At long last, Wally Joe’s latest restaurant has landed in an inviting space in East Memphis near Theatre Memphis and Audubon Park. To say that ACRE has been long-awaited would be a mild understatement. People that I know have been talking about it for a long time, wondering, speculating, and anticipating. It was beginning to take on a mythological quality in my mind (ok, maybe that is a tiny bit of hyberbole)! But either way, people have been excited to both see the space that holds the restaurant and to taste the fruits of all of this labor.
A Note on the Space, Man
The interior space of ACRE is really stunning. The colors, materials, and the furniture give ACRE an incredibly homey, comfortable vibe, while the contrasting room designs (I sat in the the brown room in the front, and I went to visit some people seated in the light “sun room” on the side), really adds to that feel. It was put together in a purposeful way with a lot of thought to detail. The space definitely adds to the experience. I’m going to snag a couple of photos from a recent Daily News article (read full article here) to illustrate what I’m having a difficult time articulating (imagine that!).
Here’s the room that I ate dinner in. Notice the lush cigar leather banquets and how they mix with the white walls. Very inviting. Next door was the “sun room.”
In this room, white furniture and leather combines with the dark wood walls. Awesome contrast, and this room is beautiful with light coming in through the windows.
On to the Food, Dude.
I know, I know. I write about food not interior design, but the cool thing is that the attention to detail in the presentation of the space is symbolic of that same attention being placed on the food. Both the presentation and the flavor combinations were polished, but in a way that still made them feel homey. Hopefully I can explain that as I go along!
My sidekick and I started out with a couple of starters. First up was an awesome duck pastrami.
As described on the menu, this super flavorful duck was served with Cherry Mustard, Candied Fennel, Pickled Cippolinis. It was an awesome starter. The mustard and the cippolinis added complexity and depth to the cool take on pastrami. Next up was the Flake Crudo starter.
This super thinly sliced flake sashimi came with Smoked Steelhead Roe, Cilantro & Yuzu Olive Oil Sorbet. The fish had a nice smooth flavor and served as an awesome platform for the roe and the sorbet. Each bite of this steelhead roe was like a bomb of flavor, intensely awesome flavor. The sorbet was a unique touch that added a contrast in flavor and temperature. This was a well put together dish. The roe was really fantastic.
Dinner is made up of more than just starters, so it was with excitement that we perused the menu to make our dinner decisions. There was a lot of conversation to narrow down our options into two dishes that would compliment each other. Fortunately, we had a little advice from our waitress, who helped steer us in a great direction. First up were the Sea Scallops.
The scallops were served with Artichokes, Fennel, Tomato, Caper, Roasted Garlic Potato Puree & Red Wine Brown Butter. Read that again. The scallops were perfectly seared and delicious, the flavorful potato puree was a different platform for scallops than what I’m used to, and that is a good thing. They were rich, and the whole dish was great.
Next up was the Tandoori Spiced Newman Farm Pork Loin, which was delicious.
Thankfully the pork police have now allowed people to cook pork a little less than before, so I was pleased to get perfectly (to me) tender slices of pork on top of Stone Ground Grits, Brussels Sprouts & Sassafras. The grits were as good as I’ve had. Perfectly creamy, while maintaining a little bit of texture, if that makes sense at all.
I have gone against my childhood instincts, and I know completely embrace brussels sprouts, so those were a nice green to add to the meal. I loved this pork loin. I typically don’t order pork at nice restaurants because of my mistaken belief that I can cook it pretty well on my own, but this had it all, and I highly recommend it to anyone with or without my ordering quirks.
Pecan? Yes I Can.
You know how when you have an awesome meal with good company, you often find yourself loathe to finish the night off? Well, that’s what dessert and coffee are for. When the night is going so well, it is just right to sample the sweets with a nice dark cup of joe. After hearing the options, we went for a slice of pecan pie.
Pecan pie goes awfully well with coffee, so this was a great way for us to cap off the night. Especially as we watched the extreme storm roll across Audubon Park and threaten the restaurants power with a few flickers of the lights.
Fortunately the rain was no match for the valet parking, and we were off before we got the great drench. ACRE was a fantastic experience that I am much looking forward to enjoying again. I suggest you take some time and go do the same. You should probably call a good bit ahead, as it is the IT spot in town right now. For good reason. See you there!
You want to go to there:
690 S Perkins
Memphis, TN 38117