Tag Archives: East Memphis

Heading Southward

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Southward

 

One of the benefits of this whole Eat Local blog business is that every now and then my friends invite me to cool food events, knowing what a good eater I am. That’s what went down recently when I was invited by good friends to join them at one of Southward’s friends and family nights. The kitchen and the front of house served up their menu to a packed house to get a little more practice before the official opening, which I believe was today.

We nearly tried everything on the menu, so this little photo journey should give you a pretty good idea of the awesomeness that awaits your upcoming trip to the Regalia shopping center out East by Oak Hall. Tucked in the back in the old Circa location, Southward has gotten a full makeover and sports a cozy bar that gives way to a high-ceiling dining room with excellent design that features a great community table. There’s also an upstairs room that will be great for business meetings and small parties. Anyway, on to the Fare and the Libations.

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The Hold Up – Burger Time at the Holding Pen

In the one year that Hog & Hominy has been open, it has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in the world. At once it is both extremely high-level and easily accessible. From brunch to hot dogs to sweetbreads to tasting menus to pizzas that are great hot and allegedly better when eaten cold out of one’s fridge the next day, this place has been killing it from day one. I’ve liked everything that I’ve ever had there, so imagine the excitement when the word started to get out about the Holding Pen, their new dive bar located on the H&H back patio (see Pamela Denney’s article in May’s Memphis Magazine).

The key piece to the whole thing was going to be the John T. Edge hamburger that is only available Thursday-Saturday nights after 9pm. This was huge, as we now had two of Memphis’ best chefs working on their version of the tried and true classic. Or, just another reason for me to head out to Brookhaven on the even-more regular. So that’s what we did last weekend.

Holding Pen 1 - sign

The first thing that you notice is that the Holding Pen is accessible via secret bookcase door in the back of Hog & Hominy, which is awesome, obviously. Then you get out there and find that they’ve covered the patio, added some huge sliding barn doors on the back, and put up at least one growl towel for every win the Grizzlies had last year. A nice mural backs the bar, and they’ve got classic tunes pumping through the record player.

Menu options are limited to hamburgers and a few specials. While we were there they had a Frito pie in the crockpot, boiled peanuts, a couple of cheap beers, and a pitcher full of a special cocktail. It would be like if you went to your friends house for a pool party. Is there a better compliment of the Andrew/Michael family of restaurants than to say that whenever I go, I always feel like I’ve gone to a friends house? With the caveat being that these friends are extremely good cooks.

My party of four ordered up four burgers and some drinks before heading into H&H for a late night dinner. Here are a couple of them.

Holding Pen 2 - Burgers

Amazing. This burger is completely unpretentious and totally delicious. It is an Oklahoma style burger, meaning that it is cooked on a flat grill with onions pressed into the excellent Claybrook Farms meat before the first flip. This caramelizes the onions and maintains moisture in the patty. Since it is cooked hot and flat, the meat is just the right amount of crisp on the outside while being the right temperature on the inside. Add some melted cheese and the coup de grace, which is pickled lettuce, and then slap it all on a simple, cheap bun, and you are on fire.

Holding Pen 3 - Close up

I highly recommend reading Leslie Kelly’s article on Serious Eats about this burger, the reason it is named after the head of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the time that Thomas Kellar told Andy and Mike that they are the future and not to “f it up.”

It was a long wait from May when I heard about the burger until last week, but it was worth the wait, as most things are when Andy and Mike and their team are involved. So, look for me on any Thursday-Saturday night, I’m sure I’ll see you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

The Holding Pen on the Hog & Hominy back patio
707 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

Reminder – The Holding Pen opens earlier, but the burger is only available on Thurs-Sat after 9pm. Worth the wait.

 

I Like (Cosmic) Coconuts (10 in 10 – part 1)

October 8, and I’m just getting to post #1 in the 10 in 10 series. For 10 in 10, I’m going to try to blog about 10 new (to me or to the blog) spots during October. To start out post numero uno, hit play on the song below and get started.

