I have been a fan of the Beauty Shop restaurant for years, celebrating occasions in the Cooper Young gem from teenage Valentine's Day dinners (the food obviously outplayed the company) to graduation gatherings and classy Sunday brunches. Chef extraordinaire Karen Carrier, whose warm soul and passion shines through both cooking and conversation, converted Priscilla Presley's 1950s beauty parlor into a top-notch, intimate space of creative dishes, a vibrant bar scene, and elegant disposition.
Maybe it was the holiday spirit, but our Christmas Eve dinner literally could not
have been better. We greeted the kitchen staff before being seated and were immediately immersed in laughter when discovering that our family knew every single cook in the kitchen
: Karen, Dana, and one of my classmates-turned-culinary genius, Josh. Each dish that the team prepared surpassed the next in flawless presentation and execution. Never would I undermine one of my favorite Memphis restaurants, but I was frankly dumbfounded by my delight for each plate, each ingredient.
We began with a crispy panko gulf oyster
dusted in tabasco powdered sugar and black grape salsa. Yes, it was a party in my mouth: sweet confectioner's sugar with a kick melted against the warm crunch of a gulf oyster. The combination was brilliant.
Next was a maitake mushroom
prepared Asian-style with sesame seeds and a light, salty soy sauce. We unconsciously ate it so quickly that we found ourselves ordering a second for the table. Our vegetable salad
, served warm, took local veggies to the next level. Roasted corn, butternut squash, asparagus, peppers and onions were mildly tossed in a ginger vinaigrette and topped with creamy crumbles of French feta. The cheese melted ever so slightly over the vegetables. I could live on that salad, I've decided.
My mother had always raved about the pan roasted barramundi, so we all ordered the dish with its decadent sweet corn edamame succotash, marcona almonds for a crunch, and light coconut milk broth base. The portion was perfect; no overwhelmingly stuffed feelings afterward, rest assured.
Whether for a cocktail, scoop of gelato or full-on holiday feast, the Beauty Shop surpasses most in the Memphis food scene.
**Get excited for LA and New Orleans Caramelized critiques...coming soon!