Who knew???? What I did know is that Paisley’s Cafe closed its doors and later announced that it would reopen under a new name, Jeri’s Midtown Cafe, by Paisley’s operational manager. What I didn’t know is that Jeri was my long lost friend from my days as a bartender at Outback Steakhouse, where we both worked to put ourselves through college. She remained in the hospitality industry all these years, earning her BS in Hospitality Management from Florida State University. When I found out my friend has her name on a sign in front of a restaurant she now calls her own, I immediately bumped Jeri’s Midtown Cafe up to the very top of my “to try list”, with a next day priority.
Once I got there, I took a pic in front of her sign and posted it to my Instagram Stories. Well, Jeri or someone in her crew noticed and she came running out right away and gave me a big hug, my first after several years had passed. I have a little help at my Tallahassee Foodies Facebook group now, Becca our new moderator, so I invited her to lunch as a thank you for all the time she has put into our little community. This was the perfect opportunity for us to get to know each other, while also catching up with Jeri when she had a few brief moments to stop by. It was a great team building moment, all while chatting about our delicious food and the beautiful space around us.
Now I know what some of you are going to say, “They just opened, I’m going to give them time to work out the details on food and service before giving them a try”. Jeri kept the Paisley team together and some of your favorites are still on the menu, so they know EXACTLY what they’re doing. When Jeri found out Paisley was closing, she wanted to keep “the family” together and they had exactly 2 and a half weeks of downtime to make it happen, which included running around town getting permits in order and a fresh coat of paint on much of what you see outside. I have no idea how they pulled this off, but they came together as a team and no jobs were lost.
In chatting with Jeri, she added, “I just hated to see Paisley go away. We were such a family…(me and the staff). I am Aunt JJ to them! They put their blood, sweat and tears into helping me get this place open in just 2.5-3 weeks! So it’s definitely just as much theirs as it is mine. It was a whirlwind of dust, tears, sweat, paint, dirt, light bulbs… and some alcohol.”
And now, on to the food. Let’s just say I can taste the love I had for Paisley cafe in every bite, yet everything is so very Jeri. She’s put her own spin on their classics and they delivered beautiful dish after dish. We were greeted with a scoop of their delicious pimento cheese with crackers, complimentary to all guests, and then ordered a couple of their ice-cold refresher beverages – the Very Berry Lemonade and the Island Splash Lemonade served in mason jars with fresh fruit.
I always order shrimp and grits if it’s on the menu and theirs is FANTASTIC (also a favorite of mine at Paisley). This dish featured creamy smoked gouda grits, a very hearty portion of jumbo shrimp, cajun cream sauce, an herb garnish, and a Tribeca baguette slice. When I was sure I had ordered the best dish on the menu, I had a spoonful of Becca’s lobster bisque with chives, and parmesan and I was Wow’ed! Often when I try bisque, the flavor comes from heat. This had the perfect “not too hot” heat level, yet was still bursting with flavor!
Right before taking off, our server Abby, who happens to the be daughter of a server Jeri and I worked with at Outback years ago (another “who knew?” moment), surprised us with a hefty serving of their Nutella bread pudding and we did not let a bite go untouched. I am a Nutella addict (my New Zealand bestie introduced me to Nutella 13 years ago before I could even find it in the States), so this was a super pleasant surprise, as we had no idea it was on the menu.
Jeri provided the images immediately above so you can have a look-see at more of their current offerings. Her menu says, “Love on a Plate”, and you really can taste their love for what they serve in every bite. Jeri shared, “Our food is simple, clean, and made with love. We don’t have any fryers or open flame. Everything is roasted, sautéed, broiled, fresh cut, sliced and diced. We make everything from scratch if we can, and only use the highest quality ingredients – Ile de France Brie, Tribeca Oven Demi Baguettes, Dukes Mayonnaise, hand-pulled chicken, house roasted veggies, scratch made Nutella bread pudding and pimento cheese, fresh petite blueberry muffins, and house made chicken stock.”
Ya’ll, I’m not just saying this because she’s my friend, but I really need to gush for a second. My friend Jeri is sweet, colorful, and spunky, just like the space that now surrounds her. The restaurant and the food are wonderful, capturing much of what you loved about Paisley, but with a lovely new Jeri twist on everything. Each guest leaving would give her a massive smile and wave and she’d respond with a big, “Thank ya’ll for coming, I appreciate you”.
Jeri’s Midtown Cafe, available for brunch, lunch, events and catering, is open every day, Monday through Friday, 11 – 2, and Saturday through Sunday, 10 – 2. Check out their full menu.