Saturday, August 3, 2013

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis - James Beard Top Chef

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
Who would know Memphis would have a James Beard Award Winning Chef, well they do and they are well deserved. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen (AMIK) is on Brookhaven Circle in East Memphis on a street that has several other restaurants in converted houses. AMIK is across the street from their other restaurant Hog and Hominy which is more of a casual bites restaurant. 
I was with my colleagues David and JT and we sat in the bar area which for all intent and purpose is just an extension of this small restaurant housed in an older converted home.  Our server Sean was very knowledgeable and passionate so we decided to let him guide us through our meal.  The menu is simple but the choices are difficult because all of them look very good. 
We started off with the Charcuterie which is a sampling of items that they have either concocted or butchered and cured themselves.  The plate featured their Pate, Salami's, pickled Celery and Fennel, homemade stone ground mustard and Peach Mostarda.  I am not a big Pate fan but this Pate was rich and creamy it got me thinking that AMIK is one of those unique restaurants that takes us back to the early 1900's where they butcher, cure, pickle and craft all their dishes.  No processed prepared foods here.
Prosciutto infused Melon

Lucious and Sinful
Sean then suggested A/M Breakfast and Melon and Prosciutto both plates utilize the Sous-vide method which is to encase the food in a vacuum sealed bag and poach it in a specific temperature which creates a food that may take on a different uniform texture or provides for an infusion of several tastes.  The A/M Breakfast sous-vide egg that became gelatinous that was placed on Polenta with a side of Pork Belly and Deep Fried Pork Rind, when combined it provides a rich salty cholesterol filled delight.  On the contrary the Melon and Prosciutto is a colorful creation that infuses the melon with the prosciutto to create a single bite delight but as QVC says "that is not all" it also had a very thin slice of peach, threads of celery and small nuggets of buttermilk stracciatelle with a little peanut dust.

Maw Maw's Ravioli
Creamy Gnocchi
Next on the palette was Maw Maw's Ravioli and Potato Gnocchi both good but what was memorable was their use of a reduced Balsamic that was splashed on the plate before the Gnocchi and the Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce it allowed the Balsamic to stand alone and enhance the dish.  Maw Maw's gravy is good but it got lost due to the uniqueness of the other dishes.
Rabbit was Most Memorable

Very Tender Lamb

Pork Smoky Limas
Last were the Entrees,before I even walked into the restaurant I had made my mind up about the Rabbit... NO Rabbit.  But Sean talked me into it and I am so glad he did, it was moist and savory, there is no other way to describe it. The dish was accompanied by fresh Peas, Shitakes, Fennel and Carrot Gnocchetti (Mini Gnocchi).  We also had the Slow Roasted Newman Farm  Dorper Lamb which is tender and moist and accompanied by smoked potato, Eggplant and Fresh Peas.  The final dish Newman Farm Pork which was served with Lima Beans, Peaches, Zucchini and Prosciutto Sofrito.  The Pork was tasty but not as tender as the other dishes, the Lima's were smoky and Peaches with Pork is a must.
Overall AMIC is a great place to go and has terrific food at a great value.  All the wait staff are very knowledgeable and passionate about their job and restaurant.