Thursday, June 17, 2010

Restaurant Iris

Restaurant Iris
2146 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 590-2828

Click Here for Google Map

My Aunt Neel, sister Laurence, and brother-in-law Spencer were all in town last weekend so what does that call for?! A dinner date! And, what does a dinner date call for? A blog post on Memphis Spork :) Now and days, it's hard for me to go to restaurants without wanting a notepad to right the pros and cons down as the night progresses - what a nerd/weirdo, I know.

My parents, grandmother Toto, Aunt Neel, Laurence, Spencer, Jon, and I set a dinner date for last Friday night - my brother Mark was out of town....his presence was greatly missed :( . Toto, though not able to come at the last minute, chose Restaurant Iris. She's a big fan of this place - Jon and I would have to agree with her. Her presence was definitely missed as well! When we arrived at the restaurant, the host guided us to this nice, quaint, and quiet room in the back. Since it was such a big crew we had our own private room. I loved it! If you've been to Iris, you would probably agree with me that it can get a little stuffy in there....especially when you first walk in where the lobby/waiting area/bar is located. This private room cured the stuffiness completely! Though stuffy at times, I love Iris's unique atmosphere. It's in the old house where La Tourelle used to be. I'm a sucker for houses turned into restaurants (i.e. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen). Here's a little excerpt from a July 2008 Commercial Appeal review on Iris.....

Four-star ratings are not handed out carelessly by dining critics at this newspaper. In the 10 years that we've used the four-star system, five have earned the honor. Today, Restaurant Iris becomes the sixth. Chef/owner Kelly English opened his casual fine-dining spot in the former La Tourelle house less than three months ago, and word of mouth has already made it improbable that you'll get a table if you walk in without a reservation even midweek. There are many reasons. English, who worked under renowned and James Beard award-winning chef John Besh at three of his New Orleans restaurants -- La Provence, Lüke, August -- and ran the kitchen at Besh's N'Awlins in Tunica, is probably cooking the most creative dishes in Memphis today. -Jennifer Biggs

And, to get to know Kelly English a little bit, here's a quick video for you blog readers....

Now, onto the review. Jon and I have had the luxury of eating at Iris a few times - family birthdays, Sunday Brunch with Toto, anything to celebrate with the fam. Notice, how we've usually gone with family - we'd be broke if we ate here every night on our own budget :) Jon and I both have had wonderful meals at Iris. However, I will say there have been a few mess ups here and there. One time, we went for their Sunday brunch. I loved what I got, but Jon's dish left much to be desired. I had the schnitzel of veal “holstein” with knöpfle, anchovy, caper, yard egg, and boysenberry (minus the anchovies)....yum!! He had the omelet of crisp pork belly, mushroom, and aged gouda ...sounds good, but nothing special. Last Friday night, the tables were turned. His dish was VERY tasty and bursting with flavor. However, my dish was a little disappointing. But, I ate every bite because by the time I got it I was starving!! More on that later. Back to our dishes. Iris's menu does change pretty frequently, which I like. This time, Jon ordered the flank steak and I ordered the tuna steak. Jon's steak was cooked perfectly and had this sauce that was to die for. My tuna was definitely over cooked and well, let's just say, not bursting with flavor. Though it was not my favorite of Iris's dishes, I ate every bite of it!
Now to my starving story. We sat down at our table at 7, but did not receive our food until 9. Now, after much thought, I do not think this is the restaurant's fault. There you go....there's a little grace! Jon and I should have known better. We were a party of 7 and most people ordered either a salad or appetizer to have before their main dish. My mom and aunt both ordered three different appetizers as their meal and naturally asked for the appetizers to be spaced out. So, it was like a 3 course meal, but Jon and I didn't order the first two courses. The waitress did what she was suppose to, which was bring the food out in a timely manner where everyone at the table was on the same course. So, that's something to think about when you go to a nice restaurant with a large group. Go ahead and order an app or salad if most everyone else at your table is, unless you can wait a couple of hours before eating. I was hungry the minute we walked in, so I should have known better. Filling up on bread and butter is not my ideal appetizer.
I've mentioned that we've had some fabulous dishes and some not so fabulous dishes at Iris. I've already informed you of our not so fabulous ones, but here are some of the fabulous dishes we've eaten in the past at Iris..... the flank steak; rod bailey’s raviolo “neola” with brown butter and mushrooms; gulf oysters cooked three ways: fried, polo, and “bread pudding”; salad of brussels sprouts, allen benton’s bacon, and sherry; american kobe shortrib, mughrabia, ripley tomato, and turnip; hand dived scallops, local peas, allen benton’s bacon, tomato, tarragon, and lemon; schnitzel of veal “holstein” with knöpfle, anchovy, caper, yard egg, and boysenberry; and the bread pudding for dessert is phenomenal and a must order if there's still room in your tummy!
So, though it can be spotty, I think the delicious meals we've had at Iris far outweigh the not so delicious ones. We give Restaurant Iris 3.5 stars. The 1/2 star away from 4 stars is due to the occasional spottiness of delicious meals and stuffy atmosphere unless you're in a private room. (And, we think Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen is just a little bit better - click here for its review.)


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  2. Katie and I went to Iris for our two year anniversary. So great. Great service, great atmosphere, one of the few places left around one can order a Sazerac and they don't look at you as though you were speaking Klingon. Kelly's bone marrow appetizer is the truth.