Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Valley Kitchen & Cafe--Townsend

Apple Valley Kitchen and Shopping Emporium  has been in Townsend for more years than I have lived in Tennessee!   And....I might add, I have never been to the restaurant!   On a small traveling adventure, we decided to stop in and experience a decades old attraction.  

Upon arrival, I had to notice all the surrounding buildings offering everything from gift shops to antiques and collectibles.   The restaurant is not visible from the main road but in the back of the complex.   The first thing I needed to do was visit the "facility" only to find out they didn't have a "facility" but I had to go outside and around the restaurant.   That struck me as odd.  

Outdoor Dining
After taking care of the necessaries, I approached the counter to order.   No waitperson comes to the table...and that is OK...seems to be the "trend" in casual dining.  

The Lunch Counter Line

Menu on Chalk Board changes!

 The Cafe features a wide variety of hot and cold sandwiches and all are available as a wrap.   I decided on the Chicken Salad as a wrap with home made chips.  

My wrap arrived and looked good...BUT I did arrange the wrap for a better arrived from the kitchen just laying in the basket.    The chicken salad was OK...but really lacking of any seasonings and a little on the dry side.   I ate half the wrap and needed to get salt, pepper and a couple of packs of mayo.  That helped quite a bit.  

I realize it was a very damp, humid, rainy day, but the home made chips were very "cardboardy".  Not crisp, but something you had to chew.   They need to get them back in the oven to refresh and crisp up!  

The Daily Special board was prominently displayed at the entrance.  I did hear two people request the Broccoli Cheese soup...but they were sold out at 12:30 PM.    

The Main Dining Room
This is a quaint, charming tourist destination with a homey interior.   Nothing compelled my return. 

Apple Valley Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Angelo's At the Point--Dandridge

Friends suggested a revisit to this restaurant.   Angelo's At the Point has experienced many changes, for the better I might add.  

The food is enjoyable and reasonably priced.   Unfortunately, the booth area is over lit with too much light.   Reminiscent of a church basement dining hall. 

We arrived to a pleasant host who immediately seated us and our server was quick to the table.  Drinks were delivered while viewing the menu.  Our server was attentive but not hovering.   As soon as we placed our menus back on the table, he appeared willing and able to answer questions.  

We both chose the house salad while they did suggest appetizers which we declined on.  Our  salads were fresh, crisp but just was iceberg lettuce.  The house prepared dressings were flavorful but my bleu cheese dressing was scant on bleu cheese pieces.  

For the entree...their Sirloin Chopped steak at $12.99 was a great deal.   This included your choice of side items ranging from mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables, cole slaw and baked spinach.   I enjoyed the steak but the baked spinach, trying to be a poor imitation of the classic Spinach Maria, had an odd overtone.   The sauce tasted  like a packaged institutional soup mix.   I really didn't care for their version.    The mashed potatoes were passable but the star of the plate had to be the chopped sirloin.   Full of flavor indicating they do know how to grill steaks and chops.   I will be back to savor the rib eye steak next time we visit the area. 

Angelos At the Point on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Aroma Cafe--Maryville

After heading back from the Smoky Mountains, I took a quick diversion trip through Maryville.   Close friends have commented  for quite sometime how good the Cuban Sandwich Aroma Cafe was serving.   I had to go see for myself.  After living in Miami and still have friends there, I know what a Cuban Sandwich should be.  

It was later and the lunch crowd had subsided.  The restaurant is a typical Cuban styled restaurant I would expect....counter, register and order your food.  They were featuring a few specials including BBQ Pork sandwich.  Struck me that a Cuban diner would be preparing BBQ but they assured me, they were using the Cuban flavored pork with sauce.   I can't imagine what that would taste like since East Tennessee BBQ and Cuban pork are as different as night and day.  

My sandwich arrived and the "aroma" was captivating.   Just as to be expected in Calle Ocho in Miami, (Little Havana).    A very large sandwich served with mojo, the traditional Cuban condiment.   I had to taste their mojo and enjoyed it much more than what I make.  Sometimes, I get a little timid on the flavorings, but their mojo was full flavored...very good.  

