Opened by Glenn and Martha Hays back in 1977 (the same summer as Elvis' death), La Tourelle began simply. At first, only a prix-fixe menu featuring French stews and casseroles was served. Eventually the menu was expanded, and the rest of the story is a long legacy of delicious food for Memphians.
The list of chefs who have worked there over the past three decades is a "who's who" for the local restaurant community. Stan Gibson (formerly of The University Club), Gene Bjorklund (chef of the much missed Aubergine), Cullen Kent (current chef of Cafe Society) are a few of them. And, of course, Erling Jensen.
"I think the biggest influence we have had on the Memphis is that if it wasn't for Glenn, Erling Jensen would not be here," says co-owner Martha Hays. "Erling has helped make the restaurant scene what it is today."
When La Tourelle was losing Bjorklund, Hays put an ad in The New York Times. Jensen, who was living in Florida at the time, answered the call and came to Memphis. He served as executive chef at La Tourelle for more than seven years before leaving to open his eponymous restaurant.
Through the years, La Tourelle has consistently been recognized as one of the city's outstanding fine-dining establishments. It has received a DiRoNA Award every year since 1993 as well as an "Award of Excellence" from the Wine Spectator for its wine list.
La Tourelle's 30th anniversary is Friday, when the Hayses will celebrate by offering the menu they started with back in 1977: quiche Lorraine, beef bourguignon and Queen Mother chocolate almond cake with cassis ice cream. (The Queen Mother cake didn't actually appear on the menu until 1978 but it's been so popular for so long they decided to include it.)
The price is $25, excluding tax and tip. For reservations, call 726-5771.
Travelers take note
ForbesTraveler.com just named The Peabody one of the top 15 "foodie" hotels in the nation.
"The hotel's various dining options, including its famous brunch in the Art Deco-style Skyway, have helped put Memphis on the map, but it is the French-Asian cuisine at Chez Phillipe, one of the highest-rated restaurants in the South, that makes the hotel a worthwhile destination," says ForbesTraveler.com.
Also included on the list were such top hotels as Wynn Las Vegas and the Four Seasons New York.
Congrats to a local cook
Collierville resident Barbara Mayo was a finalist in the 2007 National Chicken Cooking Contest, which is sponsored by the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.
To see her Jamaican jerk chicken croquettes recipe, visit chickencookingcontest.com.
Garland's Restaurant on Brookhaven Circle has closed its doors.
Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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