Saturday morning, my team had a super cold 10am practice out in East Memphis. While we’re talking about it, how about that crazy cold front that came in like a flash, knocked my power out, and left our front porch about 30 degrees colder, all in about 30 minutes?? Candles, booze, friends, and a delivered dinner makes for a good time, but I digress.

On my way back into town, I hit up Sanderlin, so that I could get some of the pistachio cookies at Muddy’s, and I realized that with the Cosmic Coconut right there, I had a great chance to get this here series started.

I chatted up the nice folks behind the counter for a bit, asking a series of questions to try to get to the bottom of the big list of juices and smoothies on the wall. As I like to do when I go to a new place, I like to ask one question:

“What’s your favorite?”

I got a couple of different answers from them on the juice side of things, but both were unified when it came to their favorite smoothie.

They were both super pumped about the candy elixir. When the weirdest thing on the menu gets such rave reviews, you really don’t have a choice but to try it out, so I did.

Just look at that color! It should now be clear to all of us that beet juice is the alpha dog of the juice game. Doesn’t everything mixed with beets end up red? Ok, on to how good it was. The coconut and banana gave it a great base with some thickness but not too much sweetness. I could taste a little of the beet, but that was as a complementary flavor that rounded the whole thing out.  I was pscyhed to get the veggie benefits of kale and beets along with a super delicious smoothie. Overall, it was really good.

I would definitely get this the next time if I didn’t suspect that the other items on the menu were probably really good too. So, I think next time, I’ll get adventurous again and try something different. Maybe even some wheatgrass…

Wrapping up, I’m giving you my recommendation to hit this place up when you’re in the mood for some juice, a smoothie, or one of their tasty looking sandwiches. To add a little weight to my one-smoothie-review, I will say that I spend a lot of time at Muddy’s, and the folks that I know there are all pretty high on Cosmic Coconut as well. I know I’ll be back. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Cosmic Coconut
5101 Sanderlin Ave. Ste 104 B
Memphis, TN 38117
Hours : Mon – Sat: 8am – 6pm
Cosmic Coconut on Urbanspoon

Hello Ciao Bella!

Chef Johnathan Steenerson and his team at Ciao Bella invited me over for dinner the other night to get to know them, to serve as a ‘guinea pig’ for a couple of new dishes, and to try out some of the stalwarts on the menu. I was happy to accept after embarrassingly letting them know that I had recently eaten at the restaurant, and that because it was a last minute decision, I only ended up with a terrible cell phone photo. I couldn’t use that in the blog as evidence of how good it had been.

So, the Professor and I met up over in Erin Way and settled in for an intense night of deliciousness. They led us back to a nice, well-lit (good for photos!) booth in the back and our great server Cole got us started with a round of drinks. I’ll go ahead and get this out there, but when I was talking to Jonathan during the meal, I was hyping up how good the service was, and he let us know that it was only Cole’s second day at Ciao Bella. Props to him, as he was excellent, as in knowledgeable, nice, and attentive.

New Bar Menu

Chef gave us the scoop that the restaurant is unveiling their new bar menu tonight (Wednesday), so he wanted me and my buddy to serve as guinea pigs to test a couple dishes out. Sounds good to me!

First up is the must-get lamb and pancetta slider. This beauty had ground lamb, pancetta, and cheese on a Bluff City Coffee-made bun. In fact all of the breads and some of the desserts come from the great team at Bluff City. This was incredible. It was a playful take on the sloppy joe, and it was really awesome. It came with some house-made pickles fried up in a panko crust. Delish!

This is the Ciao Bella take on the old, faithful spinach and artichoke dip. This one is made with feta and quesa fresca, great greek linake (I think that is right) sausage, fresh spinach from Woodson Ridge Farms in Oxford (side note – Woodson Ridge provides about 60-70% of the vegetables at Ciao Bella depending on the season), and some artichokes.

It was really great. Did I dip my lamb slider into this? YES WE CAN!

If these two dishes are indications of the quality of the upcoming bar menu, then you should definitely hit it up after work soon. The bar’s a nice little spot to watch a game, drink a cold one, and now eat some great special food.