I was expecting to see sliced pork, sliced ham,...the usual, but what I received was pulled pork and ham.  There didn't appear to be any Swiss cheese but more of an American yellow cheese.   All in all, the sandwich was very good...nice bread and the right amount of pickles, etc.   For $6.95, this was a filling and tasty lunch sandwich.  

My next trip will be to enjoy their other offerings, including rice and black beans.   I almost ordered some..but the portions would be more than I could eat for lunch.   Lots of food for your dollar!

Nice Sandwich

Colorful Interior...Just like Miami!

Aroma Cafe on Urbanspoon

Old Town Grill--Tazewell

While on the way to Harrogate, TN for a bit of work and enjoying the fall colors, we drove through Tazewell, TN.  After competing our required duties, it was time to search out a place for lunch.   My great friend, Miss E suggested that we stop at Old Town Grill.  She told me the owner previously owned and operated the restaurant in the Hickory Star Marina back in Maynardville.  

We arrived quite late for lunch....1:30PM to find a large number of diners still enjoying lunch.   Our wait at the entrance was a little long, but I will give the hostess the benefit of the doubt since we were very late in arriving.  

She immediately seated us in a very spacious booth.  After looking around at the interior, I soon found out all the booths were large and could easily seat 8 diners, six very comfortably.  I am not a fan of six or more in  a booth since the one closest to the wall will always have to get up to powder their nose.  

A full menu was presented....featuring lunch specials....sandwiches, soups and nice salad selection.   Also, they offer a full meal selection including fried catfish, baked items and a nice selection of steaks.   We opted for the Express Lunch menu offered until 4PM.  They also offered "small plates" for dining after 4PM.   Nice to see this available since most lunch and dinner portions here in Tennessee would feed two or three.  

Miss E chose the Chicken Salad Sandwich for $4.99.   Beautiful whole wheat bread and very nice chicken chunks.  A little over dressed with mayo, but it was great flavor.    

Chicken Salad Sandwich with Hand Made Chips

The Half Club with Garden Salad
Watching my carbs...I didn't order the chips...but I did eat just one!   They were out of this world good...crisp and not greasy.  It was obvious they were freshly made to order.   

My Club also was served with a toasted whole wheat bread...very good, nice crisp bacon and wonderful ham.   The outstanding feature of my Garden Salad with the Bleu Cheese dressing.   All their salad dressings are house made and the flavor was over the top in enjoyment.  

Our Lunch tab.....$12.00!!  Outstanding value and a restaurant worthy of returning on our next outing. 

Old Town Grill on Urbanspoon Click to add a blog post for Old Town Grill on Zomato

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lotus Garden--Knoxville

I don't know what to say...was it bad food?   NO..  Was  the food good....NO.   Where do you go from here?  

We were rushed to order as soon as we arrived.   I had never been to the restaurant and I needed to study the menu.  I found the Thai selection to be limited.   Did they offer a "hotter" seasoning choice?  No.  This was just an ordinary Asian restaurant who didn't have the nerve to offer "real" Asian flavors.   It was almost like they were trying to be Polly Anna in their offerings.   Take a culinary stand... make a statement....define your menu...since I couldn't do that.  

The Hot Sour Soup was average.   Egg roll was included in lunch special and that was good, but had a sweet overtone.    I had never ordered Pad Thai before and decided I needed to expand my flavor palette.   The dish I received was bland, lacking flavor, and seasonings. I can throw a stone and hit three extraordinary Thai restaurants from this location.  Spark it are just too ordinary...and I hate to keep returning to the word "ordinary" ...but your restaurant is just ordinary. 

Planned on taking a few photos for this contribution...but I didn't see anything that needed to be photo documented. 

Lotus Garden on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bonefish Grill at Turkey Creek--Knoxville

Every now and then, a restaurant comes into the 
cross hairs that you have not dined in.  

Bonefish Grill was just that restaurant!  

Since it was my birthday weekend, I wanted to experience something that I had not in the past.   After a while, you start returning to the same old, same old and it was time to make a change in my dining patterns.    

The first thing that I though was..oh, it's probably just another corporate chain since they also operate Outback, Flemings, Ray's et al.  OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC has changed my opinion of "the chain".    Fleming's remains my favorite steak house and we enjoy that restaurant as much as I can. 

