Friday, December 08, 2006

EP Delta Kitchen (Closed)

Editor's note: Sadly, E.P.'s closed its doors in October 2008.

EP Delta Kitchen
126 Beale Street

Last Friday we had tickets to see The Little Donkey at the Orpheum, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to check out EP Delta Kitchen, just across the street. I had read a few of Mr. Downtown’s posts detailing the deliciousness and was determined to try it out for myself. I knew that it was a pretty fancy place and worried whether the monkeys (Satchel, 4, Jiro, 2) would be up for it, but based on their recent good behavior and the fact that we would be dining at 5:30pm, I figured it was okay to take a chance. (Besides, if for some reason it didn’t work out, there were plenty of other restaurants in walking distance that we go could to before the show.)

When we arrived at 5:31pm, I was pleased to see that other than one or two people at the bar, we were the only people in the restaurant. The host seemed mildly surprised to see a family patiently awaiting a table. I assumed that he assumed we were tourists who didn’t know any better than to bring two small children to an extremely fancy and pricey restaurant. Or hell, maybe he just thought we were cool.

Our waitress sure did.

She couldn’t stop cooing over the very cute (and well-behaved) monkeys, nor my very cute (and well-behaved) husband. “Your shirt reminds me of my old neighborhood,” she said, eyeing his hip Goner t-shirt I got him a few weeks ago. “I used to wait tables at Sushi Do,” she continued in an attempt to appeal to his Asian-ness.

The (very well-behaved) monkeys and I sat on the booth side of the table and Warren sat on the chair side. As he perused the menu and chatted with the waitress, I watched as the monkeys took in the scene. “Ooh what’s that?” they asked pointing to a flat screen TV mounted on the wall. “Oooh, what’s that?” they asked motioning to the candle on our table. The waitress smiled and gave them simple answers as I discreetly handed the gratuitous amount of breaky things within the monkeys' reach to the man filling up our water glasses.

“Do you want to start off with a drink?” the waitress asked.

Warren and I looked at each other and said in unison, “Yes!” I had a Peanut Butter and Banana cocktail (consisting of Godiva, 99 bananas, vodka, and Amaretto and garnished with dried banana chips) in honor of the King and Warren had a Memphis BBQ Bloody Mary.

“Anything for the boys?” she asked.

“Bring them each a Shirley Temple...with extra cherries,” I said very proud of myself for coming up with the idea. I was immediately transported to 1979 when my dad used to take us all out to fancy restaurants and let us order whatever we wanted.

“Don’t look at the prices,” I told Warren. “Get whatever you want.”

“That’s no problem,” he said, “but what are we going to get the kids?”

I looked at the menu, and realized that this was a very good question. Duck Spring Roll? Grilled Oysters? Crawfish Cakes? Stuffed frog legs? Yikes. This was going to be tough. In desperation, I flipped to the back of the menu and started looking at desserts.

“What about the sausage and cheese platter?” Warren suggested.

“Yes!” I said. “Let’s do that.”

I turned my attention back to my order. Everything looked really good. Lobster Etouffe…Black-Eyed Pea Tempura Battered Shrimp…Grilled Filet Mignon…mmm… I decided to ask the waitress for a suggestion.

“Everything is really good,” she said sincerely. “Do you like alligator?”

“I’ve never had alligator. What's it taste like?" I asked.

"Chicken," she said with a laugh.

"Hmmm…alligator. Okay, why not. I'll take the Alligator Scallopini,” I said without really knowing what scallopini was.

“Alligator!” Satchel exclaimed. “How are you going to eat an alligator?”

“Well, I’m going to need your help,” I said. “And we may need a bigger table.”

Warren was still waffling I could tell so I suggested he go with the Grilled Filet Mignon. I know he immediately looked at the $28.00 price tag so I said in my best Steve Greenberg voice, "Don't worry about the money!"

Filet Mignon it was.

"So do you want the sausage and cheese plate for the kids' entree?" the waitress asked.

"No, bring it as soon as possible!" I said. "And maybe some bread if you have it," I added hopefully.

I wasn't sure how we would make it through the meal without any food for the monkeys. Just then, a waiter brought out the lagniappe, or "little something extra," for each of us. It was a dollop of duck and ham (and various other things) on a piece of fried wonton.

"Ew!" Satchel exclaimed.

