing house cocktails and a respectable wine and beer list for an establishment of this size. I ordered the sweet, tart, and effervescent Rosy Cheeks with Jolee Rose, Barr Hill Gin, Tattersall Sour Cherry, and lemon. Mom ordered a Bloody Mary, and Paul ordered a Chardonnay by Poseidon.
The short brunch menu offers a fantastic number of options in addition to a scallops entrée special described by our waiter. We started with the brunch version of Mushrooms & Toast with ciabatta, beurre blanc, gruyere, mushrooms from Bluff City Fungi, caramelized onions with bacon, and poached egg. This dish is Courtney Bryan’s favorite and appears on all their menus. The mushrooms emphasize a commitment to local foods. Like bees for their hive, the Bryans source many of their ingredients locally as they vary through the seasons.
The hive analogy stops there for there are no drones in this hive. The staff in the dining room provide knowledgeable, gracious, and attentive table service that you’d struggle to find elsewhere in our area. Our friendly waiter knew the menu like the back of his hand.
After the delicious mushroom appetizer, we enjoyed different entrées. Paul ordered the scallops special, three large perfectly seared pieces placed on a creamy bed of orzo with chopped parsley and a mirepoix of finely diced onion, carrots, and celery — simple and flavorful.
During a previous visit for a weekday lunch, Paul enjoyed a different preparation of scallops plated with a warm French lentil and vegetable salad.
After enjoying the richly flavored appetizer, Mom and I ordered salads to keep it light. The colorful Everything Salad came with mixed lettuces, blanched green beans, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, red onion, bacon, cucumber, goat cheese, poached radish, corn, broccoli, and a buttermilk dressing. French-inspired and fabulous!
The warm Grain Salad included a bed of creamy red quinoa, farro, brown rice, orzo, cannellini beans, broccoli, and red peppers finished with lightly toasted almonds, huge plump golden raisins, kale, and a champagne vinaigrette. Delicious and filling!
The brunch menu offered many other tempting options I’m anxious to try for future visits. Classic French bistro dishes included a Croque Monsieur and Madame, quiche, stuffed French toast, and Chicken Paillard. American options abound like biscuits and gravy, blueberry pancakes, and steak and eggs. Lunch and dinner menus frequently offer Wagyu beef dishes.
Already full, we almost skipped dessert. Paul warned us against the overwhelming but delicious banana split that he and Glenn Hayes couldn’t finish over their lunch.
We wisely ordered a press of coffee and the smallest dessert on the menu: a sensible sour cream cheesecake covered with dark chocolate ganache inside a mason jar. We enjoyed the rich sweet flavors without an ounce of guilt.
I’ve not written a restaurant review for the blog for quite a while, but my experience of Blue Honey Bistro led me to the keyboard. I hesitated to write anything about this restaurant, because I don’t want to fight everyone else for a reservation in the future. But I want Blue Honey hive to thrive. The excellent food from the kitchen, elegant and intimate space, and masterful table service make the drive east worth it.
The bistro serves lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch on Saturday.