A friend suggested that if we go, we need to make reservations.   I called earlier in the week and secured my Saturday 630PM slot.   We arrived at 620PM and were promptly escorted to our table.  No excuses.    Our server, promptly arrived to assist us since this was our first visit.   She showed the Evening Special Menu that piqued our interest.    Her first suggestion for an appetizer was their famous Bang Bang Shrimp.   I have heard everyone rave about this and I just had to try them.   This dish I could have eaten for my was that good.  Wonderful flavors and surprisingly, the "spice heat" began to build after three or four of the shrimp.   It was superb. 

Bang Bang Shrimp

The Evening Special Menu
The very first item was the Beet-Goat Cheese Salad.   Sounded interesting but I am not a fan of Goat Cheese.   My dining companion loves Goat Cheese but doesn't like beets.   I said...why not....try it, maybe it will be something new to expand your palette.   It was met with rave reviews.  

Beet-Goat Cheese Salad
On to the entree choices.    The daily feature was Atlantic Swordfish with Pumpkin Ravioli.  My choice was Deluxe Mixed Grill sirloin steak or longfin Rockefeller with sea scallops  and shrimp for $18.9.  I did the $5.00 upgrade  to Filet Mignon.   It was a perfectly cooked Mignon...medium rare...just the way it should be served.   (Later, I was to discover that Bonefish Grill owns Fleming's Steak House....that explained a lot.) The sea scallops and shrimp were included with a beautiful lemon/butter/tomato sauce.  

Filet Mignon with Scallops and Shrimp
The Atlantic Swordfish was very tasty with a surprise flavor of the Pumpkin Ravioli.   Very flavorful, but the Swordfish portion appeared a little on the small side.   

Atlantic Swordfish beautifully plated!

Of course our meal would not be complete without a great bottle of Le Crema  2008 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast....a great California served slightly chilled...just the perfect temperature.   Our only dissapointment was the bottle finally arrived at our table after the entrees were served.   Should has been delivered to the table before hand, but I will let that small error not deter my enjoyment of the meal.  

To finish the evening, of course was dessert.   Coconut Pie with a Jamacian sauce and Macadamia Nut Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream.  So good!

Coconut Pie

Chocolate Macadamia Brownie
  And to finish off my Birthday Celebration,  Bonefish presented me with a wonderful box of Chocolates from The Chocolate Fetish in Asheville, NC.  

A Beautiful Decor..Muted Colors and Atmosphere
This has to be one of the better seafood restaurants I have enjoyed.   It will be on our list to return and soon.  

Bonefish Grill in Turkey Creek on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sullivan's Fine Food--Knoxville

Stopped by for lunch.  I had not been here in quite a while and the first thing I noticed was their shop worn interior had received a major update. and wonderful warm colors.   Hats off to the interior designer who created a sleek, smooth color palette.  

On to the lunch menu....and suddenly, I noticed HIGH prices. At first I though I was looking at the dinner menu...but as I read further, this was the new and improved higher priced menu.  My dining guest, Miss C ordered The Northshore Salad that looked very good...but my, twelve bucks for a lunch salad was over the top for me.   I know..."look how much you are getting", but what did they expect me to do with all those "greens"?   I don't take food back to the "office".  This plate would serve a family of four. 

My choice was for the Sullivan’s Lunch Combination for  $7.95.  That included your choice of Homemade soup, Signature Salad, House Salad, Half Chicken Salad Sandwich, or Half Rocky Hill Club.   My choice was the House Salad and the Half Rocky Hill Club.  We also received a complimentary plate of two cornmeal muffins.   Our server, polite and accommodating, was short on the smiles.  We all have our days....

My House Salad was very good...fresh and crisp.   My Half Rocky Hill Club (Tennessee pit ham, "all natural" turkey breast, candied bacon and smoked cheddar cheese served on a French white baguette) had to be the driest baguette I have ever seen.   I removed the club ingredients and added to my salad, which made a nice chef salad.   The bread was left behind.       

