Review: Nightmare at the Museum
If you thought Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum was bad, think again. I have always wanted to try dinner at the Brushmark situated inside the Brooks Museum in Cooper Young. I’ve had lunch there several times before and found the experiences to be enjoyable so it seemed reasonable to assume that dinner would be just as good. What makes getting to the Bushmark difficult is that dinner is served only on Thursday night…
The man behind the food is Chef Wally Joe, a native of Clarksdale, MS, where he modestly began his cooking career. Now, his cooking career isn’t modest at all considering he’s cooked for the King of Spain (or something like that). But with all the experience and force Chef Joe brings into the kitchen, business hasn’t been great for him in Memphis. Joe’s last endeavor (Wally Joe) didn’t fare well, and the restaurant bearing his name became Interim.
I never ate at Wally Joe and so my only impression of the place comes from friends who complained about snooty personnel and over-priced under-seasoned food. Although dinner on Thursday didn’t have much snoot, the kitchen cooked in a manner that must stem from a complacency of being inside a museum that most Memphians don’t realize exists.
Appetizer was Arancini stuffed with mozzarella cheese and risotto and served with an arrabiata sauce ($8). The balls were fried nicely and was a good way to start the meal. I think I would have been more impressed had I not made Arancini myself over Christmas Break, which tasted just as good if not better than these (mine were stuffed with goat cheese).
This is where the meal takes a dive. The other appetizer was a “Gnudi” filled with spinach and cooked with a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t really matter because this dish was both horribly greasy and absolutely flavorless. Just looking at the presentation it’s pretty clear something is wrong with the kitchen’s gastrointestinal tract. Imagine eating a giant wad of dough. With grease.
Entree wasn’t redeeming and equally painful to eat. This starchy mishap labeled “gnocchi piedmontese”(spinach, ratatouille, avocado and a red pepper sauce – $18)) was completely flavorless. Completely. I think if Hercules were alive now and needed twelve labors, finishing this dish could be one of them.
By this point I wasn’t about to order dessert, but asked the waiter anyway just out of curiosity. She listed off six desserts and when asked if they were all made in-house, she replied, “I’m not going to lie. They aren’t.”
“Where are they from then?” I asked.
“A bakery in Atlanta, Ga.”
I promptly paid my bill and left.