Ingredient-driven French-inspired American bistro stripped down a bit to reflect the eclectic yet refined personality of the owners.
1314 Glenwood Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30316
Chefs/Owners: Nicolas Bour and Lein Schoe
Nicolas Bour, Chef / Owner
A French father and a mother who loved organic farming shaped the culinary-rich background of Chef Nicolas Bour. His childhood on a working farm inspired him to craft the flavors that radiate through Iris’ ingredient-driven menu. Growing up on an organic farm on the Northeast coast of Canada spawned his love of food and taught him an appreciation for the simplest ingredients.
Travels to France and the United Kingdom as a teenager and a stint in the Philippines with the Marine Corps opened the door to new flavors, ingredients and cooking methods. Fresh oysters at a cafe in Paris and pig’s head cheese on his grandparents’ farm are some of his favorite culinary memories.
Back in the States many years later while pursuing a degree in law, Nicolas took a job in a restaurant to make ends meet. The blending of flavors and crafting of ingredients intrigued him (unlike the practice of law) and quickly the desire to cook for a living took hold. As an industry-taught chef, Chef Bour spent his formidable years in the dens of James Beard “Best Chef— Southeast” winner Elizabeth Terry (at Elizabeth’s on 37th), Michelin Star Chef Guenter Seeger (at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead), and highly acclaimed Chef Jean Banchet (as part of the opening team of Riviera). Most recently Chef Bour was Executive Sous Chef at the Hotel Intercontinental Miami. Tired of the confines of the corporate hospitality world and eager to try out their culinary know-how in a casual setting, Chef Bour and his then colleague and friend, Lein Schoe, moved to Atlanta to team up with Alan Raines to open Iris. “Opening Iris gave Lein and me the opportunity to let loose a little and focus on making food the way we wanted to, using local, seasonal ingredients that just simply taste great.” Chefs Bour and Schoe present a consistent theme of using the best ingredients possible, prepared in a simple fashion, while preserving as much of the natural flavor as possible through time-honored cooking methods. Chef favorites include wild game dishes and cassoulets. (Rhoda, Chef Bour’s wife, came up with the name of the restaurant and provided the vision for the overall design scheme.)
Lein Schoe, Chef / Owner
A native of Holland, Lein Schoe grew up with a fascination and appreciation for the culinary arts. An internship in hotel management that began with him washing lettuce would lead him to the helm of one of Atlanta’s critical favorites. At sixteen, Chef Schoe began his colorful career at the Chateau Neercanne. There, he developed a penchant for the thrill of a world-class kitchen, perfecting the subtleties of flavor that make a good meal great. Chef Schoe then moved on to Amsterdam’s top restaurant, La Rive, where he worked as Chef Saucier, playing with flavors and discovering the keys to successfully combining ingredients. During his time at La Rive and later at Intercontinental Hotel’s flagship hotel in Amsterdam, Chef Schoe wowed the palettes of royalty and celebrities alike, further intensifying his desire to eventually own and operate his own kitchen. The company transferred him to Miami to work at the posh Hotel Intercontinental in Coral Gables where he met his friend and soon to be partner, Nicolas Bour.
“I remember meeting Lein for the first time, wielding an eight-inch blade and smirking while he asked if I could handle the job, as the last three guys quit within the first month,” jokes Bour. Schoe softened up a bit in the States, fell in love with his wife Autumn, married her, and ripped up his green card. After meeting up with Raines, the two have worked side by side ever since.
“Iris is everything I wanted it to be - a bit European without the stodginess I experienced as a young chef. We have an opportunity every day to change people’s perceptions of simply prepared good food. I do miss the cold water Mediterranean fish from my time abroad, but our purveyors seem to be having fun trying to keep up with my ever-changing wish list,” Schoe says with a smile while tying on his apron to meet another 18 hour day.
Chefs Nicolas and Lein prepared:
- Wild Turbot Cooked on the Bone
- Saffron Buerre Blanc
- Potato and Leek Ravioli
Wild Turbot Cooked on the Bone
(Yields 6 Portions)
- 1 Whole Turbot approx. 10 lbs.
- 3 Tbs. Clarified butter for searing
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation of the fish: The most important part of this process is the selection of the fish to ensure absolute freshness. Always ensure that any whole fish you purchase has clear eyes, firm textured flesh, and red gills. If it smells fishy, it is not fresh.
Using heavy duty kitchen shears, trim off all the outer fins of the fish, try not to cut too far into the flesh as you will be wasting the edible part, the fillets. With a very sharp large chef’s knife, cut the entire fish in half lengthwise, reserve the scraps for soup of stock. Turbot bones are particularly excellent for soup applications. They may also be frozen for later use.
Season both halves of the Turbot on both sides, and in a large skillet, sear each side in clarified butter until they just begin to crisp, this seals in flavor and moisture. Place the fish on a roasting rack, and place in a conventional oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. The fish should take about 15 — 20 minutes to cook. Remove the cooked Turbot, from the oven and allow it to rest for a few minutes. Using a sharp long bladed filet knife, remove the filets from top to bottom, allowing the blade to follow, along the bones underneath. Serve immediately.
Saffron Buerre Blanc
(Yields 1 Quart)
- 1 cup White wine
- 3 Shallots, chopped
- 1 Clove of garlic, split
- 1 Bay leaf
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 sprig fresh Thyme
- 1 lb. best quality unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. Saffron threads
Place the wine, shallots, lemon juice, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, and saffron threads in a medium sized sauce pan and reduce the liquid by ¾. Add the heavy cream and reduce by half, this should all be done over medium heat to avoid burning the ingredients. Once this mixture has reduced the desired amount, pass through a fine mesh strainer, and slowly whisk in the butter, keep the sauce at room temp until ready to serve.
Potato and Leek Ravioli
(Yields 12 Raviolis)
- 1 Medium Russet potato, peeled and diced to ¼ inch
- 1 Leek, white part only, diced to ¼ inch
- ½ Tbs. Italian flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1 Tbs. best quality unsalted butter
- 6 Plain Pasta Sheets
- 1 Egg, beaten
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat a saute pan over medium high heat until butter melts but doesn’t burn. Add potatoes and cook until they begin to soften, (about 5 minutes). Add the leeks and continue to cook this mixture until potatoes are cooked through and leeks are soft. Do not allow the mixture to brown; you want to maintain the color of the leeks. Finish with chopped parsley, salt and pepper (to taste), set aside to cool. With a round cookie cutter, make circles with the pasta sheets, to the desired size of your raviolis. Take each round of pasta and brush the edges with the egg wash; place desired amount of filling in the center of the pasta and fold it over to create a Mezzaluna, or half moon-shaped ravioli. Place on a sheet pan with a small amount of semolina flour to prevent them from sticking together.
The cooking for the pasta is approximately 3-4 minutes. Serve them al dente. Shave parmesan over them to enhance flavor.