Upscale restaurant caters to New Albany community

September 9, 2018

NEW ALBANY, Miss. (AP) — A couple of years ago, four professionals in New Albany decided the small town needed an upscale restaurant downtown where they could entertain clients and friends.

In June 2017, the idea came to fruition with the opening of The Rainey Restaurant on Railroad Avenue near the Tanglefoot Trail.

“The biggest pro about the Rainey is it’s for New Albany,” said Jillian Andrews, general manager. “It’s not about making money as much as it’s about having something nice for New Albany. The owners are like family. They really are.”

The owners are jeweler Chuck Cooper, chiropractor Adam Martin, lawyer Bill Rutledge and physician Tom Shands.

“We get a lot of New Albany people in the restaurant and a lot of Oxford and Tupelo clientele,” Andrews said. “The demographic is a little older — 35 to late 60s. We have lots of local support. It’s a great date-night location. There’s nothing else in New Albany like us.”

The restaurant, which seats 80, prides itself on its seasonal menu and its fresh fish.

“Our fall/winter menu will be out in October,” she said. “We try to have a new menu every few months and I’m excited about the upcoming one. We’ll have lots of seasonal vegetables. Personally, I’m rooting for Brussels sprouts. We’ll see if that happens.”

Every Thursday, the restaurant gets a fresh shipment of fish. It might be snapper, grouper, redfish, swordfish, salmon or Chilean sea bass.

“Whatever is the freshest is what we get,” Andrews said. “It’s line-caught from the Gulf. We don’t know what we’re getting until the last minute. We get the pick of the litter and have the chef make a special from it.”

The chef is Stevens Flagg, who has been with the restaurant since before it opened.

“I was here a year prior to the opening to get everything in order,” said Flagg, who was previously the executive chef at Giardina’s at the Alluvian in Greenwood.

Andrews said on Thursday mornings, her phone begins ringing off the hook with people wanting to know what the fresh fish is and how Flagg is going to prepare it.

“I like to bring something different, but also something homey to the table,” Flagg said. “I like to think I cook comfort food, but also an experience, a pleasurable moment. It’s not just about fine dining. Food is the way to everybody’s heart and soul.”

Two of the restaurant’s most popular items are the Comeback Boom Shrimp appetizer and the old-fashioned cocktail.

The appetizer is fried Gulf shrimp tossed in a house comeback sauce and the cocktail is made with special-ordered black Luxardo cherries that are soaked in bourbon.

“If we took our boom shrimp and our old-fashioned off the menu, we’d have to close the doors,” Andrews said. “Somebody would kill me if we took those off the menu.”

Another best-seller is the Mango Chop entree, which is a grilled mango pepper jelly-glazed double bone-in pork chop that’s served with horseradish mashed potatoes.

“Honestly, that pork chop is a pretty big wow-factor,” Andrews said. “We constantly get compliments on it.”

Mondays are trivia night at the Rainey and there’s live music on Thursdays. Friday is the busiest day for the restaurant.

This fall, the restaurant hopes to expand with a private event space next door. It will be available for parties, receptions, corporate events, bridal showers and business meetings.

“It will hold 120 people,” Andrews said. “We’re shooting for it to open in October. I really want it to be open before the holidays.”


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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