Calm Before the Storm

The chopped salad is a mix of greens and a lot of awesome flavors. I especially appreciated the delicious champagne vinagrette.

P is for Pasta

Jonathan brought the next dish out with a story. Ciao Bella has a lot of long-time customers and families that love to eat there. In talking to them, especially the older crowd, he made this next dish to be like the pasta that our Italian grandparents (if we had them) would have eaten. Here is the Old World Carbonara.

Chicken, cream sauce, peas, and a soft-fried egg. Light, simple flavors and totally delicious. As he said, “the egg is the sauce.”

The Knockout Punch

Next up he hit us with the triple threat. Three dishes, all delicious.

Chicken on a Stick

The chicken santorini is awesome. Let’s get that out of the way early. They take a piece of chicken and marinate it in greek yogurt (awesome) and spices for three days. Then they panko crust it and flash fry it before finishing it in the oven. Some people say it is the best fried chicken in the neighborhood. I say it is damn good. The orzo was great and the homemade spanikopita was awesome. Great dish.

Meat and Potatoes

The Kobe beef brisket gnocchi is one of my favorite dishes around. Such a great Italian take on meat and potatoes. The gnocchi is so tender and soft and the meat is perfect. This is flavorful and awesome. You can get a small portion of this, which is still pretty substantial. Go try it out.

Classic

Whats a trip to an Italian restaurant without at least one meatball? Well, I can’t describe it, because we got a plate of meatballs and peppers.

Loved them. Honestly, I loved them more the next day, because I had to take most of them home. The yellow and red peppers were sweet and delicious and were great companions to the meatballs.

Death by Dessert

At this point, I was trying to hold out just a little bit of room, so that I could at try some dessert. Chef came out and gave us the run down, and we ended up going with two. A classic and an Italian classic.

This death by chocolate is aptly named. This cake came from the great team at Bluff City Coffee, and they made it extreme. Went well with the coffee. Every bite took me one sweeter step towards death.

The homemade tirimisu was delicate and sweet. It was really good, and it was a perfect end to this grand feast. I’d get this again for sure. Easy to eat even after eating so much!

Meet the Chef

Jonathan Steenerson is doing some really awesome stuff over at Ciao Bella. He really, really cares about his product, and he is dedicated to using as many good, local ingredients as possible.  He is excited about the way our food set-up is going, but he hopes that we all really continue to support our farmers, just to give them that next big push.  The business is one that is very supportive of the community and of many causes. It is really a perfect example of the many ways in which a local business can add value to our city.

Jonathan was highly complimentary of his team in the kitchen, as those guys all work extremely hard and are very talented. With my 8 or so plates as a sample size, I can confidently back him up on that. Here he is with his crew.

Thanks so much to all of those guys for making my dinner such an outstanding experience (and loading me up with enough leftovers to eat a couple of lunches)! It was really kind of Jonathan to treat me to dinner and to take some time to share his stories. I can’t wait to go back. When you do, make sure to give them a shout-out, as they are really great. See you there!

-Thomas

PS. I was on the way out, and I saw how great their patio is. Would be a nice place on a warm fall night to get out and have a drink and some dinner.

Awesome.

You want to go to there:

Ciao Bella
565 Erin Dr
Memphis, TN 38117

Ciao Bella Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Hog & Hominy, or How Brookhaven is in Good Hands – Birthday Week – Italian Feast parts 1 & 3

Ok here’s the deal. I turned 31 on July 7. From July 6-12, I was in full fledged birthday week feast mode. In setlist form it went something like this:

Iris > House Party > Country Club > Italian Feast (Hog & Hominy > Andrew Michael > Hog & Hominy) > Iris

It was epic. It was fierce. Most importantly it was spent with good friends and family along with some really, really good food. Today I’m going to hone in on the Italian Feast. Really, I’m going to hit on the Hog & Hominy parts, as the whole Italian Fest would take too long. I’ll circle back later tonight to write abut the Andrew Michael part.

