Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Off the Map: At Least It's Not Pork or Chicken

Surf and Turf -- Restaurant Iris, Memphis, TN
For our final Memphis Best Thing I Ever Ate dining experience, Vodka and friends decide to employ Uber to drive us ten minutes down the street so that our designated driver, Whiskey Sour, can have a cocktail (or preferably, two or three). 
"FINALLY" --Vodka
When said Uber driver arrives, he proceeds to get inexplicably lost in a parking lot, performing multiple U-turns and causing Vodka's trigger rating finger to rest squarely above two stars.
Buddy, You Are Literally Taking Us RIGHT DOWN THE STREET. Pull It Together
And then he finds "I Want It That Way" on the radio, cranks it up to a deafening volume, and instigates a full-on singalong among the four of us, and (even more miraculously) gets us to our dinner destination without too much more grief.
One Star for Driving, Five Stars for Soundtrack Selection
"Way to be saved by the Backstreet Boys, buddy," we mumble as we slide out of his car and through the door of Restaurant Iris, home of Claire Robinson's Best Thing I Ever Ate GUILTY PLEASURE dish, the surf and turf. Now compared to the other places we have ventured so far on this trip, Restaurant Iris is much classier. 
A Festive Table Which Does Not Belong to Us
Located in a converted Victorian-type house, the space is instantly charming, and we settle down at a corner table to properly complete our weekend in Memphis.
Almost Got Run Over By Our Own Uber Driver While Trying to Nab This Shot
And then they turn on the air.
Nothing Like Adding More Draft to a Drafty Old House
Now Vodka, who typically has fire running through her veins, is not easily put off by a smattering of cold air, but the wind flowing from the vent directly below our table is particularly icebergian in nature. It's so intense that our entire tablecloth begins blowing toward the ceiling, causing Diet Coke to scramble in a mad dash to get away from it.
We Didn't Realize This Place Came With Its Own Weather Pattern
Eventually, our waitress places a cocktail menu over the vent in order to shield us from its wrath, but not before Vodka has ordered the Boulevardier, and Whiskey Sour, a glass of Chardonnay. 
Not a Very Hearty Pour on the Chardonnay There, Iris
For dinner, Diet Coke chooses the lamb shank pappardelle, Whiskey Sour the Gulf Shrimp curry, and Vodka, the specified surf and turf, which consists of a New York Strip steak stuffed with fried oysters and blue cheese.
Herein Lie the Actual Descriptions, as Vodka Does Not Feel Like Typing Them
And as heavy and decadent as that sounds after two full days of non-stop consumption, at the very least, Vodka is grateful that it doesn't feature pork or chicken.
Beef: It's What's For Dinner. Thank Goodness
As we await our entrees, we are each given a deliciously warm roll to munch on, along with an amuse bouche of something that looks like a miniature avocado toast. 
Again, We've Reached the Point in Our Trip Where We Stop Paying Attention to What We Jam in Our Mouths
This Is Bread
And when the surf and turf arrives -- apparently one of the only dishes here which is never rotated off of the menu -- it looks just as ridiculous as described. 
Well, This Should Last Vodka At Least  Three Days
A solid hunk of meat rests in the middle of the plate, sliced horizontally down the middle and stuffed with fried oysters and chunks of blue cheese. 

How, Exactly, Does One Eat This Thing?
What looks like a blue cheese hollandaise sauce coats the top and spills over the side, and the whole thing rests atop a bed of diced potatoes.
Somebody Please Send Assistance
In other words, it's A LOT.
Ate All The Oysters and Five Bites of the Steak
Tasting the dish reveals it to be good, if a bit overly decadent. The steak is nicely cooked, the fried oysters are lovely (if sparse, compared to the other ingredients), and the blue cheese adds an interesting tang to the proceedings. But after a few more bites, the fact that the blue cheese seems to have seeped into every pour of the meat means that it starts to have an overpowering effect on every thing else happening on the plate. Is this dish good? Yes. Interesting? Yes. But would we order it again? No.
And Speaking of Decadent, Iris Doesn't Really Seem to Do Anything Halfway
Do Airlines Allow To-Go Bags on Board?

Of the three dishes at hand, Vodka prefers Diet Coke's lamb shank pappardelle, and she would certainly return to try other items on the menu. But the surf and turf, as guilty pleasurable as it might be, just may feature too much guilt for not enough pleasure.
The Cocktail Though? Absolutely No Guilt There
And while we enjoyed Restaurant Iris, it can't hold a candle to our true favorite place in all of Memphis, the Peabody Hotel, home of not only the famous Duck March, but also of an ornate lobby bar complete with chandeliers, piano playing, and an extensive cocktail list. 
Our Top 5-Star Choice of the Trip
So if you ask us, the Peabody should be the number one Best Thing I Ever Ate feature in Memphis. And if the Food Network doesn't agree, well, we don't really give a quack.

Restaurant Iris's Surf and Turf: 4 stars

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