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Lunch Date with Annabella at Eighty3

There’s always been something a little magical in a nostalgic sense about that little bustling section of downtown Memphis on Madison Ave between Main and Front Street. Framing the view from Main Street of the grand law school building is the historic Madison Hotel with its vintage lit sign. The well-preserved exterior and architectural scale as you walk by the Madison Hotel sort of makes you fall in love with downtown, truly alluring. Even more alluring is the modern interior of the newly renovated Eighty3 restaurant housed in the hotel’s ground floor. It’s a swanky little spot with a mouthwatering menu I’ve always wanted to try.

Reviewing restaurants has essentially been my opportunity to practice photography and particularly food photography, so when looking for a suitable lunch date for Eighty3, I instantly thought of local photographer Annabella Brandon who also wanted to practice her food photography, though practice is hardly the right word. She’s exceptional at shooting portraits and details, and when she says she wants to eventually shoot for Martha Stewart, that’s not wishful thinking, it’s more of a prediction. / I included some of her amazing shots in this post but see more of our lunch at her blog here.

Our lunch started with drinks so the bartenders had a chance to show off their skills, then we requested a visit with newly appointed executive chef Connor O’Neill, a transplant from Los Angeles, who has noticeably infused a new kind of energy and passion into the restaurant. Chef Connor spoke about his love for all types of food especially Korean, his venture in bottling and selling his own line of sauces, and his thoughts on every item on the menu so we knew what to order. A quick tour of the kitchen allowed us to meet the hardworking staff that helps pull all the beautiful dishes together. It’s amazing what exceptional food a seemingly standard kitchen can produce.

{Favorites marked with an asterick*. Suggestions by Chef Connor marked with a plus sign+}
*Pineapple Upside-down Martini
Memphis Cup with Gin and Cucumber
**+Eighty3 Signature Cornbread with Honey-Jalapeno Butter
+Crab & Shrimp Spring Rolls
*{ Special } Pull Pork Wrap with Cole Slaw, Crispy Fried Onions, and Sweet Potato Fries
{ Special } Asian Salad with Duck

Wished We Tasted
+Grilled Cheese Panini with crisped cheese on the outside of the bread
+Deep Fried “Oreo” Cookies and Cream
Kobe Burger with Gorgonzola marmalade
Prime Steak Sandwich with Brie, Forest Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Make sure to also visit them during lunch to try Chef Connor’s featured sandwiches of the day. Click here for a list of this week’s sandwiches. Find them on Facebook to keep up with more specials.

Thanks Eighty3, Chef Connor, and Annabella for this rare experience of the restaurant. Loved every part of it. / You can view supplement photos and other lunch date photos here.

Eighty3 Food & Drink
At the Madison Hotel
83 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38103
Ph 1.901.333.1224

eighty3 on Urbanspoon

Photos by Sophorn. Photo of martini by Annabella of Annabella Charles Photography and where noted.

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