Are you thinking the same thing I am? Wasn’t this blog supposed to be about fine dining? Sumptuous suppers? Delectable dinners? Annoying alliteration? Well, ok, maybe we have that one in hand. I’m not sure how wise it was to start the pantry cleaning campaign right after starting a dining blog, but that’s how it worked out. One of the things we will have to sustain us in the potentially lean days ahead will be fond memories of fine meals.
One of the finest meals of recent memory was a trip to Café 1912 for our first anniversary. Mama Squirrel, Squirrely, Jr., and I all shared in this special evening.
Café 1912 is a cozy French bistro at the corner of Peabody and Cooper in midtown. There is an open kitchen for entertainment indoors and seating outdoors for entertainment cynically betting on the progression of ever-changing Memphis weather. The seating area out back is quite nice. Isolated from the noise of the road, it is very comfortable. Since teh boy is a fan of cooking as well as eating, we chose to dine inside at a table right by the kitchen.
We began the evening all sharing a bowl of French onion soup. The soup was typical but very good. Of course the best part of French onion soup is playing with the long strands of cheese that dangle from your spoon. I guess we were fairly discreet though, because they didn’t throw us out. We thought our homemade version compares favorably, but we didn’t have much chance to consider it as Squirrelly, Jr., scarfed up most of the soup.
As appetizers we chose pommes frites and baked oysters in pernod butter. The frites are wonderful. Drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with parmesan, teh boy asked if they were gourmet cheese fries. We insisted that they weren’t, but the more we said no, the more he seemed right. However you define them, the frites are delicious.
The baked oysters in pernod butter were also very good. Teh boy wasn’t thrilled, but we have noticed that he tends to prefer oysters raw or only lightly cooked. Mama and I both thought they were nicely cooked and still retained the taste of the sea.
My entree, the daily special, flatiron steak on horseradish mashed potatoes with red wine demiglace and asparagus spears was a success. The steak was fork tender and very tasty. The potatoes were creamy with a gentle tang from the horseradish. Mama chose the fish special, sea bass on spinach artichoke risotto with beurre blanc. The fish was perfectly pan seared. The nice artichoke sourness of the risotto was just the right compliment to the fish and creamy sauce.
Teh Boy had the only disappointing dish, barbecue shrimp and grits with a spicy tropical fruit barbecue sauce. Each individual element of the dish was good, but the barbecue sauce overpowered the dish. A drizzle instead of a drench would have done wonders.
After the entrees, we had the apple carpaccio salad to close the meal in the French style. We will do this more often in the future because a cool crisp salad does wonders for the digestion. The Café 1912 salad was particularly good. Apples are sliced extra thin, hence carpaccio, and lightly sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. Crisp greens and creamy blue cheese pull the salad together. Once again, teh boy scarfed up most of this dish.
The salad was sweet and pleasing enough on its own, but its primary purpose was to prepare us for dessert. From an exciting list we chose the crème brûlée of the day, vanilla. Like starting the meal with French onion soup cheese, the fun part of ending the meal is arguing over who gets to break the layer of carmelized sugar atop the creamy custard. Fortunately for us, the crème brûlée is served shallow in a fairly broad dish so on the count of three we all got to break the crust. The fight ended up being over the fresh fruit. Like pretty much everything else, dessert was great.
Service was friendly but inconsistent. When we arrived for our reservation, our table wasn’t available yet. We were offered an outdoor table instead, but we wanted to be near the kitchen. We were promised water while we waited, but it never arrived.
The atmosphere is very pleasant. Not too noisy, but with plenty of activity from the kitchen for added interest. This was our second trip to Café 1912, and we will definitely go back. Next time we will probably each get our own bowl of soup though.
243 S Cooper Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38104