Friday, December 9, 2011

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza--Turkey Creek

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza opened months ago in Knoxville.  It was a low key entrance to the Knoxville dining scene but deserved a visit.  The first Brixx Wood Fired Pizza opened in 1998 in the historic Dilworth neighborhood in Charlotte, NC.   By the end of 2011, Brixx Corporate will  have 22 locations in the southeast with franchise opportunities available.  

I arrived at 1130 AM to an empty house. By the end of my visit, the house was very full. 

A charming hostess immediately greeted and escorted me to a huge booth that easily would accommodate six to eight people.    Great place to spread out and get a little paper work done. No WiFi, but I received an adequate signal from the "cafe" across the street.   My server immediately approached but I had to study a nice three fold menu.  She offered a suggestion on the 28 beers on tap.  Unfortunately, work was scheduled for the afternoon, so water was the choice for the day.   

Pleasant contemporary Interior Design

Nice bar with 28 Beer Taps available

On to the menu which featured a wide selection of pizza combinations to choose from. Gluten free crusts were also available for $2.00 extra.   Most of the pizzas were in the ten dollar range.  My tent card on the table featured the $5.95 lunch which included a smaller version of the large pizza and choice of salad and or soup.  My choice was the House Salad with Bleu Cheese dressing.   That was great with huge chunks of bleu cheese in a very tangy and creamy dressing.  The salad was good but looked a little "limp".  

My entrée choice was the Rustica pizza which featured prosciutto, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and roasted garlic.  This was an olive oil pizza without any tomato sauce.  Tomato sauce pizza are also available.  

Fresh Flavors
The Best part of the Meal.....

I could not have gone to a drive thru to get better food with a
attentive server at my table.   Will be back for another dining adventure. 

Brixx on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

Del's Pizza--Kodak, TN

Strip mall dining can be a throw of the dice.   Some good....many are almost awful. 

Arrived at Del's about 1235PM.   A few people had arrived before me and had placed their orders at the counter.   NO table service go to the counter, place your order, find a table and then go get your food when it is ready.  I don't have a problem with this type of service...but Del's prices were the same as any  restaurant in the Smokies with full waitstaff.    Their price did not reflect my jumping up and down to get my food order.    The food was expensive.  

I ordered one of their two baked pasta selections, lasagna for $8.99.  This included a house salad and garlic knots, Garlic Knots: Dough tied into knots topped with Garlic Dressing.  I ordered an ice water and paid for my meal.  My cashier told me it would be 20 minutes.   I said OK and found a seat.   Time wasn't an issue since I was busy with some work and tried to use their WiFi internet.  The service didn't work...but I was lucky since a neighboring business had access.  

After ten minutes, my salad was ready and I retrieved it from the counter.  The basic iceberg lettuce salad, black olives, green peppers and onions.  On the surface it looked very good...but as I got to the bottom of the salad, I found the yellow lettuce leaves that always are bitter.   Then to my shock, I found an ice cube in the middle of the plate.   Obviously, they were trying to revive the old lettuce.  

I finished the salad and waited for the garlic knots....they never showed up.  OK...will wait a little longer.  Finally at 115PM my lasagna was ready.  I picked this up from the counter again and there wasn't any garlic knots.   I knew that they should have been there, they knew they should be there, but offered none. 

My entrée arrived in an aluminum pan.    For nine bucks, I expected the lasagna to be plated.  Obviously, I was mistaken.  Around the edges it appeared to be very greasy.  I started into my selection to find it was VERY HOT from the oven.    Letting it cool a bit, I found the flavor to be very good with a meaty Bolognese sauce.  The only thing this needed was the addition of salt from the table.  

The interior of the restaurant was clean and tidy but very spartan.  Decor was at a minimum but then again...this was a strip-mall  destination.  There was nothing to compel me to return to Del's Pizza. 

Del's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Plum Tree--Knoxville

The Plum Tree in Knoxville is more of a fixture than anyone could imagine.  This little treasure as been here for longer than I can recall and I have NEVER been to dine.  Today was the day. 

