Arguably the most anticipated restaurant opening of 2011 was Acre. Chef Wally Joe has a passionate following in Memphis as well as national recognition. Andrew Adams (who juggles chef duty at both Acre & the Brushmark at Brooks Museum) is incredibly talented as well. This culminates at Acre in plates of food that are beautiful without being precious. The space is jaw dropping. The design is elevated rusticity with an incredible attention to detail. It's truly a beautiful restaurant that was very well planned & well thought out. The wine list is a tight collection of lovely bottles, by the glass & (my favorite) by the quartino. There are few selections on this list that I wasn't pleased to see. It has quickly rocketed to the top of one of my most favorite lists in town. Why? Well first & foremost it's unique & not just a collection of ubiquitous labels. Second, it appeals to the wine obsessed as well as the casual drinker; meaning it's approachable & not scary yet still interesting. Most of all, when we ordered a bottle of Bergstrom Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 Willamette Valley it came out at the proper temperature; not "room temperature". I cannot tell you how many times I've had to bite off a small chunk of ice from my water glass & drop it in my red wine to cool it down. Newsflash--room temperature in the south in the summer hovers around 80 degrees. This does not make the red wine tasty. Service is comfortable & attentive without being fussy or too silent.
The menu is outstanding. It's a compact collection of delicious plates of food that have been so obviously loved over. But still not even an ounce of pretension whatsoever. It's very very good food using top quality ingredients that are prepared with expert technique so of course there is no need for pretension. I appreciate that quite a bit because it kept me in a constant state of giddy anticipation for the next plate.
Tomato Tartar with chickpea panise & goat cheese.
Tiny Octopus salad with paprika cashews & avocado
Duck Pastrami with cherry mustard & pickled cippolinis
Halibut with favas, squash & a Lobster sancocho
Sea Scallops with artichokes, fennel, capers, roasted garlic potato puree & buerre rouge
Every bite of food was delicious, absolutely delicious.
We followed that collection up with an artisan cheese course with tasty little accompaniments; a unique twist on Tres Leches & a Chocolate & Peanut Cremieux that was luxurious & unctuous.
I will return soon & when I do I think I might dive into the suckling pig dinner with a group of 10. FYI- you have to order it a week in advance.
Dan Jurafsky, a Linguist, Decodes Restaurant Menus - A new book from a Stanford University linguistics professor looks at how we describe what we eat.
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