The Brunch Report: Restaurant Iris!

“And if you don’t know, now you know” -Notorious B.I.G.

Here comes The Brunch Report, back in action and hopefully better late than never!  Last weekend the stars aligned and my Dallas brother and KC sister were in town on different business.  I was one Atlanta stepsister short of seeing all of my siblings in the same weekend, that literally only happens like every other Christmas.  Now, any of you with siblings that don’t live in the same town know that this doesn’t happen as often as you would like, so this was a big weekend for me!  How does Eat Local Memphis celebrate? As Biggie says, “if you don’t know…”

"...now you know"

With my brother in town, we all decided that it would be appropriate to have a make-up of Mother’s Day, which none of us were together to celebrate, so we gathered up the moms and headed over to Restaurant Iris for a Sunday brunch.  Having not ever been down here gave me that feeling of a kid watching as all the rest of his friends get picked for the kickball team ahead of him.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, that had been here before told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to get over there for a meal or 50.  Sounded like pretty good odds to me.

Out of the Gates

With our party of seven seated in a small private dining room, this had the makings of a raucous family affair.  I love dinner table banter and shenanigans and to be totally honest, many would say that I also like to talk either too loud or too often! Getting a private room to enjoy the family sent the meal out of the gates like Seabiscuit.

fast, really fast

On the topic of bicsuits and good starts, they promptly got us going with an assortment of mimosas, bloody marys, coffees, and biscuits with strawberry preserves and honey butter.

biscuit

They were nice and fluffy with a good crisp bottom, and the honey butter was just the right addition.

The First Turn

After a little bit of family fun and jibber jabber over our drinks and biscuits, we jumped in to order some smaller dishes to get us all started.  My favorite part of the trip was that my brother’s lady friend (also from Dallas) came more prepared than me, having memorized the menu in the days leading up to their trip to M-town.  She was able to give recommendations based on Iris’ extensive TV presence and her familiarity with the menu.

So, with her blessing, we put together a few orders.  A couple of people at the table naturally were drawn to the Fried Oyster “Salad.”  Note that the quotation marks around salad were present on the menu.  You will see why in just a second. Wait, wait, wait, now!

Oyster Salad

The oysters were pretty large and fried to perfection.  We had them served with two different dressings due to some dietary restrictions, and they were great with the original dressing and the remoulade.  This was a big dish of oysters, and I (like I will do with most of the items) heartily recommend it!

Begin random math lesson – I remember growing up and learning about the Golden Ratio, fascinating to generations of mathematicians and often found in Renaissance art and architecture.  Let’s give the obligatory shout-out to my boy and hero to mathletes everywhere, Pythagoras, who not only has his own theorem, but is also considered to be the man that figured out the Golden Ratio.

They guy was money, no matter your thoughts on math

The idea is that the sum of the two sides of a rectangle are in the same proportion to the larger side as the larger side is to the smaller side.  Here is a quick diagram:

Basically, it is important to realize that math is useful in many, many situations, and it is often capable of placing some measurable values on things that just seem to make sense, like the most please proportions of a rectangle. End random math lesson.

Well, I have some news for all of you mathletes.  I have come up with an equation of my own, ready?

Kelly English + Neola Farms beef + pie = Off the hook good

Not even Fibonacci (last math reference, I promise!) could argue that these meat pies are insane good.  Not much else to say about them, so take a look.

Meat + Pie = genius!

Last up during stage one, was my brother’s lady friend, and she took her studies to heart and went with the highly recommended Brussel Sprouts.  These were very flavorful and served with Benton’s bacon, which gave them a saltiness that was a great addition.  This would be a great dish to share with 2 people, as it is large enough to serve as an additional side, and we all know that it is important to eat your veggies!

sprouts

The Winner’s Circle

Since this was a family event, we weren’t going to go lite on our choices, so most of us ended up getting a starter and another dish.  I went with the Duck Confit Omelet, which was served with greens. Duck Confit, or confit de canard in French, is a traditional French way of cooking a duck leg, first by salt curing the meat and then by poaching the leg in its own fat.  This leads to a highly flavorful piece of meat, and the shredded duck in the omelet was no exception.  This wasn’t your typical “western omelet;” it really was awesome!

Outside, there is a shot of the inside later

A couple people at the table played a game of Duck Duck Pig, and went with the Grillades and Grits with Poached Egg.  This pork dish was great with Delta Grind grits, a perfectly poached egg and very flavorful meat.  I’m tempted to go back to order this one, because the one bite that I had was definitely not enough!

Grits and Grillades

My mom went with another small plate order, which was a crab pancake.  It looked good, and we all supplemented her plate with a little extra, the only unmentioned item in the picture are the bacon and hash browns that my brother got with his omelet.  Good report on them as well.

crab pancake - grab bag

K went with the trout amandine, and it might have been the best single bite at the table.  The fish was crisp on the outside and perfect on the inside, so full of flavor.  I would recommend this in a heartbeat.  It was very rich with the fish and the sauce, but so, so good.

trout

The Trophy Room

Iris gets a lot of respect in town.  Chef Kelly English was named Best New Chef last year by Food and Wine Magazine, and this year is a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef of the Southeast.  They’ve got a lot going on in there, and based on my amateur insights, I think they should probably keep some room in the trophy case for some more recognition.

I don’t have any trophies, plaques, pens or pins to hand out, but I will give them my praise and a high recommendation.  Get on the phone and make reservations for brunch or dinner, but do it in advance, because it fills up fast (not surprising!).  I’m really excited about taking a trip over there for dinner. See you there!

-Thomas

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