Set One – The Opener

Here’s how this went down. K (thanks K!!!) got in touch with our pals at Andrew Michael and asked if they would do a special “No-Menu Birthday” for me. They thought that sounded great, and we were set for a Wednesday night dinner. Sounds normal from here, right? Well, this Wednesday night was also a soft opening night at the guys’ new place Hog & Hominy.

I couldn’t let this big night pass without stopping by to see the place in action. Really, I’m so proud of Andy and Michael and their whole staff for what they have accomplished since opening AM Italian Kitchen. I had to get in there and give some hugs and high fives. As you’ll see, that is not all that we got…

We (5 of us) sat down about an hour before our dinner reservation, thinking we’d get a drink and a small snack (famous last thoughts). Matt came by our table and got us started with some wines, beers, and a crisp club soda. Water was served in sweet bottles.

Then, it began.

#whiteboyproblems #firstworldissues #amIinBrooklyn?

The idea behind Hog & Hominy is that the menu is going to feature the foods that Andy and Michael would want to eat themselves. Fortunately for us all, they have incredible taste!

First thing out of the kitchen was the insane crispy headcheese starter.

Here’s my thought process as I take my first bite.

Headcheese -> Great
Fried -> Better
Add an egg -> Best
Add some watermelon -> Genius

I’m not going to lie and say that crispy headcheese is not one of the most delicious things on the planet by itself, but the addition of the watermelon made this dish all-time in my opinion. The sign of people that are on top of their game.

Begin Side Note – What’s with the hashtags in the header? Well, during the night, I had a conversation that I never expected to have. After a different crispy headcheese dish at Andrew Michael, we sat at the table questioning which was the best headcheese appetizer of the night. This is not a normal conversation under any circumstances (except maybe in Brooklyn and Portland). Moving on. End Side Note.

Hot Oven, Big Lovin’

While we were hanging out over drinks, I snuck back into the pizza kitchen (you can see them cooking from the dining area, also they custom made the pizza oven from the bricks that were on the chimney on the restaurant before they renovated) and asked Michael what pizza I should get for our table to try one out before dinner. With a smile, he said “I got you.”

That statement is one of my favorite things about having gotten to know the guys in the kitchen at the two restaurants. I will often show up for dinner and let them decide what I should have. It makes it interesting, and I always end up getting something that I might not have ordered, but that I end up loving. So here we go!

The Red Eye pizza. Bask in its glory. This currently sits on top of my favorite pizza charts. Pork jowl, celery, red eye gravy, and a fried egg. It is like the best breakfast ever put into a pizza. Just trust me.

The Boom-Baba resides right up at the top of the charts as well. Prosciutto, figs, and a balsamic reduction turn this puppy into something extremely special.

Next up is the Prewitt, named after fellow Memphian Ryan Prewitt, now a chef in New Orleans. This one is made of boudin and scrambled eggs. Awesome.

So, as you can see, the pizzas are off the chart. I certainly didn’t expect us to eat three of them (before dinner), but it was a birthday blowout.

Set II – An Andrew Michael Interlude

In effort to keep this blog at a reasonable length and to keep the focus on one restaurant at a time, I’m going to discuss the Andrew Michael dinner in a separate post.

A Thrilling Encore

After finishing up our last savory course at Andrew Michael, our server told us to head back across the street for dessert. At this point, it was getting late, and we were the last people in there, so we tasted all the desserts, while the H&H squad had their final team meeting before opening for real the next day. Things got a little out of hand (in a good way).

I’m Southern, thus I love chess pie. Simple enough, correct? But take that pie and make it into handheld bars, and I’ll love you. They did, and I do. Loved them.

Here’s a nice little slice of a peanut butter pie with a creme brulee crust (what!!!). Yes, it was as good as it looks. I had a pie expert at the table next to me, and K’s expert testimony was something like “omg yum omg yum.” (Paraphrased, as at this point, the food buzz was at an all-time high).

This fine, although slightly out of focus, specimen is the peach crostata. That translates into something like a small pie that might have been cooked in a muffin pan. This was my favorite of the desserts for sure. They were all so good, but the peaches were so delicious in this and combined with a crispy crust and sweet vanilla gelato (house-made), it was just everything I want in a summer dessert.