Blue Plate Specials include Homemade Meatloaf $10.95, Pot Roast $12.95, Fried Chicken Tenders $10.95, Grilled Chicken $11.95, Farm Raised Catfish $12.95, Gulf Shrimp $13.95, &  Almond Crusted Flounder $14.95.   This is NOT a cheap Blue Plate Special place for lunch.   I couldn't imagine going back at these prices.  

The chalk board special at the entrance featured the FIVE DOLLAR burger for the day.  Underlined was NO SHARING.   Never occurred to me that I would share a hamburger!  

Sullivan's feature a very comfortable patio for dining in nice weather.   We enjoyed the interior while the patio enjoyed by quite a few on this beautiful Fall day.  

Nice Shady Patio

Rocky Hill and Maryville locations are closed Sunday.....with a NEW location in Franklin Square coming soon. 

Sullivan's Fine Food on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WokStar--Lenior City

As each week passes, I see the new trend of restaurants popping up.   That's right....walk up to the counter, order your food...and then search for a table.    With WokStar prices, I would expect a waitperson to greet and seat!   

Prices start about 8 bucks for lunch plate.  Every thing else is a la carte, four buck for two eggs rolls, ( I only wanted ONE but had to buy two), soup extra, brown rice extra.    This was NOT the lunch special I am used to seeing.  

On to the food, it was good, no complaints about that.    Need a refill...go get it yourself.   One visit was all I needed to determine that isn't my type of  non-service restaurant.     I paid for linen napkin service at a comparable restaurant but received drive thru attention.  

WokStar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lemon Grass Thai & Sushi--Knoxville

What a beautiful restaurant and what a beautiful presentation of lunch!   The daily lunch special was probably one of the most attractively plated meals I have ever received.   Lemon Grass Thai & Sushi DOES it RIGHT. 

The Daily Lunch Box Special!  

Arriving at the door, the daily special was listed.    All this...for $7.95...I couldn't believe it.   The next overwhelming feature was the quality of the food.   Fresh....Hot and properly prepared.    Chicken with beans, Thai Tempura,  Coconut Vegetable soup..although the daily special board listed Tom Hum Kung Soup..they had sold out.  Also....the California Roll...House Salad with Ginger Dressing and Jasmine Rice.  I didn't believe that I could eat it all....but somehow, I managed!  The Chicken with beans was a perfect temperature and had just been prepared...and the flavor of the Coconut Vegetable Soup would knock your flip flops was so good. 

Coconut Vegetable Soup was pure velvet and chocked full of flavor

The Entrance, stuck in the middle of the Cedar Bluff Shopping Mall was a little underwhelming, but the interior was one of the nicest Asian restaurants in this area.    Beautiful, to say the least...and the white table cloth draped tables also was a treat. 

The Entrance

The Sushi Bar

The Wine and Beer Service Area
Lemon Grass Thai and Sushi serves wine and liquor, but I haven't really found a cocktail I prefer with Thai food. 

Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

I would highly recommend this place as a NOT MISS won't be sorry...oh, and one last thing, I find that if you pay CASH, you receive a 5% discount.   Lemon Grass Thai does accept Debit and Credit but do feature the cash discount.    Seems to be a trend with many restaurants "up north". 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ayala's--Lenoir City

It  keeps getting better in Lenoir City.    Another Mexican restaurant that is better than the last!  I guess we are just fortunate not having to drive into Knoxville and/or Oak Ridge.  

We arrived about 5:30 PM on a Sunday holiday weekend.   When arriving, the restaurant was relatively quiet.   It didn't take long before the crowds started to show!  

We were immediately seated and our waiter brought by great tortilla chips and a muy bueno salsa.  I might add, this is not like what you would be accustomed to.  No chunky tomato version, but a genuine Ranchero salsa.   Smooth, with a great kick in the pants.   Nice, smokey, and seasoned just right.   While we enjoyed the salsa, we also ordered Guacamole Dip for $2.50.   Probably the freshest guacamole I have had in recent memory.  

Browsing the menu, the Pollo Loco and Enchiladas Suizas popped out.   The Pollo was served with an outstanding sauce (I would call gravy).   The onions and mushrooms were sauteed until golden and the onions were caramelized.   The sauce covered a very tender double chicken breast.  Included  with the plate was rice and beans for the Daily Special at $7.50.  Checking the menu, I see that dish is normally $9.75.     Suizas were moist, flavorful, and the chicken was melt in your mouth tender....not overly spicy...just a nice amount of heat from the enchilada sauce. 

