Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler, or, My Fat Tuesday at Iris

During the time I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve found a couple of helpful hints for the potential blogger out there.

  1. Don’t be afraid to take your camera into a restaurant. As much as I hate toting my murse (camera bag/man purse) around, the photos I get from my DSLR are much better than those that my phone takes.
  2. Don’t sweat writing for everyone on the interwebs. I write like I’m the only one that will read it. This explains my typos.
  3. Let other people help you develop your “word on the street.” Ask advice from people that like to eat and follow your favorite places on Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Have a crew that you can count on to go eat with you. They should be able to 1. hold a good conversation 2. get adventurous with their orders 3. wait to eat until their food has been photographed 4. be totally gnarly and awesome.

I’m going to get into #3 for this post. If I weren’t following Kelly English and Restaurant Iris on Twitter, it might have slipped right by my radar that he planned up an awesome menu for Fat Tuesday to celebrate Mardi Gras. Fortunately I found out, and not only did I get an incredible meal (more on that in a minute), but I also got some good material for the ol’ blog. Having a good #4 meant that I had a good group to go. Here we go.

Let’s Get Fat

I’m all about specials and special menus (see my obsession with Andrew Michael’s No-Menu Monday), because when that goes down, it means that I don’t have to worry about my order AAAANNNNNDDD I get to eat whatever the chef is excited to make. That’s usually at least a win-win. So, imagine how excited was when the ol’ Tweeter came up with the news that Kelly English, who is from Louisiana and spent a good bit of time working for John Besh in New Orleans, had put together a special Mardi Gras dinner menu. I immediately made reservations for four, with the assumption that the Counselor and I could talk the ladies into a late Fat Tuesday dinner.


Ok, so I literally just wrote that I like to order off the special menu. But, I also like to take advantage of being in one of the best restaurants around, so I ordered an extra appetizer, I couldn’t help it. Here’s why.

If this lobster “knuckle” sandwich doesn’t tempt you to deviate from the script a bit, then you have much more willpower than I do. It was incredible. Chunky lobster, buttery bread, fresh greens, etc. I think this is my new favorite sandwich. K and I are already planning return trips just for the knuckle. We are strongly considering an attempt at ordering these for takeout dinners on the regular.

Speaking of K, she went off the Mardi Gras menu completely and started her meal with the famous Brussels Sprouts with Benton’s bacon. While eating these, I kind of regretted having cooked Brussels sprouts and bacon the night before. Mine were good, these were Bons to the max.

Just “shut your face” good. Every kid that thinks they hate sprouts should have to come get these and learn a lesson.

The Mardi Gras Menu (read Kelly’s thoughts on the menu)

Three of us ordered variations of the Mardi Gras Menu, which had two choices for each of two courses. I started with the roasted boudin, because the Counselor has taught me well. Food Code 807-b reads “get boudin when offered.”

Roasted Boudin with dijon mustard and cane syrup. Get a closer look at that boudin.

Wise choice. I’m still trying to come up with the perfect nickname for one of our dining companions, so for tonight I will refer to her as Ms. Miami Vice. Ms. Vice went with the Andouille and Duck Gumbo, which I didn’t get a good picture of. I will attest to the crazy deliciousness of it though.

Ms. Vice and the Counselor both went for Kelly’s variation of the “hot ham and cheese po-boy.” Check out that pork shoulder hiding in that awesome french bread.

Excellent. Massive. Perfect food before the fast. Also, how about a better look at those fried pickles?


I went for the Iris version of Popeye’s fried chicken and beans and rice. Major thanks go out to the server, who, in addition to giving our table excellent service, told me to get the chicken.

I know that I am often accused of hyperbole by my AMAZING, INCREDIBLY SMART, SUCCESSFUL, AND GOOD LOOKING, friends, but this is no hyperbole: this was beans and rice, fried chicken, and a biscuit in the Popeye’s style taken to the pinnacle. The chicken was so delicious, the beans and rice were rich and flavorful, and the biscuit was crispy and buttery on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside.

K went a different course than the rest of us Mardi Gras revelers and ordered the Redfish off the regular dinner menu.

Redfish, sweet potatoes, asparagus and a lot of flavor.

This was amazingly good. All the flavors in this dish worked so well together and that fish was just perfect.

The meal ended with the green apple fritters and vanilla ice cream that closed out the Mardi Gras Menu.

Despite being full, the sharp green apple mixed with vanilla and caramel was a great way to top it all off. These were really delicious!

Wrap it Up

Where do I even begin? Every part of the meal from the cocktails to the food to the service was top notch. Kelly and his team at Iris are at the top of their game, hell, they’re at the top of anyone’s game. There’s a reason that they get recognized so often by so many. All of the accolades are deserved. So here are the takeaways.

  1. If Iris offers a special menu evening, don’t ask questions, just make reservations.
  2. Invite me.
  3. If they don’t offer a special menu, go there anyway for a special occasion, or just turn a regular night into something special, and see what happens. I’ll give you a hint, it will be awesome.

Thanks to all that made my Fat Tuesday a memorable one, full of great food, friends and fun. Whether fasting or feasting, I hope your Lent finds you doing something awesome. I’ll try to do the same. See you there!


You want to go to there:

Restaurant Iris
2146 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
Restaurant Iris on Urbanspoon

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