The Iconic Roof Sign
Let's be honest...The Plum Tree Chinese Restaurant is in a small and  rather shabby building.  It appears that it might have been an old fast food drive thru restaurant but upon entering, I found it charming and cozy.  

The booths are very comfortable and I have found out the doors on the booths have been removed.   From past comments, each booth used to have privacy doors that closed and you had your own intimate dining space.  I loved that idea. 

After looking at the menu, I soon discovered that Plum Tree is much more than a "Chinese" restaurant.   They feature many Far East cuisines including Thai, Authentic Chinese and Malaysian food.  A Vegetarian selection was also expansive.  

The Lunch Menu was my choice for the day.    You choose your "main ingredient" which includes vegetable, chicken, pork, tofu, shrimp and beef.  Then you can choose your style and sauce including, Szechuan, kung pao, curry and a long list to choose from.   Included with  your choice is egg roll or soup.  I choose the the Hot and Sour Soup....a terrific full flavored soup with the addition of a little salt at the table. 

A very large bowl for $1.75...what a deal. 

My entrée today was Twice Cooked Pork with Brown Rice.  
It was served promptly and very hot. My server was always on the spot with service.  

Twice Cooked Pork with Rice for $6.75
The Plum Tree will be a restaurant that I never over look again.   
I loved the flavors....the preparations and the whole experience.  
They are living up to their long and sustained reputation.  

The Street Marquee

Plum Tree on Urbanspoon

Carver Applehouse--Newport, TN

We have been blessed with a beautiful Fall Season here in East Tennessee.   Our "color trip" took Miss G and I to the Newport area.   What a great day road trip.

The highlight was stopping at Carver Applehouse Restaurant located on the Cosby Highway.  

The Applebarn

The Entrance took Us to a VERY large dining room. 

The View from the expansive Dining Room Windows
was incredible....what a vista to enjoy
while enjoying lunch.  

Carver's Restaurant features a daily special and a full service breakfast, lunch and dinner choices.  We decided on the daily special of BBQ pork sandwich with fries or slaw.    Miss G chose the sandwich with slaw and I chose the sandwich with fries...then we could split our included side dish.    Also included for $7.75 was our beverage and dessert. 

The pork was sweeter than I would expect but remained a moist and tender sandwich.  Fries were crispy and hot....and the cole slaw was crisp and well chilled.  I really enjoyed the kind of semi-tart creamy dressing.

After our tasty lunch, our server returned to our table with our brownie for dessert...moist and dense.   A nice touch to finish our lunch.

After lunch, it was time to head to their Apple barn to pick up a few things.....including a half bushel of apples and a nice cheese pumpkin for a pie.  I had never heard of a cheese pumpkin, but it takes this name since it looks like a wheel of cheese.  We couldn't resist a jar or apple and peach butter made on premises.  I have never seen so many apple varieties before...incredible selection.    The one thing I did notice is that the apples were fresh picked...not like the waxed and polished apples in the grocery. 

We couldn't leave without our freshly made Fried Apple Pies! 

A great afternoon and I will be returning to Carver's the next time in Cosby, TN....well worth the trip.  Carver's will be featuring a Thanksgiving Day Feast that looks well worth the trip for anyone here in East Tennessee.  

Carver Applehouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 17, 2011

McClouds Restaurant and Lodge--LaFollette

The Long and Winding Road will take you 2700 feet to the summit of McCloud Mountain and the beautiful setting of McCloud Restaurant and Lodge in La Follette, TN.    This beautiful vista is located five miles north of the charming town.  At the entrance, this sign was posted in humor, but I must is a very steep road rising 1500 feet in the two mile assent to the Lodge.  

And this is the beautiful view!

 Upon arrival to the Restaurant,  a convenient drop off area is located at the entrance.  Parking is close by.  

Upon entering the restaurant, my hostess asked if I had reservations. I said no.  There were six patrons in a dining room that would seat 200 easily.  Then she wanted my name....."for the computer".   Odd, but I complied with my first name.  

