A few days ago, I wrote about Downtown Dining Week, a fantastic annual event where downtown Memphis restaurants offer 3-course meals for approximately $20. And, of course, I dined! The hubby and I decided to hit up a restaurant that we'd heard about but never visited.
Automatic Slim's was the brainchild of Karen Carrier, a popular Memphis restauranteur and chef, who opened the restaurant in 1991 to rave reviews. In October 2008, Carrier sold Automatic Slim's to concentrate on some of her other ventures: Do, Beauty Shop and Mollie Fontaine Lounge. After Carrier's reign at the helm ended, opinions of the restaurant declined as diners felt the loss of Carrier's presence and style. In recent months, reviews have improved as the new owners have settled in and found their niche. Therefore, Slim's made a reapperance on my "to-do" list, and Downtown Dining Week seemed like an excellent time to try it out.
Automatic Slim's Downtown Dining Week Menu
» House-Cured Wild Salmon Gravlax, Toasted Bagel, Whipped Cream Cheese, Dill, Salmon Roe
» HBenton’s Bacon - Roasted Corn Bisque, Sweet Corn Dumplings
» Gathered Field Greens, Honey Vinaigrette, Herb Crouton
» Braised Beef Short Ribs, Ricotta-Potato Gnocchi, English Peas, Brown Butter Broth, Shaved Parmesan
» Seared Wild Salmon, Lemon-Potato Mash, Fennel- Grapefruit Salad
» Crispy Airline Chicken Breast, Local Mushroom Risotto, Sweet Tea Reduction, Cracked Pepper Cream
» Lemon Scented Cheesecake, Balsamic Strawberries
» Local Pecan Tart, Chocolate Ice Cream
» Callebaut Chocolate “Terrine”, Whipped Espresso Cream, Orange
This year, diners could select one choice for each of the three courses for $20.10. In these cases, Tom and I like to make sure our choices don't overlap so that we can try as much as possible. For our first course, I picked the roasted corn bisque with sweet corn dumplings and Tom chose the wild salmon gravlax on toasted bagel with whipped cream cheese and salmon roe.
My corn bisque had good flavor, and I appreciated the smokiness of the bacon. However, it was closer to a chowder than a bisque and the dumpling was very dissapointing both in texture and flavor. It was clumpy, heavy and bland. The dish would have been much improved if the dumpling had been omitted.
For my entree, I chose the beef shortribs with potato gnocchi and English peas. The beef was fall-off-the-bone tender and the texture of the gnocchi and peas (which were fresh, not canned or frozen) was excellent, but it felt like the whole dish was one note. It wasn't just the lack of salt; there was no depth of flavor. This was an assortment of earthy ingredients that really should have shined.
Tom chose the chicken with mushroom risotto and sweet tea reduction. The chicken was a little dry, but overall, I preferred the flavor of his dish to mine. Although, I felt that my entree was more interesting conceptually.
Dessert! My favorite! I got Callebaut chocolate terrine. It was rich and dense and everything it should be. The texture was smooth, and while the portion was small, if it were any larger it would have been too much.
Tom chose the lemon-scented cheesecake with balsamic strawberries. The cheesecake was creamy and had a nice light flavor, but there was no hint of balsamic flavor in the strawberry topping, which would have made a nice contrast to the sweet tartness of the cake.
There was a nice crowd for Downtown Dining Week, and we didn't have a problem getting a table even though they lost our reservation. There were a couple of minor service snafus (like the waitress bringing our desserts before we had been served our entrees), but overall, it was an enjoyable evening.
Final Impressions: Automatic Slim's feels trendy, but warm. The food was pretty good, but in the business of Downtown Dining Week, it may not have been their best effort. However, I am intrigued by their regular dinner menu, and I'll probably be back.
Tiffany's Favorite: The chocolate terrine
Tom's Favorite: Salmon gravlax with whipped cream cheese
Tiffany's Rating :) :) 1/2 out of :) :) :) :)
Automatic Slim's Restaurant
83 S. 2nd Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Average Appetizer Price: $4-$8
Average Small Plate Price: $6-$10 (lunch) $6-$13 (dinner)
Average Entree Price: $8-$12 (lunch) $15-$25 (dinner)
Average Dessert Price: $6-$9
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11:00am-4:00pm
Dinner: Monday-Sunday 4:00pm until...
Brunch: Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm