State of the art dining is what guests may expect at the Gallery Restaurant. Just as the McCarty Pottery Barn is a well-kept secret, so too, is their dining offering, which was established by Lee McCarty to give his pottery shoppers a place to enjoy lunch. With a population of approximately 600, eating options in Merigold, Mississippi are limited, but McCarty has created a rare lunch experience in the quaint little village.
The McCarty reputation has once again preceded them. Word of mouth has educated people about the tea room’s existence, as it has the Pottery Barn, and likewise, there is no signage to verify that one has arrived. But a collection of bamboo and a cypress fence on Sunflower Street is a clue that Lee McCarty has struck again! Before entering the distinctive restaurant, visitors walk on a lovely old-brick sidewalk through a lush garden dressed for outdoor dining, which is handsomely highlighted with impressive decorative pieces of McCarty pottery.
The restaurant itself is yet another example of the sophisticated simplicity that is the hallmark of Lee McCarty’s exceptional style. His personality and exquisite taste infuses every room, and in addition to many offerings of his own art, there is one example after another of his wide reaching interests and his love of art from all around the region and the world. Unusual pieces of furniture accent the rooms, and artful arrangements adorn each one, including atop the grand piano that sits at one end of the main dining room.
“New York cuisine served with cornbread and iced tea” is how McCarty describes the dining experience, and indeed, that is what diners may expect. The simple, but elegant, meal is, of course, served on the simple, but elegant, McCarty pottery, beautifully arranged on each lovely table and always including a vase of fresh flowers. Upon being seated, guests are immediately served a small bowl of vegetable gumbo, along with mini cornbread muffins, cheese muffins, and creamy, sweet butter, and they’re invited to have a Bloody Mary or something else from the bar, or an iced tea or other soft drinks. The menu is limited and seasonal, with a summer offering of chicken salad or chicken crepes, (sometimes seafood crepes) served with two side vegetables. One of the vegetable choices is a fabulous stewed tomato casserole called Merigold Tomatoes— not to be missed! Dessert is a choice of chocolate cobbler or caramel cobbler, or a “little bit of both,” served with homemade vanilla ice cream and delicious coffee.
Diners may, or may not, see McCarty at the restaurant, but his unique presence is clearly evident on all fronts. There is nothing “cutesy” or pedestrian about this operation, but instead, it’s the clever sharing of a piece of Lee McCarty’s soul and another unique Mississippi experience.
(Since the publication of this article in 2013, Lee McCarty has left our midst, but his legacy in Merigold, Mississippi remains open for business.)