Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Four Years

Katy and I celebrated our 4th anniversary this past week. In what has become sort of a tradition, we returned to Erling Jensen for dinner on Friday night. I guess it's our favorite restaurant in Memphis--I don't know if the restaurant is that much better than everything else, or we are just associating it with a special event. In any case, it is easily the meal of the year we most look forward to, and I can't imagine that if we are in town next year that we will go anywhere else.

I've written about Erling Jensen once before on this blog, one year ago to be exact. The only thing that rivals Erling's food is Erling's service. The staff treats you as if you are really special. I appreciate that, because I think I'm pretty special too. Some high-end restaurants treat their customers well, but with a side of snootiness (if that's a word). It's as if you should feel privileged to eat there. It's not like that at Erling. The staff treats you as if they are privileged to serve you. I especially like that they show you which of the 9 utensils you are supposed to use for each course. Even though I'm pretty certain what goes with what by now, they step in to remove any doubt. That's helpful.

There are two things we make sure one of us orders each year: the crabcake appetizer and the chocolate soufflé dessert (neither can be topped in our opinion). In between, we always try out different entrees. There are three "tastes" along the way, complimentary of the chef. We received our complimentary pre-appetizer-appetizer soon after we ordered (I don't know the official name for this course, but I don't have to because, again, I'm special). It was a small citrus-smoked salmon tart, topped with a pesto butter. Yum. From there we moved into our appetizers. To accompany Katy's crabcakes, I got the foie gras. First-timer with the foie gras, and it won't be the last. Mmmm...boy.
After we woofed down our appetizers, we were treated to a pineapple sorbet. I look forward to the sorbet, even though my pallet always seems clean enough. For our entres--Katy had the monk fish (one of the specials) and I got the rack of lamb. I was told the lamb was Erling's signature dish, but that's the first I had heard. The lamb was really good--easily moved into the 2nd slot for my favorite Erling entree (the first slot is firmly held by the ostrich).
We only got one dessert. Weak, I know, but that's all we could stomach at this point. Of course it was the chocolate soufflé. Chocolate and I are good acquaintances, but my wife's relationship with the sweet is much more rich. I could try to describe Erling's soufflé, but I'm not sure it would match Katy's standard. Our complimentary after-dessert-dessert was some sort of chocolate candy. A little too bold for me. In Katy's words, "that's pretty hard-core," and that's pretty high praise.

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