It’s really nice to have friends


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It’s really nice to have friends. It’s great to get to share wonderful meals in homes and at restaurants. It’s even better when those restaurant meals are prepared by a friend who just happens to be a great chef. Of course, it’s best of all when you get to share that restaurant meal with friends.

We happened to have one of those meals today. After looking forward to having a great meal with our new friends the Bon Temps Squirrel and Squirrelly Grace Thursday night at Brushmark chef Andrew Adams’s farmers market dinner, we were very disappointed when the weather connived against us and took out the power at the Brooks Museum. While we would have been perfectly happy to dine by candlelight, those pesky safety regulations meant that dinner had to be canceled for the time being. Instead of wallowing in our misery, we decided that, even though we will definitely be guests when Chef Adams reschedules the event, there was no reason not to have a meal together with another chef friend, Chef Stephen Hassinger at The Inn at Hunt-Phelan.

We decided that Sorta Sister Squirrel should come with us to make new friends also. We all met up at the bar to get our morning started with mojitos, mimosas, and mint juleps. After we said our hellos to Russell, the Hunt-Phelan sous chef, and many of the staff, Stephen came out to say hello and to offer us a fabulous gift of friendship. While we were very excited about having the standard brunch menu in the first place, we were given the opportunity to have a special chef’s tasting brunch menu. Of course, we accepted. Go ahead. Hate us now.

Our meal started with a melon fantasy. A thin slice of perfectly ripe canteloupe wrapped around a scoop of canteloupe sorbet and a ball of sweet watermelon heart. While both fresh melons were delicious, the sorbet was divine. An unexpected touch of Herbsaint gave the sweetness of the sorbet a faintest hint of anise. This was a fabulous summer treat and perfect start to the meal.

The second course presented to us was shrimp and grits. These were perfectly cooked shrimp in a rich and spicy sauce with a slice of andouille topping creamy stone-ground grits. This was a perfectly balanced and addictively decadent dish.

For the third course, we had the chef’s take on bagels and lox. A toasted bagel was topped with herbed cream cheese and a rosette of creamy smoked salmon with an added bonus of chanterelle mushrooms as a garnish. The rich meatiness of the mushrooms was a great compliment to the lightness of the cheese and salmon.

Then we reached the main course, Carpetbagger steak, medallions of rare beef tenderloin surrounding a mound of fried potatoes and asparagus spears topped with a fried oyster and a poached egg with hollandaise. There are not words enough to describe this dish. Every element was perfect individually and combined to make an incredible dish. The best part? The drizzle of homemade Worcestershire sauce that added a touch of sweetness to accent the richness of the hollandaise.

All too soon, we reached dessert. We were each presented with a slice of chocolate caramel pie. The dark chocolate topping was studded with pistachios and covered a rich molasses caramel filling. This was a perfect end to a perfect meal.

Sadly, meals do end, but there will be more meals and friends to share them with.

The Southern Belly trail
Memphis Botanic Gardens farmers market

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