Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Immediately after resolving the Great Hair Crisis of 2014 I raced home to change clothes, hug our fabulous sitters (my sister and her beau, of course!), and zoom out the door. Hubby and I had planned our first night out in months, and there was no way we were missing our reservations!

So here we are at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.

Located in Brookhaven Circle (just a few doors down from Celery), this charming Italian eatery is rumored to be home to some of the best cuisine in Memphis.

The menu was a bit limited and the dish descriptions weren't very, um, descriptive, but our amazing waiter did an excellent job at describing literally each and every dish for us. No telling how often that poor man has to recite the whole menu every night!

Like all the businesses on (the formerly residential) Brookhaven Circle, Andrew Michael is located inside an old house. To be honest, I find myself a bit on the fence about the whole "turn the house into a restaurant" concept. For all of their obvious charm and character, these houses-turned-eateries (Andrew Michael, Iris, Café Piazza et al) can at times feel rather cramped. Acoustically they're often quite "live," like you're able to feel every footstep and overhear every conversation around you.

Anyway, food time! After placing our orders we were served fresh baguette with tapenade. I feel pretty "meh" about tapenade in general, so I'll give this dish a strong "okay." However I'm pleased to report that every dish we were served was better than the one before it, so AM's stock only rises from here folks!

For my Starter I went with the "AM Breakfast," which consisted of poached egg, pork belly, polenta and AM pork rinds.

Gotta be honest here: despite all the hype surrounding this dish, I was not a fan at all. The polenta was rich and creamy, the pork belly was rich and smoky, the pork rinds were...weird and unnecessary. What really turned me off, though, was the poached egg. Admittedly, I generally prefer eggs cooked drier and dead-er than a doornail. However, I can easily tolerate--even enjoy!--a bit of runny yolk, just so long as it's served with a substantial, crusty starch to help soak up some of the liquid (see: crab eggs benedict from Local). The taste of this dish was great, but the runny/rich texture of yolk and polenta was just too much for my liking. (Hubby got the "Quail" with roman gnocchi, chicken liver sofrito and sorghum; it was superb.)

After two so-so courses, I was starting to lose hope in my choice of restaurant. Then, thank goodness, AM started to redeem itself with the Pasta course: "Maw Maw's Ravioli," with meat gravy.

It was "high-low" done beautifully. Perfect meat (I believe the waiter said it was beef, chicken and veal, but don't quote me on that), perfect spices, perfect sauce, perfectly scrumptious. Simple, homey and uncomplicated.

Then things started to get really good. My entrée was the "Lamb," with cauliflower, piccolo ferrato, swiss chard, leek and sundried tomato sofrito.

It was rich, it was flavorful; it was absolutely the most perfectly-prepared lamb I've ever tasted. The dish almost had a "hibachi" thing going on with the grilled meat, rice-like piccolo and assorted veggies. I also tried a bite of my husband's "Newman Farm Pork" with rutabaga, broccoli, prosciutto, pistachio, kale, raisin and citrus conserva. Despite its vastly different appearance and preparation, I was shocked to discover how remarkably similar it tasted to my entrée. Both extremely good, just oddly similar in their smoky flavor.

We were stuffed but tempted enough by the dessert menu to each order our own.

I thought theere was no way my entrée could be topped. Then I took a bite of what is now my very favorite dessert ever in the history of mankind. Behold: the "Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding" with brown butter pecan powder and salt caramel gelato!

Y'all. I cannot even begin to describe how unbelievably delicious this dessert was. As good as the chocolate pudding was, that wasn't even the best part--it was that toffee sauce! My husband and I were literally f.i.g.h.t.i.n.g over who would get the next bite. And the gelato, don't even get me started. Run, don't walk, to get this the next time you're at Andrew Michael!

(Husband got the "Marscapone Cheesecake" with maple caramel, cranberry and pecans. It was really, really good. But mine was better.)

Bottom line: Would I eat there again? Hmmm... Given how pricey it is and how hit-and-miss the dishes are, I probably wouldn't return for a full meal. I'd certainly take a toffee pudding to-go, though ;)

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
712 W Brookhaven Cir
Memphis, TN 38117

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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