Menu changes at Dennery’s are demonstrating that the restaurant’s executive chef, Will Brady, has a flair for creativity which extends beyond the kitchen.
The landmark restaurant is located at 330 Greymont Avenue, just across from the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, where it has operated for more than 29 years. Owner John Dennery said the restaurant was in its original location near the old bridge not too far from WLBT studios approximately 29 years. He has been in his Greymont location slightly longer than the original one.
Brady, who has been employed for a year, is in charge of changing the menus. “We try to make the adaptations seasonally to get the freshest of the season,” said Brady.
Dennery said a lot of what is in the menu comes from Brady’s creativity. Before Brady came to work, menus were adapted seasonally by the Dennery family.
Dennery said Brady has enhanced various dishes on the menu using flavors and spices.
The newest menu was published in March. It includes speckled trout. As Brady describes it, “freshly caught Gulf speckled trout parmesan and herb crusted, flash fried and oven roasted with sautéed house vegetables.”
Speckled trout replaces fresh Hawaiian mako shark, which is seasonal. When in season, Dennery has the shark flown in from Hawaii.
“It was an opportunity to do something different. The customers have loved it,” said Dennery.
Dennery said he can call Hawaii before noon, and “I can have it on my dock by 10 a.m. the next day from Federal Express.”
Roasted duck, a recent addition, is also proving popular with customers. As Brady describes it, “Duck breast pan seared and roasted. Coated in a warm soy sherry and honey broth served sliced with asparagus and warm slaw in a nest of sweet potatoes with a dark cherry reduction.”
“We offer duck all year. It’s wonderful. We have a good following,” said Dennery.
Hawaiian big eye tuna is included on the new menu. Brady describes it as “Sesame crusted, sushi grade tuna, seared to rare, served with wilted bok choy with rice noodles, pickled ginger and wasabi whipped cream drizzled with a port wine deglaze sauce.”
Brady’s use of spices are evident in the restaurant’s 12-spice pork tenderloin. He describes it as “Spiced pork served with asparagus, red bell pepper and wild rice complemented by a raspberry gastrique.”
Whole flounder is included in the latest menu with the description. “Broiled, served with house vegetables and a Tuscan lemon garlic aioli.”
Dennery said fried calamari is a popular appetizer. It is described in the new menu as “Fresh squid marinated in lemon juice and brine then flash fried served with a spicy tomato basil sauce on a bed of warm purple cabbage slaw and julienne, bell peppers and carrots.”
The best news for Dennery came in October when a new, outside sign was delivered. “It was right at a year (because of a backlog),” said Dennery. The previous sign was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
His parents, Nick and Leigh Dennery, began their restaurant in 1948. Dennery said he has been actively involved since age nine, working his way up from dishwasher to waiting tables and cooking.
Dennery graduated from Florida State University with a degree in hotel and restaurant administration and began working as manager in 1975. His son, Nick, who attends Mississippi State, helps at the restaurant whenever possible.
Customers continue to fill Dennery’s dining room and meeting rooms daily. They come for business meetings, political receptions, banquets, family gatherings or lunch. The clientele includes legislators, along with businessmen and -women from around the state who come to watch what’s happening at the Legislature.
Dennery’s also offers catering. It closes Christmas Day, Labor Day, July 4th, Easter, Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. The hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.