Last, but not least, they sent out a series of shakes for us to try out, featuring their house-made gelato. These came in two styles, for the masses and for the adult masses. I’m obsessed with the straight up Nutella shake, as it is most delicious. The adult version, a Nutella shake with vanilla vodka was quite a hit at the table as well. The shake above is made with their blueberry gelato and some blood orange liquor. It did not last long.

After Party – aka My Closing Remarks

Here’s what I posted on Facebook right after dinner:

After 4 hours in Hog and Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, I can safely say that Brookhaven Circle is in good hands. Thanks to all the guys and girls that put together an awesome birthday dinner for me and my crew tonight.

At this point, I’m too full to even begin to start talking about it…

A lot of people worked on this birthday event for me, so thanks again to Alison, Ryan, and Ryan at AM, to Trevor, Aaron, Branson, and Matt at H&H, special thanks to Nick for all the great work he does at both places, and a final shout out to Andy and Mike, who have put in so much love and effort into both of these places. Together you’re all bringing Memphis something extremely special, and I thank you for that. And on a day in which you guys had probably 150 or so faces in each restaurant, you all made me feel like family. (If I left anyone out, know that I love you too)!

Brookhaven Circle is truly in good hands with these fine people leading the charge, and I encourage everyone to get out there and see why. See you there!

-Thomas

you want to go to there:

Hog & Hominy
707 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

Mon-Sat: 4pm until… / Late Night Menu: Thurs-Sat
Closed Sunday
Lunch Hours Beginning July 23rd

Hog & Hominy (Coming Soon) on Urbanspoon

PS. If after all that you still want to read more, check out Kerry’s take on H&H here.

Someone’s Words about Hog & Hominy

 

Great article about my buddies Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman and the opening of their new restaurant Hog & Hominy in today’s CA.

“Man, I haven’t slept in a week,” said Andy Ticer, but lack of sleep is expected when you’re running one successful restaurant, with a chef-business partner, and opening another just diagonally down the street. Read the rest of Fredric Koeppel’s article here.

I went by the other night as part of my birthday celebration week, and I tasted some apps, some pizzas, and basically all of the desserts. I’ll get a real post up on all that soon, but I thought this made some good Friday reading for those of you yet to make plans for after work. See you there (a lot)!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Hog & Hominy
707 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

 

 

The Geoff

How do you decide when you’ve made it? Is it when you have a newspaper column? Is it when you get a radio show? What about when you get your own TV show? I imagine those are all pretty good, but I think when you get a sandwich named after you, you are in pretty good shape.

Here’s to Geoff Calkins, because he has made it.

Republic Coffee makes some mean sandwiches, but none are meaner than the Calkins. This smoked salmon, capers, and cream cheese wonder is Sunday column material.  They have an excellent brisket sandwich as well, but since it isn’t named after one of our areas most decorated sports writers, it didn’t get the nod this time. Here’s to Calkins continuing to take up for Memphis when renegade sports writers (TJ Simers) denounce our city, and here’s to his sandwich. See ya there!

Oh yeah, and read the paper.

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Republic Coffee
2924 Walnut Grove
Memphis, TN 38111
901.590.1578
Republic Coffee on Urbanspoon

Swine to the Nines

The benefit of blogging about a meal that only happens once a year (and is a custom menu) is that I guess it isn’t a big deal if I forget to actually post the piece for a few months. Things like that are the collateral damage of having your local eat local blog writer also be your local lacrosse coach. I know you all want our fair city to have good lax, so I appreciate that you bear with me during the lulls of the spring.

Besides, we’ve all been hitting the gym to lose a few pounds to get ready for “Suns out, Guns out” weather, right? This post wasn’t going to help that, at all. But, since it is Barbecue Fest weekend, and I’ve got pork on the brain, what better time to get this out? So, with no further ado, here is a photo journey through Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen’s 2012 Swine and Wine Dinner.