The Main Dining Room

My server brought over the Lunch Menu and returned with my beverage.   As I looked at the menu, it had the usual suspects for any East Tennessee Restaurant.   Sandwiches, Lunch Special, Salads, Soups.   Nothing popped out as adventurous so I had to ask my server what they would recommend.    They suggested the Steak Burger at $8.95, including lettuce, tomato and onion.   I could add cheese for $1.00 and bacon for an additional $1.00.  Now this bacon cheeseburger would have been $10.95.    All sandwiches are served with chips.  I could add cole slaw or french fries for $1.00 and onion rings for $1.50.   I decided to get the onion rings since I am an onion ring aficionado.  

My Lunch Serving
McClouds bills themselves as "fine dining".  I would have to dispute their claim.  Fine Dining includes Linen....I received a paper place mat and paper napkins.  One Strike. My nine dollar burger was nothing but a preformed institutional boxed meat patty.  My onion rings were not worth the the cardboard freezer box they came out of.  Quite a disappointment for what I received.  This might be Fine Dining for Claiborne County, but has really missed the mark for any other location.   Their "captive audience" do not have much of a food choice, so it becomes a take it or leave it situation at this beautiful location.   

The only redeeming part of this adventure is the view.  It is spectacular and worth the drive.  The Fall colors will be breath taking but  I would not return for their version Fine Dining.   The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the convenience of the guests staying at the Lodge. 

McCloud Mountain Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rockwood Street Grill--Rockwood

Restaurant CLOSED

A small photo excursion and shopping trip took me to Rockwood, TN today.   Such a charming little hamlet!   Three or four antique shops featured a nice selection. Since I hadn't been to Rockwood before, we asked the antique vendors about eating lunch.  Three out of four recommended Rockwood Street Grill on the "main drag". 

The Daily Specials
Upon entering, the hostess immediately escorted me to a table and returned with my beverage.  Just moments later, my server appeared to tell me about the lunch specials.  They offered four entreés with two sides for $6.49.   Now that is a deal!    Summer still oppresses East Tennessee and I wanted something "cooler".  

On to the Salad Entreés.  Rockwood Street Grill offers the usual offerings...taco salad, chicken salad, chef salad...all the usual choices.  Sandwich selection remains typical.  Burgers, BLT, Philly Cheese, Hot Dog.   All sandwiches are in the $4.99 to $7.99.  Good prices.    I had to look at the dinner selection which featured a Ribeye Steak  for $16.99, Hamburger Steak for $10.99, Grilled Pork Chop $11.99, also Catfish, Shrimp, and Chicken. 

Pauline's Chicken Salad

I choose Pauline's Chicken Salad for $7.99.  It featured the signature chicken salad made from freshly cooked chicken and garnished with peach half, pineapple slice and served with their cranberry banana bread with a cream cheese filling.  I must add the cream cheese filling was nothing more than a "whisper" of filling.  I couldn't taste the cream cheese.  The chicken salad was well prepared but needed table seasonings.  For the price, it was a good value.  

Main Dining Room
The main dining room was clean, tidy and well maintained.   The truth is this dining room has all the charm and intimacy of a church basement  dining hall. The all brick interior was cold;  too bright, very glaring and no personality.   Over would deserve more lunch return visits but the evening ambiance would be  a major drawback.  

Rockwood Street Grill is open 
Tuesday-Saturday, 11AM to 8PM 
Sunday 11AM-2PM   Closed Monday  
Visa/MC accepted 

Rockwood Street Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 20, 2011


A Knoxville Landmark
Getting downtown is an unusual event for me.  Today provided the opportunity.  Miss S and I decided that neither of us had been to Chesapeake's in quite a while.  I believe I was there about three years ago to celebrate a birthday.  

The Foyer at Chesapeake's
Upon arrival, I see this landmark has remained the same.  Nautical theme...something you might see at the beach.  The water view at this destination.  Love the food here but a nice water view would seal the deal.  

We looked the over the menu and it also has remained the same.   One constant at Chesapeake's is their Crab Bisque.  Velvet texture on a delicious.    The Dinner Menu features the old standards.    We were immediately seated with the Lunch Menu.   It looked as it did the last time I dined.  The Special of the Day menu had more interesting selections than the typical fried shrimp plate. 

