When I think of McEwen's on Monroe, I think of banana pie. It's one of the great Memphis desserts. So it was no surprise when McEwen's co-owner Bert Smythe told me the pie actually goes by the name "McEwen's World Famous Banana Cream Pie."
This sophisticated banana pie bears no similarity to its country cousin, banana pudding. The graham cracker crust has mashed bananas in it, said Gayane Tumanyan, who makes between 10 and 15 of the pies a week. The custard includes heavy cream, corn starch, sugar, butter and egg yolk, but no bananas, she said. She adds a layer of custard on the crust, then a layer of bananas and, finally, another layer of custard. A chocolate drizzle tops it off. The slice I got Tuesday came with a plump sliced strawberry.
I was surprised to learn the banana cream pie recipe isn't the original recipe. McEwen's pastry chef Jenny Dempsey came up with this version 10 years ago, Tumanyan said. It is the McEwen's banana cream pie featured in USA Today, Gourmet magazine and the book "Killer Pies," which is why it's called "world famous," Smythe said.
I thought the pie had peanuts or peanut butter in it, but this one doesn't. It still tastes, to me, like the McEwen's banana pie I've been ordering since I first discovered it. It's pricey at $5.25 a slice at lunch and $7 a slice at night. A whole pie contains eight slices and sells for $38 day or night. Give the restaurant some notice if you want to order a whole pie.
-- Michael Donahue: 529-2797
McEwen's on Monroe, 122 Monroe, is open for lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; for dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 527-7085.