First thing first, get inside and get a beverage to start off, then find your seat at the community tables. K and I were across from each other and in between two pretty fun groups. We had a bromantic man-date on one side, two married guys, whose wives watched the kids, so that they could come out to the Swine and Wine fest. Basically, they traded in a guys poker night or football game afternoon for a trip to Andrew Michael. By the end of this blog, you will realize that they chose wisely. On the other side we had a fun loving crew that involved a local chef, which was cool as he was able to explain a lot of the flavor combinations in detail, and I am now a major believer in micro-greens.

Let’s say you skipped that paragraph, the short version is that community seating allows people to meet each other and interact in a way that isn’t as prevalent in our world of linkedbooks and pintergramming. Try it, you might like it.

The menu laid out our seven course dinner and the wines that would be paired with them. Here we go.

One

First up was the boucherie plate. It was made of blood sausage, berese, mortedella, lardo, liverwurst, pork jerky, and homemade corn nuts. Here’s another view with the rest of the plate.

It doesn’t get much better than putting a sliver of lardo on a homemade pork rind. This course was served up with a nice cold PBR.

Two

Here we go, on to the second course. This pig ear was awesome, especially the thicker pieces, which hold a surprising amount of flavor. This dish included bomba calabrese, roasted peanuts, and a basil vinaigrette. One of the coolest parts of the dinner was that this wasn’t a bacon and pork chop kind of pork dinner, it was a showcase of all the different parts of the pig that can be used to make fantastic dishes. This was served with a arneis.

Three

On that topic, this was a pork skin canneloni, served with spinach soubise, ham brodo, brisket, and egg yolk. Like everything, this was awesome. This was one of the early highlights of the meal (remember, we aren’t halfway done yet). It was served with a pinot noir from the Willamette (“It’s Will-am-it, damnit”) Valley.

Four

Next up was a gargenlli with offal ragu and a Sardinian goat cheese fondu. Highlight of this course was when a guy a couple seats down asked the server what “offal” meant, followed quickly by him saying, “oh lord,” This was a rich course with the meat and cheese together. This came with a syrah.

Five

This was a crepinette, aka a small flat sausage, made of snout and heart, served with sauerkraut, lentils, and mustard seeds. It was kind of the most fancy reuben ever. It was awesome. This came with a rioja.

Six

This was it. This little slice of pork jowl changed everything. This was like the flavor that the fatty part of bacon has times one thousand. Every small bite was an explosion of flavor. It was just magical. This rested on a blood and beet risotto, which balanced the fatty flavor of the jowl, and had mushrooms and a rhubarb agrodolce. I was talking to Michael after dinner about this dish, and he said that people are nervous about ordering jowl when it is on the menu, and I’m here to tell you to just do it. You don’t need a lot of it, but you do need to get it sometime. Insane! They served this up with a chianti.

Seven

The last course was the ice cream cone. This wasn’t vanilla by any means. The cone was full of popcorn gelato topped with pig fat caramel and smoked sea salt. As you got further into the cone there was a chocolate blood torte, which was like the worlds richest peanut butter cup. This is one of K and I’s favorite desserts ever. A variation of this was on the menu when I went for dinner a few weeks ago, so I’d strongly advise you to try it out. It was served with a chianti as well.

Whoa

As you can see from the pictures, the annual Swine and Wine dinner is not to be missed. It is an awesome venue for Andy and Michael to show of their creativity and the care with which they use the entire pig. They really put a lot of heart into what they do, and this dinner is a great example of that. I guarantee I’ll be there in 2013. See ya there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
712 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117
(901) 347-3569
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen  on Urbanspoon

ACRE – A Celebrated Restaurant Experience

What is a good gift for a couple that loves to eat, works a fair amount, and either writes about food or prepares a ton of it? You guessed it, a Snuggie. No, just kidding! If you’ve been reading along at home, by now you know that I love to go out to eat with people. Food and drinks make the perfect companion to good conversation and good times. So, a safe bet when gift shopping for people like me and K is that a gift certificate to go eat is a good idea.