No dessert ordered this night...but a great deal about $40 including a pitcher of Top Shelf Margaritas.   Definitely a return visit will be scheduled.    Very Nice Lounge and Outdoor seating available since Tennessee Restaurants are non smoking.      Another Ayala's  Restaurant has now opened in Tellico Village....must stop by for lunch next time. 

Ayala's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Golden Garden Chinese--Knoxville

It isn't often that you find a restaurant with a 100% voting record.   OK...something here must be good and Miss M and I had to check it out.  

Like most Chinese restaurants, the "hole" in the wall places are usually very good and Golden Garden is no exception.  Stuck in a strip center, Golden Garden is everything you would expect....narrow restaurant with mediocre decor. 

We arrived for lunch at 1PM and the place was busy...but a few tables were open.  Our hostess, server and I might even believe she was the chef immediately got our drink order and was off in a flurry.   We looked over the the lunch menu and was very shocked at the prices.   The Lunch menu runs from 11 to 3PM.    The Lunch Special includes soup, egg roll and entree with rice  from 4.95 to 5.75...and I believe that was the highest price.  The reverse side of the Lunch Special menu contains a dozen or more selections with soups and egg roll at an additional fee.  

Hot/Sour Soup

We both wanted the Hot/Sour Soup with the fried won ton strips.  The soup was a little "thinner" than I was used to..but remained VERY tasty.  The fried won ton strips were a bit stale...not quite the quality I was expecting.  

On to the entrees!   Miss M chose the Kung Pao Chicken with a 5 star heat!    I am a little tamer and chose the Twice Cooked Pork with a 2 star heat.  Two star was plenty enough for me...but the Kung Pao included those little Thai chilies.   It was HOT but she loved it.   My Twice Cooked Pork was wonderful....perfectly cooked, crunchy bok choy, nice carrots and the sauce was outstanding. 

Kung Pao Chicken

Twice Cooked Pork
All in all...this had to be tastiest meal and the entire bill was $13.00 for lunch.   Very good and a place I will return to again and again.  

Golden Garden is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11AM to 9PM.  Closed Sunday and Monday.  Their Dinner menu includes Orange Peel Beef or Chicken,  Singaporean Rice Noodle, and a very large selection including Chicken, Beef, Pork, Shrimp and Vegetable! 

Golden Garden Chinese on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tanasi Golf & Country Club--Tennessee

Once again, I returned to visit the Tanasi Clubhouse for lunch.   And it is a beautiful waterfront golf and marina.  So nice to sit with friends and enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail.   That is hard to do in these parts, since much of Loudon County is dry.  ...No liquor allowed.   But The Clubhouse has a special dispensation to serve liquor since they qualify as a private club.  

A beautiful day was once again in East Tennessee...but the humidity prevents us from enjoying a waterfront experience.  Got to stay in the A/C just to maintain.  

While browsing over the menu, I had to return to one of my favorite selections the Club has to offer...their Hawaiian Chicken Salad.   Juicy chicken breasts sauteed and other wonderful things like fried wonton, toasted coconut, pineapple, water chestnuts and sliced almonds accompanied with the Poppyseed dressing.   This is just the perfect combination for a filling lunch.  The Cobb Salad and the Fajita Salad provides my friends with enjoyment also.   I do enjoy the menu choice of a regular size salad at eight dollars and the smaller plate at six dollars.   The menu also includes all kinds of sandwiches and wraps.  Another personal favorite is the Club Sandwich with Wheat bread at seven dollars.   All Sandwiches include their Tanasi fries.   I don't know what they do to them but they are extra crispy on the outside and very tender on the inside.   Tanasi serves a great french fry.   Cole slaw and other  side items are available to substitute for great fries.  

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

 You might want to check with the club before hand since different days of the week have the golf leagues and the place can become packed at lunch.   The  mens and  womens leagues play different times and parking can become difficult.  

If you plan around the league events, Tanasi provides a great inexpensive lunch and also offer great dinner meals from 5 until 9 PM.   

Tanasi Clubhouse on Urbanspoon