Saturday, October 27, 2007
Walk down a long alleyway between a Mexican restaurant and a cyber cafe on Hollywood Blvd and you will find Memphis restaurant. Memphis is housed in the last remaining Victorian in Hollywood, Jane's House, and experiencing the structure and the decor is certainly worth the visit even if the food was nothing to write home about. It has been a residence and a school educating the children of Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks. It was refurbished by Guy Miller, a friend of the original owners and in 2006 opened as Memphis.
The inside is decorated bordello-like in lots of red velvet, red flocked wallpaper, mirrors and crystal chandeliers. The many small rooms typical of Victorian homes make for interesting architecture for a restaurant. Lots of places to tuck away for a private cocktail, and separate rooms for celebratory dining.
Although the restaurant was far from crowded for a Friday evening, minor celebrities abounded. I typically do not pay attention to celebrity and rarely do I recognize one when I see one. However, being that the restaurant was quiet and the food was not outstanding, I thought it was notable. In the bar were several members of the Seinfeld cast. Upstairs in a semi-private dining room, Gabrielle Union was with a large group of friends and outside the restaurant we saw William Hung standing online to get in to a Halloween party with his mum! How cute!
I will just do a quick run down of the eatable but not memorable food we ordered and ate. I started with the tuna tartar. What used to be a delicacy on a menu has now become a standby. One can usually order this dish anywhere and get something fairly healthy and lite. Memphis' version was covered in a creamy sauce. Why? Just, why?
D started with the gumbo, which was tasty enough, but just ordinary.
As a main course I had the fried chicken. Now for me it is hard to go wrong with fried chicken. While I am not a fried food advocate by any means, fry me up some chicken and I am usually happy. I was surprised that, this being a Southern restaurant, the chicken pieces were limited to breasts. I expected a thigh, a wing or at the very least a drumstick. I always admire a chef who doesn't assume his patrons are afraid of the body parts of their meat.
The one sound endoresment they will get was for the martini. Due to the patio/nightclub/veranda setting outside the lounge area, it came oxymoronically in a plastic glass. However, it was the largest martini I have ever had in my life. Small multi-cellular organisms could do the back stroke in one of those suckers.