It seemed strange that we had been on the road for 8 hours, been in 4 States and crossed the Mississippi twice to get to Memphis. When the clan finally pulled into town it was after 9:00pm. Everyone was tired. Everyone was hungry. That was the last thing that we all agreed upon. The girls wanted to stay at the hotel. Kevin and I wanted to go out. In the end, everyone got what they wanted. We stopped in the lobby of the hotel where there were frozen meals available and picked up microwaveable treats for the girls and Kevin and I headed out into the Memphian night.
The town was full of the smoky smell of BBQ and lively sounds of music. A horse drawn carriage that looked like it should come from Cinderella passed us by. Its LED lights of blues, greens and purples startled me. As we came out of our hotel we made our way to the corner and started down 2nd street. We walked down the street, passed open windowed bars with live music playing for the crowds and restaurants of all kinds. Sushi at Sekisui, Italian at Capriccio Grill, Seafood at Flying Fish, a Texas de Brazil churrascaria, even a Canadian themed place called The Kooky Canuck (I have NO idea what kind of food they served there, though I do assume they served beer. And lots of it.).
Kevin and I settled on Encore which was opened several years ago by the James Beard award winning Chef Jose Guitierrez. Still in our jeans and weary from the road, we (I) were (was) a bit concerned that we would be under dressed. But we appeared to be fine. Kevin ordered himself a Campari and Soda and me a Champagne cocktail that included Lillet Blanc (most excellent) and we began our meal.
Kevin started with the wild mushroom ravioli. It was served with a tomato fondu, basil and parmesean reggiano. The flavor of the mushroom filling was intense and included porcini. The pasta was delicate, clearly home made and the sauce a light accompiment. I started with the Silver Queen corn chowder with lobster and crab. It was rich with the flavor of the sweet white corn and topped with chunks of lobster and crab and crispy bacon.
With our main couses, we ordered a Hopler Pinot Blanc. This is an Austrian wine that was crisp and fresh with citrus and stood up to the sauces that dressed our meals. Kevin had the sea scallops that were stuffed with lobster claw meat and served over a bed of braised leeks, served with a lemongrass beurre blanc and garnished with chopped peanuts, cashews and ginger and a crispy wreath of shoestring potatoes. He loved it.
I had the grouper served over a warm lentil salad that included roasted mushrooms, potatoes, carrots as well as the puy lentils and dressed with a ginger citrus beurre blanc. The grouper was cooked perfectly. Crispy but tender and the salad included tiny bites of fresh ginger that surprised me every time I got a bit of them. The salad was so delicious that I could have skipped the fish entirely and still been happy.
For dessert, we split the bourbon vanilla ice cream which was delicious, while Kevin enjoyed a decaf irish coffee and I had the Grand Marnier flight which included one ounce pours of the regular, 100 year old and 150 year old versions of the liquer.
By the end of the meal we were a bit nervous that we had not heard from the usually nervous Sophie but glad that she and her sister had let us enjoy our meal. If you are ever in Memphis, it is well worth checking out.