What’s the word?
One of the best things that has happened since I started writing this little blog is that more and more people have been giving me recommendations about their favorite or cool new places to eat. I love getting this info, both because it gives me insight on new places to go and because it is other people doing what I like to do, talk passionately about the food they like.
Cash, Gas, or Sweet Grass, but nobody rides for free.
Down on Cooper is a new place that is quickly becoming a favorite of a lot of people. I’ve had friends, coworkers, and people that read the blog all but drive me over to Sweet Grass and drop me off. After all the excitement and hype about Chef Ryan Trimm’s new low-country spot, I obviously had to get over there. Lucky for me, K wasn’t on the clock last night, so we were able to make it a date.
We called ahead and reserved a table and headed down to Midtown to find out if the word on the street was true. It was a good sign when I walked in and saw about 6 people I knew sitting at different tables across the restaurant. Enough build up, on to the food.
You must choose, but choose wisely
The menu is broken up into 5 main categories – small plates (appetizers), medium plates (dishes with about 4 ounces of protein aka meat), larger plates (with a more traditional 6 ounces of protein), side plates, and the pretty accurately described sweet plates. After we got our drinks (Rose and Pellegrino), we set to figure out how to narrow down all of the great choices into a meal that we could handle. We decided to pick something from each category just to be thorough. We’ve taken to throwing around the excuse of, “we have to, it is for the blog,” when we go a little crazy!
Good things come in small packages
We started things off by ordering from the small plate menu, and we chose the highly recommended Oyster Stew (to be precise, the Charleston Oyster Stew, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Benton Smoked Bacon and Scallop Cream).
It is going to be difficult for me to ever order anything else from the small plates, because I want to get more of this. The combination of the cream, the salty, fatty bacon and the nice big oysters was off the charts! It had a sauce that you wanted (and I did) to sop up with the bread, and it was just a great little dish for K and I to split. Did one of us (kind of) jokingly ask if we could lick the plate? I’m not saying.
This surf is on my turf
After the awesome stew, K and I chose to share a couple of items to share for entrees. First up was the medium sized Pan Seared Sea Scallops, which came in a creamy sauce with a tomato risotto (I think this is all right!). The scallops were West-Philadelphia-to-Bel-Air fresh and seared to perfection.
The whole dish was incredibly appetizing, and it made for a very flavorful, light entree.
For our turf portion of this shared meal, we were wooed by our server’s recommendation of the pork special for the evening. I was having trouble deciding between the special and the Osso Bucco that a friend at the next table told me to get, so I heeded our server’s advice that I could get the Osso Bucco the next time (which, I hope, will be soon).
The special was a Pork Loin wrapped in Pork Belly served with broccolini in a caramelized bourbon sauce topped with a green tomato relish. Holy cow pig! I normally opt for seafood over pork, but this was a great choice. The loin was cooked just right, so that when I paired a thin slice of pork and a small piece of the belly, I got a strong, hugely flavorful bite. The pork loin really soaked up the delicious sauce, which really pushed this over the edge. Score a point for broccolini, as it is almost the cousin of asparagus and broccoli. It was great with the sauce.
Excellent, gnarly, sweeeeeeeet!!
To finish off the experience, we wanted to get in on one of the sweet plates. Since K is a professional, I put the pressure on her to make the choice. She was able to get it down to 2 choices, the apple pie and the peach cobbler. Again, we trusted our server, and he led us down the road towards the apple pie (technically a Deep Dish Sour Cream Apple Pie).
The pie was served cold with a scoop of vanilla gelato and fruit on the side. It was great, the apples were sweetened very well, the crust was strong, and the sour cream added a new dimension to a classic favorite. One of the things I like about great chefs is the ability to take things that are so traditional and normal and make them their own. This was the result with this great apple pie.
Chef to table
One of the coolest parts of our date was that in addition to great service and awesome food Chef Ryan Trimm was out and about in the dining room talking to all of the guests. He made a stop at our table and chatted with us after our appetizer and again as we were eating the pie. Since pie is one of K’s passions and it is her profession, they were able to talk shop a little bit. It was an incredibly personal touch, and it was great to see the thought that Ryan and his staff put into the food and the experience.
It is this kind of thing that makes Memphis a special town, everyone knows somebody that knows somebody, all the way until you know everybody. More than great food, I love M-town because we have incredible people. Ryan and his folks at Sweet Grass get that and act on it. I’ll be back, oh yes, I’ll be back, and I hope I see you there!