We take these gift certificates and put them in our not-so-secret stash, and every now and then we go out and treat ourselves to a fun night out with “house” money. Our biggest hiccup is that we always try to save them for a “special” occasion, then we delay and delay. The reality is that a night out as a gift from someone else is special in its own right, so no need to wait. Special thanks to the two lovely ladies that made this amazing dinner at ACRE possible in the form of a golden ticket gift certificate!

Opening Statement

What’s more important, food or service? It is hard for me to answer that, but I do know that if either isn’t good, it can be a deal breaker. ACRE steps up from the get go with great service. It is hard to argue with valet parking when it is raining, a nice hostess that gives you the scoop on what she heard the waitstaff saying was the best, or a server that works with you to find something off the drink menu.

Our server got K started with one of their signature cocktails and helped me put together a nice non-alcoholic beverage, see the nice ginger beer + lime + soda water mixture above. I liked that they helped me come up with a good drink, and I would love to see more places be proactive in the non-booze beverage area. There are plenty of people that don’t drink or are DDing that would pay a little extra for something more interesting than an iced tea or a Diet Coke. So, thanks to the folks at ACRE for that good start to the meal.

Evidence

Since we were rolling with the golden ticket and an early dinner time, we decided we would really try a bunch of stuff and see what happened. After getting the word on the specials from our server, we picked out a couple of starters.

First up was the special Blue Fin Tuna sashimi-style.

This fish just melted when eaten. It was seriously awesome. It came with a nice ginger sauce and some greens. One of the things that stood out about ACRE was a small touch. All of the greens that they served really looked real, if that makes sense. These looked like they could have been literally taken out of the ground right before they went on the plate. That extended to the taste, which was fresh.

Since one of the big topics in the family lately has been charcuterie, I was very interested in the Rabitt “coppa” starter.

There is the cured rabbit in the middle along with a rabbit sausage right behind it and the rest of the Castleventrano olives, Marcona almonds, prunes & bacon-fennel jam that came with it. The olives and the almonds were great together with the prune. The rabbit sausage has to be tasted to be believed and the cured rabbit was just great!

We were out on a serious date, so we ordered up a couple of entrees as well. Like I wrote earlier, the service at ACRE was great from the get go. Part of that was a conversation with the hostess, the younger sibling of a friend of ours, who after inquiring about our general well-being gave us a tip on the monkfish. It was like a classic bit of culinary insider-trading as she told us the staff had been raving about it. Well…

Pistachio encrusted monkfish, aka “poor man’s lobster” meaning that it is a delicious meaty fish, was served on a bed of ???. K and I were both big fans of this. The fish was super tasty.

Just like in our choices for the starters we mixed a land and a sea with our entrees. It was a very difficult choice, but we went with this Ribeye cooked rare-plus, which I’ve come to realize is about the only suitable my preferred temperature for a great cut of meat.

As you can see this fella is just seared on the outside and a wonderful red all through the middle. Here’s the official description – roasted carrots, parsnip puree, parmesan-prosciutto gnudi & black truffle syrup. You could shorten that to “steak with mad delicious extras.” I’ve noticed lately that parsnips are all the rage, and I am happy to say that I agree with that rage, as these were superb. Not a lot to say about this set-up other than it was really, really awesome.

So, you might know that my lady friend is a pretty good dessert maker (best in the city is what they (and I) say) (how about that double parenthesis move???), so we went rogue and ordered up an awesome cheese plate and another round of drinks for dessert.

We got the three cheese plate with a mixture of textures and flavors, and it will be hard to convince me to stay away from the five cheese plate next time. ACRE sends out the awesome little bites with the cheese that were just fantastic. Basically, the finally of cheese and beverages was the perfect ending to an amazing meal.

Closing Arguments

So, at the beginning of this post, I asked what was more important, the food or the service. Well ACRE gets it right by aiming (and achieving) excellence on both. Great food with a great human touch. From the valets to the hostess to our helpful server to the chef coming out and chatting everyone up, the service forms a great connection with the food. When you put them together, you have a place that has diners like me itching to go back. See you there!

-Thomas

You want to go to there:

ACRE
690 S Perkins Rd
Memphis, TN 38117
(901) 818-2273
Acre on Urbanspoon