The Asian Seafood Salad

A delicious fresh and crisp Asian Seafood Salad for $14 featured shrimp and scallops.  A very good Kung Pao dressing accompanied the salad.  The dressing was rich with ginger, garlic and a moderate "pepper" bite.  

Seafood Stuffed Tomato with Fruit
My Seafood Stuffed Tomato for $10 was very good.  Nice salad greens and very good fruit.  The seafood stuffing was well seasoned and flavorful.  The "local" tomato missed the mark.  Looked pretty but remained flavorless.  Not sure how local this tomato was but it wasn't from Grainger County.  

Chesapeake's remains a mainstay in Knoxville Seafood dining.  Enjoyable and you could feel comfortable dressed for the evening or just as welcome on a hot afternoon for lunch in flops and shorts.    Lunch Monday to Friday with Dinner served nightly.

Beautiful Aquariums frequent the Dining Room

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fountain City Diner--Knoxville

"....a well deserved FIVE STAR diner"...

The Entrance

Fountain City Diner has been open long enough for me to venture in.  I typically let a new place get their ducks in a row for six or more months.  A new place deserves the time to get their policy and procedures in place.    In Knoxville tradition, every new restaurant is mobbed the first night and everyone then complains.  If a Knoxville restaurant can make it six months, their odds have been established in spite of what the naysayers spew after a first or second time visit.   

Upon arrival at 12 noon, there was a few people seated.   My greeter immediately approached and offered a nice booth...but it was in a darker section of the restaurant. I asked to be moved to another booth by the windows.  They never missed a step to assist me to another selection.   It appears the entire restaurant is booth only seating since I didn't see any tables.   

My server immediately approached and offered beverage service while I looked at the menu.    Many items jumped out at me.  I did like the feature of offering breakfast all day.   Sometimes, breakfast is great for lunch.  But I was more interested in a sandwich.  My usual choice is a burger and fries, but today something else caught my attention...the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich for $8.99. 

ON the first bite, I knew that I had hit the jackpot on good flavor and real home made cooking.   It actually was a hand prepared chicken breast with flavors reminiscent of Fried Chicken at your grandma's house.  It just had a Sunday after church flavor and crunch.  

 I love onion rings...hands down before fries and always order onion rings.  Fountain City Diner has to be the ONLY restaurant in Knoxville that knows how to make onion rings.  Every restaurant in this town makes over battered, pre-prepared institutional onion rings...or at least, that is what they deliver from the kitchen.  Fountain City Diner onion rings were crispy and light with a perfect tempura like batter...perfectly seasoned.  I didn't need to add anything but ketchup at the table.  

My entire lunch plate was a real treat.   As the dining room filled, I began seeing some of the best looking food coming out of their kitchen.  Turkey & Dressing...meatloaf, and the feature of the day was Salmon Croquettes with two sides.  They feature a different "blue plate" through the week.  While I was enjoying my meal, Mrs. Wagner, (the delightful owner) was visiting with everyone making sure their food met every diners satisfaction.  Upon leaving, I did meet with her and personally compliment her and staff about all the good things I enjoyed.   

But.............I couldn't stop with the sandwich plate.   I had heard rumors about their Coconut Cream Pie.   That was it!   I NEVER eat dessert for lunch but today was the day my world rocked with the first bite of the pie.   My server placed the plate in front of me and I could tell this WAS better than anything my championship grandma prepared.  The crust was home made, from scratch pastry.   Just looking at the flaky layers gave that away.  The filling was rich, creamy and full of coconut flavor.  The topping was not what I would call a meringue but a creamy topping dusted with toasted coconut.   Every bite was perfect.   My only issue was it was served directly from the refrigerator.   I like my pie at room temperature.   Next time, I will ask my server to set my pie out when I place my order so it will have time to acclimate. 

Heaven on a plate

The Blue Plate Special

Comfortable Diner Seating

Building frontage, entrance next to the side parking lot
This DON'T MISS diner is open Monday to Saturday from 8AM to 9PM.   Visa/MasterCard accepted.   Next time I will have to try the Ice Cream Fountain treats.   The Diner-Saurus!, a huge ice cream sundae,  sounds like a treat that any family would enjoy.   

Fountain City Diner on Urbanspoon