On No Menu Monday, you'll eat what Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman cook, and you will like it.
On the last Monday of every month, Andy and Michael open their restaurant, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, for a special mystery dinner. The meals are served family style (meaning you'll sit with strangers), you pay a flat price ($45) for the multi-course dinner, and everything is delicious.
There's just one catch – you don't get to know what you're eating until dinner is over.
Last night's No Menu Monday was a special benefit dinner for the Memphis Farmer's Market, so the emphasis was on local, farm-to-fork food.
Part of the fun of No Menu Monday is guessing what everything is (this also helps you get to know the people at your table). The first course (pictured above) came served in a cute printed paper cone. It was deep fried peices of…something, drizzled with spicy sauce. The meat (it was definitely meat) tasted like some kind of organ. I guessed partially right – It was chicken fried pork snout with rhubarb ketchup.
That's the other thing about No Menu Monday – you can't read a description of something and decide that you don't like it without trying it first.
The second course was (possibly raw) scallops in some kind of tart, fresh green sauce. I was right on the scallops, but surprised to find out that the sauce was made of celery, apples and parsnips (three of my favorite things).
It was interesting to listen to my tablemates talking about the food. Some of them were hardcore foodies with sophisticated palates, and some of them (like me) were trying to pick out individual items as best we could, saying things like "That's meat. Yeah. Definitely meat."
There was a thin piece of pasta stuffed with greens floating in a cheesy sauce with beans and sausage crumbles that were like Bacon Bits with more substance. (It turned out to be Five Greens Canelloni with spring bean ragu, sausage and goat cheese Fonduta.)
The main course was a pork roast that was so tender it didn't need a knife. I'm not the sort that would usually order a roast, but this one made me reconsider.
No Menu Monday is so chef-driven that sometimes, you'll wind up eating what the chefs feel like eating. That's how Andy and Michael described the cinnamon rolls with blood orange icing that we had for dessert. They came topped with brown butter gelato, which sounds kind of weird, tastes like an elevated version of vanilla.
At the end of the dinner, the servers (who were all completely wonderful) bring around handwritten menus detailing exactly what you had for dinner. Overall, my table was good at guessing what kind of meat we were eating, but not so skilled at determining how it was cooked or what was served with it.
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen hosts No Menu Monday on the last Monday of every month. Reservations are required, and you should call early to make sure you get a spot.