(WMC-TV) - PROJECT GREEN FORK RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH: River Oaks, 5871 Poplar Ave., East Memphis, 901-683-9305.
Local food-sourcing and sustainability aside, Master Chef Jose Gutierrez is reason enough to make reservations, lunch or dinner, at River Oaks.
The legendary former chef of The Peabody's Chez Philippe and Encore Restaurant has spent the better part of three decades wowing Mid-South customers with his French-bistro-with-a-Southern-twist selections.
Now he owns and runs River Oaks, cooking up his innovative cuisine, but with a nod to sustainable food sources and practices.
To-go boxes made with recycled materials. "Enviro" cocktail napkins of recycled, washable micro-fiber. Five 30-gallon barrels of wine and beer bottles recycled twice a week.
River Oaks is doing the right thing by the environment.
"But doing the right thing is not just recycling," said Gutierrez. "It's buying the right produce. It's buying the right ingredients."
He buys them straight from local sources and from Mid-South farms -- the beef on his butcher block, the greens and veggies in his salads.
Ooohhh. The salads.
"Jose's classic Caesar salad with shrimp," drooled Charles Stewart, a regular from Germantown, TN. "Gorgeous and delicious!"
"One of my favorite dishes on his menu is the (Nicoise Salad with Seared) Tuna Salad," said Amy Howell of Eads, TN. "I'm in that health phase, so I appreciate what he has in the salads."
"The food here is really, really phenomenal," said Dr. Rajiv Grover, dean of the University of Memphis business and economics school. "If you have good food, good prices and also the chef -- the owner -- is a good human being, it's a foregone conclusion you would be loyal to that place."
WHAT ANDY LIKES: Nicoise Salad w/Seared Tuna, Chef Jose's Sirloin Burger, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Butternut Squash Soup, Homemade Ice Cream & Sorbets, Fish Specials Every Friday.
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730 North Summit Street