Jiro quietly licked his fork.

"Just try it," I coaxed.

"That's okay, you don't have to eat it if you don't want to," the waitress said much to Satchels' delight as she brought over the Shirley Temples.

Fine, more for me.

Satchel and Jiro went right for their pretty red drinks, but stopped short. "It's yucky," Satchel said.

"Here," Jiro said as he handed me his cherries.

I was shocked. "How can a Shirley Temple be yucky?" I demanded as a took a sip. It was all tonic. Dang.

I turned to Warren. "I guess we can't really send them back, huh?"

He shrugged and took a big sip of his Bloody Mary. I tried my drink and wow was it strong. I put it waaaaaaaaaaay out of Jiro's reach. Then I dug around in my purse for some stickers to occupy the monkeys while we waited.

It only took them about two seconds to use them all up, but that was okay because the sausage and cheese arrived. It looked very tasty garnished with olives, raspberries, dried cranberries, greens, and a couple of pieces of fried wonton. There were slivers of a very hard cheese, a scoop of a very soft blue cheese, and slices of a medium type cheese. The monkeys dug right in, but Jiro lost interest almost immediately. Jiro, my monkey who basically subsisted on cheese for the entire second year of his life, had no interest in any of the three cheeses. WTF?

He went back to licking the fork while Satchel hesitantly tasted everything. He took a bite of chorizo and said, "Now, this is good!"

Next a waiter came by with a basket full of freshly fried sweet potato chips for the monkeys and said, "Compliments of the chef."

That totally made my day. And Jiro's. He plowed through the chips like they were the best thing he had ever eaten. I sipped my drink and just said, "Wow, that is so cool." I was really glad that we had taken a chance on a fancy restaurant.

Once the chips were gone, Jiro got a little restless. He decided to sit on the other side of me and dig through my purse. I calmly made a pile of his discards and made sure he didn't start popping any pills or anything crazy like that.

Our entrees came out and Satchel got very excited. "Where's the alligator?" he asked staring at the three crispy medallions on my plate.

"Right here," I said.

"Aw, man!" he said knowing he just got punk'd.

"Want a bite?" I asked.

"Ew, no!" he said looking towards Warren's plate. Then he looked at the waitress and asked, "Where's my dinner?"

"We're going to share," I said taking in the side dishes. Between the two of us we had asparagus, lobster mashed potatoes, and cheese grits. Definitely enough for us to make him a little plate.

I dug into my Alligator Scallopini covered in a Lemon Burre Blanche. It was YUM-MY. Not at all chickeny--much more seafood-like. Chewy, but not tough. The Burre Blanche was creamy, spicy and tart. "Mmmmmmmmmm...." I said to Warren. "How's yours?"

"Good," he said. "It's cooked perfectly."

I saw the tender red middle and looked forward to getting to eat half of it.

"I want some meat!" Satchel said as he polished off his little plate of goodies.

Warren cut some up for him and then we traded plates. He seemed equally enamored by the alligator.

Everything was a little too perfect.

"I need to go pee," Satchel said.

"Me too," said Jiro.

I looked at Warren, who was almost done, and he said, "I'll take them but don't let anyone take my plate!"

They went off and I sat in silence enjoying the filet. I looked up and saw the chef standing at the table. "How is everything?" he asked.

"Wonderful," I said between chewing.

"Did the children enjoy the chips?" he asked.

"Yes, thank you very much," I said as he shyly walked away. I wanted to shout out, "Everyone is in the bathroom, but they'll be right back!" but I held my tongue. I know the monkeys would have gotten a kick out of talking to the chef.

When they did return we finished every last bite of food, reluctantly passed on dessert, and handed over our credit card. Jiro and Satchel decided they needed to try out the dance floor just for a second so I followed them. (Warren stayed seated and listened to the waitress' Bonaroo story.) There were a few more people at the bar now and a couple of other diners. I got the monkeys in their coats and waited for Warren to join us.

"That was awesome," he said.

"I know. I can't wait to come back...without the kids," I said as we headed towards the Orpheum. Too bad they don't do lunch. I'd eat here everyday, I said to myself as I looked over my shoulder at my second story office window.

Although EP was super welcoming to our family, it is clearly not a kids' restaurant. However, I was very encouraged by the monkeys' good behavior and Satchel's willingness to try new things.

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